White & Case has taken 10 partners from Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) to launch in Australia.
The project finance team have joined White & Case from HSF offices across Australia and Asia.
The group will launch White & Case offices in both Melbourne and Sydney. They are: HSF Asia head of finance Brendan Quinn, head of projects Andrew Clark, finance partners Alan Rosengarten, Josh Sgro, Tim Power, Jared Muller and Joanne Draper in Melbourne, Joel Rennie in Sydney, Fergus Smith in Hong Kong and Matthew Osborne in Singapore.
White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier said: “This move will cement our position as the leading law firm in project finance globally. It adds further strength to our client offering and underlines our commitment to providing the highest quality advice to our clients on a global basis.”
HSF joint-CEOs in Mark Rigotti and Sonya Leydecker said they were “disappointed at the [partners’] decision”, and added: “We continue to have a strong 100-partner infrastructure and projects practice globally.”
The firm also lost deputy senior partner Mark Crean to Jones Day last year. Crean had previously served as chairman of Freehills and was at the firm for 24 years.
The US firm first revealed it was preparing to launch in Australia in August.
White & Case has been rebooting in Asia-Pacific since March 2015, when the firm relocated global head of banking Eric Berg to be the head of Asia in Singapore.
In May 2015 it opened an office in Seoul and forged a new alliance with Jakarta-based firm Witara Cakra Advocates. Notable recruits in Asia since then include Asia M&A head Chris Kelly from Linklaters in Hong Kong and corporate partner Catherine Tsang from Paul Hastings.
However, according to The Lawyer’s Asia-Pacific 150 2016, the number of lawyers in White & Case’s Asia offices dropped by 19 per cent from 176 in 2012 to 142 in 2015.
This summer White & Case also closed two offices in Kazakhstan and Turkey.
White & Case follows Hogan Lovells to launch in the country after it opened offices in Sydney and Perth last year.