Norton Rose signs tie-up with Australia’s Deacons

Norton Rose is to merge with Deacons Australia, giving the combined entity a turnover of more than £420m and 12 offices across Australasia.

Norton Rose chief executive Peter Martyr (pictured) will be group chief executive of the enlarged firm, which will trade under the name Norton Rose Group. Deacons’ current chief executive Don Boyd will take on the role of deputy group chief executive while Norton Rose chairman Stephen Parish will be chair of the combined firm.

Although Deacons’ Hong Kong arm, which has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, will not be part of the merger, Martyr said the combined firm will focus on further expansion across Asia. Norton Rose has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Martyr added: “The economic influence in the world is moving eastwards and in order to develop our business we needed a significant expansion in our resources in Asia Pacific.

“The increased capability of the group throughout Asia Pacific will lay the foundations for further regional development and expansion.”

Boyd at Deacons said that Norton Rose’s focus on Asia had been a key driver for his firm in agreeing to the tie-up.

He added: “As soon as the initial discussions were underway it became clear that there was a common global ambition, particularly in the predicted growth markets of the future, namely Asia Pacific.

“We have shared aspirations regarding strategic growth, both in practice area terms and geographic expansion.”

Following the tie-up the firm will have 700 fee earners across Asia, operating from offices in Bangkok, Brisbane, Canberra, Jakarta, Melbourne, Perth, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo, as well as in China.

The partnerships of both firms approved the deal, which will take effect at the beginning of 2010, in a vote yesterday.

The news comes months after magic circle firm Clifford Chance broke off merger discussions with Australia’s largest firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques due to the state of the global economy (8 December 2008).

Had the Clifford Chance merger gone ahead, the combined firm would have had over 1,000 lawyers operating in Asia.