Skadden Paris M&A heavyweight Diaz leaves after three years for return to Gide

Gide Loyrette Nouel has sealed the hire of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom Paris M&A heavyweight Olivier Diaz, a move that marks a return to the firm for the rainmaker after 20 years away.

Diaz, one of the most respected M&A lawyers in the French market, previously spent eight years at Gide before joining Linklaters in 1998.

He was at the magic circle firm for about two years before joining Paris firm Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier, where he stayed for 14 years, serving as co-managing partner.

He moved to Skadden in January 2015, as the US firm looked to develop its core practices in Europe.

His practice covers the spectrum of corporate transactions, with a focus on public and private acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, joint ventures and corporate restructurings, and he has advised on a number of landmark deals in the French market, including Sanofi’s takeover of Aventis in 2004, the 2006 Alcatel-Lucent merger and the acquisition of Club Med by China’s Fosun International in 2015.

In his new role, he will also be handed a brief to explore growth possibilities with clients and Gide’s major partner firms.

In a joint statement, Gide senior partner Xavier de Kergommeaux and managing partner Stephane Puel said: “Olivier is a symbolic figure in the vast field of M&A. His arrival is a perfect example of our firm’s dynamic development, and illustrates our ambition to further strengthen our position as leaders in the market, in particular by bringing together the best practitioners in our clients’ key fields.”

Diaz added: “I am very pleased to be joining Gide again, and a culture in which I will be able to give my best.”

Gide’s M&A practice group is the largest in Paris, boasting more than 60 lawyers, including 18 partners.

Diaz’s exit from Skadden comes after the firm saw London M&A partner Michal Berkner leave to join Cooley’s City base last month. Berkner’s departure from Skadden’s corporate team was the first since the firm recruited high-profile private equity partner Richard Youle from White & Case in May last year.