23 Sep 2021

Simpson Thacher opens first office in mainland Europe

Brussels office, led by antitrust heavyweight Antonio Bavasso, will advise clients on their EU interests

Antonio Bavasso Image courtesy of Allen & Overy

Wall Street firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has opened for business in Brussels this week with a team of six lawyers advising clients on European merger control, competition law and regulatory matters post Brexit.

The new office, the firm's eleventh and first in continental Europe, will be led by dual-qualified UK and Italian competition lawyer Antonio Bavasso, who joined the firm’s London office in February from Allen & Overy (A&O) with the expectation he would sit at the helm in Brussels.

“I am very excited about the expansion of Simpson Thacher’s European antitrust and foreign investment practice,” Bavasso said, adding that the new Brussels office “is another significant step to complement our existing London practice and serve our clients’ interests in Europe.”

The firm has added seven associates to its European antitrust practice since Bavasso’s arrival from firms including Linklaters and Allen & Overy, with plans to hire more.  

Bavasso will be joined by Simpson Thacher veteran and partner Étienne Renaudeau, who will be based in London and Brussels, while a number of other lawyers will also travel back and forth between the offices.

Jason Glover, managing partner of the firm’s London office, said when the Brussels launch was announced in February the expansion would complement the firm's existing work in London and strengthen its global transactional and regulatory teams, advising clients on their European interests, particularly in the wake of Brexit.

The Brussels team is expected to collaborate closely with the firm’s broader antitrust and trade regulation practice, as well as its litigation department and transactional practices.

It will advise clients on matters including merger reviews and government investigations of cartels and competition infringements, as well as trade regulation concerning State aid and foreign direct investment before the European Commission, the European courts and EU member states.

Bavasso was previously co-head of A&O's global antitrust practice and of the telecoms, media and technology practice. A top adviser on merger control and regulatory litigation, Simspon Thacher describes him as having obtained antitrust approvals in a number of “precendent-setting and challenging transactions”, including his recent representation of Liberty Global in its £31bn deal with Telefonica to merge Liberty subsidiary Virgin Media with O2.

He has also advised on complex merger control cases before the Competition Appeal Tribunal of the United Kingdom, the Court of Appeal and the EU General Court.

New York-based Simpson Thacher is a top 20 US firm by size with a relatively small international footprint. Alongside London and now Brussels, it has overseas offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and São Paulo. Its US network extends beyond its New York headquarters to Washington DC, Palo Alto, Los Angeles and Houston.

Other US firms have also made Brussels moves this year in the wake of the UK's departure from the EU, with King & Spalding announcing last month it had hired antitrust partner Salomé Cisnal de Ugarte from Hogan Lovells to launch a competition practice in the city and Am Law 200 outfit Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle announcing in May it was setting up shop there.

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