Withers chairmanship goes to NY partner as details of failed Speechly deal emerge

Withers chairman Anthony Indaimo is to stand down in July with the firm naming New York-based Ivan Sacks as his successor.

The news comes just days after talks about a potential tie-up between Withers and Speechly Bircham broke down following partner votes at the two firms last week.

Withers partners voted on the merger last Wednesday (22 May) 24 hours after their counterparts at Speechly. Sources said Withers held a three-hour ‘pros and cons’ session before being asked to vote. At that time they were unaware of the outcome of the vote at Speechly.

It is understood that some Withers partners had proposed that the vote be delayed until Friday (24 May) to allow more time for the proposals to be considered but this was rejected by management.

It is believed that Withers failed to hit the 75 per cent threshold needed for the vote to go through while Speechly partners were in favour of the merger.

At Withers, however, sources said incoming chairman Sacks had been pro-merger and had garnered support from Withers Bergman partners in the US.

Indaimo is standing down after serving two three-year terms, which is the maximum allowed under Withers’ partnership agreement.

The firm declined to comment, while Speechly said: “As a partnership, Speechly Bircham stresses consensus above all else and while a majority of partners were in favour of the merger proposal, reservations about certain important details meant that management did not have a clear mandate to continue discussions.”

Following news that the merger had collapsed Speechly senior partner Michael Lingens set out plans for “significant team hire” (23 May 2013).

He added: “We intend to open a third office in a major European location this autumn, with a significant team hire. The office will be focused on providing corporate and tax services to a commercial client base in line with the profile of our other offices.”

Had the merger gone through it would have created Withers Speechly Bircham, a £170m firm on the cusp of winning a spot in the top 20 of the UK 200 (23 May 2013).