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Sterzinger is a former head of corporate from Boesebeck Droste and has a leading private equity practice, acting for clients such as Quadriga Capital and Alpinvest.
For years he has had a strong referral relationship with Skadden, which had an exclusive arrangement with Boesebeck Barz & Partners before Boesebeck merged with Droste in 1997. Boesebeck Droste then had a best friends deal with Skadden which was led by Sterzinger, and which continued after the merger with Lovells last year.
Lovells Frankfurt managing partner Oliver Felsenstein says: "Boesebeck Droste had a longstanding relationship with Skadden, and Richard was their main contact person for corporate matters.
"When Skadden decided a year or so ago to change their strategy and build up a practice, Richard was faced with the decision to go with them or lose the referral business he got from them."
Sterzinger has been working with Skadden in Germany on deals such as advising Daimler-Benz on its acquisition of Chrysler Corporation, and a raft of other non-public acquisitions.
The head of Skadden's Frankfurt office Hilary Foulkes says: "We were looking for a general top-flight corporate M&A lawyer, and Richard has the experience in public M&A, private M&A, equity buyouts and a whole gamut of corporate work."
Sterzinger is only the second partner in Skadden's Frankfurt office, which now has 14 lawyers, eight of whom are German-qualified. The office is moving into new premises with enough space for 50 lawyers.
London managing partner Bruce Buck says the firm is now looking to add another two corporate partners and a tax partner for the practice.
Sterzinger's move comes as Skadden in London is poised to hire leading Lovells buyouts partner Allan Murray-Jones to grow its private equity practice in Europe. Murray-Jones, who has resigned from Lovells, is understood to be close to making a decision on the move.