Will they or won’t they? US-UK merger rumours abound
Hard on the hilarious heels of the Shearman & Sterling-Allen & Overy merger rumours (which were roundly stamped upon, it should be noted, by both firms) come one or two other tidbits. Such as Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.
Late last week The Lawyer kept getting told by all sorts of people in New York that Cadwalader, which has struggled more than most this year with the impact of the downturn, could be seeking a suitor. The would-be spouse, if there is one, was widely assumed to be a non-US firm.
So far, so good, except that the firm itself was quick to deny the goss. “There are absolutely no merger talks with anyone,” said a Cadwalader PR.
Elsewhere, Ashurst managing partner Simon Bromwich poured cold water on speculation about his firm and one-year-old Dewey & LeBoeuf. Said speculation, by the way, emanated from Dewey’s London associates.
“I can tell you that it’s not on the cards,” Big Man Bromwich assured us.
Meanwhile, back to more comedy merger rumours in New York. Fried Frank, an Ashurst suitor from way back when, has cropped up once more – this time in connection with another UK firm, Allen & Overy (A&O). (Why is everyone casting A&O as a potential acquisitor? We think it’s all rather flattering.)
But pity A&O senior partner David Morley, who has just relocated to the US for a few months. It looks as though he will have to spend most of his time in New York fending off the rumours swirling around the market.
The world is going mad, we tell you. But then, you know that already.
DEBEVOISE & PLIMPTON
Rush to the courts has begun in earnest, warns Goldsmith
It is just over a year since Lord Peter Goldsmith QC, the former UK Attorney General, stepped away from his role at the centre of UK government and into the European litigation chair at US firm Debevoise & Plimpton.
Although Goldsmith is based in Debevoise’s London office, he told The Lawyer that a growing proportion of his work is emanating from the continuing chaos on the other side of the Atlantic.
“The first few months of the credit crunch didn’t result in widespread litigation,” said Goldsmith. “This is different. People are losing real money, not just seeing their share prices fall.”
Debevoise’s European litigation head added that a variety of parties, such as vulture funds and shareholder action groups, were already circling, looking to recoup investments through the courts.
“And they’ll look to those with deep pockets,” he warned.
Goldsmith’s words confirm what many in the market have suspected – that the events of the past month are likely to trigger an avalanche of litigation in London, New York and beyond.
Early ;next ;month ;The ;Lawyer’s Transatlantic Elite disputes edition will highlight that increase, as well as the firms that, along with Debevoise, are benefiting from the long-awaited disputes bonanza.
Goldsmith and his fellow former UK government colleague Lord Falconer, now at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, will feature prominently.