Pilsbury keeps Dentons on tenterhooks over UK merger

Pillsbury Winthrop is continuing to play the field on its hunt for a UK merger partner, while potential suitor Denton Wilde Sapte has seemingly put all its eggs in one basket in the hope of a tie-up with its US friend

Although the firms are not in formal merger talks, parties on both sides admitted that the issue has been discussed and not ruled out.

A Dentons source said the firms had been talking since last summer with a view to a tie-up, but no formal discussions had been entered into. Dentons chief executive Virginia Glastonbury said: “We're not currently in discussions.”

The Lawyer understands, however, that Dentons is referring all of its US matters to Pillsbury unless the US firm has no expertise in the area, or if a client specifically requests another firm. But the same is apparently not true for Pillsbury, which has been highly aggressive in pursuing the UK merger option.

For Dentons, it may be a case of Pillsbury being the only option. “A document was sent round the firm last summer outlining all the US firms approached by Dentons, which was just about every American firm in London,” said the source. “However, Pillsbury was about the only firm that was interested.

“Management are likely to bulldoze this through, but it's probably still a year away,” added the source.