Linklaters cashes in on merger laws

Linklaters has entered talks to merge its Japanese practice with local firm Mitsui Yasuda Wani & Maeda when new laws come into force next summer.

As reported on last Wednesday (17 March), the firms have already held discussions, but further negotiations may resume after the magic circle firm concludes its global partners’ meeting next month.

A Japan-based Linklaters source said the firm has been interested in expanding its Tokyo office for some time. “We’ve been talking to lots
of firms and individuals,” he said.

However, the source declined to comment specifically on a potential merger with Mitsui Yasuda.

Meanwhile, another Japan-based source said any deal struck between Linklaters and Mitsui Yasuda is likely to involve the City firm taking the four name partners of the local firm.

Mitsui Yasuda has 76 lawyers and has capability in finance, M&A and insolvency.

Laws passed in Japan last September, due to come into effect in the summer, will allow foreign and local ‘bengoshi’ lawyers to form a unified partnership.

Currently, registered foreign law firms in the country are banned from appointing Japanese-qualified lawyers. However, it is possible for foreign law firms to establish joint ventures with local firms to advise clients that are more than 50 per cent owned by non-domestic enterprises.

Mitsui Yasuda was unavailable for comment.