Official: Mourant and Walkers in merger talks

Offshore heavyweights Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Walkers have confirmed that they are in merger talks to create the world’s largest offshore firm.

In a move that could redraw the offshore map, Walkers global managing partner Grant Stein said the Cayman-headquartered firm had held several “exploratory” meetings with Jersey-based Mourant since the spring.

“We’re in preliminary discussions. At the moment we’re getting to know each other’s cultures and the synergies between the firms,” said Stein. “There are synergies in the locations and different work that we do both on the legal side and the trust groups, but [a merger] would also take a huge amount of management time.”

If successful, the combination of the third and sixth-largest offshore firms would create a 300-lawyer offshore powerhouse. This would far surpass the current offshore leader Maples and Calder, which stakes a claim to 210 lawyers.

The merger would also mean that the combined entity would have presences in four of the world’s major financial centres. Mourant became the first offshore firm to launch in New York in April, while Walkers boasts presences in Hong Kong and Dubai. Both firms have offices in London.

Walkers remains tight-lipped on its revenue, but early indications are that Mourant posted turnover of £28m in the year to 30 September, an increase of 10 per cent on 2005-06.