Crisis meeting saves Nauta’s Rotterdam office from the axe

Dutch giant Nauta Dutilh has headed off a call to close its 30-partner Rotterdam office at a crisis meeting called by the management board last Wednesday (2 November).

The meeting was called only weeks after rival De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek announced its intention to close its offices in Rotterdam and The Hague by 2008.

The full partnership conference at Nauta concluded that it was still viable to continue with two offices in the Netherlands. However, the firm has decided to downsize Rotterdam over the next six months, with at least five partners either relocating to Amsterdam or being managed out of the firm.

Nauta chairman Marc Blom said the board had been “thoroughly investigating” the viability of the Rotterdam office for around six weeks.

“We’ve concluded that there’s very good market potential in Rotterdam – too good not to be there,” added Blom.

Last year a strategy review at Nauta resulted in a new management team, headed by Amsterdam-based banking partner Blom, and a remit to streamline its focus on corporate, finance and related areas. A split with its Rotterdam-based private client team soon followed. Last week’s meeting will result in a further concentration of resources along sector lines in both offices.

De Brauw confirmed its decision to consolidate all of its Dutch resources in Amsterdam on 1 September. It also has offices in London and New York.

The firm is currently in discussions with its works council concerning its staff, but a spokesman said the firm’s intention was “to take everyone with us”.