Simmons & Simmons is in negotiations with German firm Beiten Burkhardt Mittl & Wegener over the formation of an alliance.
It is anticipated that if the alliance goes ahead it will be with a view to a full merger.
Both firms offer a full service and have a strong corporate focus, but while Simmons has a stronger finance department, Beiten Burkhardt offers strength in procurement and labour law.
In January, Simmons announced its merger with M&A boutique Kaiser, which gave the firm a presence in Düsseldorf. It has since been looking to open in Frankfurt, and at the time of the merger announced that it would expect to open there before the end of the year.
The move comes at a difficult time for Beiten Burkhardt, which has just been notified about the loss of four more partners from its Munich and Berlin offices.
Christoph Kuhmann, Christoph Hoebbel and Michael Walther are leaving from the Munich office while Benno Schwarz is quitting the Berlin office. It is not yet known where they are moving to.
These moves follow the loss of four partners in the Frankfurt office, including private equity rainmaker Gerhard Schmidt. In April, the partners announced that they were leaving to join Weil Gotshal & Manges' Frankfurt office.
|More Beiten Burkhardt partners quit from Munich and Berlin offices|
Beiten Burkhardt is a member firm of the BBLP alliance, but the recent turmoil has sparked rumours that the formal relationship is crumbling.
Although Beiten Burkhardt remains close to the Swiss member firm Meyer Lustenberger, it is understood that the firm anticipates integration problems with French member Moquet Borde & Associés and Italian member firm Pavia e Ansaldo.
It is understood that the merger talks between Simmons and Beiten Burkhardt are ongoing and do not currently involve all of the BBLP members.
Beiten Burkhardt is also talking to two other UK firms, but neither are believed to be in the running.
Both Beiten Burkhardt and Simmons are yet to schedule a date for a vote on the merger, but a decision is expected to be made by the end of the month.