SNR, Salans and FMC name management team as leaders back Dentons merger

Dentons – the proposed three-way tie-up between SNR Denton, Salans and Canada’s Fraser Milner Casgrain (FMC) – has named its global management line-up as the firms’ leaders urge their partners to back the merger.

The combined firm, which will be structured as a swiss verein, will be led by Elliott Portnoy (pictured), SNR Denton’s current global chief executive, who will take the same role at the new firm.

Other key leadership positions will see SNR Denton’s Joe Andrew become global chair, with Salans’ global board chair Francois Chateau and FMC’s national partnership board presiding member Bill Jenkins becoming global vice-chairs.

Salans global managing partner Dariusz Oleszczuk will be Europe chief executive, while SNR Denton’s current EMEA head Matthew Jones will serve as UK, Middle East and Africa chief executive.  Martin Kitchen, SNR Denton’s UK senior partner will take a role on the merged firm’s board.

Partners will vote on the proposed tie-up on 28 November, wth the combination set to become the seventh largest law firm in the world by lawyer numbers, according to a joint statement from the firms.

The deal is set to go live in the first quarter of 2013, under the name of Dentons, as first revealed by Legal Week this Wednesday. According to the statement, the new firm will employ an “innovative name migration strategy to capture the inherent brand equity of the Salans, FMC and SNR Denton names in their current geographies”.

Legal Week initially revealed that SNR Denton and Salans were considering a three-way tie-up with a Canadian firm last week.

The three firms claim the merger will create a “truly polycentric” global firm, with “no headquarters, no dominant national culture”, and that FMC will become “the first Canadian firm to combine with a firm that has a substantial presence in the US”.

If alliance firms are added into the equation, the tie-up would see 2,500 lawyers operating in 79 locations across 52 countries.

News of the merger has drawn varied reaction from the Canadian legal industry. Speaking to Legal Week, one managing partner at a Canadian firm said: “It’s hard to say if it will create a trend, but everyone is thinking and wondering if they should be doing it.

“It’s an important move for FMC in terms of locking down a global footprint and strengthening its commercial practice. In recent years the domestic market has been getting smaller and more overcrowded, while work is increasingly coming from the outside. Clients seeking international expansion have been shopping in the UK and US, so local firms have been losing out on pitches and aren’t being considered on transactions outside of Canada, especially if their reach and reputation aren’t extensive enough. More local firms are seeing the need to internationalise.”

Another Canadian managing partner echoed the sentiment, noting the current relative health of the Canadian financial market: “It’s hard to tell if we’re seeing a trend of consolidation here.

“Some firms are looking at more transformational strategies, but not us – we are exceptionally happy with our current strategy. But it will be interesting to see how a merger like that would develop – we can suppose that FMC’s many relationships around the world would be reduced to just one. After all, do you think the magic circle or big US firms would refer work to them if this moves forward?”

Dentons merged management line-up in full:

Elliott Portnoy, global chief executive officer, currently SNR Denton’s global chief executive officer
Joe Andrew, global chair, currently SNR Denton’s global chair
Francois Chateau, global vice-chair, currently Salans’ global board chair
Bill Jenkins, global vice-chair, currently FMC’s national partnership board presiding member
Matthew Jones, UK, Middle East and Africa chief executive officer, currently SNR Denton’s EMEA chief executive officer
Dariusz Oleszczuk, Europe chief executive officer, currently Salans’ global managing partner
Chris Pinnington, Canada chief executive officer, currently FMC’s chief executive officer
Peter Wolfson, US chief executive officer, currently SNR Denton’s US chief executive officer
Jana Cohen Barbe, currently SNR Denton’s financial institutions and funds sector co-chair
Michael Barr, currently SNR Denton’s US senior partner
Neil Cuthbert, currently SNR Denton’s Middle East senior partner
Mike Kaplan, currently managing partner of FMC’s Toronto office
Martin Kitchen, currently SNR Denton’s UK senior partner
Evan Lazar, currently Salans global real estate co-chair