Dentons’ Spanish managing partner and head of real estate, Jesús Varela, is leaving the firm to join leading Spanish independent Pérez-Llorca with two other partners.
News of the departures comes a little over a year after Varela took up the role of managing partner of the global giant’s Spanish arm.
Moving across with him will be José Ramón Vizcaíno, a tax specialist, and disputes partner Julio Parrilla — all three are joining Pérez-Llorca's real estate team, according to Spanish business newspaper Expansion, which first revealed the moves.
A date for their departures has not been confirmed and Pérez-Llorca declined to comment, however Dentons confirmed the departures and announced today (5 June) that Madrid-based banking and finance partner Jabier Badiola has been appointed to succeed Varela as Spain managing partner.
The departures are a blow to Dentons’ ambitions to grow its Iberian presence, especially given Varela’s status as a heavyweight lawyer with a profitable practice advising investors and lenders in the Spanish real estate sector.
In October last year he told Iberian Lawyer he planned to increase Dentons’ headcount in Spain from 61 to 150 in the near future, while the firm has also been exploring a tie up in Portugal, which remains a key gap in its international network.
Varela, a former partner at Linklaters, joined Salans in October 2011, a year before it merged with SNR Denton and Fraser Milner Casgrain to create Dentons.
Dentons is the third international firm Pérez-Llorca has made hires from this year.
In January, Juan Oñate joined the Madrid office as a partner from Linklaters, where he was a counsel.
A month later, it hired corporate partner Marcel Enrich to its Barcelona office from Baker McKenzie and last month it appointed Linklaters managing associate Cosme Colmenero, a restructuring specialist, as a counsel in Madrid.
The firm has climbed to fourth in the annual Spanish law firm ranking published by Expansion with revenue up last year by 23% to €64m, putting it behind Garrigues, Cuatrecasas and Uría Menéndez.
Meanwhile, Badiola, who joined Dentons from Clifford Chance in 2010 and became a partner in 2015, underlined the firm's ambitions to grow in Spain.
“Dentons has a clear vision and strategy to develop our presence and service offering in the Spanish market," he said. "Over the last three years, we have added six new partners, enhancing our capabilities in corporate and M&A, tax, banking and finance, compliance, litigation and arbitration, and capital markets."
Tomasz Dabrowski, CEO of Dentons Europe, added: “Spain is one of Europe’s most important economies, and a top priority for both Dentons and our clients.”
This article was updated with news of the appointment of Badiola to succeed Varela