Grapevine

Jones Day and DWS: not an affair to remember
Transatlantic mergers may be back in vogue if Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer‘s new ambitions are anything to go by, but one deal that isn’t going anywhere is Jones Day and Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS). In fact, it wasn’t even a deal worthy of the name.

Hilariously, the much-vaunted talks between the two firms actually amounted to two chats over coffee and an informal lunch. In other words, a bit like speed-dating.

It seems that the first coffee meeting happened as a direct result of The Lawyer’s article last year about DWS deciding to draw up a hitlist of potential merger partners, but the contact between the two firms simply tailed off within a couple of months.

Merger talks indeed. It didn’t even warrant a PR flunky announcing: “Like all leading law firms, we are continuously studying and exploring the market for strategic growth opportunities…”

Falconer waxes lyrical on the delights of liberalisation
Lord Falconer is on a charm offensive. Speaking at a lecture last week, the Lord Chancellor attempted to woo his City audience by praising international expansion and the delights of liberalisation.

He raised a laugh by recounting the tale of the Indian bar, which “recently burnt effigies of the Indian Trade Minister, who had spoken publicly about the prospect of liberalisation”. Imagine if those tactics were taken up over here, with a bunch of eminent QCs taking to the streets dressed in full regalia burning effigies of Charlie himself.

Falconer went on to predict confidently that US firms would fail in their City invasion attempts. “I’m not too bothered about that,” he confided to The Lawyer, saying that UK clients would never instruct a US firm.

But if he’s right, can UK firms hope to succeed overseas? If US firms are unable to find local work here, UK firms will find it equally hard to find work in other jurisdictions – even with the modern miracle of liberalisation. Falconer’s brave new world may still end up more dystopia than utopia.

Herbert Smith: every conflict helps
They must have been cracking open the champagne at Herbert Smith last week after scooping the biggie: the £3.55bn debt finance mandate on PSA International’s bid for P&O, Goldman Sachs, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS.

Granted, it’s not the most complicated job. PSA, which is being advised on the borrower side by Slaughter and May‘s Richard Hall and Matthew Tobin, is a Singaporean state company, so it’s not like Clive Barnard and Euan Ferguson have a fiendishly difficult job on the lender documents. Granted, too, that Herbert Smith only landed the job after Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance and Linklaters were all conflicted out.

But none of that matters. Every ambitious finance practice needs a break. As DP World’s counterbid mounted last week, PSA may not even win the prize. But just getting on the radar will be good enough for Jason Fox’s team.

Get the latest news and an irreverent commentary delivered to your desktop every Wednesday by subscribing to Lawyer News Weekly. Register at www.thelawyer.com/register