(J. Albert Diaz)
Greenberg Traurig has ended merger talks with major U.K. law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, both firms confirmed Wednesday.
“After a reasonable level of serious diligence and with a strong desire to minimize the cost and distraction to our firm as we focus on our business, we have determined not to pursue a merger with Berwin Leighton Paisner at this time,” Richard Rosenbaum, executive chairman of Greenberg, said in a statement.
BLP partners were told earlier in the day that the talks had been called off. “It was a mutual decision and the responsible decision for us,” the London firm’s managing partner, Lisa Mayhew, told American Lawyer affiliate Legal Week.
“We thought it better to end talks now before spending more time and energy on it,” Mayhew said. “We have a clear strategy, and we will continue with it.”
Discussions became public in February linking the 1,950-lawyer Greenberg Traurig and the 550-lawyer U.K. firm. The merger would have been the first major trans-Atlantic merger in years and would have required a partner vote at both firms.
Greenberg Traurig, a top Am Law 100 firm that got its start with three lawyers in Miami in 1967, has been in growth mode ever since. However, the firm has never done a large merger.
Rosenbaum said the firm was “a substantially larger and more diversified firm” than Berwin Leighton, with broader practice priorities.
“The core real estate practice, which first attracted us, is indeed impressive, as are other BLP practices, and we have a great deal of respect for the firm as a whole,” Rosenbaum said. “For Greenberg Traurig, it was quite exciting to enhance our practices, but not at the risk of materially diluting our cultural, financial and other priorities. This is what our diligence has been all about.”
“After spending a substantial amount of personal time on this opportunity, visiting nearly every location and meeting so many fine BLP partners, I must admit to some regret in this decision,” he said, citing other additions in recent years.
The firm has operated in London since 2009 as Greenberg Traurig Maher after hiring former Mayer Brown global vice chairman Paul Maher.
“We have added many shareholders, practices and offices in the last months and years, and must intensely focus on integration and execution, including our continued build-out of a first class London office of an appropriate size in today’s world and the number one global real estate practice.”
Since 2012, Greenberg Traurig has opened offices in Tel Aviv, Warsaw, Seoul, Tokyo and Berlin and revamped its Mexico City office.
The firm has added about 75 shareholders and promoted 30 associates to shareholder since last July.