Kirkpatrick-Salans merger talks collapse

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham has signalled the extent of its global ambitions by making a merger bid for Salans, but four months of discussions collapsed in August.

Kirkpatrick is now seeking new opportunities in Continental Europe, Asia and the US West Coast.

Peter Kalis, the chairman and managing partner of Kirkpatrick, said his firm did not comment on any specific question relating to merger discussions.

However, he did confirm that the firm “had discussions”, both with groups and firms that would “put Kirkpatrick on the map” on the Continent, in Asia and in new markets in the US.

“We’re in the market to investigate opportunities,” added Kalis. “More often than not they don’t pan out.”

Kirkpatrick outlined its ambition to grow rapidly across the Continent and in Asia at the time of the 1 January merger between Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and Nicholson Graham & Jones. A deal with Salans would have brought it a string of offices across Central and Eastern Europe, including Salans’ highly successful Russian office.

The two firms have similar profity per equity partner profiles. Average profit at 400-partner Kirkpatrick stood at £414,000 in 2005, just above Salans’ £376,000.

The failure of the talks leaves Salans still searching for a deal that would strengthen its London office and secure the additional US capability it is hunting.

A source close to Salans said a tie-up with a US firm was a key part of the firm’s strategy, but suggested that the lack of any clear central management at Salans may have been to blame for the talks failing.

“Salans is still looking for its magic merger partner, but its difficulty is that they don’t have strong enough management to push through a deal,” he said.

Salans chairman Stephen Finch said the firm did not comment as a matter of policy.