Simmons & Simmons' Paris office is developing a stock exchange capability as it takes on a new M&A partner.
Thierry Gontard, who formerly worked for the Commission des Opérations de Bourse for three years, is joining the corporate department from French firm Bignon & Lebray.
Gontard, whose clients include five French-listed companies, will concentrate on privitisation and takeover work. He will also be responsible for advising listed companies on their balance sheet operations.
His portfolio includes advising the French Ministry of Defence on last month's privatisation of the state-owned Banque Hervet.
Gontard, who will join Simmons at the beginning of May, says he is leaving Bignons because its international network, Commercial Law Association (CLA), does not have a cross-European capability for capital markets and cross-border M&A.
Gontard says: "CLA doesn't give me satisfaction. I had great hopes when Hammond Suddards Edge entered the alliance, but now CLA has no UK presence. Simmons has a presence in banking and M&A and I knew it was looking for someone with experience in the stock exchange."
Simmons managing partner Jacques De Taisne says that Gontard's move reflects a general trend in the market, where good lawyers from reputable French law firm are moving to Anglo-Saxon firms.
De Taisne says that adding stock market experience is an important move in the current economic climate.
"More and more unlisted mid-sized companies in France are looking to float," he says. "The domestic market is strong, and we'll benefit from the competition created by the conversion to the euro in 2002."