Clifford Chance makes first Aussie lateral hire since 2011 launch

Clifford Chance has hired former Allen & Overy (A&O) Australian competition partner Dave Poddar, its first lateral partner hire since its 2011 launch in Australia.

Dave Poddar
Dave Poddar

Poddar has joined Clifford Chance’s Sydney office as a partner, bringing the number of partners in the firm’s Australia practice to 16.

Poddar’s practice focuses on merger clearances and competition issues as well as cartel matters. He has over 20 years of experience and has acted on financial services mergers, resources takeovers and infrastructure projects in the liquified natural gas and resources areas.

His most recent work prior to joining Clifford Chance included advising SABMiller on the antitrust aspects of its acquisition of Foster’s Group, and Emirates on the antitrust implications of its strategic partnership with Qantas.

Poddar resigned from A&O’s Sydney office last September, reportedly following a disagreement with the firm. Prior to joining A&O in June 2010 (22 June 2010), he had been a long-serving partner at Mallesons Stephen Jacques (now King & Wood Mallesons) and was head of the firm’s Australia competition team.

“Adding dedicated antitrust expertise has been a priority since our establishment in Australia, given the high concentration within many of the country’s industry sectors,” said Clifford Chance Asia Pacific managing partner Peter Charlton in a statement.

“When overseas clients invest in Australia, or local companies acquire or expand domestically, antitrust issues are very likely to arise. Dave extends the range and quality of services that we can offer to these companies and institutions.”

At Clifford Chance Poddar will rejoin former Mallesons colleagues Michael Lishman, who is Perth managing partner, and Perth partner Ian Cochrane, who both focus on M&A. He will also work closely with the firm’s global antirust group headed by Brussels-based partners Oliver Bretz and Thomas Vinje.

“Clifford Chance’s practice has a focus on complex merger work and large transactions in the energy and resources sectors. Australia’s a very concentrated market, so there are very few corporate transactions, investment or growth strategies that don’t require at least some level of competition advice. My practice will complement its corporate and M&A offering in Australia,” Poddar told The Lawyer.

Poddar added that Clifford Chance’s client base is also a perfect fit for him and he will bring to the firm a number of clients with whom he has worked as a strategic adviser for over a decade.

According to the firm, its lawyer headcount in Australia has grown by 60 per cent since launch in May 2011 through a double merger with boutique firms (16 February 2011). However, Poddar’s appointment is the firm’s first lateral partner hire since then.

“Our first year saw us focus on integrating our clients and our lawyers with the rest of our network, and to expand associate numbers, as well as the addition of a high-end finance practice – which included the relocation of Hong Kong finance and restructuring partner Scott Bache in October 2011,” said a spokesperson for the firm.

The firm has confirmed that it will make more strategic hires in the coming year. Its plan to grow the Australian offices to around 30 partners and 100 lawyers, announced at the time of its launch, still stands.