Addleshaws' international merger talks with Hunton and Luther go cold


Addleshaw Goddard’s merger talks with US firm Hunton & Williams have fizzled out nearly two years after they began, with the news coming as its discussions with Germany’s Luther have also come to an end.

The UK firm first started talking to Virginia-headquartered Hunton in 2015, however discussions slowed during the course of summer 2016, as both sides waited to see what the impact of the UK’s Brexit vote would be.

In January this year, Legal Week reported that talks between the two firms were still moving forward despite the delays, with partners then expecting the firm’s management to put a proposal to them during the first half of this year.

Multiple sources now say the discussions are unlikely to come to fruition.

One former Addleshaws partner said that the talks were “very, very cold now”, and that there was “no short-term likelihood of anything happening there”.

A source close to Huntons meanwhile said the two firms had “looked long and hard at each other” but that the talks were now very unlikely to progress.

Addleshaws’ revenue was £201.8m in 2015-16, while Hunton’s 2016 revenue was $541m. A deal between the two firms would have created a firm with revenue of £627m, catapulting the combined firm into the top 50 firms in the US and the top 10 in the UK by revenue.

Conversations with Luther started last year.

While discussions with Hunton and Luther may have cooled, Addleshaws has managed to successfully seal a merger with Scottish firm HBJ Gateley, which went live at the start of this month, boosting the firm’s revenue by around £20m and giving it offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Addleshaws held its partner conference in Edinburgh earlier this month, welcoming the legacy HBJ Gateley partners to the firm.

According to Addleshaws partners who attended the conference, expanding into continental Europe remains high on the agenda for the firm, which has international offices in the Middle East and Asia, but no presence in mainland Europe.

Addleshaws and Luther declined to comment. Hunton was approached for comment.