Partners desert Swedish Johnssons after strategy row

One of Sweden’s leading corporate boutiques is splitting in two following a disagreement among the partners about future strategy.

The four partners of Johnsson & Johnson are going their separate ways, with two partners joining White & Case in Stockholm and the other two joining Swedish firm Advokatfirman Lindahl.

The name partners are going to different firms. Bengt Åke Johnsson is joining White & Case, while Claes Johnson goes to Lindahl. The other partner going to White & Case is Olof Rågmark, who will take two assistants with him.

Rågmark says: “Johnsson & Johnson was four partners and about 10 lawyers in all. It had traditionally been engaged in credit and finance, international arbitration, and shipping and transportation work.

“With the constant merger activity in Sweden, and being a quite small firm, it was quite apparent that we needed better resources. The partners made different evaluations of which large firms would suit our clients.”

The pair joining White & Case do mostly international arbitration and project finance work, while the other team focuses on corporate work.

White & Case will gain clients through the deal, including telecommunications giant Ericsson and paper group SCA.

Rågmark says that Johnsson & Johnson had received several merger approaches in the past year, although White & Case was not one of them.

White & Case’s Stockholm managing partner Göran Åseborn says: “The ones we talked to were the ones who joined us. We hired them because we have a long knowledge of them as good lawyers, and they bring in a lot of experience in international arbitration and financing, and in corporate law generally.”

White & Case in Stockholm boasts 30 lawyers, but the plan is to increase that to somewhere between 40 and 50. The office’s work is 70 per cent corporate, with the rest made up of arbitration and litigation work, and a niche in space law.

Clients include The Nordic Satellite Company, Nordic Capital and BT Industries.

Rågmark says: “We’re very active in international arbitration and White & Case in Stockholm, London and Paris is a good arbitration firm, so we think we match each other well.”