Addleshaws and Nabarro call off talks over near-£300m merger deal

Addleshaw Goddard and Nabarro have confirmed that the two firms held merger talks, with preliminary discussions ending at the start of February.

The failed talks, which were first reported by Legal Business earlier today (6 March), could have created a combined firm with revenues of more than £280m, putting it just outside the top 10 UK firms by revenue.

It is unclear how long the firms were in discussions for; but the talks – which did not progress beyond the preliminary stage – were ongoing at the beginning of the year.

In a statement, Addleshaws said: “We have always said that we would be open minded about the possibility of further merger to accelerate our strategic progress and growth. We confirm that, consistent with that, we held preliminary discussions with Nabarro to explore the potential benefits of a merger.

“Those preliminary discussions have now ended and will not be progressing further. We continue to have a good relationship, and we wish Nabarro well. No further comment will be made by either firm.

Nabarro said: “Nabarro and Addleshaws did hold very preliminary conversations to explore a possible merger. However, both firms agreed not to pursue discussions further. We continue to have a good relationship with Addleshaws.”

Both firms have endured difficulties during the recession. Addleshaws saw revenue grow just under 5% in 2011-12 against a 37% rebound in profits per equity but, over a five-year period the firm saw revenue fall 4% against a 17% reduction in profits.

Nabarro, meanwhile saw a marginal increase of under 1% in revenue in 2011-12 against a 4.4% rise in profits per equity partner to £332,000, but over the last five years has seen revenues fall almost 8%, while PEP has dropped more than 40%.

The news comes after failed merger talks between several mid-tier firms. Last November Field Fisher Waterhouse and Osborne Clarke called off talks over a tie-up, while earlier last year Field Fisher and Lawrence Graham confirmed that negotiations over a potential deal had ended.

Scotland’s Maclay Murray & Spens and southwest firm Bond Pearce – which has since merged with Dickinson Dees, also last year opted against a tie-up.

Nabarro saw longserving senior partner Simon Johnston step down from the leadership role last September, with corporate partner Graham Stedman taking up the mantle at the start of this year.