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US firm White & Case is set to launch a commodity and trade finance practice at its London office, bringing it closer to the City's powerful financial institutions.
It has appointed its Paris finance partner Nicholas Budd to head the new London group.
Budd is in the process of making a slow transition between the two offices but he should be firmly established in London by February bringing the total number of partners there up to nine.
Partner John Riggs will be left in charge of the Paris commodity operation and the remainder of the team to provide continuity to existing clients.
Budd said he had spent six years building up "an extremely busy Paris practice" and envisaged spending at least another six years "doing it all over again in London", where he expected to end his career.
He added that he hoped to build up a profile of clients similar to the one he had developed in Paris: international banks that finance commodities, especially in eastern and central Europe. The new venture will lead to recruitment of local UK lawyers.
Formerly a high-level consultant to White & Case, Budd joined the firm in 1994. On hearing that he had been named a partner at the start of this year, Budd said he felt an "enormous sense of relief".
Bernard Nelson, head of White & Case in London, said the commodity finance trading practice would complement the "diverse corporate finance" practice already in place.
"We are excited at the prospect of having someone of his calibre joining us," said Nelson, adding that the practice planned to expand and recruit more generally in London.