Hogan  Hartson may merge with Lovells to create third-largest law firm in the world
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Hogan Hartson may merge with Lovells to create third-largest law firm in the world

Bar & Bench

The management committees of international firms Hogan & Hartson and Lovells LLP have given their approval to the merger of the two firms. The merger will create a ‘megafirm’ of around 2,500 lawyers and 40 offices, with a projected joint revenue of $1.9 billion.

Both firms have flourishing India practices. Lovells has what it terms a “close working relationship” with Indian firm, Phoenix Legal, although both firms deny any formal alliance. Phoenix, in fact, doesn’t appear to think that the merger will impact them in a big way.

The management committees of international firms Hogan & Hartson and Lovells LLP have given their approval to the merger of the two firms. One of the biggest transatlantic mergers in the legal space after Clifford Chance’s merger with Frankfurt-based Pünder, Volhard, Weber & Axster and New York based Rogers & Wells, the merger will create a ‘megafirm’ of around 2,500 lawyers and 40 offices, with a projected joint revenue of $1.9 billion.  Management Committees of both law firms recommended that their Partners approve the merger last week.

The final decision rests with the firms’ partners, who will vote in mid-December. If the partner vote comes through, Lovells and Hogan will complete the merger process by May, 2010. The merger would make the megafirm the third-largest in the world, in terms of size, and about the eighth-largest in terms of revenue.

The New York Times reports that the firms had been in talks for over two years, initiated due to the increasing number of cross-border transactions with growing international markets like Brazil, India and China. In Asia, which most international firms see as a hugely important market due to its growing economy, Lovells has nine offices, including Singapore and Hong Kong, while Hogan has five. Both firms have flourishing India practices. Lovells has what it terms a “close working relationship” with Indian firm, Phoenix Legal, although both firms deny any formal alliance.

Phoenix, in fact, doesn’t appear to think that the merger will impact them in a big way. Sawant Singh, Partner at Phoenix Legal, Mumbai, told Bar & Bench, “I don’t think the merger will change things. We work closely with several firms, and although several of our Partners have worked with Lovells Partners, it may be reading too much into the situation to say that the merger will affect us in any way. We found out about the merger through the media, in fact, just like every other member of the general public.” He is unsure if a successful merger will bring more cross-border transactions to Phoenix from Hogan clients. “I am not too sure if the number of transactions will increase, or decrease, and as for referral work from Hogan’s clients, it may come about if we form a separate relationship with Hogan & Hartson,” he said, refusing to speculate further.

Hogan & Hartson’s India team have worked on several India-related deals. Hogan has acted for Ford Motors in their sale of the brands Land Rover and Jaguar to Tata Motors, and on Jet Airways’ IPO. Ajay Kuntamukkala, Waajid Siddiqui, and Marcia Wiss head the India practice for Hogan & Hartson.

Lovells, apart from its strong India practice, has also outsourced its litigation and document review to India. Recently, Lovells advised Jefferies on their FCCB transactions. Crispin Rapinet and Andrew Taylor are the India Group Partners at Lovells.

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