Hogan Lovells has launched an office in Australia with the hire of partners Nicky Lester and Tim Lester from Linklaters’ best friend firm Allens.

The firm’s Australian operations will be run from Perth and Sydney. Nicky Lester will spearhead the firm’s banking and finance practice, and Tim Lester will lead the corporate finance practice for the firm with a strong focus on the energy, natural resources and infrastructure sectors.

Hogan Lovells CEO Steve Immelt said that the firm’s Australia launch is focused on an offering that would complement the firms’ multi-jurisdictional practice rather than a domestic Australian practice.

Immelt said the firm would soft launch its Australia capabilities after 1 July. “The goal would be that by the end of the year certainly we will have a fuller complement of partners and associates supporting them,” he said.

He added that the focus of the new practice would be on transactional work with a focus on corporate, finance, infrastructure and M&A and potential connections to existing Hogan Lovells practices in Asia.

“Unlike some of the other firms in Australia we have a big US practice, we will be exploring these opportunities,” he added.

“We have felt looking at our platform that this has been a gap. We felt perhaps some work had gone elsewhere because we didn’t have the Australia component in place,” Immelt said. “We have for some time looking for the right way in. The one thing we didn’t particularly want was a large domestic Australian practice, which is a very well served market. We were looking for something much more bespoke.”

Although it is too early to confirm whether there any Hogan Lovells partners would relocate to Australia, Immelt said that the firm was focusing on growing the practice through lateral hires.

“What we see now is indigenous growth attracting others,” he said. “I feel that plugs the final gap. This puts us in a good position in terms of our global footprint.”

Nicky was formerly the firmwide practice group leader for banking and finance at Allens based in Sydney, where she will continue her practice.

Tim joined Allens in 2008 and was the co-head of the firm’s corporate finance practice in Perth and led its finance practice. He joined Allens six years ago from Hogan Lovells, where he was a global partner from 2001 and the managing partner of the firm’s Tokyo office from 2004.

The firm said the investment in Australia “demonstrates the firm’s continued commitment and investment in the energy, natural resources and infrastructure sectors as well as to the firm’s regional financing capabilities”.

This investment in the firm’s Asia practice follows the firm’s Tokyo M&A chief James Robinson departing to Morrison & Foerster (17 December 2014), and the hire of Allen & Overy partner Jeff Olson to be its first partner in Vietnam (15 October 2014)

Hogan Lovells posted a 3.6 per cent rise in revenue in 2014 to $1.78bn in 2014 (13 February 2015), and has expanded its presence in Latin America, bolting on Mexican firm Barrera Siqueiros y Torres Landa (7 July 2014).