Price Waterhouse pulls in Pinsents partner for Europe

PRICE Waterhouse has appointed Paul Downing, managing partner of the London office of Pinsent Curtis, to head its network of European law firms.

The move, which centres Price Waterhouse's network in London, was announced last Friday to the Pinsent Curtis partnership.

Downing will join Arnheim & Co, headed by ex-Hammonds Suddard partner Christopher Arnheim, in Pinsents' Southbank office.

Downing is obliged to stay with Pinsents until the autumn, under partnership requirements. The firm is holding negotiations for a replacement, but would not reveal details.

Downing was a key figure in the firm's corporate finance and securities department, which handled some £2 billion of business last year.

A Pinsents spokesman said the firm did not expect Downing to take any business or staff with him, as the parting was amicable.

It is believed Downing will have a non-fee earning role with Price Waterhouse and will be building the firm's network.

His title is expected to be 'European leader' as the network has to be a loose federation because of Bar rules in Europe.

Senior partner at City firm Linklaters & Paines, James Wyness, said if accountancy firms were to pose any threat to existing legal practices, it would not happen for some time.

While they may succeed in handling smaller work, it took time to build legal teams with adequate specialised, professional skills to handle major transactions, he said.

“Certainly the potential threat is one that we take seriously,” Wyness said. “But what they're offering is a promise to do things they haven't got in place.”