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Of ‘strategic importance’: Hogan Lovells launches in Australia with Allens partner duo

Hogan Lovells has this morning (31 March) announced that it will establish a presence in Australia with Allens partners Nicky Lester and Tim Lester spearheading the launch in Sydney and Perth respectively.

Nicky Lester will lead its banking and finance practice in the country while Tim Lester will start up a corporate finance practice with a focus on the energy, natural resources and infrastructure sectors. Australian operations, which are targeted to grow to 9-11 partners by 2017, will be run from both Perth and Sydney.

Nicky Lester previously served as firmwide practice group leader for banking and finance at Allens while corporate finance partner Tim Lester, a former Hogan Lovells partner who was office managing partner of the firm’s Toyko outpost, specialises in large transactions and projects, both M&A and private equity.

The move is based on targeting Australian entities extending their operations into emerging markets such as Africa and to ‘allow the firm to leverage opportunities’ from cross-border trade flows to and from Australia from South East Asia, Japan and China. It added that it plans to grow the team and build a strong Australian base.

Hogan Lovells’ chief executive Steve Immelt said: ‘There is a significant alignment between our client interests in Australia, the United States, Africa and South East Asia. This move enables us to draw on the full resources of our global offering, especially in highly regulated industries such as energy and mining. We have long recognized the strategic importance of having an Australian capability in order to successfully develop our Asia practice but the opportunity had to be the right one.’

Regional managing partner for Asia & the Middle East, Patrick Sherrington, added: ‘Growing our Asia practice is a central part of Hogan Lovells’ core strategy. Our high quality banking and finance team and our commitment to key growth sectors, such as infrastructure, energy and natural resources is central to that. It is an exciting time for Nicky and Tim to be joining the firm and to be part of that clear vision.’

Others to open in Australia in recent months includes private-client focused firm Withers which created Withers SBL through an alliance with tax practice Balazs Lazanas & Welch (BLW) and corporate boutique SBL Shmith in December, while Bird & Bird announced in October it is merging with Sydney-based Truman Hoyle, 20 months after entering into a cooperation agreement with the firm.