Loeff Claeys merger falls through

Plans by two leading Dutch firms, Loeff Claeys Verbeke and Buruma Maris, to join forces to create the largest law firm in the Netherlands have fallen through.

The merger, which would have created a firm with almost 400 lawyers, was announced in July and was scheduled to take effect in a month's time.

Dolf Stuyling de Lange, secretary to the general board at Loeff, said: “We had concluded preparing everything for implementing the plans. But there were still considerable differences of culture in both firms which raised serious doubts about whether the merger would result in a real success in the future”.

Peter von Schmidt, Buruma's managing partner, added: “The cultural differences were so big that we could not hope to bridge them in a reasonable time.”

At the time the merger was announced, it was hailed by both parties as “the perfect fit” because the firms had complementary practices and there were few conflict problems.

Stuyling de Lange said the feeling then was that differences could be overcome. “We hoped that everybody would be so convinced of the advantages [of the merger] that they would have a sufficient level of enthusiasm to settle the problems. But this did not happen.”

A major concern related to the merging of two firms of different sizes. Loeff, with 300 lawyers is almost three times bigger than Hague-based Buruma. Stuyling de Lange said that some Buruma lawyers had a more “individualistic approach” to handling cases.

Another difficulty, according to von Schmidt, was holding onto partners dissatisfied with the merger arrangements. “We feared that partners would leave if the merger went ahead,” he said. “This was not at stake at the moment, but it was a possibility in the future.”

The failure of the merger talks leave Loeff and Buruma without bases in the Hague and Amsterdam respectively. However, neither firm is actively looking for new merger partners to fill the gap.