Linklaters has announced that it has signed an exclusive alliance with Australian firm Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR) in a tie-up which will see the firms combine in an Asian joint venture.
The firms have stopped short of a full merger, but have said that they will provide a fully integrated service to clients from 1 May.
Linklaters and AAR have formed a joint venture (JV) bringing together their Asia-focused energy, resources, and infrastructure lawyers but will maintain separate profit pools, instead sharing revenue on a matter-by-matter basis. The two firms have also formed another JV focusing on Indonesia, based on AAR’s existing alliance with Jakarta firm Widyawan & Partners.
Linklaters senior partner Robert Elliott said: “The firms are a very good fit, we have a similar client base, complementary practice areas, cultural synergy, a leading depth and breadth of expertise, and strength of brand in our respective markets. By combining our resources and aligning our supporting processes we’ll be able to enhance and expand what we can do for our clients.”
Linklaters managing partner Simon Davies, who was reappointed to the role for a second term on 20 April, and AAR chief executive partner Michael Rose first met at a conference in California about a year ago. The pair then set a lunch and, according to Rose, “realised that we were seeing things in the same way and that there were a couple of views about the markets and law firms that we shared.”
The pair began to discuss an alliance seriously around five or six months ago.
A collaboration committee, which will report to Davies and Rose, will be established to oversee the alliance, with three partners appointed from each firm. From Linklaters, the members of the collaboration committee will be German senior partner Carl-Peter Feick, London corporate partner Olivia McKendrick and Asia managing partner Stuart Salt.
From AAR, the committee will comprise finance partner Robert Cornish, who was formerly the firm’s Hong Kong managing partner, corporate partner Paul Quinn, and one more partner who is yet to be named.
The firms will also establish a committee to head the energy, infrastructure and resources joint venture, comprised of two partners from each firm, as well as appointing a partner from each firm to work alongside Widyawan & Partners.
Linklaters, which has about 2,100 lawyers across the globe, has Asia offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, and Bangkok. AAR, with 800 lawyers, also has offices in China and Hong Kong but has made greater investments in recent years in South-East Asia, including Vietnam and Thailand. The firm also opened an office in Mongolia in autumn 2011.
Clients will have one point of contact across both firms, which will share processes, recruitment and training. Where possible across Asia, the two firms will also look to relocate into single site offices.
Rose said: “Arrangements will always be driven by our clients’ wishes – they want access to the best people and teams. We believe our relationship with Linklaters will expand their options. Under this agreement, clients will have access to the best expertise around the world through our extended teams and networks.”
Last month The Lawyer reported that Slaughter and May, which has had a non-exclusive best friends relationship with AAR for a number of years, was preparing to review its alliances in Australia if the deal with Linklaters went through (30 March 2012). Slaughters declined to comment on the latest news.
Rose said that he spoke to Slaughters senior partner Chris Saul before announcing the tie-up with Linklaters and is sure that the firms will remain on good terms.
“We’ve been Slaughter and May’s best friend in Australia for 10 years,” said Rose. “There are a lot of friendships between the two firms but Slaughters has a particular strategy, which isn’t a strategy that’s available to us in our market.”
Following the news of the alliance, AAR has renamed itself Allens, but will also incorporate Linklaters’ branding in its new logo.
“Everyone always calls us Allens anyway, so we changed our name,” said Rose. “And, in this alliance we’ve adopted a new logo and that has the names of both firms in it. That way we can demonstrate our closeness, but we also feel the need to be, and our clients want us to be, a separate and independent firm.”