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Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy's Russian head is moving to Debevoise & Plimpton as the firm presses ahead with the closure of the Moscow office.
Holly Nielsen, who joined Milbank in 1997, is moving to Debevoise's Moscow office on 1 December as international counsel, increasing the number of lawyers to seven.
Sources says that Milbank will close its Russian office in the new year, after The Lawyer first revealed that the US firm was considering the move (18 September).
It is understood that there had been some internal resistance to closing the office. But the executive committee, headed by chairman Mel Immergut, decided to press ahead with the plan.
Dmitri Nikiforov, the firm's international counsel and senior Russian lawyer, says: "[Nielsen] has expertise in project finance and securitisation and that will complement our service to Russian and foreign clients."
The firm counts companies such as Exxon Mobil among its clients, and Debevoise is currently advising on work that Nikiforov hopes will turn into project finance deals.
Nikiforov says: "We consider Milbank as a peer firm, we have a great respect for them, we are similar in spirit and culture."
He adds: "It is a question of needing to have a certain capacity on the ground, of having a number of lawyers to work on a transaction. Clients are looking for firms that have the manpower to provide the service.
"This is a point that Milbank might have different views on than us. Ours is a strategic view for the future."