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Atanaskovic Hartnell opens London office

Atanaskovic Hartnell opens London office

Sydney law firm Atanaskovic Hartnell has expanded overseas.The firm's managing partner, John Atanaskovic, heads the four-lawyer office in London. Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Atanaskovic said his…

Sydney law firm Atanaskovic Hartnell has expanded overseas.

The firm's managing partner, John Atanaskovic, heads the four-lawyer office in London. Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Atanaskovic said his firm was looking to compete with the established magic circle and global law firms in London on the back of a blue-ribbon European client base.

"The firm has acted for clients that have been active in the UK for quite some time," said Atanaskovic. "Previously, Chip Goodyear (the former chief executive of BHP Billiton) and Rupert Murdoch and others have pushed me to open an office in London and the thing that pushed us over the line recently was the work we have been doing for Glencore."

He said international clients that the firm has previously acted for, including The Coca-Cola Company, had also given a positive response to the firm's plan to open an office in London.

Atanaskovic refused to reveal if he, or the firm, was currently doing work for Rupert Murdoch, who is embroiled in the News of the World phone hacking scandal and whom Atanskovic has acted for extensively in the past.

Atanaskovic was instrumental in running the Federal Court litigation on behalf of News Corporation in the 1990s, which allowed the rebel Super League rugby league competition to take place.

Atanaskovic Hartnell has acted for the Switzerland-based but London and Hong Kong listed commodities trader Glencore International for quite some time.

In August, the firm acted for Glencore on its $280 million takeover of the ASX-listed Minara Resources. Atanaskovic said after the company raised over $10 billion earlier this year, its chief executive indicated to him that it would like to be able to use the firm during business hours in Europe as it looked to make further acquisitions.

When asked if the firm's move into London was part of a long-term strategy to link with a global law firm, Atanaskovic said his preferred model was to remain as a stand alone firm.

"A number of firms have approached us, and we have spoken to them, but our preference is not to do anything," he said. "We founded Atanaskovic Hartnell because all the partners who came in originally had experience at large firms and we all preferred to avoid the bureaucracy and the compromises, in terms of the style of practice that is endemic in big firms."

"So our preference is not to be a springboard into Australia for any of the big global firms, but that could change and we don't rule it out absolutely."

John Atanaskovic and Tony Hartnell started their own firm in 1993. Atanaskovic is a previous partner at Blake Dawson and managing partner of Allens Arthur Robinson.

Atanaskovic will divide his time between Sydney and London, and will be back in Australia shortly to prepare for the Australian Securities and Investment Commission appeal to the High Court in relation to the NSW Court of Appeal's decision last year to overturn previous bans and fines against non-executive directors of James Hardie.

Atanaskovic is acting for four of the directors.

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