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Squire Sanders & Dempsey is on the verge of securing a tripartite merger with Bryan Cave and the London and Frankfurt offices of Haarmann Hemmelrath, which will transform the ambitious Ohio-headquartered firm into one of the top 10 US firms by revenue.
Squire Sanders is finalising arrangements with Haarmann's entire London office and a team from Frankfurt in a deal which will double its UK operation and provide an entry into the German legal market.
It is understood that Squire Sanders' merger talks with St Louis-based Bryan Cave are now in the final stages. If successful, a Squire Sanders-Haarmann-Bryan Cave London office would be 50-strong and bring in more than £20m, making it one of the top 20 US firms in the City.
Squire Sanders' international practice coordinator Mark Cusick told The Lawyer: "We're in discussions with London and part of the Frankfurt office of Haarmann and those discussions are well advanced.
"While Haarmann's challenges have been well-publicised, we're very happy with the lawyers that we're talking with."
Although Frankfurt and London are the only Haarmann offices involved, it is hoped other branches, including Paris, will join soon. Haarmann's London office brings the energy, finance, restructuring and tax expertise that Squire Sanders currently lacks. Globally it has significant experience in these areas and acts for clients such as BP and the creditors' committee of collapsed US energy giant Enron.
The disintegration of Haarmann has snowballed since the summer, but there has been trouble on the horizon for the past year. Problems with the remuneration system, the costs involved in supporting international expansion and a lack of modern leadership have pushed the partnership to its limits.
One Haarmann partner said: "The mistake they made was not getting rid of Wilhelm Haarmann and Alexander Hemmelrath out of management."
Cusick declined to comment on the Bryan Cave talks and Bryan Cave refused to comment.