Merger talks between Allen & Overy and US firm O'Melveny & Myers have collapsed.

Confirmation of the aborted deal follows possibly the longest courtship in legal history - the firms have been in talks for some 18 months. Apparently the ultimate sticking point was an inability to agree a valuation that would remain stable over the coming six months.

News of the early discussions leaked in Spring 2018 following a not-so-secret rendezvous between the heads of the two firms. O'Melveny, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, batted away the story at the time saying that it had "no plans to merge and never have". Allen & Overy said back then "we have said for several years that we are open to considering a merger with the right partner in the US", but played coy and didn't name O'Melveny.

The two firms also met under a cloud of secrecy in summer last year in a Frankfurt hotel to continue their talks. At that time the firms continued to remain tight-lipped about their courtship even though the entire legal community and its dogs, knew about the talks. But now the pursuit has come to an end. Still, they'll always have Frankfurt.


AO

The merged name may have been the sticking point 


A&O has long-held ambitions for a US merger, and OMM would have brought powerhouse US coverage with its NY and DC presence and three offices in California. A merger would have created a transatlantic beast of 3,000 lawyers. In revenue terms its combined £2bn would have placed it behind only Kirkland & Ellis ($3.7bn) and Latham & Watkins ($3.4bn). And O'Melveny could have had a fresh start for its Wikipedia page

Other UK firms that have looked for a relationship across the pond include Ashurst with aborted attempts to hook up with Sidley Austin, Fried Frank and Latham & Watkins (not all at once). Freshfields and Debevoise wooed each other many moons ago, only for things to go cold. BLP failed to make things work with Greenberg Traurig, before finding love with Bryan in a Cave. 

Other firms that have pulled off transatlantic coupling include Lovells with Hogan & Hartson, Norton Rose Fulbright with Chadbourne & Parke, Eversheds with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, and DLA with Piper Rudnick.

Allen & Overy confirmed in a statement that the firm had held talks with O'Melveny but despite "some compelling synergies* " the firms "mutually decided not to continue" the discussions. Hinting that it was still in the market for love, A&O added that it was "remaining open to considering opportunities for larger combinations that may arise in the future". 

O'Melveny, having said in its statement in Spring 2018 that it was not looking to merge, finally fessed up that it "had held discussions about a possible combination" (it's ok, we all knew). But although it wasn't meant to be, the US firm said that both firms "developed a great deal of mutual respect and expect to remain in close contact in the service of our shared clients".   

 

* Compelling synergies = (1) Mutual desire for dominion over the western world. (2) Desire for Os and ampersands in their names. (3) Everyone speaks English.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anonymous 06 September 19 10:13

Why have Wim and Ballheimer not resigned yet? They have staked their reputations on this and they have failed. Time to go gracefully.

Anonymous 06 September 19 10:15

I note the number of anti O'Melveny articles that hit the legal press shortly after the announcement (cf. the lawyer and legal week). A&O PR department been working overtime.

Fred the Shred 06 September 19 11:47

Thousands of nitpicking lawyers fail to close sensible-in-principle deal.  Needed a business person in charge to tell them to get on with it instead of endlessly and pompously agonising about how many nuances can dance on a semantic pinhead and instead of confusing "crafting" yet another b/s "nuanced" CYA memo with, you know, an actual decision.  Lawyers are natural-born followers.

Anonymous 07 September 19 01:59

Yes 10:15, for example, Allen & Overy hired a woman to claim she was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, and they arranged for her to tell the New York Times that o'melveny threatened to drag her by her hair if she didn't keep quiet. Allen & overy doesn't need any help making o'melveny look bad. 

Anonymous 09 September 19 04:32

You seem terribly confused 01:59. A&O actually acted on behalf Harvey Weinstein and drafted an NDA which was not only unenforceable in practice but also highly unethical. One of their key employment partners has been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and faces being struck off. Another black mark in the hapless Wim / Ballheimer regime. 

Anonymous 09 September 19 13:44

Yes 432 , but O'Melveny did all of that and they threatened, according to the NY Times, to drag the victim by her hair if she did not agree to sign the NDA. Search the Internet for the words O'Melveny and Harvey Weinstein to educate yourself. Or the words O'Melveny and Lions Gate. There is no comparison between Allen and overy and O'Melveny on this topic. 

to 432 09 September 19 14:06

Soon, Ms. Matthau recalled, she and Mr. West met at the Peninsula Beverly Hills with Mr. Weinstein and Daniel M. Petrocelli of O'Melveny & Myers, who had represented high-profile clients including Jeffrey Skilling, the chief executive of Enron. Soon, Ms. Matthau recalled, she and Mr. West met at the Peninsula Beverly Hills with Mr. Weinstein and Daniel M. Petrocelli, who had represented high-profile clients including Jeffrey Skilling, the chief executive of Enron. Ellen Gabler, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, New Accusers Expand Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Claims Back to ’70s, N.Y. Times, Oct. 30 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/us/harvey-weinstein-sexual-assault-allegations.html

Ashley Matthau and Dan Petrocelli of O'melveny & Myers 09 September 19 19:27

You're the confused and ill informed one here