Eversheds steps up Euro plan with Dutch merger

Eversheds is merging with leading Dutch practice Boekel De Neree (BDN) as it pursues its three-year aim of pan-European capability.

The merger with BDN, a top corporate and commercial practice in The Netherlands, adds to Eversheds' European offices in Paris, Monaco, Brussels, Moscow, and associated offices in Copenhagen and Sofia.

Victor Semmens, Eversheds' international director, says: “The Netherlands is an important trading partner of the UK, Germany and France and is the second-largest magnet for inward investment in Europe after the UK. It is also the European base of many Fortune 500 companies.”

Eversheds chairman Keith Jones says: “This move is in response to increasing client demand for cost-effective legal service across Europe and a very important step in achieving our ambition to establish a major presence in the leading European jurisdictions.”

Tim Maloney, head of Eversheds' litigation department in London, says: “UK law firms are being driven to service a demand from non-European clients which see Europe as a single territory.

“This increasingly applies to our domestic clients as well.”

Over 40 per cent of Eversheds' business now comes from the US, with clients such as DuPont, for which the firm is sole UK counsel.

Italy and Germany are the next targets for Eversheds.

“We have a German desk here already, with six German qualified lawyers. The next move has to be an association leading to merger,” says Maloney.

“It's not unrealistic to think that half our partners will be based overseas in five years' time,” adds Semmens.

Some legal commentators argue that the main purpose of European expansion is to make UK firms a more attractive proposition for acquisition-hungry US practices.

“We haven't considered selling ourselves to anybody,” says Maloney.

Integration with BDN will begin with lawyers from the two firms' corporate tax, commercial and labour practice groups taking part in exchanges.

BDN's vital statistics

BDN has a total staff of 250, with 125 lawyers including 34 partners with offices in the heart of Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport. It is a highly-regarded corporate and commercial firm with leading practices in banking and finance, tax, insolvency, dispute management, EU/competition, employment and IP/IT law. BDN has associations with two Belgian firms, Huybrechts Engels Craen & Partners of Antwerp, and Matray Matray & Hallet of Liege.

Eversheds and BDN share several clients including McDonald's and the Bank of Scotland.

Their combined fee income budgeted for this financial year is £225m, with Eversheds contributing £210m and BDN £15m.