05:13, June 13 524 0

2017-06-13 05:13:09
Norton Rose Fulbright votes through Australian merger

Norton Rose Fulbright’s merger with Australian firm Henry Davis York has been given the go-ahead by both partnerships.

In a joint statement, the firms confirmed that the merger has been approved by both sides, with an overwhelming majority said to have voted for the union.

The details of the merger, such as an official launch date, are still being finalised but the combination is expected to complete within this year.

“There is a sense of real momentum in our global business right now. The combination proposal in Australia with Henry Davis York is occurring as we join forces with premier New-York based firm Chadbourne & Parke and continue to integrate into our business our new colleagues from Vancouver-based firm Bull Housser,” said Norton Rose Fulbright global chief executive Peter Martyr.

“The addition of Henry Davis York will give us the critical mass we need in Australia to take full advantage of the steps already underway, at a global level, to modernise our business through the implementation of our 2020 business transformation strategy. This combination will allow us to bring the benefits of this transformation to more clients,” he added.

The two firms initiated the merger talks in the second half of 2016. It was understood that the discussions came to a halt at the beginning of this year but resumed soon after.

Norton Rose is thought to have been attracted by HDY’s banking and finance practice, particularly its restructuring and insolvency group. The Sydney-headquartered firm’s relationship with several key banking clients, such as Westpac Bank, is also said to be desirable.

The deal will grant HDY access to Norton Rose’s newly expanded global network and a strong base in Melbourne, where it currently doesn’t have an office.

According to The Lawyer’s Asia Pacific 100 2017 report, Henry Davis York is the 19th largest firm in Australia with 180 lawyers, including 40 partners. The combined firm will have about 124 partners and nearly 600 lawyers in Australia.

Norton Rose’s Australia arm has seen a stream of partner departures over the past year. Most recently, its Asia Pacific technology business group leader Michael Park left for Allens, Brisbane-based infrastructure and projects partner Joshua Paffey joined Corrs Chambers Westgarth, and M&A partner Michael Joyce moved to Singapore to join US firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

According to The Lawyer Global 200 2017 data, which will be published later this month, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Australia partnership shrunk by 17.9 per cent from 140 partners in March 2016 to 115 in March 2017.

The merger will boost the global firm’s total number of partners in Australia to 160. It will overtake Ashurst to become the second largest global firm in Australia by partner number after Herbert Smith Freehills, which has 166 partners.