De Besche splits from Denton Wilde network

Norwegian firm de Besche & Co is pulling out of Denton Wilde Sapte’s international network, Denton International, following its merger with local Oslo firm Arntzen Underland & Co.

Arntzen is closely linked to the Stockholm office of Baker & McKenzie and a potential conflict of interest between Denton Wilde Sapte and Baker & McKenzie means that one of the alliances will have to end before the merger comes into operation in January 2001.

Arntzen de Besche, as the newly created firm will be called, has decided to withdraw from Denton International.

De Besche energy partner Terje Granvang says: “We chose to stay with Baker & McKenzie because it’s more profitable. It’s a business decision but we have friendships throughout Denton International and we will continue those friendships both personally and professionally.”

Arntzen clients which come through Baker & McKenzie include Yahoo, Microsoft and satellite company Iridium.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Arntzen, which is very important to us,” says Baker & McKenzie Stockholm partner Leif Gustafsson. “Baker & McKenzie is servicing clients on an international basis and where we don’t have offices we need firms that we trust and that offer a service as good as ourselves.

“We also conduct training on a Nordic basis and Arntzen play an important role in the co-ordination of training and in the exchange of ideas.”

Denton International executive director John Griffiths-Jones says he is sorry that de Besche is pulling out but he understands that the firm must make a business decision.

The merger of the two firms will create a medium-size firm with 19 partners. Norwegian firms were small 10 years ago, but the country now has six firms with between 60 and 100 lawyers and there is a tendency for local firms to merge.

“We complement each other and our merger will make us a full-service firm,” says Terje Granvang. “They have a very good energy practice and we have very strong corporate and finance departments.”

De Besche clients include PricewaterhouseCoopers, TV Norge, Leo Burnett and DMB & B. Arntzen acts for Shell, BP Amoco and airline company SAS.