Dundas and Bircham abandon merger talks after failing to win partner backing

Merger talks between Edinburgh-headquartered Dundas & Wilson and London firm Bircham Dyson Bell have collapsed after partners at the respective firms gave a lukewarm reaction to the proposed deal.

Donald Shaw
Donald Shaw

The firms have confirmed that they will instead collaborate on individual projects, especially in the energy and infrastructure areas.

In a statement Bircham managing partner Guy Vincent said: “Both firms have independently and jointly concluded that, due to differences in their operating models, the downsides outweigh the potential upsides.”

Dundas managing partner Donald Shaw said: “We hold one another in high regard and are naturally disappointed that serious and worthwhile discussions between us have not been more fruitful.

“However, as we stated, these were just steps to establish whether our previous successes in collaborating on client matters could be further developed by integrating our practices.”

As revealed by The Lawyer last month, the two firms had been in talks about a tie-up, with management at Dundas emailing the firm’s partners to detail the benefits of such a deal (20 September 2011).

Dundas has been looking to bulk up in London for some time, with Shaw making no secret of the fact that he would like to see the firm’s City arm grow at the expense of its traditional Scottish base.

A merger would have given Dundas a significant lift in turnover. Bircham’s revenue was £31m in the 2010-11 financial year while Dundas pulled in £62m in 2010-11.

A revenue of £92m would have seen Dundas rocket up The Lawyer’s UK 200 rankings, giving it a significant lead on its fellow Scotland-headquartered firms (3 October 2011).