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Partners threaten to quit Wessing if Taylor Joynson Garrett link-up gets go-ahead
Taylor Joynson Garrett is facing a major stumbling block in its merger talks with German firm Wessing. It is understood that a group of partners in the Frankfurt office are opposed to the merger and have threatened to break away if Wessing decides to proceed with its plans. It is believed that the partners will voice their opposition at a meeting scheduled for the weekend of 14 April. Wessing's Frankfurt office has been at the centre of conflict in the past and is believed to favour a stand-alone position. To add to the difficulties, it is understood that the Düsseldorf office faces losing Deutsche Tele-kom as a client following the company's decision to take its trademark work elsewhere. Frankfurt is one of Wessing's less profitable offices and a number of partners question the logic of its independence given its relatively low rating within the Frankfurt market. In the past, Wessing has entered into talks with Bird & Bird, Eversheds, Nabarro Nathanson and Theodore Goddard. All were unsuccessful, which has led to speculation that the firm as a whole will remain unable to secure a merger. Wessing management committee member Wolfgang Rehmann declined to comment on the allegations and said that the merger talks are on track. Fellow committee member Andreas Meissner said: "I'm confident that the Frankfurt office will stay with us." Despite being one of Germany's largest independent firms, Wessing has suffered a number of setbacks over the last six months, including the loss of several key partners. In June, M&A partner Alexander Schroder-Frerkes and energy partner Jan Byok followed Wolfgang von Meibom to Andersen Legal. Then in October another high-profile team, led by Alexander Loos, departed for Lovells. The defunct German firms Gaedertz and Beiten Burkhardt (now KPMG Treuhand Beiten Burkhardt) both faced similar problems last year. Gaedertz, which was initially in merger talks with Norton Rose, eventually split and the Frankfurt office joined US firm Mayer Brown & Platt, the Cologne office went to Norton Rose, the Hamburg office merged with California firm Latham & Watkins and, most recently, the Berlin office linked up with Washington DC-based Wilmer Cutler & Pickering. Beitens suffered a number of high-profile defections which threatened its unity before it finally merged with KPMG-linked firm KLegal in January.