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Herbert Smith Freehills launches German competition practice with hire of Taylor Wessing head Michael Dietrich

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has moved one step closer to offering clients a full service out of its still fledgling German offices with the launch of local competition capability led by Taylor Wessing’s former regional practice head Michael Dietrich.

A specialist in German and EU competition law, Dietrich focusses on merger control, regulatory investigations, litigation and compliance programmes. He has led Taylor Wessing’s German competition, EU and trade practice since 2013, having joined the firm in 2007 from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Dietrich becomes HSF’s sixth partner hire in Germany since it opened for business in April 2013 with offices in Frankfurt and Berlin. He follows 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.

In February the top 10 UK firm launched a German disputes practice with the hire of former Baker & McKenzie partner Mathias Wittinghofer, while finance partner Kai Liebrich joined the firm last month from Mayer Brown.

Sonya Leydecker, HSF’s joint-CEO recently pointed to Germany as a core focus for international growth and the firm has acted on deals including Air Liquide’s €2.7 billion acquisition of Messer Griesheim’s industrial gas activities in Germany, the UK and the US.

Thaeter, who is leading the firm’s development in Germany, said: ‘Michael’s arrival represents an important milestone for our German offices. By enabling us to offer transactional and behavioural competition expertise to clients in Germany and German companies with overseas operations, he complements both our corporate and disputes practices and brings us a step closer to full service capability in Europe’s largest economy.’

James Quinney, co-chairman of HSF’s global competition, regulation and trade practice, added: ‘Adding German capability significantly enhances our global competition practice. Our German client base is looking for this expertise, as are our clients based in other jurisdictions who are increasingly looking for guidance about one of the most actively enforced competition regimes in Europe. Equally the need for competition expertise in Germany is underlined by the fact that it is now one of the main jurisdictions of choice for follow-on cartel damages litigation.’