Dundas scotches merger rumours as it prepares for delayed partner conference

Merger speculation surrouding Scotland-headquartered Dundas & Wilson is intensifying as the firm gears up to hold its first partner conference since new management took over in the summer.

Dundas will hold its partner conference on 1 March in Scotland. It will be the first since Caryn Penley, Allan Wernham and Laurence Ward were confirmed as co-managing partners and chairman in June 2012 (21 June 2012).

Dundas usually holds its partner conferences in November, but decided to delay this one to give new management time to settle into their new roles. Penley and Wernham stepped into the managing partner role after incumbent Donald Shaw stepped down in March half-way through his second term amid concerns about the firm’s performance (8 March 2012). Dundas’s previous chairman David Hardie also stepped down mid-term.

It is understood that new chairman Ward will lead the March partner conference and that no itinerary has yet been sent round the firm. Numerous sources in and around Dundas believe that management would use the meeting to float the idea of a merger with Eversheds to its partners, with one source close to the firm saying that it was “the talk around the campfire with partners there”. But sources at both firms have said that this is categorically not true.

A spokesperson for Dundas quashed any notions of talks with Eversheds, while senior sources at Eversheds denied the existence of any communication between the two firms in relation to a merger.

Eversheds and Dundas did discuss a merger during RBS general counsel Chris Campell’s tenure as Dundas’s managing partner, which was between 1996 and 2005.

Dundas has seen a number of partner departures in London over recent weeks (7 February 2013), with Penley saying in a statement: “We’ve been open about our plans to manage our business. We’re focusing on our strengths in both Scotland and London. Last month, for the first time, we were appointed to the Government Procurement Service legal panel in England & Wales. Our London office is a key platform for us going forward.”