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Los Angeles-based 650-lawyer O'Melveny & Myers has recruited Rigdon Boykin, the former head of project finance at US rival Chadbourne & Parke.
Boykin is credited for building Chadbournes' respected international project finance practice, but he is believed to have fallen out of favour with the firm's management over the direction of its Hong Kong and London-based practices.
He will head O'Melveny's project finance team from the firm's Los Angeles and Hong Kong offices.
Boykin said: "By bringing together O'Melveny's finance and technology experts already on the ground in New York, Los Angeles, London, Washington DC and the Pacific Rim, I see an unprecedented opportunity to lead a world-class practice."
Douglas Kranwinkle, O'Melveny's managing partner, said: "Rigdon is a natural fit with our practice. He provides the leadership to pull our project finance attorneys into a global practice."
Christopher Kandel, finance and mergers and acquisitions partner in O'Melveny's eight-lawyer London office, said that the firm was engaged in recruiting US and UK qualified project finance specialists to strengthen the practice group in London.
"The London office is very important to the firm," he said. "We are very profitable and intend to devote considerable resources to the office."
Kandel said the London office had worked on a series of transactions this year, including advising the sponsor in the DM1.6bn project financing for the construction and operation of a semiconductor facility in Germany.
Chadbournes has installed Chaim Wachsberger as head of its project finance practice.
The firm sent capital markets partner William Greason and project finance counsel Lynne Gedanken to London in September, with a brief to relaunch the office which had been hit by a flood of defections of UK lawyers.
Project partner Ian Johnson left to set up the London office of US-rival Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and project finance lawyers Andrew Thomas and Elisha Flax went to the London office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Greason and Gedanken have recently recruited two project finance assistants - Stephanie Conaghan and Robin Mizrahi - bringing the number of lawyers in the office to seven.
Gedanken said the firm is looking to hire several UK and US law partners to further strengthen the office.