Andersens tells staff Wilde Sapte talks “interesting'

Arthur Andersen has circulated an e-mail to curious staff following a story in The Lawyer last week about Wilde Sapte's plans to merge with it saying that talks have been “interesting” but a merger is still a long way off.

It is understood that Andersens has agreed the merger in principal provided that seven or eight key Wilde Sapte partners do not depart.

Meanwhile corporate partner, Stephen Wozencroft, has become the eighth partner to resign from Wilde Sapte in six months.

Wozencroft, based in the firm's Hong Kong office for the past two years, resigned at the end of last November and is to join Stephenson Harwood & Lo in Hong Kong at the beginning of March.

It is understood Wilde Sapte wanted him to return to London to boost the corporate department where its mainstream asset finance work needs support. But Wozencroft wanted to stay in Hong Kong where he has been advising on Chinese equity issues.

The two other latest departures, revealed by The Lawyer last week, are Richard Caird, the head of litigation and a leading financial services lawyer who is going in-house to a bank (thought to be Commerzbank), and Graham Smith, the head of leasing, is joining another firm.

Wilde Sapte lost its former litigation head Peter Sharp less than three years ago to LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae and its former Hong Kong corporate partner, Richard Pell-Ilderton two years ago.

Both Caird and Wozencroft stressed that their departures occurred at the same time by coincidence and had nothing to do with Wilde Sapte's merger talks.

Caird said: “I just want to do something a bit different”.