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Weil Gotshal & Manges is set to lose its German desk in London as corporate partner Geza Toth and a team of four associates plan a move to the London office of US firm Dewey Ballantine
It is understood that Dewey Ballantine will vote tomorrow (21 May) on whether or not to take on the team. If the vote is successful, Toth is expected to set up an office in Frankfurt within the next three months, giving Dewey Ballantine its first presence in Germany. He will divide his time between London and Frankfurt. Toth is an M&A and private equity lawyer and his clients are predominantly financial institutions, including Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) and GE Capital. The move would fit well given that CSFB and GE Capital are two of Dewey Ballantine's biggest clients in the US. Dewey Ballantine currently has 10 partners in London focusing on M&A, project finance, capital markets and tax. It is understood that a Frankfurt office would focus on M&A and would expect to grow to at least 25 lawyers in the next 12 months. Toth is believed to be leaving Weil Gotshal because of strategic differences with the Frankfurt office. In January 2001, Weil Gotshal took on private equity rainmaker Gerhard Schmidt and three other partners from the Frankfurt office of Beiten Burkhardt Mittl & Wegener and since then the firm's German practice has been run out of Germany. It is understood that the London and Germany teams have not been working well together and that Toth's departure comes as a result. Weil Gotshal, which has announced its plans to open a second office in Munich, claims that the focus of its German practice will now be based in Germany and that the delivery capability in London will be scaled down. Schmidt said: "We're advising on home-grown, profitable transactions, including advising Lehman Brothers on its restructuring of Kirch. A fast-growing client base suggests that we have made our mark, despite very difficult market conditions." Dewey Ballantine declined to comment.