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Called off: Stewarts Law deal to acquire Enyo scrapped

A deal for Stewarts Law to merge with boutique Enyo Law to create an £80m disputes specialist has been called off, Legal Business can reveal.

The unexpected acquisition was due to be finalised before the end of the financial year. Details surrounding the transfer of lawyers and staff to Stewarts were not disclosed.

In a statement, Stewarts said. ‘Following very preliminary and exploratory discussions both firms have decided not to pursue matters further.’

Stewarts managing partner John Cahill (pictured): ‘Our preference is to continue down the path of organic growth and selected lateral hires. Our record growth over the last five years has been impressive and has not been driven by merger or acquisition.’

He added:’The expansion of our commercial disputes offering is a priority and we anticipate being active in the lateral hire space over the next 24 months, seeking out the very best new talent to join Stewarts Law, as well as promoting our rising stars from within.’

City litigation partners had mixed reactions to the merger news; Herbert Smith Freehills head of international arbitration Craig Tevendale saw sense in the collaboration: ‘Both firms have some very good people and have made a success of the litigation boutique model.’

Ted Greeno, commercial litigation partner at Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan was less convinced: ‘I’m surprised that they were prepared to give up their independence but no doubt they had good reasons for it.’

Enyo was founded in 2010 by former Addleshaw Goddard partners Simon Twigden, Pietro Marino and Michael Green. A profitable outfit, Enyo posted strong financial figures over the last couple of years with revenue growing 27% to £21m in 2016. Remuneration among members stood at £12.5m.

Stewarts Law, which generated £62.1m in fees last year, has also seen positive financial growth in recent times, with the firm’s highest paid member pocketing £1.7m for the 2015/16 financial year, a 20% increase from the previous figure. The litigation specialist also saw a consecutive year of double digit revenue growth, with revenue jumping 17% to £61.3m.

Stewarts represented a number of retailers including Asda, Morrison, New Look and Next in a £1.2bn claim against MasterCard which was ruled on in January. The High Court decided in favour of MasterCard amid claims that the card issuer overcharged consumers due to controversial interchange fees.

Read more on litigation boutiques in:‘Focal points – Law boutiques and the art of focus’