FRESHFIELDS is preparing to merge with German firm Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund before 1 May next year.
Few major obstacles stand in the way as the terms of the merger were signed at the time the alliance was set up last May and they already share offices on the Continent.
The move will lead to a change of name for their operations in Germany, Brussels and Moscow to Freshfields Deringer. Alan Peck, chief executive of Freshfields, says that although Deringers is not in the German top four by size, it is considered to be in the top four for quality, along with Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Lober, Hengeler Mueller Weitzel Wirtz and Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch.
Peck confirms: "We certainly aim to merge in the first half of next year."
Deringers has 110 lawyers and 25 partners, with strengths including anti-trust and competition, corporate, commercial and telecommunications, while its client list features Goldman Sachs, Siemens, Mars and Nestle.
The latest development highlights the new-found love affair the international firms are having with German firms which have previously resisted advances. Clifford Chance and German firm Punder Volhard Weber & Axster will vote in September on merging, while Linklaters is committed to transforming its alliance with Oppenhoff & Radler into a merger by 2003.