Osborne Clarke Frankfurt dumps merger strategy

Osborne Clarke is refocusing its strategy in Frankfurt and is abandoning its original plan to merge in preference of making a number of lateral hires.

The move follows the decision at the end of last year of German ally Graf von Westphalen Fritze & Modest’s Frankfurt office to split from the rest of the firm. (The Lawyer, 18 December 2000)

Osborne Clarke has now appointed three partners from the Frankfurt office of Coudert Schürmann.

M&A partner Peter Bert, private equity partner Hassan Sohbi and labour law partner Jorg Bausch will all join Osborne Clarke at the beginning of May.

The office will focus on corporate finance, private equity, M&A, technology media and telecoms (TMT), employment and tax.

Osborne Clarke’s Frankfurt managing partner Adrian Taylor says: “Frankfurt’s corporate finance and private equity markets have been at the centre of our target market since we established an office there in 1994. Having a team from Coudert in Frankfurt gives us a solid foundation from which to target those clients, particularly those in the TMT sector.”

Osborne Clarke managing partner Leslie Perrin says that despite being very successful in Cologne, Graf von Westphalen was making little progress in Frankfurt.

“We need to grow very quickly and we can’t wait for Graf von Westphalen,” he says.

Osborne Clarke and Graf von Westphalen are still in alliance but sources claim that Graf von Westphalen lawyers are split on the benefits of an international practice.

Graf von Westphalen’s 15-partner Frankfurt office will leave the firm by the end of the year.

The decision came following the announcement that the German firm will merge with regional Freiburg firm Bappert Witz & Selbherr (The Lawyer, 25 September).

One source says that Osborne Clarke has been able to go ahead with lateral hires because Graf von Westphalen has been prevented from doing anything in Frankfurt until the Frankfurt partners leave.

“The German firm is bogged down in merger talks so Osborne Clarke is going ahead without them,” he says.