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US firm Dewey Ballantine is beefing up its London office with New York lawyers after losing a leading UK corporate finance partner.
Douglas Colliver is joining Andersen Legal firm Garretts as head of banking, leaving the future of Deweys' UK law capability in doubt.
Sources close to the firm suggest that Deweys is retrenching. Rather than hiring a UK qualified replacement, Deweys has opted for bringing in US qualifieds.
A capital markets partner and an M&A partner, along with two associates, have already arrived in the UK and will start practising at the end of the month. Fred Gander, Deweys' London managing partner, is refusing to name them.
Colliver, who established Norton Rose's international securities group before joining Deweys, says he plans to expand Garretts' banking group, which has recently suffered high-level departures including banking heads Susan Molloy and Ian Akitt.
"I aim to have a pretty substantial banking team within the next 18 months to two years," he says. "It is a positive opportunity."
Colliver joins Garretts' London office today.
He says: "I'm not sure what English law capability [Deweys] now has.
"I think it will be focusing on US law."
Gander says: "We had hoped to integrate his banking and finance practice into our project finance, capital markets, securitisation and structured finance practice areas. The involvement was not gelling for either of us.
"It is a fluid market and the change from an English to a US law firm can be difficult."
As Colliver arrives, Adrian Phillips, one of the founders of Garretts' seven-partner Reading office, is leaving to set up on his own.