Top 40 law firms Field Fisher Waterhouse and Osborne Clarke have separately confirmed that they are keen to secure a merger – but refused to comment on speculation that it is with each other.
Speculation mounted today that the firms – which together posted turnover of nearly £200m in 2011/12 – are in discussions over a formal link. Osborne Clarke (OC) has already completed two mergers with firms in Italy and Spain this year, and a spokesman said he expected more to follow.
He added: ‘We don’t comment on any talks until they’re at an appropriate stage but we are committed to an expansion plan, so we always evaluate opportunities as they arise.
‘As you’d expect, however, any potential merger partner would have to be a great cultural and strategic fit with OC.’
Osborne Clarke recorded stable financial results for 2011/12, its profit per equity partner almost unchanged at £406,000. FFW would appear to be compatible with its potential partners, having cut its roster of sectors from 11 to five last month. It has also announced a move away from public sector practice.
The firm was one of the few leading practices in the UK to record falling profits last year, with profit per equity partner dropping from £510,000 in 2010/11 to £410,000 in 2011/12. A spokeswoman said: ‘It is well known that merger is on FFW's agenda as potentially one way of achieving our ambitious growth plans and strategic objectives.
‘This means that like many in the mid-market we have been speaking to a number of firms to explore the benefits that such a merger would bring. We will not be commenting on individual talks unless they reach an appropriate stage.’