South-East sets off on merger drive

Nearly one in two firms in the South East are seeking mergers, according to a survey by The Lawyer and Willott Kingston Smith & Associates.

The survey, conducted among 100 firms in March and April, also revealed partners were reluctant to devolve the decision-making authority.

Risk is a matter of growing concern to firms, with most contemplating incorporation and/or a merger to increase critical mass. Firms also see mergers as a means of reducing overheads and their dependence on a few dominant clients.

However, firms are having problems managing growth, the survey found. It showed that although 69 per cent of firms have allocated responsibility for personnel, marketing and financial matters to individuals, one third of partners were reluctant to devolve too much of the decision-making and required non-policy decisions to go to the partnership.

Simmons & Simmons finance director Alun Morris said: “It should not be a matter of the partners keeping management to themselves. A firm is everyone who works for it and contributes to the end result.”

See page 14 for survey in full.