Field Fisher and Osborne Clarke abandon talks over £200m merger

Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) and Osborne Clarke have called off their merger talks after failing to agree a £200m combination.

Simon Beswick
Simon Beswick

The firms had not yet put the deal to their partnerships for a vote after being in negotiations for the last few months (17 September 2012).

It marks the second unsuccessful attempt by FFW to seal a merger this year after the City firm abandoned discussions with Lawrence Graham in the summer (28 June 2012).

FFW and Osborne Clarke said the decision was made “amicably” based on “differences between the two firms’ operating models”.

Osborne Clarke managing partner Simon Beswick said in a statement: “We have a fairly similar vision of where we want to be and, between us, we have some great practices that could work well together. However, there are some differences in our approaches as to how we get there. The shared vision sparked the exploratory talks. In the end, though, we had to recognise that our approaches are too different to combine.

“One of the benefits of the talks is that they gave us the opportunity to build excellent relationships with the FFW team, particularly with [acting managing partner] Michael [Chissick] and [managing partner] Matthew [Lohn], who are impressive and are clearly dedicated to the success of FFW. We wish them and the firm well.”

Chissick added: “Although our firms have similar ambitions, they have a number of essential differences, including those between both firms’ international structures. Those differences were marked enough to convince us that we would retain our core strengths better as separate firms.

“The process has been positive, both as a way of assessing internal strengths but also because of the strong relationships and friendships that have been formed between the two firms.”

FFW management was expected to update partners on the situation at its annual retreat later this month, but talks have ended before this could happen (29 October 2012).

Market commentators have highlighted the firms’ cultural differences, with Osborne Clarke seen as a more mature operation compared with the politically intense FFW (24 September 2012). Their corporate practices, meanwhile, are fairly closely aligned (12 November 2012).