When news broke last November that Allen & Overy (A&O) was holding exploratory talks with Singapore firm Allen & Gledhill eyebrows were raised at A&O’s perceived brazenness.
The Singaporean firm was, after all, Linklaters’ local JV partner.
Since then, however, tapping up rival firms’ foreign buddies has become the fashion: Macfarlanes has sent a partner on secondment to Slaughter and May’s Chinese best friend Jun He, while Linklaters is having tie-up discussions with Oz firm Allens Arthur Robinson – also a Slaughters ally.
The latest news is that A&O and Allen & Gledhill are leaning towards a Formal Law Alliance (FLA) – the loosest kind of association possible. This puts a new twist on the narrative.
If Allen & Gledhill is satisfied with an even looser tie-up with A&O than it has enjoyed with Linklaters, perhaps it is less a case of A&O aggressively targeting the Singapore firm and more a divergence of opinion between A&G and Links. Unless of course the proposed FLA is just the start of a long-term game plan that will see the pair eventually merge.
Or maybe after 10 years stepping out with Linklaters, A&G decided that a change was as good as a rest.