Could transatlantic law firm mergers become the hot new trend? Last week brought news of merger talks between Hogan & Hartson and Lovells. And now we’re hearing rumors of a possible merger involving Allen & Overy, a top U.K. firm and a member of the prestigious Magic Circle.
This is not, of course, the first time we’ve heard such buzz. A year ago, the word on the street was that A&O was thinking about getting with Shearman & Sterling.
For the record, Allen & Overy denies the latest rumors. Here’s the firm’s official statement, responding to an inquiry from Above the Law:
As a global player who has been quite open about the importance of the US market, we are often subject to such rumours. We have openly stated for a number of years now that we have the desire to expand in the US market and as such we would consider any opportunities that may arise with a suitable US partner. That remains the case, but at the current time we are not in any merger talks whatsoever with a US partner. Your [reports seem] to refer to a global call our management held with all partners recently on our current view on strategy, though your questions below do not reflect the content of what was said whatsoever.
Find out what they were reacting to, after the jump.
We asked A&O to comment on these reports:
1. In a conference call last week, U.S. partners were informed that A&O is close to merging with a “well-known U.S.-based firm.”
2. Most U.S. partners of Allen & Overy were unaware of the possible merger, and some were upset by the news.
3. A number of partners have been de-equitized and/or have lost points in the past few months, possibly in an effort to increase the firm’s attractiveness to a merger partner.
Of course, please take the scuttlebutt with a grain of salt — especially since the firm has explicitly stated that it is “not in any merger talks whatsoever with a US partner” at the current time.
One A&O associate opines that it would only make sense for the firm to merge “with a domestic-focused US firm, one with a strong NY practice and no real foreign presence.” This makes sense to us, since the firm doesn’t need more redundancy in the ranks (having engaged in significant layoffs earlier this year).
If Allen & Overy does merge in the future with an American law firm, who might it be? Feel free to offer guesses in the comments.
Earlier: Law Firm Merger Mania: Allen & Overy + Shearman & Sterling = A&S&S??