Pinsent Masons has signed an alliance with international firm Salans that will see the two top 25 firms preparing joint pitches and referring work to each other globally.

Chris Mullen

Chris Mullen

Both firms will continue to operate as independent entities, maintaining their respective branded offices abroad and their own networks of referral firms. However, they are looking to collaborate particularly in the CIS and the UK.

Pinsents senior partner Chris Mullen said: “We’re working together on a significant pan-European bid and there are a number of others in the pipeline. One of the key benefits we see is being able to serve the needs [of clients] through a single partner.”

As a result of the alliance Pinsents will end its participation in the PMLG group of firms. Mullen said: “Joining PMLG was the first part of our international strategy, and our next phase is to create an association with one firm with an established international reach and reputation in order to further complement and enhance our current capabilities.

“We have decided to exert all of our attention into our new international alliance with Salans, therefore we’ll be winding down our official relationship with the PMLG network during 2009.”

Salans, which has 21 offices globally, opened in Moscow in 1991 and has since launched in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Pinsents is hoping to access Salan’s central and eastern European network and will contribute projects and construction expertise to add to Salans’ local real estate capability.

“[Whether Salans is a first port of call or not] always depends on conflicts of interest and client preference. Fortunately Salans has a good reputation in these markets so it’s not a hard sell,” said Mullen.

Salans global chairman Stephen Finch said that one of the principal attractions of the alliance for his firm will be Pinsents’ seven UK offices. “Pinsents offers greater depth to us in the UK and there’s very little overlap,” he added.

According to the statistics in last year’s The Lawyer UK 200, Pinsents and Salans are already closely aligned in financial terms.

As the larger of the two firms Pinsent Masons, which brought in revenues of £213m in the 2007-08 financial period, had an average profit per equity partner (PEP) of £500,000 and 40 per cent of total partners were part of the equity. Salans, which turned over £143m, had a PEP of £502,000 and 39 per cent of partners in the equity. Pinsents had a revenue per partner (RPP) of £801,000 and Salans £822,000.

Mullen said that, aside from the financial similarities, there is little overlap between the firms’ practices. “It’s remarkable given the size of both firms how little overlap there is, the combined turnover is [approximately] Euro 500m (£432m). Our offerings are very complementary,” he said.

That said, Mullen talked down the possibility of an imminent merger.

“A merger is not on our agenda at the moment,” he said. “We’re focused on making this a successful alliance. There’s a huge amount of work getting the infrastructure in place, getting the partners to know each other.”

Finch agreed: “Ultimately in this alliance we can achieve commercial goals with little disruption, if you talk about a merger that’s [not the same].”