Withers has recorded flat profits this year after spending at least £1m on fees for legal advice on its transatlantic merger
The firms used included Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson. Withers merged with US private client firm Bergman Horowitz & Reynolds in early 2001, making a net profit of £9m in the last financial year - the same as in 2000-01. Withers paid Fried Frank, accountants Dixon Wilson and US market research firm Altman Weil at least £1m between them for advice. Withers managing director Margaret Robertson said: "Profits haven't gone up bec-ause of the cost of negotiating the merger, which was professionals' fees. I estimate this was at least £1m." The firms were in talks for 18 months. However, Withers did see its turnover increase by a healthy 11 per cent. It has survived the worst excesses of the downturn because around half of its turnover comes from wealthy private clients. This business tends to be countercyclical, Robertson said. "In times of economic and political instability, people think more about getting their assets in order," she said. Joint accounts will be published by the firms next year.