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Leading Dutch firm Stibbe has decided to sever ties with its Paris office as part of a wider review of its business.It is understood the break is connected to talks between Paris partners and US firm Latham & Watkins.Los Angeles-based Lathams is keen to expand in Europe and does not have a Paris office. The Stibbe Paris office was never fully integrated into the Dutch firm and it was the office’s failure to merge financially with the other partners in Stibbe that has led to the split.The Paris office, which has around 90 fee earners, will split off formally on 1 January 2002. Amsterdam-based Stibbe also has offices in Brussels, London and New York.The move comes in the wake of Stibbe’s partnership vote last year to modernise its structures and improve the running of the firm. That agreement included a commitment for all parts of the 450-fee earner firm to integrate financially.It also follows votes to remain independent after entering into a number of merger talks with English firms in 2000.The aborted merger talks with firms such as Lovells were the result of the firm losing a number of its top corporate partners to Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.However, by the end of 2000 the firm attempted to bring itself back on track with a drive to raise its profitability and a commitment to independence.Stibbe Managing partner Allard Metzelaar said: “It is regrettable when one has to conclude that sound plans have failed in the implementation phase.”

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