Speechly Bircham and Charles Russell will be known as Charles Russell Speechlys LLP should the merger be successful later this year.
The two firms have extended the timescale on their discussions to create a £126m outfit, which were initially slated to be finalised by 1 May. If the deal goes ahead the combined firm will be home to 126 partners and a network of about nine offices spread across the UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East (21 February 2014).
Speechly managing partner James Carter said: “When discussions originally started the timetable was to work to the beginning of the financial year. Otherwise you have to break the year into two parts and that throws up its own issues. But that’s not a timetable that would’ve been realistic.”
Sources close to the firms suggest that an initial partner vote on the proposed tie-up may have been pushed back as far as August, although Carter declined to comment on specifics.
Charles Russell senior partner Christopher Page said the two firms had agreed on the new brand, confirming that ”Charles Russell Speechlys is the proposed name of the new firm, if and when the merger goes ahead”.
According to Companies House, the new partnership was incorporated on 21 February with Carter and Speechlys’ corporate partner and management committee member Nick Janmohamed, a former corporate head, proposed as designated members.
Page continued: “A certificate of incorporation is one of many pre-merger tasks that needs to be undertaken as part of any possible merger talks and the Speechly partners involved were simply those that were asked to do this on behalf of the combined team dealing with the merger talks.”
Speechly and Charles Russell were on a relatively equal financial footing in the 2012/13 financial year. According to The Lawyer UK 200, Speechly recorded a net profit of £11.6m while Charles Russell racked up £13.7m.
Profit per equity partner fell 2 per cent from £299,000 to £293,000 at Speechly, while at Charles Russell it climbed 11 per cent from £280,000 to £311,000.
It’s thought that issues relating to office premises could be a particular sticking point during the merger talks. Speechly shelled out £3.5m in rent and rates for its 64,500 sq ft City premises over the course of the last financial year, while Charles Russell paid £5.4m for its 78,000 sq ft space in London.