Maclay Murray & Spens secures long-sought merger with Dentons deal

Dentons is set to launch in Scotland after agreeing a merger with Maclay Murray & Spens.

The Scottish firm – which has 62 partners and almost 200 other fee earners – will see its brand disappear on completion of the tie-up.

The deal comes after a long-running merger hunt for Maclays, which has included talks with Addleshaw Goddard and legacy Bond Pearce.

Dentons and Maclays first met towards the end of last year, and began holding formal discussions in January.

Maclays’ partners have unanimously approved the merger, while Dentons’ UK, Middle East and Africa (UKMEA) partnership has also voted in favour. The firm’s global partners are currently casting their votes on the proposed tie-up, which is expected to go live later this year.

Dentons UKMEA chief executive Jeremy Cohen (pictured above right) told Legal Week: “We’ve wanted to strengthen our position in the UK market for some time. Maclays is a great firm with a great quality of lawyers and clients. We have remarkable practice fits, particularly in banking and finance, real estate, energy and transport.”

Maclays chief executive Kenneth Shand (pictured above left) added: “We’re following the needs of our clients and prospective clients. They’re looking further afield for international opportunities. This merger also gives us the scale we need in London, which will assist with further opportunities for the firm.”

Maclays previously considered a merger with Addleshaws, with talks beginning in 2015 and ending the following February. The firm also held two rounds of discussions with UK firm Bond Pearce in 2010 and 2012. (Bond Pearce subsequently merged with Dickinson Dees in 2013, before agreeing a US tie-up with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice last month.)

Maclays is one of the biggest independent firms in Scotland, with bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and London. Last year it posted a 3% revenue rise to £44.8m for 2015-16, although profits per equity partner (PEP) fell 12% from £283,000 to £248,000. The firm has not yet announced its 2016-17 results.

Its London office has 46 fee earners, including 11 partners. The firms said there are no current plans for any redundancies across support staff teams.

Dentons, meanwhile, recently announced that PEP for its UKMEA arm fell 9% during 2016-17, down to £481,000 from £530,000, while revenue rose 1% to £166m.

The firm, which currently has three UK bases in London, Milton Keynes and Watford, has continued its seemingly relentless international expansion with a number of other recent tie-ups around the world.

This May, it announced its intention to launch in Peru and Brazil through proposed strategic alliances with Brazilian firm Vella Pugliese Buosi Guidoni and Peruvian law firm Gallo Barrios Pickmann respectively.

The same month, Dentons moved into the Georgia market with the hire of DLA Piper’s 11-lawyer team in Tbilisi.

In March, it secured its first base in the Netherlands via a merger with Dutch firm Boekel, while in November last year, it established a presence in Central America via a tie-up with Costa Rica-based firm Munoz Global – a move that gave the firm bases in Panama and Nicaragua.