Ashurst and Blake Dawson confim merger plans
30 September 2011
Following the flirtations
between UK firm Ashurst
and top tier Aussie firm Blake Dawson, the two have now announced plans for their formal union.
Under the merger timetable, the firms will combine their Asian operations by early next year and the fully-integrated merger is expected to be complete by 2014 subject to a partner vote
. The merged firm will span four continents and is already forecasting bumper revenues of £550m ($853m) by 2014.
It seems Ashurst will be wearing the trousers in this coupling, not least as Blakes has agreed to ditch its name and operate under the Ashurst banner from March 2012. Given the financials this may not be too surprising. The UK firm's £303m turnover ($479m) eclipses Blakes' figure of $380m and Ashurst's £723k ($1.1m) PEP means its partners pocket around 10% more than their Aussie counterparts.
||An example of a good UK-Aussie partnership yesterday|
The potential benefits of the merger seem clear. Ashurst is keen
to ramp up its global, and in particular Asian, presence to become a
serious global competitor. Having for years dithered about whether it
should pursue an organic growth strategy or whether it should merge with
another firm (Fried Frank, Clifford Chance
and Latham have all been in
the mix), this merger represents a big change of direction.
As for Blakes, whose partners have gone public with their fears about the influx of international firms
, it gets the boost it
wants to compete in an increasingly crowded Australian market, as well as being able to flex more muscle on the international stage.
Just how it will all work in practice is unclear - mergers between two heavy-weight firms are notoriously hard to pull off. But whatever happens, both firms are unsurprisingly evangelical about the union. Ashurst's Charlie Geffen trilled that "the combination is a natural development of our relationship
", while Blake Dawson's chairman said it's "a significant opportunity to take a bold step towards becoming one of the premier global law firms.