Legal Business

As rivals retrench Linklaters retains expansive German form as A&O veteran becomes third lateral of 2017

Linklaters is following up on its recent investment in Germany by strengthening its finance practice with a lateral from Magic Circle rival Allen & Overy (A&O).

Neil George Weiand will join Linklaters’ Frankfurt arm, leaving A&O after 19 years, including 17 of them as a partner. Weiand, who has previously served as German senior partner for A&O, has worked on a series of major deals, including last year acting for Bayer on its $62bn bid to acquire agricultural group Monsanto. Weiand, whose practice covers restructuring, leveraged finance and general loans, worked at Deutsche Bank for seven years before joining A&O.

It is Linklaters’ third senior appointment in Frankfurt this year, after recruiting Clifford Chance’s Germany private equity head Christopher Kellett and DLA Piper’s international group head of real estate, Carsten Loll.

Linklaters counts more than 250 lawyers in the country and is one of the few international players to have a branch in Berlin, along with Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf.

Despite having historically struggled to establish a practice that could challenge top-tier operators like Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Hengeler Mueller, Linklaters is regarded to have made inroads in Europe’s largest economy in recent years. Linklaters advised German oil and gas company Linde as it merged with US competitor Praxair in the second largest global M&A transaction this year so far at $45.5bn, and acted on the split-up of E.On last year.

Linklaters German senior partner Andreas Steck said the appointment of Weiand would ‘strengthen the link between finance and corporate’.

Thomas Ubber, senior partner at A&O Germany, noted that the firm retained 64 finance lawyer nationally.

Linklaters’ expansive form comes as a number of London rivals, including CC and Freshfields, have moved to pare back their operations in Germany, reflecting the challenge for top London firms to sustain high margins in the local market.

For an analysis of top London law firms’ practices in continental Europe see this year’s Global 100 analysis, ‘The European Question’ (£).