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‘Real estate up the agenda’: CMS brings across Paris team from Herbert Smith

CMS is continuing its global expansion with news that its French member firm has hired a two-partner real estate team from Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) in Paris.

With the acquisition of Nabarro and Olswang in the UK having moved real estate up the agenda at CMS, 12 lawyers will join CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre at the start of 2018.

Well-cited Paris head of real estate Pierre Popesco and urban planning and public law expert Florence Chérel will leave HSF after 12 years. Counsel Benjamin Bill will also join CMS as a partner. The office has also recruited counsel Jean-Marc Peyron and eight other lawyers.

‘The UK merger on 1 May provided an input to the international expansion and opportunities for the real estate practice,’ Ciaran Carvalho, head of the CMS UK real estate team, told Legal Business. ‘Real estate has moved up the agenda with Nabarro coming in, and Olswang added a lot of capability. Nabarro didn’t have international breadth but a big client list, and this can provide a platform for the future expansion of CMS.’

Popesco and Chérel both joined HSF in 2005 and started their careers at Lefèvre Pelletier & associés. Popesco also headed the legal department at Espace Promotion, a subsidiary of Unibail, specialising in shopping centres development before joining HSF. His clients included Amundi Immobilier and Apsys, which he advised on a €1bn and a $1bn deals respectively. He also acted for Eiffage Immobilier, Allianz Real Estate and China Huayou.

Chérel made partner in 2009 and has advised companies including UBS Real Estate, Bouygues Immobilier and Carlyle.

CMS real estate practice now counts more than 800 lawyers, over 40 of them in France, while CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre has 420 fee earners including 108 partners.

HSF confirmed that Popesco and Chérel had retired from the partnership in a statement, which added: ‘Last year, we recruited David Lacaze to drive forward the growth of our Paris real estate practice. He and his team are delivering on this strategy further strengthening our client relationships.’

The team hire is the latest chapter in CMS’ recent international expansion story.  Last week, the firm signed a partnership with Saudi practice Feras Al Shawaf to expand its network in the Middle East and North Africa region.

And earlier this year, CMS expanded in Latin America adding three new member firms from Chile, Peru and Colombia to its network.