Freshfields looks to the East after Dutch move

Freshfields plans to open offices in Poland after poaching four Dutch lawyers for its new Amsterdam office.

Freshfields' chief executive, Alan Peck, says that the Dutch office completes the west European picture for the firm. “We are now turning our sights to eastern Europe and India,” he says.

“The boys have been sniffing around Poland and are looking for the best options, and we will be in India as soon as the regulations allow.

“As soon as we are able, we will open there to protect our market share.”

As revealed by The Lawyer (22 February), Freshfields will be only the second English practice, after Clifford Chance, to have an Amsterdam office.

The new partners are Steven Perrick, currently a corporate partner with de Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, and a trio from Stibbe Simont comprising Peter Hendrick, Charles Langeris and Albert Jan van der Berg.

Peck denies that any of the new partners have been introduced to the firm through failed merger talks.

“We started out looking for a merger partner but it pretty soon became clear that it was not possible because of the size of the firms there. They are very big and relatively unprofitable,” he says.

The Dutch partners will be joined by Ian Hewitt, a senior corporate partner from the London office, and Roger Berner, head of the international tax group.

The Amsterdam office will be used to co-ordinate international tax work done in the rest of Europe.

“Holland is a relatively neutral country from which to oversee the rest of Europe,” says Peck, adding that co-ordinating Germany from France or vice versa may have caused ructions in the different offices.

Freshfields is appointing the former financial director of textiles company Coats Viyella, Kirk Stephenson as chief operating officer.