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Lovells is in merger talks with US firm Hogan & Hartson with the aim of creating a transatlantic player with a combined turnover of £1.1bn.
It is understood that on the Lovells side the talks are being led by managing partner David Harris, senior partner John Young and litigation head Patrick Sherrington, although the firm’s international executive is also involved.
On the Hogan side chairman Warren Gorrell and finance managing partner Prentiss Feagles are leading negotiations.
It is understood that Sherrington, who has played a significant role in negotiations, has a particularly strong relationship with Hogan partner Ray Batla. Sherrington is currently chair of the Pacific Rim Advisory Council, of which Lovells is the Hong Kong member, while Batla is vice chair.
Batla, who divides his time between Hogan’s Washington and London offices is a senior figure at the US firm, having previously served on the firm’s executive committee and held the position of international managing partner.
While talks are understood to be at an early stage, both firms will present the idea of a merger to their respective partnerships at meetings later this year. It is expected that Hogan’s negotiation team will attend Lovells’ meeting and vice-versa.
If both partnerships support the plan it is anticipated that the merger would go ahead before the end of Lovells’ financial year next April.
Neither firm would confirm the talks. In a statement Lovells said: “In the US, we have to date been focused on providing a clearly defined range of services that reflect our international strengths and it’s no secret that any significant expansion beyond that would require a major strategic move.
“We review our US strategy on a regular basis and we have recently been taking a closer look at market developments and the opportunities that we believe are available to us.”
A statement from Hogan said: “It’s well known that we’re committed to providing our clients with the highest quality advice and service on their most important matters globally. Beyond that, we don’t comment one way or the other on particular initiatives unless we have something definitive to report.”