Watson Farley aviation partner snubs Simmons talks to join DLA

DLA is continuing with its expansion in aviation as it takes on the head of world-wide aviation at Watson Farley & Williams

Andrew Muriel, who joined Watson Farley in 1992, specialises in all areas of aircraft acquisition, financing and leasing.

He will work alongside partner Graham Tyler to develop the national and international aviation finance team. He will focus in particular on Russia, where he spent three years as the managing partner of Watson Farley’s Russian office.

“I’m moving to DLA because when I returned from Moscow, I found DLA had made a visible impact on the market,” said Muriel. “I was in the process of rebuilding my practice in London and I was very interested in the opportunities it offered.”

Since Muriel returned from Russia, Watson Farley has shut its Moscow office. Muriel said this prompted his decision to move. “The Russian aviation market will develop and there’s an opportunity to take a robust view of Russian risk, and I want to be part of this,” he said.

DLA has targeted its aviation practice over the last year. Managing partner Nigel Knowles explains: “Aviation fits in with our major practice areas such as insurance, regulation, finance and international trade. There are a lot of crossovers and we’re very well organised to act for aviation businesses. We’re not founded on corporate finance and vanilla banking but more on a broader practice, so when sectors want a broad base, we’re very relevant.”

Head of DLA’s aviation group Mark Franklin said that Muriel will add gravitas and give weight to Eximbank work, which is funded by the Government.

In the last three months DLA has won tender bids for South African Airlines as a new client in London and is also set to become the main adviser to UK online travel agency ebookers.

Watson Farley is set to lose its Paris office to US firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, although an agreement has not yet been signed. It is also in merger talks with Simmons & Simmons – first revealed on www.thelawyer.com on 5 March.

However, Muriel was in talks with DLA before either of these developments took place.