SJ Berwin to expand into France

New recruits are expected to advance the firm's bid to be preeminent in European deals.

SJ Berwin & Co is to add a French office to its growing number of European outlets. The UK based law firm focusing on private equity, venture capital and M&A has hired a number of professionals to set up shop in Paris.

Private equity funds lawyer George Pinkham and Sylvie Vansteenkiste, a tax lawyer, have agreed to join S J Berwin in order to establish the firm's Paris office. Both are currently working as a private equity team at Salans Hertzfeld & Heilbronn.

The pair will be joined by former team member Jean Goncalves who is currently in-house tax adviser to GE Medical Systems Europe.

The establishment of the Paris office of S J Berwin follows closely on the heels of the opening of its office in Munich last month. In addition the firm has offices in Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels and Madrid.

Commenting on the move, S J Berwin's Senior Partner David Harrel said: “The establishment of the Paris office is a vital stage in our highly focused expansion in Europe and our aim to be the leading European deals firm. We are delighted that we are being joined by George, Sylvie and Jean who will give us a flying start in the very important French Market.”

Showing significant growth in M&A transactions, France is also a very important market for European private equity. Figures published by the European Venture Capital Association (EVCA) for the first six months of 2000 show that E1.5bn was invested by French private equity houses in 879 companies. That compares with E2.8bn in the whole of 1999, which itself represented a 58% increase on the previous year. By way of comparison, in Germany, E1.6bn was invested by private equity houses in the first half of 2000 and E5.4bn in the UK.