Speechly Bircham and Charles Russell in merger talks to create £126m firm

Speechly Bircham is in preliminary merger talks with six-office firm Charles Russell in a move that would propel the combined outfit into the top 25 firms by turnover according to The Lawyer UK200.

The talks follow Speechly’s discussions with fellow private client focused firm Withers, which were called off after a partner vote last May (23 May 2013). 

If the tie-up goes ahead, the combined firm will consist of about 176 partners and have combined revenues of £125.9m.

Charles Russell has three offices in the UK, in the City, Cheltenham and Guildford, in addition to international offerings in Geneva, Manama and Doha. The merger would add a Middle Eastern contingent to Speechly’s current raft of five offices in London, Paris, Luxembourg, Geneva and Zurich.

A joint statement from Charles Russell and Speechly said: “Both are well-established firms with complementary practice areas in the commercial, real estate and private wealth arenas.”

It continued: “A combination would further strengthen these core practice areas while providing a strong platform for the firms’ shared ambitions for growth in the UK and internationally.”

According to its LLP filings, Speechly Bircham recorded a turnover of £57m in 2012/13, dropping by 1 per cent from £57.6m 2011/12. The firm’s revenue has remained relatively flat since 2009/10, when it hit the £58.4m mark.

Net profit has increased, however, rising by 2.3 per cent globally in 2012/13, from £11.3m to £11.6m. Global profit per equity partner (PEP) fell by 2 per cent from £299,000 to £293,000 during the same period (28 June 2013).

Meanwhile, revenue at Charles Russell inched up by 1 per cent from £68.1m to £68.9m in 2012/13. Net profit rose 8.7 per cent from £12.6m to £13.7m, and its average PEP jumped up 11 per cent from £280,000 to £311,000 – aided by a small drop in the number of equity partners from 45 to 43 (10 January 2014).

The joint statement said: “We are now consulting with our partners and other key stakeholders. No further announcement will be made by either firm until those consultations are complete.”