Clyde & Co to merge with Scotland’s Simpson & Marwick creating £420m insurance powerhouse

Clyde & Co will merge with Scottish firm Simpson & Marwick on 1 October, creating a £420m firm.

The tie-up will give Clydes its first base in Scotland and add to its insurance litigation offering. It will also add seven offices across Scotland and England to Clydes’ UK offices in London, Guildford, Manchester and Oxford.

The merged firm will be known as Clyde & Co, with senior partner James Burns remaining at the helm. It will have 360 partners, 1,800 legal professionals and around 3,000 staff across 45 locations globally.

Both firms’ London offices will be combined in April 2016, with Simpson & Marwick moving into Clydes’ Aldgate office.

Simpson & Marwick has 45 partners, with the majority advising on insurance disputes, employment and real estate. The firm turned over £28.5m last year.

Senior partner James Burns said it was a “client-focused merger”, adding: “Simpson & Marwick is the go-to firm for many of our clients in Scotland and we’ve long held it in high regard.”

He added there was “no financial imperative” driving the combination but said there was a “strong underlying benefit” for both firms’ expanding client bases.

Simpson & Marwick senior partner Gordon Keyden said the merger “demonstrates our dedication as a firm to present the strongest practice teams to support and progress our services to clients in Scotland and England”.

Keyden will become Scotland managing partner in the combined firm and sit on Clydes’ UK management board.

Advanced merger talks between the two firms were first revealed in May, though began as early as January.

Clydes head of insurance Simon Konsta said: “Combining the market leading insurance and professional liability practices in both England and Scotland will enable us to develop synergies that will be to the advantage of our respective clients.”

Both firms had shown an appetite for mergers in the past with Clydes merging with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert in 2011. The merger prompted growth at Clydes of 33.2 per cent between 2010 and 2014.

Simpson & Marwick and Kennedys called off merger talks in late 2013, citing “complex reasons” behind the break down.

There has been a growing trend for English firms picking up Scottish insurance specialists to increase their strength in the market and provide national coverage for clients. In 2014, Berrymans Lace Mawer merged with Scotland’s HBM Sayers to form a £100m risk and insurance firm. TLT, BLM, Shoosmiths and Irwin Mitchell have all made similar moves, though Clydes is the largest firm so far. 

Clydes has also recently increased its presence in Australia through the opening of its Brisbane office last October. The office was opened after Clydes hired three partners from Australian firm Sparke Helmore.

In May 2014 Clydes opened two offices in South Africa after it hired five lawyers from Linklaters ally Webber Wentzel. Initially the firm launched in Cape Town with two partners but then later opened a second office in Johannesburg.

Earlier this year the firm also announced it was planning to provide domestic advice within the Dubai and Qatar. Currently the firm has bases in both countries but has been operating in an offshore capacity. The firm has yet to announce the results of its negotiations.

The firm posted strong financial results for the 2014/15 financial yearClydes’ average profit per equity partner was up 10 per cent to £660,000, while revenue also increased last year jumping 8.5 per cent to £395m.