Orrick and Dewey in talks to create top 15 US firm

Dewey Ballantine and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe have confirmed that the
two heavyweight US firms, which both have UK presences, are in merger talks.

If the merger comes to fruition the combined firm would have more than 1,200 lawyers and come clo…


Dewey Ballantine and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe have confirmed that the two heavyweight US firms, which both have UK presences, are in merger talks.

If the merger comes to fruition the combined firm would have more than 1,200 lawyers and come close to $1bn in revenues. It is not known how advanced the discussions are, however, the chairmen of both firms have confirmed the talks.

In a statement, Morton Pierce, chairman of Dewey Ballantine’s management and executive committees said: “There is much that needs to be discussed so it is still premature to speculate on a potential outcome at this time. I will say that I am intrigued by the possibilities to create one of the largest and most dynamic firms in the marketplace.”

New York-headquartered firm Dewey Ballantine, which has historically focused on representing investment banks in M&A transactions, reported global turnover of $392.5m for the 2005-06 financial year.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Orrick, which leans towards advising
underwriters and issuers of municipal bonds, asset-backed securities and
mortgage-backed securities, raked in $554m.

As revealed in The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report 2006, Dewey has the larger London office of the two firms generating £20.3m in turnover in 2005-06. Orrick did not make it into the rankings for top 30 international firms in London, reporting turnover of around £13m.

That figure will be boosted by Orrick’s raid on Coudert, which doubled the size of the office, but would not have significantly affected last year’s financial figures.

Orrick has expanded aggressively over the last two years. It also the China offices of Coudert Brothers and most of the Paris firm Rambaud Martel.

The two firms are a close match in terms of profitability. Orrick
reported average profit per equity partner of $1.24m globally, while Dewey’s $1.23m.

But Orrick has also had its share of failed merger discussions, with its
negotiations with Cooley Godward understood to have collapsed in 2003.
Cooley recently opted to merge with New York’s Kronish Lieb Weiner &
Hellman.