17 Jan 2023

Davis Polk secures Allen & Overy partner duo to launch in Brussels

Wall Street leader joins ranks of US firms planting a flag in EU’s competition hub post-Brexit

EC headquarters

The European Commission headquarters in Brussels Shutterstock

Leading Wall Street firm Davis Polk has hired two partners from Magic Circle UK firm Allen & Overy (A&O) to open a Brussels office.

The office, which will open later this year, will be headed up by Jürgen Schindler, co-head of A&O’s global competition and antitrust group, and fellow competition partner Frances Dethmers.

It will be the first office launch by Davis Polk since it opened in São Paulo in 2011 and reflects the strategic need for US firms to open in the EU’s competition hub in the wake of Brexit having previously leveraged their presence in London, Europe’s premier financial centre.

Wall Street rival Simpson Thacher & Bartlett opened in Brussels in September 2021, having also tapped top talent from A&O in the shape of former competition and antitrust head Antonio Bavasso. Kirkland & Ellis also arrived in 2021, with Fried Frank and Weil following suit last year. 

Davis Polk’s managing partner, Neil Barr, said: “The European Commission is a critical antitrust authority. We are excited to be able to offer our clients sophisticated antitrust capabilities with respect to matters under EU law.”

Schindler, who has spent nearly 15 years at A&O, advises on international, EU and German merger control, cartel and abuse of dominance cases across sectors including energy, finance, technology, transport and pharmaceuticals. He also litigates before the European courts in Luxembourg. He is admitted to practise in Germany, Belgium and New York.

Dethmers, who is joining the US firm as a special adviser, specialises in EU and Dutch competition law advising on control procedures, as well as on cartel investigations, abuse of dominance investigations, intellectual property issues and licensing and distribution agreements. 

She brings with her experience working at the Dutch Competition Authority and the European Commission having formerly been an economist.

Art Burke, head of Davis Polk’s antitrust and competition practice, said: “Their significant experience across merger control matters, cartels and antitrust litigation will benefit our clients greatly and will further solidify our position as a leading global antitrust firm.”

Davis Polk currently ranks in Band 4 for cross border and international antitrust advice in the US section of the Chambers & Partner global guide. It will be calculating that the arrival of the highly rated Schindler and his colleague will further boost its credentials.

The office launch will bring its European bases back up to three the firm having exited Paris at the end of last year. It also has offices in London and Madrid.

An A&O spokesperson said: “We are grateful for the contribution Jürgen and Frances have made to the firm.  A&O remains a leading antitrust practice, providing clients with a best-in-class service in all the major jurisdictions around the world, including in Brussels, London, the US and throughout the European and APAC regions.”

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