Freshfields bags EC director general

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Brussels office has bolstered its competition capability by hiring a key EU regulator.

Alexander Schaub will join the Brussels office as counsel from the European Commission, from which he recently retired.

Brussels competition partner Frank Montag said that Schaub would provide the practice a “unique insight” and that “his expertise in financial services, public procurement and IP rights as well as in competition and trade will be invaluable to our clients in Asia and the US, as well as in Europe”.

His most recent position was as director general for internal market and services, which coordinates EU policy on the single market.

But Schaub also has vital links with the Competition Commission, and was a director general for competition for seven years, reporting to both Mario Monti and Karel van Miert, the predecessors to competition commissioner Neelie Kroes.

During his time at the Commission he was involved in the controversial decision to stop General Electric (GE) buying Honeywell in 2001, despite the merger gaining clearance in the US.

Looking to regulators for lateral hires is not a new tactic for Freshfields. Schaub will be working alongside Horst Günter Krenzler, who joined the firm as special counsel from the Commission in 1996.

The firm’s London office also hired Simon Priddis from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in October 2006 as a new competition partner.

A partner at a rival competition practice said: “There are definitely advantages to taking on a senior figure from regulators, just because of the contacts he or she will have, as well as the obvious draw to clients.”