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By Richard Tyler and Saira ZakiWeil Gotshal & Manges’ former banking rainmaker Maurice Allen has widened his pool of potential suitors beyond Ashurst Morris Crisp to include Freshfields and US firm Latham & Watkins.Allen and Ashursts have been locked in negotiations for several months – long before he resigned from Weil Gotshal on 28 January. Legal Week understands that a move to Ashursts with his team of three banking partners: Nick Holt, Rachel Hatfield and Martin Hughes, remains a strong possibility, but there are several hurdles to overcome, including compensation and cultural differences.Allen has also talked to Freshfields, but both sides have decided that the ‘fit’ was not right. Freshfields was very keen to hire Allen after he left Clifford Chance in 1994 and before he joined Weil Gotshal. Allen has also been in talks with the London office of Latham & Watkins, which is rapidly building a strong reputation for its English law finance work and is keen to expand.Lathams is also one of the US firms that has talked with Ashursts’ management about its merger plans. As Legal Week reported in November, other US firms to have made a similar approach to Ashursts include long-standing work referral ally Sidley & Austin.Lathams has conducted a year-long review of its international options that has seen the firm talk with a number of UK firms including Ashursts and Linklaters & Alliance. Managing partner Bob Dell told Legal Week that the firm “is moving towards a consensus of aggressive international growth”, and he predicted that the partnership would look very different by the end of the year. Joe Blum, Lathams’ London managing partner, added: “We will hire more in London and we have set up a committee to look at expansion into Italy, Germany and France.”But he emphasised: “We are having no formal talks with any firm about a merger.”

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