Sullivan & Cromwell boosts London practice with NY trio

Top US firm Sullivan & Cromwell is boosting its commitment to its London office by moving three partners from New York – including one of the most highly-rated M&A lawyers in the world.

Global leader Neil Anderson has been named as head of the firm’s European M&A practice. He is moving to London with fellow New York M&A partner George Sampas and litigation partner Ted Edelman.

The moves will boost the firm’s European capability to nearly 70 lawyers, 50 of whom are in London.

Anderson says: “It is a big move and it’s a move that makes sense. The work is already here – we have got more work than we can handle with the current resources in London.

“We see and expect a significant increase in both cross-border transactions within Europe and cross-Atlantic transactions. Inevitably that’s going to mean the potential for hostile deals and deals where third parties may intervene with topping bids, which are really common in the US.”

Anderson’s clients include Diageo, Philips Electronics, J Sainsbury and Pharmacia – which is in the process of a merger with Monsanto.

He says that the move is about better serving existing clients rather than winning new work from big City firms.

“This is not a business where we compete in beauty parades.

“If we didn’t dedicate these resources we would have to turn away more and more work and inevitably we don’t want to do that,” he says.

William Plapinger, managing partner of the firm’s London office, says: “To some extent it’s not an all or nothing situation.

“A lot of our deals already involve US and UK lawyers, now more of that will move to London.”

The firm’s chairman Ricardo Mestres says: “Europe is and will continue to be a focal point for merger activity for the foreseeable future, and we are adding a number of our leading lawyers to support the expanding needs of our international client base.”

The firm will also relocate senior tax partner Willard Taylor to its Paris office in June. He is also one of the global leaders in his practice area.

The New York firm also has offices in Washington, Los Angeles, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing and Melbourne.