Hammonds to seal transatlantic merger with Squire Sanders

Hammonds is the latest UK firm to eye a US merger, after announcing it is in talks over a potential tie-up with Cleveland-headquartered Squire Sanders & Dempsey.

Peter Crossley
Peter Crossley

Squire Sanders chairman James Maiwurm and Hammonds managing partner Peter Crossley said the firms are holding preliminary discussions in a move that would create a global firm with revenues of more than £400m and 1,300 lawyers.

The firms’ partnerships will vote on the merger before the end of the year, with the merger expected to go live on 1 January.

“While we’re still at an early stage, our discussions to date indicate that such a merger would appeal strongly to clients that want high-quality legal services from lawyers who have global experience and who understand and respect client demand for value,” said Maiwurm.

He added: “Squire Sanders is committed to being a global firm. We need a more complete presence in the UK and Western Europe to complement our strength in Central and Eastern Europe. Hammonds has a well-developed platform that would complement our presence in Europe, would add to our capabilities in Asia and would enhance Squire Sanders’ broad-based Latin America resources.”

Squire Sanders has 32 offices in 15 countries, while Hammonds has 10 offices in six countries, including four in the UK. Both firms currently have bases in Beijing, London, Hong Kong and Brussels.

Last month, Hammonds reported a 6 per cent fall in revenue to £117.8m in the 2009-10 financial year, while in the same period average profit per equity partner rose by 32 per cent to £364,000, and net profit rose 17.1 per cent to £22.6m. Squire Sanders posted global revenues of $545m (£353m) in 2009.

Crossley added: “Operating as one firm around the world is a foundation of the Hammonds culture which is shared by Squire Sanders.  There’s an obvious cultural fit between the two firms.”

Squire Sanders is believed to have been a eyeing a UK merger for several years, and in 2006 was reported to be in advanced talks with fellow US firm Bryan Cave.

The firm launched its City office in 1992, but with only 32 lawyers based in the capital, including 11 partners, it lacks the strength of many of its US rivals. In May it lost two high-profile partners to US firm McGuire Woods in the shape of former managing partner Andrew Visintin and corporate partner Philip Newhouse (11 May 2010).

The talks are the latest transatlantic merger discussions to take place this year. In June partners at US firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and Denton Wilde Sapte voted in favour of the firms’ merger, which is due to go live on 30 September (9 June 2010), while SJ Berwin is also believed to be in advanced talks with Proskauer Rose (12 July 2010).