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TrenitÉ Van Doorne, The Netherlands' fourth largest law firm, has announced that its Amsterdam and Rotterdam offices are demerging.
The move will boost the appeal of the 27-partner Amsterdam unit to foreign merger partners. The Amsterdam office specialises in banking and securities law while the 25-partner Rotterdam office focuses on the less profitable areas of energy, transport, and logistics law.
Trenité's chairman John Jaakke says: "We wanted to create a more flexible and smaller organisation." He adds that the firm reached a consensus that the split would best serve the firm's clients and improve its position in the difficult employment market. No decision has been made on a merger.
The lower profitability of Dutch firms, stemming from their generalist tradition and regional spread, means UK firms are reluctant to merge with them. Trenité's decision comes a year after the split of Loeff Claeys Verbeke, when 32 Amsterdam partners joined Allen & Overy.
A partner at a rival Amsterdam firm says of the Trenité split: "We are not surprised at the news. There has been a general expectation that other firms would split after Loeff Claeys. From the corporate point of view it was clear that Trenité had serious problems. It couldn't get the right lawyers and was losing out to other firms. The firm is fourth in size but not in quality."
He adds that Trenité's Amsterdam partners are thought to be pushing more vigorously for a merger than those in the calmer Rotterdam market. Jaakke says that the firm's small office in The Hague is likely to become independent, while Trenité's London banking and corporate finance practice is expected to stay in Amsterdam.