Norton Rose and Fulbright talk synergies amid US merger hunt

Norton Rose has confirmed that it has held informal talks over the possibility of a tie-up with Fulbright & Jaworski as the expansive firm continues its search for a US merger.

Chief executive Peter Martyr told Legal Week that he meets with Fulbright’s leadership on a regular basis, with one such meeting held in recent weeks.

The US firm last summer kicked off a review of its international strategy, with a prospective merger with Norton Rose forming a central plank of the consultation.

Martyr said: “We are good friends with Fulbright – best friends. I know they had that strategy meeting last year but I am not privy to what they decided.”

He added: “Any partner with a good business relationship with a partner in another firm will have sat down over dinner to discuss good synergies and sometimes that results in bringing together of management and sometimes it does not. We have not yet done this with Fulbright.

“We all keep our options open. There is a time and a place for everything and the key is to not be in a hurry. Whoever we end up with, it will be as a result of getting to know them well. We keep a list of firms we work well with and we may end up with one of them or we may not. The markets are very uncertain at the moment.”

Partner profits – a common sticking point in merger discussions – are closely aligned at Norton Rose and Fulbright under current exchange rates, standing at £467,000 and $740,000 (£465,000) respectively.

A tie-up between Norton Rose Group and Fulbright would form a global firm with revenues of almost $2bn (£1.3bn) and close to 3,500 lawyers.