McDermotts joins battle for Gaedertz

McDermotts takes on Mayer Brown; Gaedertz Berlin approaches KPMG; Lathams sends four to Germany

McDermott Will & Emery is entering a head-to-head battle with Chicago rival Mayer Brown & Platt to merge with the Frankfurt office of ailing German firm Gaedertz.

The office is up for grabs following Latham & Watkins‘ successful deal with the Gaedertz Hamburg office and Norton Rose‘s acquisition of the Cologne office.

Mayer Brown is understood to be close to a deal following three weeks of intense talks with the Frankfurt team, but a McDermotts team, believed to include worldwide chairman Larry Gerber, was due to meet the Gaedertz partners as The Lawyer went to press.

If McDermotts pulls off the deal, Frankfurt will be only its second international office following the opening of a London practice two years ago.

McDermotts London managing partner William Charnley refuses to confirm any talks, but does state that the firm plans to open an office in Germany in the near future.

Gaedertz Frankfurt managing partner Mark Hilgard confirms that his office is in talks with Mayer Brown, but refuses to comment when asked whether it is also talking to McDermotts.

Mayer Brown already has a German presence in Berlin and Cologne and has just merged with its longstanding French associate firm Lambert & Lee.

Both firms boast 800 lawyers, although McDermotts’ profits per partner outstrip Mayer Brown’s at nearly $800,000 (£542,000) compared with $700,000 (£474,000).

The Gaedertz Berlin office has approached KPMG Treuhand & Goerdeler, the German law firm affiliated with KPMG, with proposals for a merger.

KPMG has not yet entered into talks and it is understood that the firm will hold a meeting with its shareholders this week to decide whether to progress with the discussions.

Norton Rose is opening an office in Munich following its successful merger with the Gaedertz Cologne office.

Robert Strasser, a competition and media partner in Munich, is expected to leave Gaedertz to set up the new office, which will focus on intellectual property (IP) and IT. He will be joined by IP partner Martin Feyock.

Commercial partner Andreas Fink, who is based in Gaedertz’s Leipzig office, will join Norton Rose in Cologne, and Brussels-based competition partner Michael Werner will join its Brussels office.

Lathams is progressing with its plans to open in Frankfurt following its merger with the Gaedertz Hamburg office.

Christoph von Teichman, one of Germany’s best-known corporate lawyers, will leave Hamburg to spearhead the development.

Lathams is understood to be sending over four US partners to boost its new German offices.

Gaedertz’s turnover firm-wide is around £47m. The most profitable office is believed to be Cologne, where profits average 40 per cent of Norton Rose’s, around £180,000.

Lathams is understood to be offering Hamburg partners £700,000 at the top of equity.

It is believed that Eversheds is hoping to cherry-pick any remaining lawyers after the offices have been divided up. Last year, Eversheds lost out to Norton Rose by one vote when partners at Gaedertz elected to enter merger talks with a UK firm. It is understood that Eversheds was most interested in Cologne, but it has again been pipped at the post by Norton Rose.