11 Jan 2022

Van Bael & Bellis hires three-strong team from DLA Piper in Brussels

Experienced banking and finance partner Johan Mouraux leads trio joining Belgian independent

Johan Mouraux Image courtesy of Van Bael & Bellis

Brussels-based independent law firm Van Bael & Bellis (Van Bael) has started the year with the hire of a three-lawyer transactions team from DLA Piper.  

The firm, traditionally known for its strength in EU antitrust, trade and regulatory law as well as commercial disputes, has hired experienced banking and finance partner Johan Mouraux alongside senior associate Caroline Coppens and associate Lucas De Four. 

Mouraux headed DLA Piper’s finance, projects and restructuring practice group in Belgium, having joined the firm in 2007 as an associate from legacy firm Loyens Advocaten and making partner in 2012.

His practice adds breadth to Van Bael’s offering, given his experience in advising parties involved in financing transactions including arrangers, lenders, borrowers, investors, sponsors and public authorities – the last being a significant bonus given Belgium’s federal structure. He has particular expertise in infrastructure and renewables, (both significant areas of investment for the Walloon and Flemish governments, as well as the Belgian state) and is also expert in real estate and leveraged finance deals.   

With the pandemic in mind, his experience in debt restructuring and financial services regulation in the banking, insurance, and investment services sectors will also come in handy. Van Bael was one of the founders and initial sponsors last year of BeTA, the Belgium Turnaround Association, which specialises in restructuring.  

Michel Bonne, who heads Van Bael’s non-contentious group, said Mouraux’s insights will dovetail with the firm’s transactional team in capital markets, M&A and corporate real estate.

“We work continuously with Belgian and multinational clients and independent firms around the globe, and Johan’s expertise fits neatly into our strategic goal of being the go-to independent in the market,” he added.  

Philippe De Baere, Van Bael’s managing partner, added the move was part of his firm’s long-standing strategy to be the leader across a range of practice areas, noting Bonne’s team had “gone from strength to strength for well over a decade now, and will continue its growth in the future”.

He concluded: “Following the opening of our London office, this move shows once again that this is a firm that invests in high-end expertise for its clients.” The firm opened in London in January 2021 with the hire of Skadden Arps counsel Nick Lawn as a partner and promoted respected trade lawyer Isabelle Van Damme to its partnership in February 2021, alongside one counsel.  

The firm’s clients include Negma Group, Belgian insurance company Federale Verzekering, leading European wind farm developer Elicio and US software house Aptean.  

In other recent Belgian legal news, top 40 UK firm Shoosmiths announced yesterday it had hired a former EU competition law leader at EY Law to launch an office in the city, its first overseas base.

The firm has joined a string of US players with long-established London arms committing to a presence in Brussels in recognition of the fact that the UK sits outside the EU's competition law ambit. Fried Frank announced it was launching in Brussels last week and last year Kirkland & Ellis, Simpson Thacher and Curtis all opened there, with Reed Smith setting up shop in 2020.

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