A rise in the number of international combinations - with London firms featuring strongly - was largely responsible for the increase in mergers involving US firms in 2016, according to figures published today. Consultancy Fairfax Associates reported that 58 mergers had been completed during calendar 2016, up from 49 in 2015 and ahead of the annual average of 50 over the past decade. 

The number of cross-border mergers was 13, up from just five the previous year. Global giant Dentons alone accounted for six mergers, with Costa Rica’s Muñoz Global; Colombia’s Cardenas & Cardenas; Mexico’s López Velarde; Luxembourg’s OPF Partners; Singapore’s Rodyk & Davidson; and offices of Gadens in Australia.

DLA Piper accounted for three of the combinations, with Toronto IP boutique Dimock Stratton; Sweden’s Gronberg Advokatbyra; and Finland’s Peltonen LMR. Littler combined with French firm Fromont Briens. The remaining three mergers involved London practices as the acquired or acquiring firm, Fairfax said.

Domestically, most of the 2016 mergers involved small firms with between five and 20 lawyers. The largest domestic mergers included Husch Blackwell’s combination with Milwaukee’s Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek (144 lawyers), and Fox Rothschild’s combination with Minneapolis firm Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly (82 lawyers). California and Florida were the most active states for mergers.

The report predicts 'robust' merger activity for the year ahead, with 10 mergers set to be completed in early 2017. These include Eversheds' combination with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan; Arnold & Porter and Kaye Scholer; Baker Donelson and Ober Kaler; and Norton Rose Fulbright’s combination with Vancouver-based Bull Houser.