Dundas and Bircham unveil proposed merger

Edinburgh-headquartered Dundas & Wilson looks set to attain its goal of bulking up in London after launching official merger talks with London firm Bircham Dyson Bell.

Donald Shaw
Donald Shaw

According to a source close to the parties, an email has been sent to partners at Dundas informing them that the two firms are discussing a merger and outlining the benefits of such a move ahead of a possible vote.

Bircham and Dundas are understood to have been considering a tie-up for a number of months, but put talks on hold in July. The firms have experience working with each other on parliamentary-related projects.

Senior figures at both firms have previously denied that merger talks are taking place. Bircham senior partner John Stephenson today said that he had no knowledge of the proposals.

Despite this, a joint statement signed by Dundas managing partner Donald Shaw and Bircham managing partner Guy Vincent and released this afternoon said: “As both firms have previously confirmed separately, we’re committed to developing our businesses, and each party has been considering various options including combining forces with firms who could help us to achieve that aim.

“Given our positive mutual experience of collaboration to date, we can confirm that discussions between Dundas & Wilson and Bircham Dyson Bell have taken place as to whether we might combine forces more formally. At this stage we’ve reached no conclusions so it’s very much business as usual for both firms.”

Bircham’s revenue was £31m in the 2010-11 financial year. The firm is particularly well known for its residential property practice and niche offering of PR, planning and parliamentary advice.

Dundas, meanwhile, pulled in £62m in 2010-11. The firm is headquartered in Edinburgh and has an office in Glasgow, but 39 per cent of its revenue comes from its London office.

It is known that Shaw is keen on ramping up in London, and he has previously indicated flexibility on moving away from the firm’s all-equity model, which it would probably have to do to effect a merger.

Shaw did not return calls for comment.