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Offshore giant Appleby is to merge with Isle of Man firm Dickinson Cruickshank to create the world’s largest offshore firm in terms of partner numbers.
The combined firm will have 73 partners and nine offices worldwide, including in Dubai and Zurich, where Appleby opened last year (The Lawyer, 15 September 2008).
It is the first major offshore merger since Appleby first moved into the Channel Islands by combining with Jersey-based firm Bailhache Labesse in June 2006.
“This gives us the opportunity to stake ourselves as the leader in the offshore world,” Appleby global managing partner Peter Bubenzer told The Lawyer.
The deal will also be a significant boost to the Isle of Man’s status as an offshore jurisdiction. The island is perceived to be lagging behind the Channel Islands because of its smaller presence in captive insurance, banking and hedge funds.
Dickinson Cruickshank senior partner Paul Morris said: “One of the issues for the Isle of Man government was that [the island] is lacking because of the absence of a global law firm.”
The jurisdiction is better known for its marine and aviation expertise and AIM listings and is commonly used as a route into London by Indian-based companies.
Bubenzer said Appleby’s expansion into the Isle of Man would complement its Mauritius base, from which it currently services Indian-based clients.
The deal will complete on 1 October, at which time Dickinson Cruickshank will adopt the Appleby brand. Morris said he expected to become the regional managing partner, but added that the decision will be subject to a democratic process.