Clifford Chance scoops corporate team from Willkie Farr in Paris

Clifford Chance has hired a team of three lawyers, including partner Fabrice Cohen, from Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Paris office.

Cohen joins Clifford Chance just two years after joining Willkie Farr from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (1 October 2012). He was previously head of corporate at Freshfields, stepping down in 2011 when the firm hired Hervé Pisani from Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier (13 December 2011).

Counsel Gabriel Flandin and senior associate Basma Paradin are making the move to Clifford Chance with Cohen.

Cohen specialises in advising on private equity and major corporate transactions, with significant deals including advising General Motors on its strategic alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroën and acting for Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and Bpifrance Participations on the IPO of Euronext. Other clients include Airbus, Lagardère and Permira.

As well as working within Willkie Farr’s corporate and financial services group, he served on the firm’s European management committee.

Clifford Chance Paris managing partner Yves Wehrli said Cohen’s client base was “remarkably complementary” to the firm’s. Global corporate head Guy Norman added that the Paris corporate team had been “very successful” and Cohen’s reputation would enhance the firm’s existing capabilities.

The magic circle firm has recently advised on transactions including Dongfeng Motor Group’s equity investment in PSA Peugeot Citroën, Société Générale on its acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in Newedge Group from Crédit Agricole CIB, and the banks financing Investindustrial’s successful bid for Club Méditerranée (7 July 2014).

Meanwhile the firm has also hired Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) finance partner Alex Bafi. Bafi, a member of HSF’s global partnership council, will relocate to Paris from London on arrival at Clifford Chance.

He is a US-qualified lawyer specialising in international securities transactions.

Global capital markets head Alex Cartwright said Bafi’s hire and relocation to Paris was “an obvious choice given the increasing importance of the US market for capital markets transactions”.

The appointments are the first significant lateral hires for Clifford Chance in Paris for some time. Last year the firm picked up a funds team from Ashurst led by partner Xavier Comaills (11 April 2013).