Hammonds sends scouts to seek out US merger partner

In a highly ambitious move, Hammonds is hunting for a US merger partner

The Lawyer understands that Hammonds has retained consultants to draw up a list of firms that it should be building relations with in Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, New York and San Francisco. Hammonds will then ask its consultants to investigate which of these firms would make a good merger partner.

Hammonds corporate partner David Hull has instructed the consultants and is understood to be leading the initiative.

The firm has a dual-focused US strategy, which involves developing close links with potential merger partners and making direct approaches to in-house lawyers at major US corporations.

Sources close to the firm, which recorded profits per partner of £275,000 last year, are voicing concerns that a US merger may be aiming too high in the current climate.

“The management is trying to turn Hammonds into a magic circle firm, which is a shame, as it is incredibly good at being Hammonds,” said the source.

Hammonds is planning to send partners from all disciplines to meet both US law firms and corporates.

Hammonds believes that its new sector focus, the brainchild of senior partner Richard Burns, will be especially attractive to US corporations, as it demonstrates a desire to understand a company's business.

Hammonds is working on a related strategy to receive more M&A work from US sources. But the firm has recognised it must first tackle domestic issues within the corporate department. While Hammonds' corporate group acts for large multinationals such as BP and GE and strong domestic players such as Halifax and Lattice Group, it is still trying to get more and higher quality instructions from them.

Hammonds was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.