Punder Group demise frees the way for A&O

The pan-European Punder Group alliance has collapsed – clearing the way for its 22-lawyer French member firm, De Pardieu Brocas Maffei & Associes, to merge with Allen & Overy.

The Punder Group lost its Belgian and Swiss member firms in July over disagreements about how far and fast they should integrate. Now the remaining German, Austrian and French firms are separating.

In August The Lawyer revealed that De Pardieu was in merger talks with Allen & Overy and last week A&O senior partner Bill Tudor John confirmed the two firms were “in earnest discussions” and would “know one way or the other within the next two weeks”.

Frankfurt-based Punder Volhard Weber & Axster, a multi-disciplinary partnership which wanted the group to merge, is still determined to practice local law in the major European jurisdictions outside Germany, but will now change its strategy to organic growth and lateral hires.

Dr Thomas Gasteyer, managing partner of Punder Volhard, said: “We are convinced by the principle of the “one-stop shop' and are taking this course with determination.”

The third remaining member of the group, which will officially dissolve on 31 December, is 33-lawyer Austrian firm Cerha Hempel & Spiegelfeld.