Gide Loyrette Nouel's offices in Hungary and Ukraine have joined French rival Jeantet.
The move takes effect on November 1, adding branches in CEE (Central Eastern Europe) to Jeantet's offices in Casablanca, Geneva, Luxembourg and Paris.
Around 30 lawyers across Gide’s two offices will be moving to Jeantet. Partners Bertrand Barrier and François d’Ornano, who led Gide’s Kyiv and Budapest offices respectively, and Karl Hepp de Sevelinges, a Paris based partner focussed on Ukraine, are the most senior additions.
Five years ago, Gide, the first French firm to expand outside the country, had a fairly extensive network in CEE. In 2010, however, the firm announced it would be scaling back its international presence quite significantly.
That year the firm closed its three Middle East branches - Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Riyadh – and two of its five in CEE, Prague and Belgrade. With the loss of its teams in Hungary and Ukraine, Warsaw is the firm’s last outpost in the region.
Several high profile departures from Gide's Budapest and Kiev offices preceded the news its teams in Hungary and Ukraine were leaving.
Last month a team of 13 lawyers left Gide's Kiev base for Integrites, a Ukraininan firm with an international network. The bulk of the lawyers had previously comprised Beiten Burkhardt’s local office, which had moved to the French firm when the German outfot closed its sole Ukraine branch in 2013.
Among the group to join Intergites were partners Julian Ries and Oleksiy Feliv, who had been part of a trio jointly heading Gides’ Kiev office.
In September this year the head of Gide’s Budapest branch also left. Ákos Kovách moved to Hogan Lovells' office in the city as counsel.
A number of international firms have closed in Ukraine in the last three years. The deparutres began even before the recent outbreak of civil war as the challening economic situation in the country made maintaining a profitable office difficult. Among the more recent to close, or at least to make annoucements to this effect, were Clifford Chance and Chadbourne & Parke.
Hungary’s international legal contingent have, in recent years, been comparatively more stable, with one notable exception. Last year Dentons made headlines when it took over White & Case’s local operation.