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Wragge & Co and Lawrence Graham (LG) are to finally merge after partners voted in the move on Monday, creating a £170m firm under the name Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co.
The two firms started speaking in 2009, when Wragges began drawing up a list of London merger targets as it looked to invest £20m in reserved cash (18 November 2013). However they decided not to go ahead with the tie-up, a decision Wragge’s senior partner Quentin Poole today blamed on the difficult market at the time.
He said: “Neither firm has gone through a metamorphosis since 2009. [The previous talks] were just after Lehman, everyone was very risk adverse and you didn’t know where the world would end up. It was a mighty, mighty uncertain time. Fundamentally, the waters are much calmer [now]. The environment looks more user-friendly.”
Partners were told of the vote last month, with the merger needing 75 per cent approval to go ahead. However Poole said they achieved “way more than that” with over 90 per cent giving the idea the thumbs-up on Monday.
The firms are currently working out how to align their remuneration structures in time for the May 2014 tie-up date. A decision is expected to be made within the next six-weeks.
“Someone might lose their Christmas bonus but gain a Bupa policy,” said Poole when asked about potential pay cuts.
He added that, although the merger was about growth, duplication of jobs will be “inevitable” and so there may be a number of redundancies. Trainees will not be impacted by the tie-up.
The firm does not have any local managing partners, instead operating each office from a central management committee. Wragges managing partner elect David Fennell is becoming the new firm’s chief executive, while Poole will maintain his role and LG senior partner Andrew Witts will take on the position of chairman.
The move comes a little more than a year after Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) called off talks with LG. At the time FFW managing partner Matthew Lohn said: “Whilst there were some good synergies between the two firms we never reached the stage of putting it to partners and are not taking the process forward.” (28 June 2012)