WFW splits shipping and finance in rebrand

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) is attempting to rebrand its finance practice away from shipping by splitting it into two practice groups.

The new finance departments make up almost half of WFW’s business and will be split off into shipping finance (WFW’s traditional finance engine) and international project and structured finance, which has in recent years seen growth in its profile in the energy and related sectors.

Managing partner Michael Greville said: “[The split] is to enable the finance practice outside the shipping practice to create a bigger and more focused identity. It’s really about the WFW finance brand outgrowing the shipping practice. This will give [project and structured finance] an identity of its own, its own focus and drive. And it will also partly help us recruit into that area.”

New head of shipping Nigel Thomas said the shipping lawyers had always been a focused team within the larger group and that the change would reinforce this.

WFW is also looking to ramp up its real estate team, having recently recruited former Manches real estate partner Mark Prevezer. Another partner is to join “very soon”, said Greville, and the property team will grow from its current size of four lawyers to 15.

But Greville added: “We’re not going to become huge [in real estate] and we’re not going to take on Nabarro.”