French firm Moquet Borde & Associés is on the verge of finalising a merger with US firm Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker following a two-year search for a merger partner.
As first revealed on www.thelawyer.com (9 December), a firmwide vote at each firm has taken place within the past two weeks, clearing the way for a merger between the two firms on 1 February next year.
Paul Hastings chairman Seth Zachary told The Lawyer: “We’re making progress. We think they’re a tremendous fit, but we haven’t finished our discussions.”
If the talks are successful, this will be Paul Hastings’ first office in Continental Europe. Following major growth in Asia, the US firm’s management is keen to expand its European presence further than the London office, which opened in June 1997.
The Moquet Borde merger gives the US firm a longed-for presence in Paris and Brussels, as well as in Lyon. The French firm also has outposts in Tallinn in Estonia and Budapest in Hungary. It has approximately 60 lawyers.
Paul Hastings is keen on expanding further in Europe, with Germany and Italy its immediate priorities. The strategy is to grow by merger rather than pursuing joint ventures or affiliations.
Moquet Borde declined the opportunity to comment.
At long last, Moquet Borde & Associés managing partner Dominque Borde has fulfilled his desire to hook up with an international firm. Although Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker chairman Seth Zachary was reluctant to admit that the deal was done, it is clear that both firms are happy with each other.
Borde has been seeking a merger partner since the BBLP Alliance foundered in 2001, but given Paul Hastings’ size, this is very much an acquisition.
The takeover gives Paul Hastings a known name in Europe as it aims to expand into Germany and Italy. The problem could be that the known name is Dominique Borde, and he is approaching retirement. It is unclear who Borde’s immediate successors are or whether his clients will stay when he has departed.
One partner tipped as a successor is Andrew Armfelt, who was tempted from Veil Armfelt Jourde La Garanderie (now Veil Jourde La Garanderie) a year ago. His corporate practice focuses on the real estate industry and makes a good fit with Paul Hastings’ strength in that area. Armfelt’s international outlook could well see him emerge as a Paul Hastings favourite.