Dentons has announced its fifth merger of 2015, confirming a tie-up with Luxembourg firm OPF Partners.
OPF is one of the larger independent Luxembourg firms with 34 lawyers including nine partners. The merger will take effect on 1 January 2016.
The news follows Dentons’ mergers with Chinese firm Dacheng, US firm McKenna Long & Aldridge, and most recently Australia’s Gadens and Singapore’s Rodyk & Davidson. In June chairman Joe Andrew said the firm had entered into non-disclosure agreements with 21 firms worldwide with a view to merging.
This year the firm has also launched offices in Johannesburg and Milan and took on White & Case’s 50-lawyer Budapest office as well as making lateral hires in jurisdictions including Germany, Russia and the UK.
Dentons said the OPF merger meant that it now had offices in 19 out of the top 25 financial centres worldwide. Andrew said the firm would continue to seek opportunities in the remaining six cities dependent on client demand for a presence there.
Speaking to The Lawyer, Andrew added Dentons’ strategy was to show that it was possible to be both a top-tier firm and a big firm, which meant having more specialities covered by more high-quality lawyers in more locations than its competitors.
European chair Evan Lazar said the move to Luxembourg had been driven by client demand. “Luxembourg is a key financial centre,” he said. “For that reason it’s extremely strategic.”
He added that OPF and Dentons had existing shared clients and had worked together previously.
Andrew said Dentons’ aim when moving into a new jurisdiction was always to find a merger partner.
“Our strategy is always to look for a whole-firm combination in every jurisdiction that we can,” he said. “It adds to our ability to make a larger impact in the market.”
Lazar added: “Part of our strategy is being in and of the community. The best way to do that is through a merger.”
The tie-up is the first between a Luxembourg firm and an international player for some time. Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters all entered the market at the turn of the millennium through mergers but more recent international arrivals have chosen to pick up small teams of lateral hires to break into the market.
Earlier this year Bird & Bird applied to the Luxembourg bar for approval to launch in the Grand Duchy, although it does not want to practise Luxembourg law and the office is still not open. Last year Simmons & Simmons made a number of hires to open a funds-focused office in Luxembourg. , legacy , offshore firm , and legacy have also launched in Luxembourg through hires.