Arthur Andersen in New Zealand merger talks

Arthur Andersen is believed to be in merger talks with Auckland-based firm Hesketh Henry.

The news follows last week's report in The Lawyer that Andersens has poached three leading partners from different Sydney-based law firms, and comes just months after Singapore firm Rajah & Tan and Malaysian firm Zaid Ibrahim were incorporated into Andersen's global legal network.

Andersen Legal in New Zealand has grown from just one partner a year ago to two partners and five assistants.

Hesketh Henry is a second-tier firm with 22 partners, although it is not known whether all the partners would be invited to join the new firm.

Andersen Legal managing partner John Hart said the firm was keen to grow by merger and acquisition in the near future, rather than rely on organic growth.

Hesketh Henry managing partner Erich Bachmann would not confirm the reports. But he did say the firm was considering its options in order to retain its competitive edge, one of which was to join a “major international organisation”.

Two months ago, KPMG launched its own New Zealand law firm – KPMG Legal – by poaching two partners from Morrison Kent.