Sullivan & Cromwell opens Frankfurt 'finance' office

NEW YORK firm Sullivan & Cromwell has opened its first German office in the finance capital of Frankfurt.

Launched on the back of a sizeable contract as US counsel to the global co-ordinators and international underwriters for the privatisation of Deutsche Telecom, the Frankfurt office is permanently staffed by two lawyers, including office head and European counsel Steve Connor.

Paris partner David Morrison and London-based George White are also intending to spend one third of their time in Germany and another fee earner is expected to join the office by September.

The firm is hoping that its physical presence in the country will bring in additional clients to its already strong German practice.

Morrison says Frankfurt is popular with firms which concentrate on financial law casework, while Berlin and other centres are increasing in popularity as sites for alternative kinds of legal practice.

He says that Sullivan & Cromwell, which has offices in London, Paris, Tokyo, Melbourne and Hong Kong, as well as its US centres in Los Angeles and Washington, had “several” reasons for opening the Frankfurt office.

“We have this large assignment with an existing client base in Germany which we hope we will be able to serve much more efficiently from Frankfurt.”

“We also believe that we will be able to take on more transactions – capital markets transactions in particular – by actually being here.”

Morrison says the firm will only practice US and international law and it will not compete for German work or form an association with a German practice.

Sullivan & Cromwell will continue to work with big-name firms in the country, he says, without forming an exclusivity agreement.

“We believe that the German law firms are excellent, and we intend to add our expertise on US and international transactions,” says Morrison.

“International firms like ours are more interested in focusing on cross-border and international work out of Germany”.

Sullivan & Cromwell open in Frankfurt shortly after Slaughter and May and US firm White & Case shut their offices in the city.