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City firm raids former ally Houthoff Buruma in new European push; Spain is next
Norton Rose is expected to merge with the newly-created Dutch boutique Groenewald van Wassenaer to launch its practice in the Netherlands. The firm will vote today (11 March) on the move, which is likely to see it take on the former managing partner of former Norton Rose ally Houthoff Buruma. Arent van Wassenaer set up the Dutch boutique with former Trenité partner Edo Groenewald in January. Together, the partners are expected to head up the new office in the Netherlands. Norton Rose is also believed to be taking on another four partners from van Wassenaer's and Groenewald's previous firms. It is understood that Norton Rose has been working with van Wassenaer and Groenewald over the last few months and that the firm recruited the boutique to find a number of Dutch partners to join the firm.
"The Netherlands is important as it is a key financial centre and home to a number of large financial institutions, such as ABN Amro"
Norton Rose has made no attempt to hide its plans to open offices in the Netherlands and Spain. A spokesperson at the firm said that the Netherlands is important as it is a key financial centre and home to a number of large financial institutions, such as ABN Amro. Van Wassenaer stood down from his position as managing partner in September 2001 following a disagreement over the pace and style of implementing Houthoff's strategy. Groenewald focuses on corporate finance, while van Wassenaer is a projects and arbitration lawyer. However, the office is expected to focus on private equity and capital markets, which will fit in well with the firm's strategy to bolster its European private equity practice. Last week Norton Rose announced that it is taking on Hammond Suddards Edge's head of private equity David Baylis to lead the firm's charge on the European buyout market. The expected merger follows the news that Houthoff has voted to remain independent. The 70-partner Amsterdam-based firm voted by 67 to 3 in favour of independence. Last year Norton Rose entered into merger discussions with Houthoff, but the talks failed due to the City firm's demands for the Dutch firm to restructure.