Linklaters has given the clearest signal yet that it intends to merge with Italian ally Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners.
The Lawyer can reveal that the two firms have pledged to revisit the idea within the next two years as part of a revised joint venture agreement signed earlier this spring. Senior partner Anthony Cann said: “There is an outside date. We would look at [the possibility of merging] within a couple of years or so.” The latest review of the four-year relationship was prompted by the firm scrapping the Linklaters & Alliance structure last July. By that time, Linklaters had merged in Germany, Sweden and Belgium, while talks with Dutch alliance firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek have finally been called off. Gianni Origoni had always been unwilling to enter merger talks. The relationship has continued on its old footing since last July, but Cann said that the recent review is aimed at making the relationship stronger. In place of the old Linklaters & Alliance board and executive committee, a more focused review committee comprising three partners from either side has now been set up and will meet every four to six months. Its UK members are Cann, Giles White and David Barnes. The Italian members are Gianni Origoni managing partner Francesco Gianni, Giovanni Nardulli and former UK representative partner Bruno Bartocci. The firms have also produced joint business plans for the key areas of corporate, capital markets, banking and projects. Commenting on the prospects of a merger, Cann said: “The view Francesco has always expressed is that if we get the practices really well integrated then structural integration will follow. The immediate thing is to get the practices working well together and the firms working well together for clients. In due course, we’ll have to decide whether to do any more.”