Another day, another Orrick merger proposal

Seemingly unabashed by a string of doomed romances, serial seducer Ralph Baxter is back. As reported on the today, the Orrick chairman is locked in talks about a potential tie-up with US firm Akin Gump (see story).

If successful the combined firm would have more than 1,800 lawyers and a turnover of around $1.8bn. But going on Orrick’s track record, that’s a pretty big if.

Akin Gump is by no means the first to fall for the Baxter charm. Earlier this year Orrick was in merger talks with SJ Berwin, but the honeymoon suite wasn’t even booked before the US firm pulled out. Smooth as ever, Baxter let the firm down gently. Opting for the classic ’it’s not you, it’s me’ school of breaking-up, he insisted in an internal memo that “no one issue led to this decision”.

The SJ Berwin experience appears to have put him off Brits, but be warned Akin Gump: Baxter can be a demanding partner. In 2007 the firm was in advanced merger discussions with Dewey Ballantine, but talks collapsed when Baxter reportedly demanded a guaranteed $25m (£12.92m) payout over five years and unlimited first-class air travel for himself and a family member.

In the parlance of American pop psychology, Baxter appears to be struggling with ’commitment issues’. That said, not all of his dalliances are doomed to failure – in 2008 Orrick managed to seal a tie-up with German firm Hölters & Elsing.