Kennedys in merger talks with Gates and Partners

Aviation firm Gates and Partners has entered into merger talks with Kennedys.

It is understood that the talks are at an early stage but if a deal was to go ahead Kennedys would gain a foothold in the aerospace and aviation sector, a significant area for the Lloyd’s of London insurance market.

Gates and Partners was launched in 2003 by three legacy Beaumont and Son partners: Sean Gates, Adosh Chatrath and Daniel Soffin. The firm is home to 54 lawyers, including 25 partners.

Gates, which refused to comment directly on the talks, said the firm was “constantly in discussions with a variety of firms” about potential deals.

Last year the firm launched a fourth overseas office in Dubai after hiring two Clyde & Co lawyers, including partner Jim Edmunds (7 April 2011).

A tie-up would boost Kennedys’ specialist practices with the insurance firm keen not to be eclipsed by its peers, which include Clyde & Co and Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW).

HFW boosted its aviation practice last year after hiring an eight-strong team from legacy Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (24 March 2011). The move is understood to have opened the way for the Clyde & Co merger talks by removing a large chunk of potential conflicts between the two firms (18 July 2011).

Kennedys is also coming under increasing pressure from DAC Beachcroft, which is making concerted efforts to grow its client base in the London insurance market. The merger between legacy Davies Arnold Cooper (DAC) and Beachcroft (22 June 2011) gifted the latter an instant presence in the City while DAC gained a foothold in the composite insurance market.

Traditionally Kennedys has grown through creating alliances with firms in international jurisdictions before entering a full alliance. Most recently the firm entered the Scandanavian market after formalising an association agreement with Danish firm Advokatfirmaet Erritzøe (9 July 2012).

Last year Kennedys acquired Dublin associate firm O’Hare O’Connor Walshe to create Kennedys Ireland (1 June 2011). This came just months after a merger with Portugal-based associate office Almeida & Athayde to launch Kennedys Portugal (2 March 2011).