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Chicago's McDermott Will & Emery has raided the Munich office of Beiten Burkhardt Mittl & Wegener to launch its German practice.
The firm has secured five partners from the firm to open its first Continental European office in Munich. The team is co-led by M&A partners Christian Von Sydow and Jörg Kretschmer, along with corporate partners Martin Kock and Ralf Weisser and tax partner Ralf Eckert. Weisser does a lot of telecoms and media work, although the team declined to name its clients. The group will launch an office focusing on corporate M&A and private equity, with the ultimate aim of expanding into areas such as banking, employment and intellectual property. The plan is also to open in other German cities, followed by France and Italy. London head William Charnley said: "We've been looking to open in Germany for a number of years, and finding the right opportunity was as important in Germany as it was in the UK. "We like to start with a significant group of lawyers that could create as pre-eminent a practice in Germany as we've sought to do, and succeeded in doing, in London." It is believed that the new team talked to a number of firms, including Jones Day Reavis & Pogue, before deciding to join McDermott. Von Sydow said: "We're extremely convinced by the flexibility and the client structure that McDermott have in the US and also by the way they've developed their London office. "And we were impressed by the very strong German practice group they have in New York, which means there are already a lot of cross-border transactions between Germany and the US." The office is expecting to open with around 11 lawyers at the beginning of next year. McDermott's German clients already include utility company Eon and banking giant WestLB, and the new team is understood to share other clients with the firm. McDermott chairman Larry Gerber said that Munich had provided an obvious starting point in Germany because of its strong industrial and private equity businesses.