Private equity might be big news now, but seven years ago, when Stef Oostvogels decided to set up his own firm that would target private equity houses, it was not the most obvious of business plans.
“Private equity was still very young, but I saw the need in Luxembourg for a law firm that could advise multinational clients,” explains Oostvogels, founding and managing partner of Oostvogels Pfister Roemers in Luxembourg.
Oostvogels started up the practice with the express intention of capturing international private equity work. Starting up on his own was a gamble, but one that was calculated.
The establishment of the international firms in Luxembourg meant Oostvogels was in the right place at the right time to capture the work from international companies that streamed into the country.
Oostvogels started his practice with seven lawyers and seven years later it has grown to 43 lawyers with a turnover of more than ?10m (£6.84m).
Private equity still accounts for 80 per cent of the firm’s work and the client list includes Apax Partners, CVC Capital Partners and Terra Firma. Oostvogels is under no doubt as to what makes Luxembourg such a popular destination for private equity groups.
“Corporate law is very flexible in Luxembourg and it’s a tax-neutral jurisdiction. What’s also important is the country’s stability, both economically and politically,” he states.
Oostvogels Pfister Roemers has grown rapidly during the past seven years. Last September it became the first Luxembourg firm to launch in London. “We realised the benefits of being near our clients,” says Oostvogels.
The City office is staffed by two lawyers, but such is its success that a third is set to move there in September.
Oostvogels is also considering other opportunities for international expansion. “London was always the number one choice. The next step would be either New York or Hong Kong,” he reveals.
The firm has also taken on its fair share of lateral hires. Four years ago it took a five-lawyer corporate and restructuring team from Deloitte and in 2005 it poached a five-lawyer tax team from Clifford Chance, led by partner Charles Roemers.
The success of Oostvogels Pfister Roemers means that merger approaches are not an unusual occurrence, but the managing partner has not yet been tempted.
“We’ve considered a merger several times, but we never have been 100 per cent convinced,” he says.
Turnover: €10m-plus (£6.84m)
Managing partner: Stef Oostvogels
Total number of lawyers: 45
Total number of partners: Six
Main practice areas: Private equity, banking, finance
Main clients: Apax Partners, Cinven, CVC, Eurazeo, Terra Firma
Number of offices: Two
Locations: Luxembourg, London