Clifford Chance secures two Munich private equity partners from Kirkland & Ellis

Competition hots up in German private equity hub as international firms target European M&A surge
The impressive Skyline of the Bavarian capital Munich.

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Clifford Chance has unveiled a trio of lateral hires in Munich from Kirkland & Ellis, strengthening its private equity practice months after losing two partners to Wall Street firm Milbank. 

The Magic Circle giant has added partners Volkmar Bruckner and Mark Aschenbrenner, who will join alongside senior associate Samuel Frommelt. It becomes the latest international firm to secure senior Munich lateral hires in Germany’s private equity hub, following on from Milbank, Shearman & Sterling – which has reopened in Munich after a seven-year absence – and Goodwin Procter.

Mergermarket’s 2021 Q1 M&A report earmarked private equity as a key driver of  European M&A,  “buoyed  by  a  healthy  financing  market  and extensive  amount  of  dry-powder  available  to  deploy”.  

Bruckner is a seasoned expert in advising private equity investors, management teams and corporations on complex regional and international transactions, with a particular focus on leveraged buy-outs, carve-outs and joint ventures. He moved to Kirkland in 2017 following a two-year stint at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Before that, he spent eight years as a partner at Latham & Watkins. 

Meanwhile, Aschenbenner, a German business and corporate law specialist, focuses on national and cross-border mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions. He joined the US firm from Linklaters as an associate and made partner in 2019. 

Moving across with the partner duo is senior associate Frommelt, who specialises in advising private equity clients on investments in unlisted companies, public takeovers, co-investments and secondary transactions. 

Peter Dieners, Clifford Chance’s German managing partner, said the new additions reflected the firm’s focus on strengthening its “important” presence in the German private equity hub, highlighting its intention to continue building out its private equity bench in the near future.

German private equity group head Anselm Raddatz added: “The great new team joining us in Munich raises our private equity profile on the ground and will greatly contribute to providing our clients with even more power and expertise for the successful and secure realisation of their investments in Germany and Europe.” 

Clifford Chance’s German network currently boasts 300 lawyers, including 60 partners, across its three offices in Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. 

The triple hire comes after the firm lost two of its Munich partners, Markhus Muhs and Barbara Mayer-Trautmann, to leading Wall Street firm Milbank in January. Mayer-Trautmann's finance practice includes advising on large and mid-cap leveraged finance deals while Muhs’ private equity practice focuses on the energy and infrastructure sector.

In the same month, Shearman & Sterling re-established its presence in Munich – seven years after withdrawing from the city – with the hire of acquisition finance partners Florian Harder and Jann Jetter from Linklaters.

Last week, meanwhile, Goodwin Procter took on partner Jan Schinkoth from US rival Sidley Austin in Munich, where he will work remotely, becoming the firm’s first German partner based outside Frankfurt. 

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