Noerr Stiefenhofer Lutz has raided Lovells’ Berlin office of two partners and a team of associates, leaving Lovells’ Berlin office with only three partners.

Lovells’ head of german project finance group, Alexander von Negenborn and engineering and construction disputes partner Olav Wagner, will leave Lovells’ Berlin office in January, taking a team of four associates to Noerr Stiefenhofer Lutz’s Berlin office.

As first reported on (30 August), Lovells is taking an axe to its entire Berlin office following a radical review by the firm’s management.

The closure of the office, which is subject to approval by the partnership, will be completed by the end of the current financial year (30 April 2007).

The Berlin office is home to five partners and 15 associates, who the firm has offered to relocate to other offices.

Lovells’ Berlin office was rocked earlier in the year following the departure of its five-person banking team. Restructuring and leveraged finance specialist Thomas Lindemann and acquisition finance partner Andreas Schwennicke left to set up their own firm with three associates. Following the group’s exit, Lovells decided to focus its banking practice on its Frankfurt office.

Lovells managing partner David Harris told The Lawyer that the firm’s Berlin office was not of strategic significance.

Von Negenborn and Wagner’s appointments, together with the four associates, will expand the Berlin office from 46 to 52 lawyers.