Gide aims to become ‘one of the top firms in Hungary’ with first in a series of hires

French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel is expanding in Hungary after its global strategic review made Budapest its Central and Eastern Europe hub.

The firm has hired Gábor Felsen, co-head of banking at Clifford Chance spinoff firm Lakatos Köves and Partners, to head it’s banking and finance team. He joins the firm as an of counsel.

Gide’s Budapest managing partner François d’Ornano said the hire is the first in what he expects to be a series, with the firm set to hire a team of project finance and energy lawyers from another Budapest firm in February 2011. He added that he intends to establish a ­litigation department.

“My main targets are to reorganise and strengthen the team so that it’s ­considered one of the top firms in Hungary, and to be able to develop our strategy and our capacity to work on cross-border deals from Budapest,” said d’Ornano.

In March this year Gide hired Istvan Kovari, who was a partner at CMS Cameron McKenna, to lead its M&A practice in Budapest.

D’Ornano also said he is in talks with two lawyers from Gide’s Belgrade office – which, along with the firm’s Prague office, will close in the next 12 months – about leading the Serbia desk in Budapest.

D’Ornano is Gide’s only international partner in Budapest. The office has 18 lawyers in total.