Sidley Austin has hired M&A partner James Wood to its London office after he spent just two years with Ashurst.

Wood joined Ashurst in 2015 after spending 14 years as a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

After qualifying with legacy Allens Arthur Robinson in Australia, Wood joined Freshfields in 2001. During his time with the magic circle firm, Wood spent four years in its Tokyo office. Over half of that time was spent as the office’s managing partner.

Earlier this year, Wood led with Ashurst corporate partner Dominic Ross on FTSE 250 textile company Berendsen’s £2.2bn acquisition by French company Elis SA.

Sidley Austin London managing partner Matthew Dening said: “We are delighted to welcome James to our London corporate group. His extensive experience with public and private M&A transactions, along with his engaging nature, make him a natural fit for us and our clients, and a partner whom our global corporate clients and our global corporate lawyers will be very keen to work with.”

The new hire brings the London office’s partner count up to 45 and just shy of 150 lawyers in total.

It is understood that Sidley Austin will announce its move to a new 120,000 sq ft office later this year. The firm began looking for new space in the summer and a decision is thought to be close.

The firm has strengthened in corporate practice in the last 18 months after raids on Kirkland & Ellis in London and Munich prompted the announcement of a new 15-year private equity strategy in July.