Luxembourg firm Molitor began life 15 years ago advising mainly small- and medium-sized businesses in the Grand Duchy. These days, although the firm remains small, it advises much bigger international clients, including banks and major corporations.
Managing partner: Michel Molitor
Number of partners: Five
Number of lawyers: 28
Number of offices: One
Main practice areas: Banking and finance, corporate, employment and pensions, real estate and environment, IP, IT, media, litigation
Key clients: Banks, investors, large corporations (Luxembourg bar rules prohibit the naming of clients)
But Molitor’s highest-profile pieces of work, and a catalyst for its efforts to expand the amount of work from overseas, have come from the fallout from the financial crisis. Partner Laurent Fisch is the Luxembourg liquidator and administrator of Lehman Brothers (Luxembourg).
The firm is also advising a number of parties trying to recover losses from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, which affected a number of investors using Luxembourg structures.
Founding partner Michel Molitor says the crisis accelerated interest in Luxembourg, although the regulatory system had previously attracted many financial institutions. Fisch’s work on the collapse of the Icelandic banks led to the Lehman instruction.
“Traditionally, the type of work we were active on was British banks financing acquisitions of property in Eastern Europe,” Molitor says.
This means the firm has good relationships with “second tier” UK firms. Molitor believes the firm is well set-up for growth, having been “the right size” to avoid having to make redundancies during the crisis.
The trend now, Molitor adds, is towards work from Asia. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has a Luxembourg branch and the recently agreed tax information exchange agreement with Hong Kong has also helped. This means the firm is seeking to strengthen its referral relationships. It is also building up its IT and IP practices.
Independence remains key to the firm’s strategy, concludes Molitor, to maximise its ability to make use of its “numerous” referral relationships.