Norton Rose puts US high on agenda

Norton Rose has stepped up its pursuit of a US ­merger following its June tie-up with Australian firm Deacons. And the firm has now widened its search beyond the confines of New York.

Chief executive Peter Martyr told The Lawyer Norton Rose “could not wait forever” for a deal and said the firm had drawn up a long list of around 20 US firms that could be potential merger targets.

Norton Rose has long sought a presence in the US, which is seen as vital to its international status.

In February this year chairman Stephen Parish said the firm needed a US law capability within a ­period of five to 20 years.

Norton Rose began its hunt for a US partner in the late 1990s, but was unable to secure a deal.

Martyr said: “In the 1990s the one thing we could see was New York. We’ve realised that the US is more than just New York.

“There are some quite powerful players who want to be more international. There’s a list of about 20 firms in that category.”

He added that the ­Deacons deal would make Norton Rose “more ­attractive” to a potential suitor because of the firm’s increased ­coverage in Asia.

Norton Rose has taken over the running of the £106m-turnover Australian firm, but stopped short of full profit-sharing, although Martyr has not ruled
out complete financial ­integration in the future.