Lovells ditches Washington and falls out with Spanish best friend

Lovells is shaking up its international strategy and is set to close its Washington DC office and hunt for a new merger partner in Spain

A Lovells source claimed DC had never been particularly successful or a good fit. The source said it was axed as part of a broader Lovells strategy to concentrate on core profitable areas.

DC managing partner Anne Fortney, along with her team, will move to Virginia-based consumer finance firm Hudson Cook.

The office was opened in 1999 when Fortney moved from Chicago to run a consumer finance and regulatory practice.

Linklaters also axed DC early last year, but the office was a tiny outpost that focused mainly on antitrust.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, meanwhile, opened in DC just last year, sending out antitrust partner Alan Ryan.

Sources at Lovells say the merger talks with rated Spanish corporate boutique Albiñana & Suarez De Lezo have been shelved.

The Lawyer reported last December that Lovells and Albiñana had entered detailed merger negotiations and were about to discuss remuneration and corporate governance.

However, a Lovells source said last week that Lovells' management now deems Albiñana a “culturally incompatible” merger partner. The source said Lovells still wants a merger in Spain and will now draw up a list of potential partners.

Sources in the Spanish market, however, have indicated that Albiñana was given a deadline of the beginning of this year to agree to a merger.

However, Albiñana partner Carlos Pena denied there have ever been merger discussions. “We're still in a best friend relationship with Lovells,” he claimed. Lovells declined to comment.