Hammonds prepares the ground for US merger

Three transatlantic options on the table as firm aims to build on £15m stateside business

Hammonds prepares the ground for US mergerHammonds prepares the ground for US mergerHammonds has put a transatlantic merger firmly on the agenda as it looks to overhaul its US strategy.

Since the firm’s June partner conference at Barcelona’s Hotel Arts, it has been ­decided that Hammonds needs to give further impetus to its £15m US business.

Managing partner Peter Crossley told The Lawyer: “We’ve had a US initiative running for some time and we’re looking at how we can take that on to the next stage.”

There are three options, said Crossley. The first is to secure a merger with one US firm. The second is to seek a strategic alliance, which would lead to a more formal association. A final choice would ;see ;Hammonds maintain the status quo and develop its existing ­relationships ;with ;US ­corporates and law firms.

“The nature of a link-up with a US firm for us would mean there wouldn’t be any profit-sharing arrangement to begin with,” added ­Crossley. “We’d have to get our own house in order too.”

The managing partner confirmed that a firm with a significant presence in ­Eastern Europe, where Hammonds does not have a presence, and Asia, where it has two relatively small Chinese offices, would be particularly attractive, as it would not clash with Hammonds’ existing footprint.

Income from the firm’s US business currently accounts for around £15m, with the firm’s French and German offices benefiting from the flow of mostly ­corporate work from the US.

Recent deals to come out of the US include the £1.03bn cash offer from client Illinois Tool Works for kitchen ­equipment maker Enodis, which ended up going to the Manitowoc Company.

“There’s a view that the US has had its day in the sun and that you should be looking to the Bric [Brazil, Russia, India and China] countries,” said Crossley. “They say that the last century belonged to the US and the future lies in the East. I don’t subscribe to that view. The US has a way of reinventing itself.”

But Crossley sounded a warning note, saying: “A lot of partners think that there’s a silver bullet out there – we could do a merger and all our problems would ­disappear. In the real world it doesn’t work that way. Getting it wrong would be disastrous.”