International real estate practices

Clifford Chance

Global head of international real estate: Wolfgang Usinger (Berlin). Chief executive officer of international real estate: Cliff McAuley.

Clifford Chance says a staggering 80 partners focus on real estate worldwide – a figure befitting the world's largest law firm. Some of those sit in corporate, but the breadth of coverage is still incredible.

At 47 partners, European coverage is particularly strong, thanks in no small part to last year's merger with Pünder Volhard Weber & Axster. London counts for a further 23. Asia and the Middle East has five partners and the Americas a further five.

Recent highlights for the group include acting for US property giant Tishman Speyer/Travelers Real Estate Venture on the acquisition, £135m construction financing and preletting of Tower Place; and advising JP Morgan/ ABN Amro on a complex pan-European real estate financing for Prologis.

Linklaters & Alliance

Overall head of real estate: Simon Clark (UK head of department), while English law partner Xavier Hunter is committed full time to international real estate transactions.

Integrating its alliance partners may be causing Linklaters a few problems, but when it is not trying to resolve issues such as profitability, 57 partners across Europe are focused on real estate, 25 of them in London. Only nine real estate partners come from Oppenhoff & Rädler, which merged with Linklaters last summer.

Recent instructions include acting for Swisscom, Switzerland's former telecommunications monopoly, on the sale of its real estate assets, and advising Scottish & Newcastle on the sale of 13 Center Parc holiday parks across Europe for £670m.


Bruckhaus Deringer

Joint heads of global real estate: James George (London) and former Bruckhaus partner Johannes Conradi (Hamburg).

Freshfields' second German merger – with Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Löber in August 2000 – plus a series of major wins on property projects, have brought the firm a long way in the global real estate stakes. The group has 35 partners in 12 countries. Germany boasts 13 of those, of which the majority are former Bruckhaus lawyers. London has 10 real estate partners.

Recent deals include acting for German fund CGI on the euro74m (£46.48m) forward funding of a Madrid office development, its first major project in Spain, and advising Viterra on the purchase of a German warehouse portfolio from Deutsche Post.


International head of real estate: Robert Kidby (UK head of department).

Snapping at the heals of the magic circle, Lovells now has 36 real estate partners across Europe. Last January's merger with German firm Boesebeck Droste boosted Lovells' European growth and added 11 real estate partners. Further growth came in December, when Lovells voted to merge with Dutch firm Ekelmans den Hollander, which has three property partners. But London remains the best covered with 14.

Recent highlights include acting on the sale and leaseback of the Berlin Gas Supply Company's network, and in France on the leasing of a large industrial site for a subsidiary of paper producer Arjo Wiggins.

Allen & Overy

International head of real estate: Adam Cleal (UK head of department).

A conservative figure puts Allen & Overy's international real estate capability at 29 partners. There are 10 London-based partners, with the rest spread across the firm's European and Asian offices. Boosting those figures is high on Cleal's action list.

Key deals during recent months include advising Leconport Estates, the joint venture formed by GE Capital and Hermes, on its £1.9bn agreed bid for MEPC. The deal involved extensive due diligence without contact with those directly responsible for managing the property portfolio. More recently, the Bangkok office acted for a Thai government pension fund on the $60m (£41.97m) acquisition of a premier office building in the city, believed to be the largest acquisition of a commercial office building this year.

Herbert Smith

Head of international real estate: David Taylor.

Last summer's lateral hire of Taylor from Berwin Leighton, where he was head of property, seemed to embody a new commitment to property at Herbert Smith. There is still a long way to go on the international front, but new German alliance partner Gleis Lutz boasts an impressive 16 real estate partners. The firm now has 16 real estate partners in the UK and one each in Hong Kong and Paris. That they all have real estate expertise points to the multidisciplinary approach of its other offices in Europe and Asia.

Recent highlights include acting for Nine West Group in Asia on property issues stemming from its merger with Jones Apparel. It also advised University College London Hospital's NHS Trust on a £300m scheme to construct and maintain a new state-of-the-art hospital – by far the largest PFI hospital project to date.

CMS Cameron McKenna

International head of real estate: Charles Romney fills this role for CMS Cameron McKenna. Head of international strategy for CMS real estate: Dirk Rodewoldt (CMS Hasche Sigle Eschenlohr Peltzer Schafer, Stuttgart).

CMS may have led a troubled existence since its inception, but it can boast an impressive 61 partners in real estate, including three from new alliance member Bureau Francis Lefebvre in France. The bulk of those are based in the key London and German markets, with 18 real estate partners in each. But the London practice has suffered badly during the past six months, with the departure of five partners. That of Robert Porter in particular – lured by the bright lights of Clifford Chance's international capability – should have sounded warning bells.

Recent deals include acting for Moorfield Group/Blackstone Real Estate Group on the £150m sale of a limited partnership owning, Arundel Great Court, WC2, and acting for a major US developer on a $500m (£349.7m) project in Krakow.


International head of real estate: Catherine Usher (UK head of department).

DLA is keen to follow the magic circle into Europe. Following last year's takeover of Scottish firm Bird Semple it has 56 real estate partners across its UK offices. The merger, though not property driven, adds nine real estate partners. A further 12 are based on the continent as members of international alliance DLA & Partners.

Recent highlights include acting for Helical Bar on the acquisition of a Madrid development site for £15m, and advising easyEverthing on property acquisitions in Europe.

Hammond Suddards Edge

Head of property: Chris Marks.

International expansion for Hammonds is just getting off the ground. Having pulled out of the CLA network after its slow progress towards integration, Hammonds has just announced its merger with Paris-based Hausmann & Associés and the hire of seven partners from Knauthe Paul Schmitt. The new German partners – some of whom bring real estate and construction expertise – will open offices in Berlin and Munich later this spring. The firm has 21 property partners in the UK.

Recent deals include acting for P&A Holdings on the disposal of assets worth £300m in Manchester's Arndale centre, and advising the Danish teachers' pension fund Magistrenes Pensionskasse on various acquisitions and disposals. Hammonds' recent appointment to CGNU's property investment panel bodes well for the future.

Baker & McKenzie

Coordinator of global land use practice group: Mauritz Silfverstolpe (Stockholm). Steering committee for European real estate and construction: Stephen Turner (London), Claudia Seibel (Frankfurt), Alvaro Espinos (Barcelona) and Adrian Moore (Moscow).

Working out of Baker & McKenzie's vast network of offices are some 80 real estate partners. More than half of those are based in Europe. German fund Despa and the recently-launched real estate fund promoted by UBK European Property Company are among the firm's clients.

Recent highlights include acting for Wijsmuller Group on the acquisition of shares in Ocean Group, with properties in England, Canada, Oman and Northern Ireland. It also advised a syndicate of Thai banks on financing the acquisition and reconstruction of a hotel chain in Germany, in a deal worth DM150m (£48.2m).