Ince & Co is in advanced merger talks with publicly listed U.K. law firm Gordon Dadds, in the latest transformative move set to shake up the legal market.
Talks between the two firms are said to be at the due diligence phase, although a partnership vote on the merger is yet to take place.
If the talks are successful, the combined firm—which will be called Ince Gordon Dadds—will have total revenues of about £114 million ($150 million).
“The boards of Gordon Dadds and Ince & Co are in discussions to merge the two businesses,” Gordon Dadds said in a statement on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday morning. “The precise structure and mechanics of the transaction are also under discussion and the respective boards are working towards a further announcement as soon as possible.
“There can be no certainty at this time that the merger will proceed, and we will update shareholders in due course.”
Ince, which has been considering a merger in recent years, has gone through a period of upheaval, including a restructuring of its partnership and a review of its partner remuneration model, while earlier this year it made a number of layoffs, with 25 business services roles and seven fee-earners cut.
The talks come after Ince last year confirmed that it had met with a number of firms, including Hill Dickinson, to weigh the possibility of a merger after sounding out other candidates about a prospective tie-up in 2015.
Gordon Dadds became the second publicly-traded law firm in the U.K. last year, with an £18.8 million ($24.62 million) AIM listing via a reverse takeover of marketing company Work Group. Alongside its London base, it also has a 16-lawyer office in Cardiff, Wales, and earlier this year opened its first international outpost in Hong Kong. The firm reported revenues of £31.2 million ($40.9 million) for the financial year to March 31, up 25 percent over last year.
Ince, meanwhile, saw its revenue dip 6 percent from £88.5 million ($115.88 million) to £83.4 million ($109.21 million) during 2017-18, with U.K. revenues dropping 11 percent from £48 million ($62.85 million) to £42.8 million ($56.04 million). The firm, which does not publicly report a profit figure or profit per equity partner, saw equity partner numbers fall from 82 to 76.
In August, international senior partner Jan Heuvels stepped down from his firmwide leadership role, six months before his four-year term was due to end, with former international senior partner Peter Rogan stepping in as interim chair of the board.
Heuvels, who had held the top role since January 2015, relocated to Hong Kong in October 2017. He will remain a partner at Ince but will now concentrate on leading the firm’s Asia growth plan
Following Gateley’s landmark listing in 2015, Gordon Dadds is one of four U.K. law firms to have listed on AIM, alongside Keystone Law, Rosenblatt, and Knights. Since then, DWF has also confirmed that it is considering an IPO, in what would be the largest U.K. law firm listing to date.
Ince declined to comment.