Reed Smith eyes Texas market with potential Thompson & Knight tie-up

US firms Reed Smith and Thompson & Knight have confirmed they are in discussions over a potential merger.

It is the second potential US tie-up to be announced in the last week, after Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe revealed they were in discussions over a potential combination (29 September 2010). The firms today announced that their plans had been shelved (4 October 2010).

Reed Smith is far bigger than its potential partner – its 1,369 lawyers dwarves Thompson & Knight’s 350, but a union with the Texas firm would offer Reed Smith access to the state’s lucrative energy industry.  The Pittsburgh-headquartered firm saw revenue fall 4 per cent to $942 in 2009, while profit per partner rose 7 per cent to $998,000, compared to Thompson & Knight’s $855,000.

Reed  Smith global managing partner Greg Jordan said: “Reed Smith has indicated its interest both in the Texas market and in expanding its energy practice.  We’ve spoken with several firms in Texas and are in preliminary discussions with Thompson & Knight about a possible combination. However, at this point, neither firm has taken the matter to their respective partnerships.”

Thompson & Knight managing partner Jeff Zlotky said: “Thompson & Knight’s leadership in the Texas legal market and our outstanding energy expertise are sought after by firms.

“For several years we’ve regularly received inquiries regarding possible strategic alliances in order to expand our global reach.  We have had preliminary conversations with Reed Smith, and they have a tremendous presence around the world.  These discussions are preliminary, and we’re in the process of analysing this opportunity to determine if any such alliance would be in the best interests of our firm and all of our colleagues.”

Reed Smith has 22 offices across the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, while Thompson & Knight has five offices in Texas alone, based in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Both firms have offices in London, New York and Paris, while Thompson & Knight also has bases in Algiers, Mexico City and Monterrey.

Reed Smith is no stranger to mergers. In January 2007 it merged with UK firm Richards Butler (2 January 2007), and later completed a tie-up with Chicago firm Sachnoff & Weaver (1 March 2007).

Others include its 2001 tie-up with UK firm Warner Cranston (22 December 2001), followed by its link up with California firm Crosby Heafey Roach & May (16 October 2002).