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Addleshaws wins two clients through US contact; best friends links offer merger opportunities
Addleshaw Booth & Co has seen the first fruits of its new international 'best friends' initiative. The firm has won two new clients through referrals from its best friend in the US, Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin. Addleshaws advised Toronto-Dominion Bank on a C$30m (£13.07m) syndicated loan to international design, marketing and technology company Envoy Communications Group. The work was sent to Addleshaws through Blackwell Sanders' affiliated Canadian firm Cassels Brock & Blackwell. London-based banking partner Karl Woolley led the team. Addleshaws is unable to name the other new client. The firm is establishing a panel of international best-friend firms in order to gain access to prestigious clients such as Toronto-Dominion Bank. The partnership voted in May to pursue the strategy, but the panel is not yet fully established.
"We're hoping that stronger alliances will arise from this best-friends strategy" Stephen Houston, Addleshaw Booth & Co
Addleshaws partner in charge of international development Stephen Houston said: "We're seeking to affiliate with two or three firms in each major jurisdiction. Some relationships are currently stronger than others." Houston insisted that most of the international best-friend relationships are confidential. The firm has gone public on only one other affiliation, that with US firm Kilpatrick Stockton. But, he said, there are "dozens and dozens" of international firms already involved. Houston said the strategy is based loosely on Slaughter and May's exclusive best-friends arrangement, which the magic circle firm says is unlikely to lead to a merger. But unlike Slaughter and May, Addleshaws has not ruled out any possibilities. Having a panel of best friends could be a good way of shopping around for an exclusive affiliation with a European firm, said Hous-ton. He refused to comment on whether this meant a merger. He added: "We're hoping that stronger alliances will arise from this best-friends strategy. This is something we have to bear in mind strategically." But Houston also insisted that the best-friends panel had been set up primarily to service client's needs. "Our primary concern is quality. Our secondary concern is reciprocity. We want to satisfy client's needs internationally," he said. He admitted that the UK top 10 has already scooped up many of the best full-service European firms. He agreed that it would be a challenge to score an exclusive arrangement with the most desirable independent firms, such as Cuatrecasas in Spain and Darrios Villey Maillot Brochier in France. He added: "We won't rule out firms that already have alliances. On the other hand, the European market is less developed than the UK market in many ways and we're seeing some good niche practices arriving onto the scene."