Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) today (3 February) took a further step towards building up its German capability following the collapse of its alliance with Gleiss Lutz and Benelux firm Stibbe with the hire of former Baker & McKenzie partner Mathias Wittinghofer to launch its disputes practice in Frankfurt.
A specialist in banking and finance disputes, as well as post-merger and acquisition disputes, Wittinghofer will become part of HSF’s global banking litigation and investigations practice. The dual German and English-qualified attorney’s client base includes banks, private equity firms and major corporations.
Wittinghofer is the fourth partner to join the firm’s Frankfurt office since it opened for business in April 2013 – following corporate lawyers Ralf Thaeter, Nico Abel, and real estate specialist Hans Thomas Kessler who joined from Gleiss Lutz, Norton Rose Fulbright, and legacy SJ Berwin respectively.
The firm’s current global head of HSF’s disputes practice and incoming joint chief executive, Sonya Leydecker, said: ‘Establishing an on the ground disputes capability in Germany, Europe’s largest and strongest economy, is a crucial part of our expanding European strategy. It will greatly enhance the delivery of our disputes service to clients across our global platform. In Mathias we have found an excellent partner, whose strong skills and proven experience in resolving banking and finance disputes neatly fit our strategic focus and requirements in Frankfurt.’
HSF corporate partner and Germany-based Ralf Thaeter added that Wittinghofer’s ‘expertise across the full spectrum of banking and finance disputes brings an important dimension to our existing capability and takes us a step closer to the full-service capability in Frankfurt, which is our ultimate goal.’
Other recent international hires for the 2,300-lawyer firm include former DAC Beachcroft real estate partner Javier Ortega de la Peña to its Madrid office in the last week of January, and former Linklaters partner and financial services regulatory expert William Hallatt to its global FSR practice in Hong Kong in mid-January.