Garrigues’ CEE push begins with Poland

With the launch of its first office in Poland, Garrigues has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan for the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) market.

Garrigues has absorbed two-partner Warsaw outfit Fúster & Sartorius for its CEE launch and will open in Warsaw with a team of 15 lawyers.

The firm is already planning opening in the two newest EU member states, Bulgaria and Romania, during 2007. The market also views Hungary as a target for Garrigues.

New partners Jaime Fúster and Jacobo Sartorius will operate as regional managing partners, tasked with expanding the Spanish firm’s coverage of the region. Fúster said the office would operate as a springboard to other parts of Eastern Europe, and Garrigues partner José Palacios, one of the partners overseeing the firm’s international expansion strategy, confirmed that opening in Poland was the “first step” towards establishing a presence in the CEE.

“Our ultimate objective, given the interest we’ve noted in Spain in everything happening in the new EU member states, is to become the firm of choice in the local markets in this region,” said Palacios.

The firm will target Spanish and Portuguese companies investing in the CEE, with real estate, financial services and corporate advice being key practice areas.

Garrigues has a turnover of ?223m (£149.46m), which makes it the biggest firm in Spain. It is also the first to open in multiple jurisdictions outside New York, London and Brussels. The Warsaw office is the firm’s fifth outside Spain after it opened offices in Shanghai and Casablanca.

Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe have been attracting attention from law firms over the past few months.

At the end of last year Field Fisher Waterhouse signed an alliance agreement with Polish firm Laszczuk & Wspólnicy and Clifford Chance absorbed Romanian firm Badea & Asociatii in the summer of 2006.