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Ashurst Morris Crisp has engaged the services of management consultancy Hildebrandt International in the hope of finding a US partner.
According to a number of industry sources, Hildebrandt is advising the firm on a suitable partner with which to either merge or form an alliance and Ashursts is believed to have been in talks with a US firm in the past month.
One industry source says the subject is very sensitive, but adds: "A lot of people would not want it to happen and under the partnership deed by which Ashursts is governed, all the partners would have to agree to it."
Another source adds that Ashursts would be likely to seek an alliance with a middle-tier firm in the US rather than the elite blue-chip practices such as Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. "There would be a difference in profits and standards," the source says.
A spokeswoman at Ashursts would only say: "We do not comment on speculation," while a spokesman for Hildebrandt in the UK says: "We do not talk about clients we are or are not working with."