Morgan Lewis adds 20-strong Shearman & Sterling team for Munich launch

As talks with Hogan Lovells are abandoned, Shearman suffers latest exits from European network
The impressive Skyline of the Bavarian capital Munich.

AllesSuper; Shutterstock

Top 10 US law firm Morgan Lewis has added a 20-strong team from Shearman & Sterling to open its second German office, in Munich. 

The team’s departure leaves Shearman with a single partner based in Germany and marks the latest in a string of recent partner exits from the firm’s European and Middle East offices that came amid its now-aborted merger talks with Hogan Lovells. 

M&A partner Florian Harder will serve as managing partner of Morgan Lewis’ new base, having previously led Shearman’s German offices. Moving over with him are leveraged finance partner Florian Ziegler, tax partner Jann Jetter and a supporting cast of 17 regulatory and transactional lawyers focused on M&A, private equity, finance and tax.

The departures come just over two years after Shearman reopened in Munich with the hire of Harder and Jetter from Linklaters, a move that signalled a renewed push by the New York firm in Germany, where it enjoyed a market-leading M&A practice under the leadership of Georg Thoma in the 1990s and 2000s.

Commenting on the launch, Morgan Lewis chair Jami McKeon said: “Germany is one of the most significant legal markets in Europe, and its importance is only growing.

“We have eyed this market for some time to find the right team that builds on our existing practice. We anticipate that the entire office, including the business professional team, will join us, enabling our new Munich office to operate at full speed on day one.”

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Harder represents private equity firms, strategic investors and international corporates on complex M&A transactions in both German and cross-borders deals. 

Meantime Ziegler, who will split his time between Munich and Frankfurt, focuses on German-based and cross-border leveraged finance transactions, including acquisition financing and corporate loans, the issuance of high yield notes and structured finance products. 

Jetter leads a team of tax lawyers and tax advisers focused on tax-oriented structuring of private equity funds and private equity transactions, and post-deal reorganisations and integrations.

McKeon added that having two offices in Germany would better position Morgan Lewis as a strategic partner for its clients in the country, particularly given that Munich is home to multinationals including Amazon, Google and Siemens and is the seat of significant financial sponsors like private equity funds and family offices.

The firm’s Frankfurt office houses more than 20 lawyers advising clients primarily in the manufacturing, energy, tech, life sciences, financial services and automative sectors. 

Steven Wall, Morgan Lewis’ managing partner, said: “Our new Munich team will pair well with our existing private equity practice and industry strengths in Frankfurt and globally, and will provide opportunities for both German offices to attract and service complex inbound and outbound cross-border transactions.

“Munich has strategic importance for the private equity, infrastructure, energy, life sciences and technology industries and presents strong opportunities with intellectual property given that Munich is where the European Patent Office is headquartered,” he added.

Following the team's departure, Shearman will have one lawyer in Germany according to its website – Frankfurt-based M&A partner Thomas König.   

The New York firm and Hogan Lovells confirmed late yesterday (2 March) that they had mutually agreed to call off merger talks, putting a halt to a potential tie-up that would have created a firm with more then $3.6bn in revenue. 

A flurry of recent partner departures in London from Shearman suggest the office may have been unsettled by the talks. Last month, Shearman’s EMEA and Asia M&A head Phil Cheveley left for Sidley Austin shortly after restructuring partner Helena Potts moved over to Paul Hastings. 

This week it has been reported that heavyweight finance duo Korey Fevzi and Philip Stopford are heading for Cravath Swaine & Moore to start a UK law practice for the elite Wall Street firm. Partners have also left Shearman’s Paris, Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices in recent months for rivals including King & Spalding and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. 

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