White & Case opens in Madrid with Latham hires

White & Case has become the first international law firm to launch a Spanish office for several years, hiring Latham & Watkins’ local corporate head Juan Manuel de Remedios to open in Madrid.

De Remedios joins White & Case as Madrid executive partner, bringing with him Latham counsel Yoko Takagi who will become a local partner. Further associate hires are expected in due course.

The news follows White & Case’s decision to relaunch its Italian practice almost two years ago, also with hires from Latham (29 July 2011).

The office will focus on M&A and capital markets and will also benefit from over 60 Spanish-speaking lawyers based in the rest of White & Case’s worldwide offices. The team will advise both Spanish clients looking for investment overseas as well as international clients wanting to invest in Spain.

London managing partner Oliver Brettle said the launch was an important strategic move and offered significant opportunities, despite Spain’s struggling economy.

“Spain is and continues to be the fourth-largest economy in Europe and continues to have extremely strong links to Latin America in particular,” he said. “If you look at how well our practice in Italy has developed over the last year and a half, we’re extremely pleased with the progress that that office has made. Most people would agree that the economy in Italy has been extremely testing as well.”

Brettle added that clients wanted firms able to provide a platform into growing markets, such as Latin America, and White & Case’s Spanish launch would help it provide such a platform.

The firm is the first to open in Spain for several years. The most recent significant international launch in the country was in 2009, when legacy Herbert Smith hired three partners from Linklaters to open in Madrid (28 April 2009). Osborne Clarke’s Barcelona-headquartered Spanish arm expanded into Madrid a year ago (21 February 2012), shortly before its full merger with the UK firm.