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The future of Slaughter and May's Paris equity partners is uncertain as it emerges that the firm is locked in negotiations with Bredin Prat that may result in the transfer of Slaughters' Paris business to its French ally.
The news, as first revealed on www.thelawyer.com (8 December), has raised a number of questions on the eventual destination of the Slaughters partners.
It remains unclear how the separation will be implemented, although it is understood that Slaughters is unlikely to relocate Paris-based partners to London. The Lawyer understands that possible structures include Slaughters retaining a small presence in Paris through its equity partners, with the City firm moving into Bredin Prat's premises.
Slaughters' Paris arm houses around 40 lawyers and eight partners, four of whom are equity partners.
Slaughters practice partner David Frank confirmed Paris press reports stating that the two firms have been in discussions for some time, but stressed that they may decide to retain the status quo.
"We're in the middle of discussions at the moment, but I can't say whether they will lead to anything. If you combine the resources we have with those of Bredin Prat, there are some obvious synergies," Frank told The Lawyer.
He also pointed out that it was unconventional for a firm to have a presence in the same jurisdiction as one of its best friends. Slaughters' other best friends include Bonelli Erede Pappalardo in Italy, Hengeler Mueller in Germany and Uría Menéndez in Spain.
In 2004, Bredin Prat turned over Ã¢Â‚Â¬47m (£31.6m), equating to a revenue per partner of Ã¢Â‚Â¬1.9m (£1.3m). It currently has 55 lawyers, including 25 partners.
Last year, Slaughters announced the closure of its Singapore and New York offices, but equity partners have so far never left the firm in the wake of office closures.
In addition to Paris, the firm has branches in Brussels and Hong Kong.