Reed Smith has announced its intent to merge with 250-attorney, London-based Richards Butler. The merger — which is subject to due diligence, negotiation of a merger agreement and partnership votes — is expected to be completed in late May, with the launch of the new firm by Jan. 1, 2007.

As far as financials are concerned, the merger would not affect Reed Smith’s 2006 performance, firmwide chairman Gregory B. Jordan said.