Partners from Allen & Overy and O’Melveny & Myers have been meeting to find out more about their respective firms, as key details of their proposed transatlantic tie-up—including the name of the combined firm—continue to be discussed.
After a series of recent get-togethers involving management, in recent weeks partners from both firms have been meeting on a more informal basis to get to know each other and learn about their respective working cultures.
One such meeting was held in Singapore, where both firms have a base, sources said.
A number of sources described the firms as inching closer to a deal, with an expectation in some quarters that a vote could be held before the end of the year. However, with key details such as the name of the combined firm and its compensation structure still to be settled on, it is possible that talks could now run into next year.
The domain name allenomelveny.com was registered earlier this year, although that is just one of a number of options on the table.
“My sense is they’re inching towards a merger,” one former A&O London partner said. “There is some opposition in London, but it’s fairly disorganised—there’s a lot of moaning but nobody leading a charge.”
Meetings involving A&O and O’Melveny leadership have taken place in Germany and London in recent months, while the merger was also top of the agenda at A&O’s partner conference in Miami, and sources close to the deal suggest that efforts to build support for the merger are paying off.
One former London A&O partner who left the firm this year said, “Warmth was growing toward it from A&O. There are hot spots in O’Melveny that are especially good—antitrust, for example, and the A&O competition partners thought that would be great.
“The A&O litigators, especially in the U.S., desperately want to have it. They’ve never had a strong brand in the U.S. and this gives them a way.”
However, one current A&O partner argued it might not be a “slam dunk.”
“It is a numbers vote—but even if you have 500 partners in favor and 50 corporate partners in London against it, you’d be a brave person to put it to a vote,” they said.
If a merger between the two firms were to go ahead, it would create a business with a combined revenues of more than $2.6 billion and a total lawyer head count of about 3,000.
The two firms have similar profitability, with O’Melveny seeing profit per equity partner (PEP) rise 3 percent to $2 million (£1.56 million) in 2017, while A&O posted PEP of $2.1 million (£1.64 million) for 2017-18. A&O added $69 million (£54 million) to its top line during the year to reach $2.01 billion (£1.57 billion), while O’Melveny grew revenues by 1.7 percent to reach $738 million (£576 million).
A&O declined to comment. A spokesperson for O’Melveny said, “We do not comment on gossip or market speculation regarding the firm.”