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Top Pennie partners veto merger over fear of losing control
West Coast firm Cooley Godward has seen its hopes of securing a merger with New York's Pennie & Edmonds dashed after a group of influential partners opposed the deal. It is understood that talks between the two firms had reached an advanced stage, but this week, a group of five partners based at Pennie's New York office, who all bill upwards of $3m (£1.9m) a year at least, expressed doubts over how the two firms would be integrated. Sources told The Lawyer that their main concern centred around how both firms' accounting practices would work together. It is also understood that certain partners at Pennie are unhappy about relinquishing control of the firm, which was first established in 1883. Pennie has a history of shunning merger partners; it pulled out of talks with Jones Day Reavis & Pogue in April, just before the tie-up was expected to be approved. Cooley has made no secret about its own wishes to expand. A merger with Pennie would have provided the West Coast firm with bases in New York and Washington DC, locations that have so far eluded it. Both firms have a strong presence in intellectual property (IP), although Pennie recently lost three IP partners to Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe while Cooley, like other West Coast technology firms, has been trimming back staff. In 2001, Cooley reported a 21 per cent decline in profits per partner on a 2.6 per cent increase in revenues. Cooley declined to comment on merger talks. Pennie was unavailable for comment.