Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) and Lawrence Graham (LG) are in the early stages of merger talks to create a £150m business that would bring the combined entity on the brink of the top 20 UK firms by revenue.
FFW has confirmed that it is considering a tie-up with the City rival but that no deal had been put to partners yet and that a merger was just one of the possibilities.
An FFW spokesperson said: “It’s an option. A lot of firms are talking about [merging]. It’s on the agenda - we’re wanting to grow. They’re one of the firms that we’ve been speaking to.”
The spokesperson said the firm had also spoken to other firms about a merger, but declined to provide names.
LG managing partner Hugh Maule said in a statement: “I can confirm that Lawrence Graham and Field Fisher Waterhouse are evaluating a merger. This would meet our strategic objectives in terms of international expansion and strengthening our core practice groups and sectors. There would be significant benefits for our clients with few or no conflicts.”
LG said the merger would create a firm with 1,000 employees including over 200 partners and 440 lawyers.
The negotiations, first reported by legal website RollonFriday, are being led by managing partner Matthew Lohn on the FFW side. The timescale is currently unclear, but a deal is thought to be a way off.
A tie-up would gift FFW new offices in Dubai, Monaco and Moscow, while LG would add bases in Brussels, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Manchester, Munich, and Paris.
FFW is aiming to grow, with international strategy committee head Mark Abell standing down from the firm’s board last year to focus on teeing up global expansion (5 December 2011).
It turned over £94m in 2010-11 (25 May 2011), while LG brought in fees worth £59m in the same financial year (14 July 2011).
Neither firms have posted their 2011-12 turnover, but based on last year’s The Lawyer UK 200 the merger would propel the firm into 22nd place in the UK by revenue, behind Irwin Mitchell and Addleshaw Goddard but ahead of Wragge & Co. However, the spate of mergers in the past year has put the leaderboard into flux.
FFW also has a slightly higher profit per equity partner figure, with this standing at £510,000 in 2010-11, compared with £412,000 for LG (14 July 2011).