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Linklaters is understood to be in tie-up talks with Slaughter and May’s Australian best friend Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR), The Lawyer can reveal.
According to sources close to the firms, Linklaters and AAR have been talking about a potential tie-up for a number of months, though the firms have not been able to agree terms.
The last time Linklaters was in talks with an Australian firm was in 2000, when it was close to tying up with Mallesons Stephen Jacques - a deal the firms called Project Rainbow.
A Linklaters spokesperson said: “Linklaters has a large Australian client base and we do a lot of work for international clients in relation to Australia. We work closely with all the leading Australian law firms and frequently meet them all around the world.”
AAR has a non-exclusive best friends relationship with Slaughters, as do a number of firms globally, including Chinese firm Jun He. This is not the first time Slaughters has seen rivals try to establish a relationship with its best friends, with Macfarlanes seconding a partner to Jun He this year in an attempt to develop its ties with the firm (23 January 2012).
Meanwhile, Linklaters’ erst while Singapore joint venture partner Allen & Gledhill is close to doing a deal with magic circle rival Allen & Overy, with Singapore’s Ministry of Justice understood to be considering the firms’ plans (3 November 2011).
Mallesons announced its tie-up with Chinese firm King & Wood in December 2011 (15 December 2011).
It has also emerged that Herbert Smith is pursuing a one-firm merger with Freehills. The two firms have been in talks for some time (17 January 2012) but it was unclear whether they would follow the approach of Ashurst and Blake Dawson, which will combine their Asia operations initially before merging in 2014 (26 September 2011), or go for an outright merger.
Slaughters and Herbert Smith declined to comment. AAR could not be reached for comment.