International firms Speechly Bircham and Withers today announced that they had dropped merger plans following almost two months of talks.

The firms said in March they had entered ‘preliminary discussions’ over creating a joint practice with more than 600 lawyers.

But in a statement released today, the firms said the management and partners had opted against continuing the talks.

‘Both sides have now concluded that a merger would not be in the best interests of both firms and have agreed not to pursue this further,’ said the statement.

‘The talks have enhanced the respect that both firms have for each other.’

Speechly Bircham was formed by a 1974 merger between Speechly, Mumford & Soames and the City office of Bircham & Co. It has 90 partners and more than 260 lawyers in total. In the year ended 30 April 2012 its turnover was £57.6m.

According to its latest financial results, Speechly Bircham's revenues fell by 3% up to the end of April 2012. Operating profit suffered an even greater dip, dropping 10% from £22.3m to £20m. Managing partner Michael Lingens described it as a 'difficult' year which was hampered by ceasing to act as principal property adviser to a major clearing bank client and failing to attract significant commercial disputes and litigation work.

Withers has more than 100 partners and more than 270 other lawyers, and reported a UK turnover of £80m in 2011/12. This was 6% up on the previous year; operating profits rose by 7.6%.

In a further statement to clarify the firm's situation Lingens said there is a continuing strategy of developing commercial and private wealth practices, with international offices already established in Zurich and Luxembourg and a third opening in a 'major European location' this autumn.

'The firm’s management team is already well advanced in developing our independent strategy for the next three years,' he added.