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Field Fisher and Osborne Clarke in Talks Over Potential £200 Million Merger
Field Fisher Waterhouse and Osborne Clarke are in early-stage talks about a potential combination that could create a merged firm with revenues of nearly £200 million, Legal Week can reveal.
News of the discussions comes weeks after Field Fisher's merger talks with LG were called off in June.
If the union goes ahead, the tie-up would create a U.K. top 20 firm with combined revenues of around £195 million, based on the two outfits' 2011-12 results.
The firms also posted similar profits per equity partner figures last year, with Osborne Clarke coming in at £406,000, while Field Fisher partners took home an average of £410,000 following a drop of nearly 20 percent.
Separately, it has emerged that Field Fisher managing partner Matthew Lohn has been signed off sick from the firm since the talks with LG ended, with technology and outsourcing head Michael Chissick filling in on an interim basis.
Lohn was elected as managing partner in October following a contested vote that also saw Chissick put himself forward.
It is understood that Mark Abell, the chairman of the firm's European franchising network and a senior partner within the firm, is also playing a leading role in the Osborne Clarke talks.
In a statement, Field Fisher said: "It is well known that merger is on Field Fisher Waterhouse's agenda as potentially one way of achieving our ambitious growth plans and strategic objectives. This means that like many in the mid-market we have been speaking to a number of firms to explore the benefits that such a merger would bring.
"We will not be commenting on individual talks unless they reach an appropriate stage."
Separately, Field Fisher chief operating officer Charlie Keeling, who was appointed to the role in November, is leaving the firm to join Clyde & Co.
Field Fisher has offices in London, Brussels, Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Manchester, Munich, Paris and a recently launched base in Palo Alto, while Osborne Clarke, which also has a Silicon Valley office, has a presence in Bristol, London and Reading, as well as offices across Germany, Italy and Spain.
Following the end of discussions with LG, Field Fisher has taken steps to reorganize its business, overhauling its sector groups in August, with the firm no longer listing public sector work among its core areas of focus and cutting back its sectors from 11 to five.
In a statement, Osborne Clarke said: "We're committed to an expansion plan, so we always evaluate opportunities as they arise. Any potential merger partner would have to be a great cultural and strategic fit with OC.
"We don't comment on any talks until they're at an appropriate stage."