Gleiss alliance agreement stalls Herbies’ German plans

Herbert Smith’s plans for a German launch ­following the collapse of its alliance with Gleiss Lutz face delay due to a 12-month non-compete clause in the alliance agreement.

The UK firm is said to be eyeing a German launch after it pulled out of the alliance when Gleiss and Benelux firm Stibbe voted against a three-way merger last week. Sources said the UK firm was expecting a yes.

The more traditional Stuttgart office is said to have swung the vote for the no campaign, with the European-focused Frankfurt and Düsseldorf offices more in favour of a merger.

German legal magazine Juve said more than 75 per cent of partners voted no.

Sources said Herbert Smith now wanted to launch in Germany through lateral hires. But the alliance agreement stops it from competing locally for 12 months, and a raid on Gleiss could be stalled by a partner lock-in, although Gleiss denied this. One compliance partner is said to be leaving Gleiss to join a rival but is being held back by the firm.

A source said Gleiss ­equity partners would “sleep soundly in their beds in the short term”, but that the firm might suffer once Herbert Smith launches in Germany.

Herbert Smith declined to comment.