Taylor Wessing Brussels corporate chief leaves for K&L Gates

K&L Gates has bulked up its Brussels arm with the hire of Taylor Wessing’s regional corporate head Jeroen Smets.

Smets has joined the US firm after five years at Taylor Wessing, where he launched the firm’s Brussels corporate practice. Prior to Taylor Wessing he was a senior associate at Ashurst.

Smets’ practice focuses on M&A, private equity, and structured and leveraged finance transactions, with particular expertise in management buyouts and acquisition finance.

His hire makes him the second recruit for K&L Gates’ Brussels office in recent months, coming after competition partner Flavia Distefano joined the firm in September this year from her role as head of competition at fellow US outfit McKenna Long & Aldridge.

K&L Gates Europe managing partner Martin Lane said: “Jeroen’s experience and deal track record will add a further dimension to our transactional practice there, which assists international businesses and institutional investors seeking to grow their operations in Belgium.”

Smets becomes the sixth partner in the US firm’s Brussels office, according to its website. It has not yet been decided who will take over from him as local corporate head at Taylor Wessing.

The news follows K&L Gates’ move to launch an office in Qatar, which was announced last month. Dewey & LeBoeuf’s former Doha chief, Kenneth Freeling, has been charged with heading the base.

The Doha office takes the firm’s global office count to 38, with the base marking its second arm in the Middle East following a Dubai launch in 2009.