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Clifford Chance takes corporate team from Willkie Farr two years after leaving Freshfields

Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance has made a private equity push in continental Europe with the hire of Willkie Farr & Gallagher partner Fabrice Cohen in Paris, who moves as part of a three-lawyer team.

Cohen specialises in private equity transactions, domestic and cross-border M&A and securities law. Europe’s largest commercial aircraft maker Airbus is a longstanding client, with Cohen having advised the group  on the creation of the new Airbus Defence and Space division, which grouped Astrium Cassidian, and Airbus Military and Airbus Helicopters into one legal entity, in January.

General Motors is another major client of Cohen’s, who handled the US carmakers’ strategic alliance with France’s Peugeot Citroën, which included its acquisition of a 7% stake in the company. Counsel Gabriel Flandin and senior associate Basma Paradin also make the move, keeping intact a team that has been together since their days at rival Magic Circle firm Freshfields, where Cohen was the Paris head of corporate.

The latest move comes just two years after switching to Willkie Farr and Cohen becomes the third partner at Clifford Chance’s Paris office focusing on private equity. The team’s arrival brings the number of lawyers at Clifford Chance’s Paris office, headed by sports lawyer Yves Wehrli, up to 59 with Cohen becoming the tenth partner.  

Yves Wehrli, managing partner of Clifford Chance’s Paris office, said: ‘Fabrice will be a fantastic addition to our M&A group bringing a strong mix of private equity and general M&A expertise to our existing client offer. He is amongst the leading individuals in the market. The French economy is not that great so the busiest areas for us are those with international dimensions, which are likely to support the activity of the office, such as our finance and capital market practices, as well as cross-border M&A and international litigation.’

Cohen added: ‘I am convinced that the combination of our shared expertise in the French market, the synergies with our clients and Clifford Chance’s leading global M&A and private equity platforms will be a great success for the firm.’