Ashurst Morris Crisp's Paris office has emerged as the major opposition to the merger with Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson.
The drawn-out talks, which finally ended last week, came up against considerable resistance from Paris, which is headed by corporate rainmaker Thomas Forschbach. It is believed the office was concerned about integration issues with Fried Frank's local office, which employs around 16 associates and is led by M&A partner Eric Cafritz.
Reports suggest Ashursts' Paris office had threatened to break away from the firm if the merger went through.
Ashursts' management had tried to head off an impasse by awarding Forsch-bach 'super-point' status, mirroring the Fried Frank mixed lockstep and extra point system for senior partners. It is understood it was not enough to quell his reservations.
The news of a breakdown in the talks came just prior to the news revealed by Grape-vine, part of The Lawyer News Weekly email, that Ashursts finance partner Stephen Short is leaving for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. He will work closely with ex-Allen & Overy finance partner Euan Gorrie.