BLP and Greenberg Traurig call off merger talks

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and US firm Greenberg Traurig have called off their merger talks after failing to find enough commonalities for the tie-up.

BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew told The Lawyer there was no single reason for ending the discussions.

“As we progressed the conversation we just couldn’t find enough common ground,” she said. “We weren’t able to make enough progress in enough areas.”

She added: “It was a really interesting potential business opportunity but it was always on the understanding that culturally and strategically it needed to make sense for both firms.”

In a statement Greenberg Traurig chair Richard Rosenbaum said the firm had never done a large merger “because of our basic belief that ‘culture eats strategy for lunch’ and our conservative approach to financial risk”.

He added that the firm was larger and more diversified than BLP and had much broader practice priorities.

“The core real estate practice which first attracted us is indeed impressive, as are other BLP practices, and we have a great deal of respect for the firm as a whole. For Greenberg Traurig, it was quite exciting to enhance our practices, but not at the risk of materially diluting our cultural, financial and other priorities. This is what our diligence has been all about,” Rosenbaum added.

“After spending a substantial amount of personal time on this opportunity, visiting nearly every location and meeting so many fine BLP partners, I must admit to some regret in this decision.  But in the final analysis, we are a business. However exciting, we do not grow for growth’s sake and we do not ‘fall in love’ with a story or act on emotion; we run a disciplined operation, and will continue to run it and achieve our stated goals for the benefit of the many families who are dependent on us every day. ”

Rosenbaum said the firm would continue to focus on integration recent hires and offices, including continuing to build out its London office. That base, run by Paul Maher, is shortly moving into the Shard after recording a strong 2015 financially.

The two firms revealed they were in preliminary merger talks last month. BLP has long been on the hunt for a US merger partner but Mayhew said it would focus first on developing its own strategy and any future tie-up would have to align with that.

“I’m really proud of our firm and the open-mindedness and cohesiveness in our firm in our approach to this conversation,” she said.

Rosenbaum said he wished BLP the best and hoped to maintain friendships built during the talks.

He also thanked his firm, adding: “We must always remain open to considering all opportunities that will help us improve our quality and the value we deliver to our clients and talent. I am proud to be of service to this firm and its clients.”

A merger with Greenberg Traurig would have created a transatlantic powerhouse with over 2,500 lawyers and more than £1bn in revenue.

For more on BLP and its merger ambitions, read our recent analysis: The cultural costs of a BLP-GT merger