Kenneth Shand, left, and Jeremy Cohen
Kenneth Shand, left, and Jeremy Cohen ()

Dentons will launch in Scotland after agreeing to a merger with Maclay Murray & Spens.

The Scottish firm, which has 62 partners and almost 200 other fee earners, will see its brand disappear on completion of the tie-up.

The deal comes after a long-running merger hunt for Maclays, which has included talks with Addleshaw Goddard and legacy Bond Pearce.

Dentons and Maclays first met towards the end of last year and began holding formal discussions in January.

Maclays’ partners have unanimously approved the merger, while Dentons’ UK, Middle East and Africa (UKMEA) partnership has also voted in favor. The firm’s global partners are currently casting their votes on the proposed tie-up, which is expected to go live later this year.

Dentons UKMEA chief executive Jeremy Cohen told Legal Week that the firm has wanted to strengthen its position in the UK market for some time. “Maclays is a great firm with a great quality of lawyers and clients. We have remarkable practice fits, particularly in banking and finance, real estate, energy, and transport,” he said.

Maclays chief executive Kenneth Shand added that the move follows the needs of the firm’s clients and prospective clients. “They’re looking further afield for international opportunities,” he said. “This merger also gives us the scale we need in London, which will assist with further opportunities for the firm.”

Maclays previously considered a merger with Addleshaws, with talks beginning in 2015 and ending the following February. The firm also held two rounds of discussions with UK firm Bond Pearce in 2010 and 2012. (Bond Pearce subsequently merged with Dickinson Dees in 2013, before agreeing to a U.S. tie-up with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice last month.)

Maclays is one of the biggest independent firms in Scotland, with bases in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and London. Last year it posted a 3 percent revenue rise to £44.8 million ($58.4 million) for 2015-16, although profits per equity partner (PEP) fell 12 percent from £283,000 ($368,895) to £248,000 ($323,272). The firm has not yet announced its 2016-17 results.

Its London office has 46 fee earners, including 11 partners. The firms said there are no current plans for any layoffs across support staff teams.

Dentons, meanwhile, recently announced that PEP for its UKMEA arm fell 9 percent during 2016-17, down to £481,000 ($626,991) from £530,000 ($690,863), while revenue rose 1 percent to £166 million ($216.38 million).

The firm, which currently has UK bases in London, Milton Keynes, and Watford, has continued its international expansion with a number of other recent tie-ups around the world.

This May, it announced its intention to launch in Peru and Brazil through proposed strategic alliances with Brazilian firm Vella Pugliese Buosi Guidoni and Peruvian law firm Gallo Barrios Pickmann respectively.

The same month, Dentons moved into the Georgia market with the hire of DLA Piper’s 11-lawyer team in Tbilisi.

In March, it secured its first base in the Netherlands via a merger with Dutch firm Boekel, while in November of last year, it established a presence in Central America via a tie-up with Costa Rica-based firm Munoz Global – a move that gave the firm bases in Panama and Nicaragua.