TJG set to merge with Wessing
Taylor Joynson Garrett (TJG) is on the verge of securing a merger deal with German firm Wessing. The move is expected to be confirmed this week.
The merger will transform the City firm into a leading cross-border corporate technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) specialist. A successful merger would catapult 93-partner TJG onto the European stage, securing 91 German partners and creating an Anglo-German corporate TMT specialist with an annual income of around £100m. The deal would bring TJG its first international practice and a major presence in the key technology city of Munich, home to the bulk of Wessing's respected intellectual property (IP) and pharmaceutical practice.
Sidley Austin's German link grinds to a halt
The merger bid between US firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood and Germany's Von Boetticher Hasse Lohmann came to a halt last month following months of talks. The firm is still undecided as to whether to enter the German market.
Fulbright opens in Munich
Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski opened an office in Munich, giving the firm its first presence in Continental Europe. It also makes it the first Texan-based firm to open on the Continent. Fulbright's office, which advises its German-speaking clients on US law, will build up an IP practice.
Head of the firm's international department Steve Pfeiffer said: “We'll now have on the ground in Germany experienced American lawyers who have lived and been educated in Germany and who speak the language” (The Lawyer, 8 April).
Fried Frank's Frankfurt fling
New York firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson set up a Frankfurt office to provide one of its largest investment banking clients with a capital markets practice.
Although the name of the client has not been disclosed, it is known that Fried Frank does a vast amount of international work for Goldman Sachs. For now, the Continental practice will be run out of Paris, where Eric Cafritz is managing partner. London-based corporate partner Sanford Krieger will also spend time in Frankfurt.
The office will also service Fried Frank's existing M&A and private equity clients.
Dewey Ballantine lands Weil Gotshal London German team
Weil Gotshal & Manges has lost its German desk in London to US firm Dewey Ballantine following a fallout with the Frankfurt office over differences in strategy.
Corporate partner Geza Toth is an M&A and private equity lawyer and his clients are predominantly financial institutions, including Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) and GE Capital. The move fits well because CSFB and GE Capital are two of Dewey Ballantine's largest clients in the US.
Macchi adds Treviso office
Slaughter and May best friend Macchi di Cellere e Gangemi opened a new office in Treviso, one of the most dynamic areas in northern Italy.
Treviso is a key market because of the heavy presence of blue chip companies, including the likes of Benetton and Stefanel. The firm will also target work for international finance institutions. Macchi now has offices in Milan and Rome and associated offices in Vincenza and Verona.
Italian exodus leaves Clifford Chance little in Italy
At Clifford Chance, a battle over management caused five senior Italian partners, including Vittorio Grimaldi and Rome-based Francesco Novelli, to walk out. All are major fee-earners who objected to Clifford Chance's demands that an Anglo-Saxon-style management system be put in place.
Despite the merger with the City firm in 2000, Italian partners refused to change their cultural practices. As a result of the fallout, Clifford Chance has been forced to look for a new home in Rome. The departures, effective from 31 August, represent almost a fifth of Clifford Chance's Italian operation, leaving 22 partners and 98 associates. Senior banking partner Luigi Chessa stayed faithful to the magic circle firm.
CMS alliance welcomes first Italian member
Cameron McKenna's CMS alliance welcomed an Italian member for the first time. Nineteen-partner Adonnino Ascoli & Cavasola Scamoni joined CMS in February, giving the network a total of seven members and extending its coverage into Southern Europe.
French firm Bureau Francis Lefebvre (BFL) introduced Adonnino to the alliance after it joined CMS in March 2001. Adonnino managing partner Pietro Cavasola said: “We feel that this network works very well and is becoming increasingly integrated. We also feel that it missed an Italian member.” (The Lawyer, 14 January.)
Herbert Smith sees Paris competition team defect to CC
Herbert Smith's European expansion success – with its alliance to Dutch firm Stibbe and German firm Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch – was cut short when the firm faced the loss of its entire Paris competition team to City rival Clifford Chance.
The two-partner, three-associate team, led by top French partner Claude Laz-arus, will make the move within the next few months. Lazarus's official leaving date is 30 September. The loss of the team is a blow for Herbert Smith, which will now rely on London and Brussels for its competition advice.
Watson Farley suffers loss of Paris office to Orrick
Watson Farley & Williams received a shock earlier this year when its Paris office, which includes seven partners, announced that it was merging with San Francisco-based Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe.
The move lost the City firm its French presence and a number of key clients, including Vivendi Universal and Renault. While the London office has a high profile in shipping and asset finance, it has struggled to attract large corporate clients, which made the Paris office loss even more painful.
Orrick was considered a good fit for Paris as it has a significant presence in New York, which is essential for Watson Farley's finance practice; it also has West Coast offices, which are key for Vivendi. Following the spilt, Watson Farley announced its own merger discussions with Simmons & Simmons. The talks, however, were aborted in May. The breakdown was blamed on Simmons' partners in the corporate department, who argued that the merger would do nothing for them.
Trio of shipping firms seek Paris springboards
Three major shipping firms turned their attentions to Paris.
Clyde & Co merged with French insurance specialist Honig Preel Mettetal Buffat Coulon (HPMBC) in the first international merger to be secured by the London firm. The new firm, named locally as HPMBC Clyde & Co, creates one of the largest insurance and reinsurance law practices in France and provides heavy bolstering to Clyde & Co's small French office.
Ince & Co took over the French offices of rival niche shipping firm Constant & Constant after two years of dispute between Constants' Paris and Le Havre offices and its London base over funds for development. Constants Paris partner Andrew Charlier said: “I consider the merger with Ince to be a great opportunity and expect it to help build our France practice further and enhance our service to our French clients. The opportunity is also in terms of the international network that Ince is able to offer its clients, and that it has a worldwide practice.” (The Lawyer, 10 December 2001.)
Stephenson Harwood is also looking for a French office and is in merger discussions with its French best friend Barbé Thibault Carpentier Groener, with which it shares its Paris office. The talks come in the wake of the firm's merger with Sinclair Roche & Temperley.
CGMP strengthens alliance with inter-firm teams
Members of the Iberian alliance CGMP are developing common teams of lawyers working in M&A and tax. The firms involved will share almost 10 per cent of their combined profits.
CGMP contains Spanish firm Cuatrecasas, Portuguese firm Gonçalves Pereira Castelo Branco & Associa-dos, Brazilian firm Machado Meyer Sendacz e Opice and Argentinian firm Pérez Alati Grondona Benites Arntsen & Martínez de Hoz. The firms plan to spend their shared profits on developing the common teams, joint marketing and operational integration. Sharing profits and blending teams in this way is expected to strengthen the bond between the firms, making it harder to break.
Squire Sanders, Cuatrecasas kick off Barcelona scrum
A number of firms are targeting Barcelona as US firm Squire Sanders & Dempsey and Spanish firm Cuatrecasas both open offices there.
Squire Sanders is one of the few US firms to have already entered into the Spanish market and is one of the few international firms to venture beyond Spain's capital, Madrid. The new office's core areas are M&A, private equity, banking, telecommunications, media and tax work.
Herbert Smith's Spanish ally Cuatrecasas acquired leading Barcelona boutique Pagonabarraga.
Name partner Mario Pagonabarraga and his team of associates boosted the labour law capability of the leading independent Spanish firm.
Following the collapse of Andersen and its associated legal arm Andersen Legal, the European network has made the following decisions.
Andersen Legal's Spanish arm Garrigues walked out of the network. With an abundance of tax lawyers without work, on 2 April Garrigues joined forces with Deloitte & Touche for tax issues, but will remain independent for legal matters. The link-up allows the two firms to share tax referrals, but does not extend to profit or fee-sharing.
Andersen's French operation is merging with Ernst & Young's associated French law firm HSD Ernst & Young. The link-up will create a 1,120-lawyer practice and it is hoped that the new firm will be launched in early September. The merger proposal will be presented to the EU competition board in a bid to gain clearance. Andersen in Germany followed in France's footsteps and is in talks with big four accountant Ernst & Young, after turning down an offer from KPMG Beiten Burkhardt. In Italy, Andersen's legal arm is to merge with Deloitte & Touche.
Norton Rose goes Dutch
Norton Rose merged with Dutch boutique Groenewald Van Wassenaer to launch its Netherlands practice.
The move saw the firm take on the former managing partner of former Norton Rose ally Houthoff Buruma. Arent van Wassenaer set up the Dutch boutique with former Trenité Van Doorne partner Edo Groenewald in January.
Pinsent Curtis Biddle has left its Logos international alliance to link up with its long-term French ally Granrut Vatier Baudelot & Associés and has renamed itself Granrut.
In April, Field Fisher Waterhouse stepped up its international capability with the launch of an exclusive European alliance, which comprises Field Fisher, Buse Heberer Fromm in Germany, Dubarry Le Douarin in France, Beauchamps in Ireland and Harper Macleod in Scotland.
In January, Eversheds secured an alliance with Italian firm Piergrossi Villa Bianchini Riccardi in a bid to develop its shared vision for the creation of a pan-European practice. The 12-partner Italian practice has offices in Rome and Milan.
Simmons & Simmons expanded its Italian presence by merging with a two-partner Paduan firm set up by Paolo Brugnera and Paolo Grignati. Padua is seen as the third key Italian market due to its high concentration of entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Baker & McKenzie acquired Bologna arbitration and competition boutique Bernini e Associati in April, giving the firm its third Italian office. Nine-lawyer Bernini is led by name partner Giorgio Bernini, who specialises in international arbitration and competition law.
Simmons & Simmons is still in merger talks with its Portuguese best friend F Castelo Branco P Rebelo de Sousa & Associados. The planned merger with Castelo Branco is aimed at aiding Simmons in its goal to break the Iberian Peninsula.
Landwell has taken over two-partner Corno & Cardona, the Alicante-based law and tax firm, which boasts the European office of Trademarks and Patents as one of its clients.
Accountancy firm KPMG increased its Spanish practice with its merger with Madrid-based Lexalia Abogados last September. Lexalia specialises in employment law and has around 200 lawyers in Spain. The move came at the same time as Munich-based firm Beiten Burkhardt Mittl & Wegener was set to vote on a merger with KPMG's German legal practice.