Ernst & Young’s German law firm Luther Menold has lost its second partner in a month to Latham & Watkins.
The US firm has taken on M&A and private equity rainmaker Hans-Jurgen Lutt, possibly giving it a line into one of Lutt’s most recently acquired clients, BC Capital Partners.
The move could cause problems for UK private equity firms that need German referral partners. Although the German firm has other partners who can do private equity work, Lutt has traditionally been the preferred choice for referrals for a number of UK firms.
Lutt joins former Luther Menold real estate star Martin Meissner, who defected to Latham’s Frankfurt office in early May. The accountancy-tied firm also lost corporate partner Frank Zahn to Gorg’s Berlin office last month.
Latham has been trying to strengthen its pan-European private equity practice for some time. Last year the US firm poached Charles Fuller from Simmons & Simmons for its London office.
The capture of Lutt will alarm competitors, such as Ashurst Morris Crisp, which are still struggling to put credible cross-border private equity services in place.
Lutt’s move could also prove an issue for private equity firms that do not have significant presences or best friends in Germany.