Top Dutch firms elect to tie the knot in ground-breaking merger

LEADING Dutch practices Loeff Claeys Verbeke and Buruma Maris voted to merge last week.

When the merger comes into effect on 1 January 1998, the new firm will overtake Nauta Dutilh as the largest firm in Holland with 380 fee earners.

Dolf Stuyling de Lange, secretary to the general board at the Loeffs, the largest of the two firms, said a key reason for the merger was the fact that Buruma Maris' headquarters was in The Hague where Loeffs had been looking to establish a presence.

He said Buruma Maris was not particularly strong in corporate law but had several strong departments covering areas such as commercial property, labour and administrative law.

He pointed out that the practices complemented each other so well that the merger would create no conflicts of interest. He added: “On a quantitive level both firms are not overstaffed. “As corporate deals grow larger and more complex there is a growing demand for firms to have a larger pool of staff.”

Loeffs, which has 68 partners and is strictly speaking a Benelux firm, has a long-standing association with Allen & Overy. Burumas, which has 24 partners, is part of the Punder group, made up of firms from six European countries.

The new firm will continue Loeffs' existing relationship with Allen & Overy, which also has an association with Paris-based Gide Loyrett Nouel, but Burumas' membership of the Punder network will come to an end.

However, the Punder group has not ruled out the possibility of inviting the new firm back into the group and will discuss a possible future link-up between its own network and the Allen & Overy group.

Allen & Overy managing partner John Rink said it would welcome such a link between its associates and the Punder group but had no ambitions to officially join it itself.

He said: “We are not looking for German affiliates. We are far more interested in the growth of our own Frankfurt operation.”