White & Case builds London antitrust bench with Kirkland & Ellis partner hire

US firm adds England and Wales and Germany qualified Dr Michael Engel amid rising demand for antitrust advice across EMEA

Dr Michael Engel Image courtesy of White & Case

White & Case has bolstered its antitrust bench in London with the hire of partner Dr Michael Engel from US rival Kirkland & Ellis, as Big Law firms continue to hire antitrust lawyers at a steady clip. 

Engel has joined White & Case after a little more than two years at Kirkland, before which he spent a decade in Sullivan & Cromwell’s competition team. 

Dual qualified in England and Wales and Germany, Engel represents clients before the European Commission, the German Federal Cartel Office and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

“In recent years we have seen a toughening approach by the CMA in both merger control and cases relating to alleged anti-competitive conduct. That trend will only continue with new legislation proposed, which, coupled with the increasing intervention by the CMA, is leading to growing client demand,” said Mark Gidley, head of White & Case’s global antitrust practice. “Last year we acted in two of the three Phase 2 mergers to be unconditionally cleared by the CMA, and Michael’s arrival strengthens our ability to support our clients in London and globally as they respond to these challenges.”

Engel advises on complex multi-jurisdictional mergers requiring merger control approval and foreign direct investment approvals. He also advises on contentious antitrust matters, including cartel, abuse of dominance and state aid investigations, as well as follow-on damages actions before the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal and national EU member state courts and appeals of European Commission decisions to the Court of Justice of the European Union. 

At Kirkland he recently worked on acquisitions for clients including Noble Corporation and American Securities and earlier in his career advised Bayer on its $63bn acquisition of Monsanto and Praxair on its acquisition of Linde AG. He also counselled Iveco and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on the trucks cartel investigations and related multinational follow-on damages litigation in the UK and across the EU. 

Partner Oliver Brettle, a member of White & Case's global executive committee, said: “We have seen demand for antitrust advice in London and, indeed, across EMEA increase in recent years. 

“In the UK, as its standalone competition regime develops, our need for UK-specific antitrust advice has grown markedly on that basis and due to the expansion of our transactional practices and high transaction volumes, as evidenced by our ranking for UK M&A in 2022 by Mergermarket and Bloomberg. Michael’s experience makes him a great addition to support our clients.” 

At White & Case Engel has joined a strong antitrust team that houses more than 315 lawyers globally and is noted by Chambers for its strengths in cartel investigations, merger clearances and competition law impacting regulation for the life sciences sector. He will work alongside London-based antitrust partners Charles Balmain and Marc Israel, though three more partners, including EMEA competition head James Killick, split their time between London and the firm’s office in Brussels. 

Engel’s defection from Kirkland’s London antitrust team follows partners Annie Herdman and Sarah Jordan exiting for Ropes & Gray and Goodwin Procter respectively early last year, with the firm moving to replenish its ranks last spring with the hire of Allen & Overy partner Alasdair Balfour. 

It also comes amid a steady stream of recent antitrust hires by Big Law firms in London, including Latham & Watkins, which last month added leading competition law specialist Simon Pritchard from Linklaters. Meantime in February Caroline Hobson joined Cooley from CMS, where she co-led the firm’s competition and trade practice, and Douglas Lahnborg joined Dechert as one of a trio of senior antitrust lawyers to move over from Orrick in the UK and US.  

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