Linklaters is in merger talks with a South African firm, believed to be Edward Nathan & Friedland.
Linklaters' South African Business group (SAB) has regular business from South African clients and a 30-strong legal team.
Top commercial firm Edward Nathan is understood to be pushing for full merger at the talks with the international firm. With a 33 partner count, Edward Nathan is ranked joint sixth with Werksmans in size.
Although a domestic link-up between Edward Nathan and Werksmans has been planned, sources have confirmed that these talks are off.
White & Case is the only international firm, with a three-partner office in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Recent speculation that Edward Nathan was hooking up with Clifford Chance has been described as a "smoke screen" by a UK source.
A South African source says: "Clifford Chance has been shopping around for a long time."