Simmons on brink of Nolst Trenité merger

Simmons & Simmons is on the verge of completing its European map with a full merger in the Netherlands.
Simmons is now in the final stages of merger talks with Rotterdam-based Nolst Trenité. The merger is expected to be finalised by May 2002. The Dutch practice will be called Simmons & Simmons Trenité.
The deal with 26-partner Nolst Trenité will be Simmons' biggest merger yet and breaks with the firm's previous approach to international expansion, which is based on small mergers and organic growth. Nolst Trenité has a total of 125 fee-earners.
Simmons managing partner David Dickinson said: “This makes perfect sense. The Netherlands is such a hub for major multinationals that it's an advantage to merge with a firm which has a long history and name in the marketplace. This will put Simmons in every European jurisdiction it wants to be in for the time being.”
The firm practises in Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Hong Kong, Lisbon, Madrid, Milan, New York, Paris, Rome, Shanghai and Tokyo.
Nolst Trenité was previously part of Trenité Van Doorne, which announced its split in December last year. The firm was created 10 years earlier with the merger of Amsterdam-based Van Doorne & Sjollema and Rotterdam's Nolst Trenité.
More recently, the lower profitability of Dutch firms, stemming from their generalist tradition and regional spread, has been something of an obstacle to UK firms looking to merge. The demerger of Trenité Van Doorne was seen as a strategic move to make the two branches more appealing to merger partners.
Nolst Trenité managing partner Gerhard Gispen said: “When we started our new firm we wanted to improve and strengthen our cross-border capabilities. From the beginning we believed that the best way to do that was to work with a well-developed international network.”
A partner at one UK firm in Amsterdam said: “The Rotterdam partners [of Trenité Van Doorne] were pushing more strongly for a merger. Rotterdam was less fragmented – the Amsterdam office was more problematic.”
The talks started earlier this year, focusing on the synergies between the practice areas of each firm.
Dickinson said: “We're moving into the planning phase. We've looked at the practice groups and the way we'll do this. We're now looking at things like IT systems.”
Nolst Trenité is a predominantly corporate-based firm, with additional practices in logistics, customs and trade, competition, employment, property and fraud. Dickinson said he was attracted by synergies between the firms' target industries, namely energy, technology, media and telecoms, transport and pharmaceuticals, as well as a cultural fit. Nolst Trenité boasts a 50-50 split between domestic and international clients.
The two firms have known each other for more than 10 years. Dickinson said the relationship was always strongest with the Rotterdam office.
Recent joint efforts include advising Global TeleSystems on its $500m (£345.8) debt for equity restructuring and working on the first ever PPP road project in the Netherlands. They also teamed up on GenCorp's acquisition of Laird Group's car body seals division last year.