A year ago this week

Denton Wilde Sapte follows Cameron McKenna to Africa

Denton Wilde Sapte's first foray into East Africa was brokered by its East Africa expert Charles Morrison and head of trade finance Geoffrey Wynne.

An association was set up with leading Tanzanian firm Mkono & Company, a Dar Es Salaam-based firm specialising in a range of practice areas including projects, foreign investments and oil and gas mining.

This move followed hot on the heels of CMS Cameron McKenna's entrance to the African market with its link-up with Canca Inc and Jowell Glyn & Marais in South Africa.

The firm has four London-based partners looking after the firm's African client base.

In February, the partnership linked up with the Zambian-based firm Corpus Globe. Under the alliance with the three-partner firm, Denton Wilde Sapte will act on energy, corporate and mining work.

Other firms building a presence in the area include Linklaters & Alliance, Stephenson Harwood and Clifford Chance.

Hill Dickinson in merger talks with Weightmans

Rival firms Weightmans and Hill Dickinson were at the preliminary stage of merger negotiations to create a North-West insurance giant.

The firms shared a number of clients including insurance giant CGU, which had merged with Norwich Union to create CGNU.

Discussions were reported to be stagnating even before the surprise departure of Weightmans' senior partner Mike Edge in June 2000.

The talks were called off in November 2000 following a restructuring initiative at Weightmans and the election of a new management board.

Commenting on the announcement, Weightmans' new senior partner Ian Evans said: "We've decided that our short-term strategy is to consolidate internally. We're in the middle of a far-ranging restructuring process which we want to ensure is undertaken properly before we consider further growth. When we are satisfied that these changes have bedded down we will look once again at what the market is telling us about legal services."

David Wareing, Hill Dickinson's managing partner, said: "The preliminary talks were constructive and helpful for both firms. Weightmans is in the process of restructuring and moving on to the next stage of discussions would have been inappropriate."