Single minded

Equal representation at management level in transatlantic combinations is a symbolic, but important, indicator of the so-called merger of equals

Hogan Lovells carefully crafted its governance structure to reflect the leadership of both legacy firms, thereby ensuring buy-in from both sides of the Atlantic.

Denton Wilde Sapte CEO Howard Morris has sought to allay fears that the proposed combination between his firm and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal is a bolt-on of the UK practice by the larger, more profitable US firm. The fact that London will be the merged firm’s biggest office and that Morris will serve alongside current Sonnenschein chair Elliott Portnoy as joint CEO has certainly helped in this respect.

But, as The Lawyer reveals today, there’s a caveat: the dual management structure would be maintained for an interim period of three years or so, after which time the firm would move to a single CEO and possibly a single chair too (see story).

Morris – currently on tour in the US selling the deal – has hinted that he might not run for the single CEO job come 2013, with new chum – and fellow tourer – Portnoy, remaining tight-lipped on his plans.

If neither were to stand, those looking for a figurehead from the Dentons arm of the business could do worse than Neil Cuthbert.

As managing partner of the firm’s well-rated Middle East practice, he was one of a handful of high-level partners brought into the merger negotiations. He is also the only partner whose name has been added to the proposed global advisory committee – the strategic brains for the merged firm.

Just a thought…