SNR Denton plots Canada merger as Salans talks continue

SNR Denton is in discussions to combine with a Canadian law firm, as tie-up talks with Salans continue to gather pace.

The transatlantic firm has told partners it is hoping to merge with a firm in Canada, although the name of the firm is not thought to have been formally communicated to all partners.

SNR Denton and its legacy firms have been keen to enter the Canadian market for some time, with legacy UK firm Denton Wilde Sapte understood to have engaged in discussions with Fasken Martineau around four years ago, and the merged SNR Denton previously linked to Canada’s Macleod Dixon. The latter firm went on to combine with Norton Rose in 2012, while Fasken confirmed it is not talking to SNR Denton.

It is unclear how advanced discussions in Canada are or whether the firms are aiming for a three-way merger between SNR Denton, Salans and the Canadian firm or two separate deals.

Partners at both Salans and SNR Denton are expected to vote on their merger in the coming weeks. Should they approve the deal, the union could go live in early 2013, with the deal likely to be structured as a Swiss verein.

Discussions between both firms’ senior management are thought to have begun last year, with partners initially expected to vote on the combination last month.

SNR Denton, which was formed by the merger of legacy UK firm Dentons and US firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in 2010, reported combined revenues of $712m (£443m) for the 2011-12 financial year. Given Salans’ 2011 turnover of $287m (£179m), a combination of those two firms alone would create a firm worth around just under $1bn (£622m).

Salans has 770 lawyers – including 192 partners – working across 20 offices in 17 countries, with profits per equity partner (PEP) of $766,000 (£477,000).

SNR Denton, which reported global PEP of $738,000 (£460,000) for 2011-12, has around 500 partners across offices in 14 countries, as well as associate offices in 30 further countries.

SNR Denton declined to comment on the merger talks. 

Salans said in a statement: “Salans is always interested and open-minded about ways to expand access to markets and services for our largely multi-national clients. Our policy is not to comment on specifics, but in principle strategic growth opportunities are welcome.”