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A&O recruits fintech specialist in rare City lateral while Freshfields loses one in Germany to Latham

The old days when the only ways in and out of a Magic Circle partnership were promotion and retirement (forced or otherwise) seems like ancient history with this week already seeing Allen & Overy (A&O) make a rare City hire as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer loses one of its own in Europe.

A&O’s move sees the firm recruit partner Ben Regnard-Weinrabe from the London arm of Paul Hastings as the City giant moves to bolster its position in the fast-expanding payment services sector. Regnard-Weinrabe has been a partner in the banking practice of Paul Hastings since 2014. He had been credited with establishing and leading a practice focused on payment services regulation and fintech.

He previously worked at Hogan Lovells, where he made partner in 2011. He is experienced in banking and payments industries, advising on EU and UK law across regulation, contracts and transactions and clients have included banks, card issuers, e-money and payment institutions, mobile operators, retailers and consumer finance providers.

Regnard-Weinrabe will work in a team led by Damian Carolan, head of the financial services regulatory practice in London, and including partners Etay Katz, Kate Sumpter and Nick Bradbury. A&O is regarded by some as the City’s top name in emerging finance models and related regulation.

The hire comes amid increased demand in the payment services tech and regulation sectors and also follows the enforcement in January 2018 of the EU’s Payment Services Directive II. A&O banking co-head Philip Bowden commented: ‘The frontier of financial regulatory developments is broader than ever, impacting a substantial proportion of A&O’s client base. Continued investment in our financial services regulatory practice is a priority.’

As A&O wins one, Freshfields has seen a corporate partner quit its market-leading German practice for Latham & Watkins. Partner Tobias Larisch will become the seventh partner in the fast-growing Dusseldorf arm of the US giant.

While Germany has until recently been dominated by London-based firms, Latham has turned heads in the last two years with a string of significant hires. ‘It is all part of our trend to strengthen our private and public M&A practice with the aim to become the number one in the market,’ Latham’s German head Oliver Felsenstein told Legal Business. ‘[Larisch] is only 40 and there is nobody else who has reached such a market-standing and expertise at that age. It is a strong message that we are here to stay.’

Latham previously recruited Linklaters’ German head of private equity Rainer Traugott in 2016 for its Munich office, while private equity veteran Felsenstein himself joined the firm from Clifford Chance in 2015.

This is the latest departure from Freshfields since the firm announced a major overhaul of its remuneration system. The London leader is introducing discounted equity points for its German partnership and plans to reduce partner headcount in the country from around 100 to 80 by 2020 to refocus its business. Expect more comings and goings at the City’s top law firms.