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CITY FIRM Masons is restructuring its project and asset finance department following the defection of two leading partners to US firm Mayer Brown & Platt.
Nigel Weiss and Steven Janes, who leave at the end of March, are the latest in a lengthening line of British lawyers who have been lured to the US by the promise of higher wages and bigger transactions. Their departure is seen as a significant blow to Masons.
Janes and Weiss joined the firm in 1994 to establish the projects and finance practice, and have helped build it into a 16-lawyer department.
Janes, in particular, has developed into "one of the private finance initiative players", says a private finance initiative partner at another large City firm.
"Masons' project finance department was becoming somewhat more credible, so this can do nothing but harm to it and do nothing but good to Mayer," says the source.
Mayer Brown has been frustrated in its attempts to break into the British PFI market. It has had to watch while other US firms have had more success, but managing partner Ian Coles now plans a push into project finance.
Masons worldwide managing partner Tony Bunch says Weiss and Janes have been tempted by the opportunity "to work on very large financing transactions for banks and other financial institutions".
He says Masons is "taking this opportunity" to separate the department into two teams. One will focus on projects while the other will be involved in financing them.
Chris Brown and Steve Bond will take on responsibility for the new departments.