Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has confirmed it is in preliminary merger talks with US firm Greenberg Traurig.
Should a deal be reached it would give BLP a major presence in the US as well as a number of offices in Europe, Asia, Israel and Latin America.
BLP’s managing partner Lisa Mayhew said: “BLP has always been a game-changer in the legal sector and hungry to explore opportunities that will improve the quality and breadth of our service to clients.”
Real estate and infrastructure will be a major focus during the merger discussion with the two firms believing they can offer a top-level global practice. The merger would also expand the firms’ global practices in corporate, finance, M&A and private equity; litigation and corporate risk, dispute resolution and regulatory; technology, media & entertainment; financial services; private wealth; and energy and natural resources.
The combination would result in a firm of more than 2,500 lawyers, with nearly 750 lawyers in New York and London alone, and a broadened platform across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East.
BLP confirmed that senior leadership was working to assess the merits of the merger over the coming months. Any merger would be subject to a partner vote. The firm added it would make no further comment at the present time.
Greenberg Traurig executive chairman Richard Rosenbaum said that although the US firm had grown from three lawyers to 1,950 without mergers it would always act on opportunities that would allow the firm to “execute its strategies”.
Although BLP has been on the lookout for a US merger for sometime, up until now the firm’s global expansion has taken it east rather than west. The firm has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore.
The firm recently opened an office in Myanmar after appointing Baker & McKenzie’s former Yangon managing partner Chris Hughes to lead its operations in the country. The move was designed to give BLP access to the country’s growing infrastructure, real estate, telecommunications and transport sectors.
The merger talks are the first major strategic move to be led by newly-appointed managing partner Mayhew, who took over from Neville Eisenberg on 1 May 2015.
Greenberg Traurig also expanded recently through the addition of a real estate practice in Germany. The firm’s fourth European office opened in Berlin after it picked up a team of 50 lawyers and staff from Olswang in July.
In the UK Greenberg Traurig has a relatively small office, which is headed up by former Mayer Brown co-vice chairman Paul Maher.
Speaking to The Lawyer last year Rosenbaum said that the firm’s “days of growth” in London were not over but that he was willing to wait for the right partner to do business with. Rosenbaum pointed out that it took the firm 10 years to find a suitable partner to launch in Europe in Maher.
Due to the early nature of the discussions it is unknown how a merger would impact Greenberg Traurig’s London office.