Merger down under: Norton Rose Fulbright in late-stage talks with Aussie law firm Henry Davis York

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As Ince & Co’s hunt for a tie-up continues

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has confirmed it is in late-stage merger talks with leading Australian outfit Henry Davis York.

In a joint statement released yesterday, the firms confirmed they are currently “exploring a potential combination to create one of the largest providers of legal services in the Australian market.”

Rumours of a potential Anglo-Aussie tie-up between the duo first surfaced back in November. Having initially dismissed the reports as industry tittle-tattle, the firm has now officially gone public with the merger plans. It is understood that partners will vote on the new combination later this summer.

Norton Rose Fulbright — which currently offers around 50 London training contracts annually — is the larger of the two firms by some distance. Boasting over 3,500 lawyers and support staff, it has 54 offices across 29 different countries, including four in Australia.

Meanwhile, Henry Davis York has just 45 partners, 71 senior associates and 63 lawyers. It is a full service law firm with offices in Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney.

If given the go-ahead, this will be Norton Rose Fulbright’s second merger of 2017.

In February, following a successful partner vote, the firm confirmed it was joining forces with US outfit Chadbourne & Parke. Effectively a takeover due to Norton Rose Fulbright’s size, Legal Cheek reported at the time that the firm would benefit from new offices in Mexico City, São Paulo and Istanbul.

The news comes in the same week a report suggested that Ince & Co is also on the hunt for a potential merger suitor.

According to The Lawyer (£), the City middleweight has held discussions with regional player Hill Dickinson, but talks were halted weeks ago. Ince & Co’s international senior partner, Jan Heuvels, said:

It is well known that our strategy for further growth includes the possibility of business combinations locally, regionally or internationally. As would be expected, I have met with a number of firms, including Hill Dickinson, however no discussions are currently ongoing.

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A tie-up with a middling outfit no one ever heard of. That’ll have pulses in the City racing.

Almost as exciting as when Womble Bond Dickinson was announced – now that’s what I call a MERGER.



Ah Ince & Co, the firm no one wants to merge with. Given that there aren’t that many marine firms who would want to or be able to merge without conflicts, and most have said no, I can’t see how it can hope to save itself by a merger. An unproductive, unprofitable partnership also won’t help sweeten any deal!



Agreed, Ince is currently in a sticky one. Can’t think of any shipping/commercial shop that would be keen on taking them up on the merger offer – the firm’s unfortunately too top-heavy with old geezer equity hoping to golden-parachute out on the back of the merger into retirement.

Clydes seem to have the greatest appetite for gobbling up smaller firms, but Ince might be too big for them to comfortably chew on.



Agreed – not so much money in dry shipping and insurance, and other firms have stolen a march on them in those sectors. Gobbling up Inces might result in a bad case of food poisoning!


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