Norton Rose Fulbright to target Brazil and Mexico when merger goes live

Norton Rose has confirmed its intention to launch offices in Brazil and Mexico after it merges with Texan firm Fulbright & Jaworski next year.

Peter Martyr
Peter Martyr

The combined firm, under the name Norton Rose Fulbright, plans to launch in Brazil in 2013 and Mexico City within five years to add to the UK business’s current Latin American bases in Colombia and Venezuela.

The news follows Norton Rose’s announcement of a $1.9bn (£1.2bn) merger with the Houston-headquartered outfit this week, with the deal set to go live on 1 June next year (14 November 2012).

Norton Rose CEO Peter Martyr told The Lawyer last night: “We won’t do [Brazil] in a merger – we’ll go in there ourselves. Fulbright in particular has got a lot of interest in Latin America. The two international places for us are obviously Brazil one, and two Mexico. Mexico is a bit further off but I expect Brazil to be next year.

“A lot of Mexico has been served out of Texas in the past. The Mexican economy is expected to grow substantially as an alternative to China. Is that sufficient to warrant not looking at Mexico from Texas or the southern states? I would guess within five years we’d probably want to be in Mexico City.”

The tie-up with Fulbright gives Norton Rose a presence in the Texan cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, while Fulbright gains Norton Rose’s bases in Bogotá and Caracas – both of which it acquired on merging with Canadian firm Macleod Dixon on 1 January this year (4 October 2011).

The South of the US and Latin America are hot targets for Norton Rose Fulbright given the regions’ energy and natural resources opportunities and the legacy firms’ focuses on these areas, but local restrictions rule out a Brazilian merger.

The energy and resources strategy was also partly behind Norton Rose’s launch in Tanzania earlier this year following previous African entries in Cape Town, Casablanca, Durban and Johannesburg (23 October 2012).

Declining to confirm whether he would seek re-election when his current term at the helm ends in 2014, Martyr commented: “That depends on whether I want to do it, whether the firm wants me to do it. I have no problem finding things to do – this is not completed. We have to expand parts of the business, manage it more tightly, develop things that will go with a global giant.

“One of the nice things is I’ve been through two phases – the first is probably to correct our direction. Stage two now is getting to not completion but standing in position. Stage three is turning that into a polished global machine.”

The combination gives the joined firm offices in 55 cities, including 11 in the US. Both legacy firms already have offices in Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, London and Munich.