Skadden closes Vienna office as sole partner leaves for CMS

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom has closed its Vienna base with the departure of office managing partner Rainer Wachter to CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz.

Skadden said the decision was made following a strategic review which found that the firm could continue to provide advice on Austrian matters from other European bases.

Wachter, who has led the Vienna office since founding it in 1993, focuses on cross-border M&A transactions and frequently acts for private equity clients including Doughty Hanson and Allianz Capital Partners on their investments in Central and Eastern Europe.

He joins the CMS network firm on 1 October, having reached the early retirement option at Skadden after recently turning 55.

“Rainer Wachter joins as one of Austria’s most famous lawyer personalities in corporate transactions,” said CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz managing partner Peter Huber.

“It’s almost like coming home,” said Wachter, who trained at CMS at the beginning of his career.

The destination of the two associates and one trainee also based in Vienna is not yet known.

Speaking to Legal Week, Frankfurt corporate and capital markets partner Stephan Hutter said the firm started discussing a possible expansion of the Vienna office a year ago, but concluded that work could be handled from other European bases in collaboration with independent Austrian firms.

“Vienna had mainly been a service hub in addition to some corporate stuff,” said Hutter, who will continue to lead the firm’s Austrian practice from Frankfurt, alongside Paris-based European M&A head Armand Grumberg.

The team continues to act on a number of Austrian deals, including the re-IPO of Uniqa Insurance Group slated for later this year.

“We wish Rainer well,” Skadden said in a statement.