Graf von Westphalen Fritze & Modest, the German ally of Osborne Clarke OWA, is in the final stages of merger talks with Bappert Witz & Selbherr in Freiburg.
A vote will be taken in November, but both firms are confident the merger will go ahead to create a 64-partner firm.
Graf von Westphalen, which has its main offices in Cologne, Hamburg and Frankfurt, is well known for advising the Mittelstand, the German equivalent of SMEs. It has also used its alliance with Osborne Clarke to move into higher quality work in the media field.
Bapperts, which is based in Freiburg on the Swiss border, has a regional client base with large telecoms, communications, software and pharmaceutical companies, including GE Medical Systems.
Bapperts is the same size as one of Graf von Westphalen's three main offices. Bapperts partner Barbara Mayer says: “We'll be the fourth partner, and after the merger we'll be able to form teams for complete projects. We may be a local firm, but soon we'll be in a position to do different types of work for our clients.”
Already Bapperts and Graf von Westphalen have jointly advised the city of Remscheid on the construction of a holding structure for all its commercial and non-public law activities.
And Dr Friedrich Graf von Westphalen, senior partner at Graf von Westphalen, says that in the last month M&A and IT activities have started to increase.
He says: “Bapperts is the best and most attractive firm we could find to combine with to strengthen its activities in the M&A and IT markets, and also for the national and international activities of Osborne Clarke OWA and Osborne Westphalen Alliance. Both firms will merge their offices in Brussels, thus stressing their special expertise in European law.”
Osborne Clarke's managing partner Leslie Perrin is as excited about the initiative as Graf von Westphalen.
Perrin says: “Germany is a federal market in which Bapperts is a serious player; our alliance with them is particularly important as we continue to build our IP and IT practices.”