18 October 2004
Allen & Overy was last week targeted by angry Manchester United fans when it became public that the magic circle firm was advising Florida tycoon Malcolm Glazer on his takeover bid for the club. The firm has so far avoided the pizzas and rubbish skips that Glazer’s public relations adviser Brunswick has reportedly received.
One polite fan filled in the ‘contact us’ section on A&O’s website describing themselves as Mr Bryan Robson, captain, Manchester United, Old Trafford. The fan said: “Your company has been noted by fans and supporters of Manchester United Football club. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT ANY business associate of Mr Malcolm Glazer is seen as a legitimate target for a campaign of action by many supporters who are currently taking action to advise Mr Glazer that he is not wanted or welcome at Manchester United.”
Others were less polite: one email sent by ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ read, “Leave our club alone you greedy basturds (sic).” Priceless.
Grapevine can shed light on a key cause of Dechert’s long-running struggle to find new premises and, surprisingly, it is not the firm’s incredibly elaborate lease conditions – it has actually slashed the amount of space it requires.
When the firm began its search – albeit two years ago – it had been asking for a very respectable 100,000sq ft. This has since been slashed to just 55,000sq ft. The reduction is unsurprising when you consider the spate of departures that have beset Dechert in recent months, including the closure of the London office’s insurance practice following the departure of insurance partner James Lewis in March.
But the saga of Dechert’s search for a new home, which has seen the firm inspect more than 100 sites and ask for some unusual conditions, such as downward-only rent reviews, may be drawing to a close. It was involved in advanced discussions over three City properties last week, and industry insiders say a decision may be imminent.
This would be good news for those toiling away at Dechert. If a decision is not made soon they may find themselves out on the street next Christmas when the lease on the firm’s current location at 2 Serjeants Inn runs out. Time for Steven Fogel to pull his finger out.
Jeux sans frontières
The US bandwagon rolls on. Reed Smith is the latest expansionist US firm to target France and Germany. “We have teams working on ways of getting us into France and Germany,” says Reed Smith managing partner Greg Jordan.
For Continental headhunters these are happy days, although McDermott Will & Emery seems to be stuck on hold as it circles Paris. Similarly with the German ambitions of Kirkland & Ellis, which is also keen on the bouyant Paris private equity sector, competing for stars such as former Ashurst partner Thomas Forschbach. Current hot ticket Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, which raided Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Munich this year, is rumoured to be keen on Paris, and Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, which recently opened in France, reckons a German office is next.
For those dithering – beware. On the evidence of its performance at securing mergers in the UK and in California, Reed Smith is not a firm that hangs around.
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