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Closing Cologne: Freshfields restructures German offices to create broad offering

In a bid strengthen its platform in Germany, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is closing its Cologne office, with the bulk of its staff transferring to the firm’s existing Düsseldorf outpost.

Some 18 partners and 50-60 associates currently based in Cologne will move to Düsseldorf to ‘create a larger and broader’ offering of more than 40 partners. Also joining that office is corporate partner Andreas Fabritius and worldwide corporate practice group head Rick van Aerssen who move from Freshfields’ Frankfurt office.

Cologne’s private equity team – corporate partners Ludwig Leyendecker and Kai Hasselbach and six associates – will be transferring to the firm’s existing Munich office in a bid to ‘build out Munich as one of the hubs of private equity’.

The new office will be called the Rhineland office and will be managed by IP litigation partner Matthias Koch, who was based in Cologne. The office will focus on transactional, investigation, regulatory and litigation capabilities.

The Rhineland office will also be the main hub for global investigations in Germany, and corporate partner Franz Aleth will lead global integrations and separations with an aim to work more closely with Freshfields’ US practice.

The transition will begin next year, with the firm planning to find a new location in Düsseldorf by 2018, allowing two-years for the initial transition phase. Cologne based associates and business services staff were informed of the transition yesterday (16 December).

In November Freshfields confirmed it was restructuring to create what it said would be the ‘perfect platform’ for a stronger presence in the Rhineland.

Freshfields incoming co-managing partner Stephan Eilers said: ‘This is much more than an office merger. We further strengthen our stellar teams in Germany’s financial and industrial centres. They will work as part of our wider German practice, giving clients what they demand – capabilities in the major economic regions of Germany and a seamless cross-German offering that will harness the skills of all our lawyers in the country regardless of where they are based.’

Eilers said the firm’s restructuring was not a performance driven initiative and that it has no plans to close or restructure any other offices in Germany and Austria. The firm has around 125 partners in both countries.

For more on management changes and the challenges ahead for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, see The last champions – meet the leaders intent on sealing Freshfields’ place in the global elite (£)