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

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By Thomas Connelly on

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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