Revealed: McGrigors and Pinsent Masons moot £282m merger  

McGrigors and Pinsent Masons are preparing the ground for a potential merger in a deal that would make the combined firm the 12th largest in the UK by turnover.

Richard Masters
Richard Masters

The firms today confirmed that they are holding merger talks, with partners due to vote on the deal by February.

In a joint statement to The Lawyer, the firms said: “We can confirm that Pinsent Masons and McGrigors have been in discussions about ways in which both firms can work together to look at how we can bring a wide range of legal services to our respective clients, as well as improve their delivery.

“Both firms complement each other well, being leaders in the field of construction, energy and infrastructure. A potential tie-up would greatly benefit the clients of both firms, providing a wealth of market-leading expertise across a number of sectors and practice areas.

“It would also provide a strong platform upon which to grow internationally, with a continued focus in Europe, the Gulf and Asia Pacific.

“We will be spending the coming days speaking to our partners and staff about the proposals and will not be making any further comment at this time.”

Based on 2010-11 figures, a merger between the two firms would create a combined entity with more than 1,200 lawyers and turnover of £282.5m, making it the 12th largest practice in the UK behind Ashurst, according to The Lawyer’s UK 200.

Pinsents has the higher average profit per equity partner (PEP) at £400,000, while McGrigors average PEP is £247,000. That said, McGrigors does operate on a higher profit margin than Pinsents, at 29 per cent versus 21 per cent.

One former Pinsent Masons partner commented: “McGrigors has been struggling and looking for a merger partner for a while, I know that from talking to partners at other firms who have been approached. You have to wonder what the strategy is. Why does Pinsents want a bigger presence in Scotland? The days of bigger law firms being better are long done – it’s all about profitability now. You would think Pinsents would be trying to find more London-based lawyers to fill up the new office and expand internationally.”

In December 2011 Pinsents announced that it would not be renewing its strategic alliance with Salans, as the firm intended to branch out on its own in Munich and Paris in the first half of 2012 (12 December 2011).

Headquartered in London, Pinsents has offices in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. The firm also has offices in Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore.

Under managing partner Richard Masters, who took up the role in 2008 (21 January 2008), McGrigors has undergone significant expansion.

The firm has branched out from its Scottish roots, buying out London litigation boutique Reid Minty (4 August 2008), bulking up its Manchester offering (26 August 2010) and buying out Belfast firm L’Estrange & Brett (28 August 2009).

It has also launched in Doha (14 March 2011) and signed a referral agreement with US firm Husch Blackwell (11 April 2011).