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New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges' plan to open a major London office advances this week with the recruitment of two top capital markets lawyers - a Linklaters & Paines partner and a director of US finance house, Merrill Lynch.
The lawyers will work with two New York partners to form the nucleus of Weil Gotshals' London capital markets team.
Nia Morris joins from Linklaters where, as a partner in the international finance section, she specialised in capital markets, structured finance and derivatives work.
Nick Holt was a Clifford Chance banking lawyer before moving in-house to Hong Kong bankers Jardine Matheson. He was with City market-makers Smith New Court (SNC) from 1987. He became a Merrill Lynch director following its takeover of SNC this year.
Maurice Allen, Weil Gotshals' business development partner, said Morris and Holt would help the firm offer a "fully-integrated" finance practice in London "capable of competing with the best".
City lawyers regard the NY firm's move as the most significant US threat to date.