King & Spalding adds competition practice in Brussels with Hogan Lovells partner hire

Salomé Cisnal de Ugarte becomes the US firm's third partner in EU hub after 2019 office launch

King & Spalding has hired antitrust partner Salomé Cisnal de Ugarte from Hogan Lovells to launch a competition practice in Brussels.

Cisnal de Ugarte, who served as managing partner of Hogan Lovells’ Brussels office between 2018 and 2020, brings with her more than two decades of experience handling EU antitrust and competition law in Brussels. She most recently worked as a partner in Hogan Lovells’ antitrust and competition practice and has worked for other leading US law firms in Brussels, including Crowell & Moring, Mayer Brown, as well as UK giant Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. 

A competition specialist by trade, Cisnal de Ugarte’s practice covers cross-border mergers and strategic joint ventures, obtaining clearance for transactions from the European Commission and national competition authorities worldwide. She also handles complex antitrust investigations and counsels on compliance issues. 

The hire makes Cisnal de Ugarte King & Spalding’s third partner and fifth professional to join its Brussels office. The firm opened its doors in the European capital back in 2019 to work closely with its Paris office on international trade, FDA and life sciences matters. 

It initially brought on partners Marie-Sophie Dibling from Fidal and Genevieve Michaux from Mayer Brown to spearhead the operation, as well as former European Commission official Hervé Jouanjean as a senior trade expert. 

Daniel Crosby, King & Spalding’s office managing partner in Brussels, said: “Salomé represents another significant expansion for our Brussels team and demonstrates King & Spalding’s commitment to growing the office in those areas of law that are vital for our clients.”

Zach Fardon, head of the firm’s government matters practice, added: “Competition law is one of the cornerstones of the transatlantic legal market and our clients are increasingly involved in cross-border matters. Having a lawyer of Salomé’s standing and stature, with over 20 years of experience in Brussels, allows us to offer the high-end advice that our clients require.”

A number of other firms have turned their attention towards Brussels this year to adjust to the impact of Brexit on the ability to advise clients on EU law. Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle relocated New York partner Simon Batifort to lead its new Brussels operation in May, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett announced its plans to open in Brussels back in February. 

In January, McDermott Will & Emery boosted its Brussels offering with the arrival of competition partner Hendrik Viaene from Deloitte Legal, where he was head of its global antitrust and regulatory hub.

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