Linklaters’ hire of ex-Clifford Chance partner Kolja von Bismarck has transformed the German restructuring market at a stroke.
Von Bismarck is probably best known for his high-profile work on the GM restructuring, which he landed entirely on his own, benefiting from the fact that Gleiss Lutz was conflicted out.
“Clifford Chance probably wouldn’t have got it otherwise, seeing as they’re Volkswagen’s counsel,” says a German market source.
Von Bismarck is one of a trio of big-hitting workout partners who have dominated the market in the past two years. The other star players are Lars Westpfahl at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Hamburg office and Frank Grell at Latham & Watkins, also based in the Hamburg.
Von Bismarck will allow Linklaters to shift up a gear in Germany. The firm’s ambition was demonstrated two years ago when it hired corporate partners Ralph Wollburg and Achim Kirchfeld from Freshfields, allowing it to open in Düsseldorf and close in Cologne.
Von Bismarck will be joining a solid team in Germany, which despite its activity on a handful of big workouts, such as TMD Friction and Schefenacker, has never quite achieved the same prominence as its rivals. In 2007 partner Jochen Laufersweiler recently returned to Germany after five years in London, where he worked closely with finance head Robert Elliott. Linklaters’ other restructuring partner in Germany is Sven Schelo, who was made up just last year.
Elliott told The Lawyer: “We need heavy-hitting leadership, not only to relieve the pressure in Germany, but also to punch at the weight we felt we needed to be punching at.”
The news prompted a response by readers of TheLawyer.com:
This isn’t going to hurt CC in Germany, and Signy’s move hasn’t hurt them in London either. Individuals are less important inside the MC machines than the outside world thinks. What’s more telling is whether this is symblolic of a long term malaise.
Posted: 16 July 2009 @ 17:10. From: Anonymous
Individuals might not be that important within the ‘MC mach-ines’. Their turnover is. And the question is whether pure insolvency specialists contribute significant amounts. Insolvency lawyers in major firms in Germany tend to be mere supporters of banking and corporate teams, bringing few of their own mandates. That makes it tough for associates in insolvency teams to make partner and for partners to gain equity. Add the fact that CC currently reshapes its partnership and thus has delayed promotions, it is easy to presume that for stars like von Bismarck there are plenty of better opportunities given the current market.
Posted: 17 July 2009 @ 01:31. From: Citibird
Doesn’t he live in Berlin? Doesn’t Linklaters have an office in Berlin? Didn’t CC close its office in Berlin? Wonder how long he’ll stay in Frankfurt. Other reports say von Bismarck is not joining Linklaters in Frankfurt, but heading to Berlin where his family lives.