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Significant departures: Latham & Watkins hires CC’s private equity co-head Oliver Felsenstein

Latham & Watkins has strengthened its corporate bench in Germany with the hire of Clifford Chance’s (CC) co-head of private equity Oliver Felsenstein and partner Burc Hesse.

Heavyweight Felsenstein was only a few months into a four-year term as head of CC’s Germany corporate practice having succeeded partner Peter Dieners, who became managing partner for Germany, in August 2014

He was also co-head of the private equity group alongside London-based partner Jonny Myers. The firm has confirmed there are no plans to appoint a successor with Myers now solely leading the global group.

Both Felsenstein and Hesse advise on domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, with a particular focus on complex private equity transactions. They have experience in a number of very active industries, including the automotive, real estate, retail and technology sectors.

With its 30C high flying days firmly in the past, the Canary Wharf-headquartered CC has been the subject of considerable scrutiny. Widely reported partner exits from its corporate piece have brought into question its position as housing a preeminent buyout team and in recent months, it’s understood that Jonny Myers was himself approached by the rapidly growing Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Other departures of late include one of its biggest billers, David Walker, also to Latham & Watkins in 2013. Walker was followed by Tom Evans and Kem Ihenacho only months later, constituting another blow as both were touted as rising stars to watch in the private equity space.

The news also follows CC’s downsizing of its German presence after carrying out an internal review before Christmas, a move which expects to see around nine partners exit.

On the arrival of Felsenstein and Hesse, Latham & Watkins Frankfurt office managing partner Dirk Oberbracht said: ‘They are among the hardest working, hands-on and skillful M&A lawyers in the market and they have an impressive track record advising on a number of high profile deals. Their expertise and deep market knowledge complements our practice and they will add vast experience to our already strong German and European team.’

The firm’s global chair of corporate, Daniel Lennon, added: ‘We are committed to building the undisputed market leading practice in private equity in Europe and globally.’