US FIRM Pillsbury Winthrop has hired technology partner Ashley Winton from Osborne Clarke's Reading office as its first UK-qualified partner in London

The appointment is Pillsbury's first significant move to bolster London as it pursues its dual strategy of making lateral hires while seeking a UK merger partner.

Pillsbury London managing partner Dave Snyder told The Lawyer: “Any firms we speak to [about a merger] understand we have to pursue a dual strategy of organic growth and a merger, as we may not be able to effect a merger.”

Pillsbury has a longstanding relationship with Denton Wilde Sapte, which Snyder hopes will be strengthened further by the recruitment of its first UK technology lawyer.

Winton joins as London head of e-commerce and technology. His clients include Honda and Coors.

He said: “I've done a lot of work for US corporates, and Pillsbury is the first US firm to effect a successful East Coast-West Coast merger; it has 250 IT lawyers and grand plans for London and Europe.”

The firm, which opened its London office in 1972, now has two partners and four associates.