Partners agree to Orrick-Hölters & Elsing merger

Partners agree to Orrick-Hölters & Elsing mergerUS firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and German firm Hölters & Elsing have sealed their merger after holding partnership votes last week.

Orrick sealed the tie-up following nine months of negotiations. The US firm guaranteed that Hölters would be allowed to maintain its existing overseas friendship relationships, billing rates and clients.

Hölters currently works with around 10 firms in the UK and more than 10 in the US. The firm’s managing partner Arno Frings said Orrick’s ;guarantee ;of ­Hölters’ independence was vital to the deal.

Orrick chairman and chief executive Ralph Baxter explained that nothing would stop a current Orrick partner from referring ­foreign work to a firm other than Orrick. “The more friends we have the better,” he added.

Orrick Europe managing partner David Syed told The Lawyer the two firms’ ­equity shares will be integrated by the end of this year. But despite a greater number of partners at Hölters, he said both firms have similar ­profit margins and top and bottom of equity, which would make the integration easier.

The merged firm will be known as Orrick Hölters & Elsing in Germany and will be home to 55 lawyers in three German offices.

Frings said the combined firm will aim to double its headcount in the next three to five years, adding: “We’re proceeding on the basis that, as Orrick Hölters, we’ll be able to grow more strongly.”

Alongside Frings, Hölters co-founding ;partner Siegfried Elsing will be on the merged firm’s European supervisory committee. ­Elsing will also sit on the worldwide executive ­committee, which includes Baxter, Syed and five others.