BLP and Bryan Cave bring in Macfarlanes for advice on merger talks

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is taking advice from Macfarlanes in relation to its merger talks with US firm Bryan Cave.

A Macfarlanes spokesperson confirmed that the firm is advising BLP, but stressed that it is not playing a prominent role in discussions.

Macfarlanes has also advised on other previous law firm mergers, including Slater and Gordon’s takeover of Russell Jones & Walker in 2012 and the 2015 tie-up of Irwin Mitchell and Thomas Eggar.

Last week, Legal Week reported that merger talks between the two firms had been held up due to tax issues relating to their desire for full financial integration. Big four accountant Deloitte is advising the firms on the tax structure of the proposed merger.

One BLP partner said: “I think we are hoping to hear more [about the tax situation] before the end of the month. It should be imminent. People want to get on with it.” A source at Bryan Cave in the US also said they expect to be updated on the delay by the end of the month.

Despite the hold-up, the partner stressed that the two firms still want to push ahead with a one-firm structure, rather than a looser Swiss verein or company limited by guarantee structures.

If the merger goes ahead, it will create a 1,500-lawyer firm with combined revenues of £730m, with 32 offices in 12 countries around the world.

BLP declined to comment.