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Can Clydes seal the deal? Firm in advanced merger talks with Simpson & Marwick

Following the failed merger attempt between Scottish firm Simpson & Marwick and Kennedys in 2013, UK top-20 firm Clyde & Co is hoping to seal the deal this time having confirmed it is in advanced merger talks with the Scots outfit.

If successfully carried out, the deal would see Simpson & Marwick’s five Scottish offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and East Lothian plus three English offices Newcastle, London and Leeds, added on to Clyde & Co’s 38 office– including associated offices – international network and give the firm a presence north of the border.

Both firms share a focus on insurance and professional liability with Simpson & Marwick having four top-tier recommendations in Scotland from The Legal 500 including for personal injury: defender and professional negligence while Clyde & Co also has top-tier recommendations for those sectors in London as well as seven others.

Clyde & Co said in a statement: ‘The combination of the market leading insurance and professional liability practices in both England and Scotland has been tested with and received enthusiastically by our clients whose interests both firms have always, and continue to put first.

‘Outside of insurance we share a common focus in such areas as dispute resolution, employment and real estate which would enable us to develop synergies in these areas and combine our capabilities to the advantage of our respective clients.’

The merger talks emerge at the same time as Simpson & Marwick’s well-regarded 15-strong family law team, including its current head Shaun George, quit the firm to join Brodies.

Simpson & Marwick told Legal Business: ‘In light of Simpson & Marwick’s decision to enter merger discussions with Clyde & Co, our family law partners and their teams have intimated their intention to leave Simpson & Marwick, and pursue new opportunities with Brodies with effect from 1/6/15.

‘Their decision has not been taken lightly and follows appropriate, professional and respectful discussions with our strategy board at all times. Relations between the family law partners and their teams and the rest of Simpson & Marwick partners and staff remain, and will remain in the future, as friendly and cordial as they always have been. We wish them well in their new home, and I know they wish us well in our ongoing discussions with Clydes.’

Simpson & Marwick was previously set to combine with insurance specialist Kennedys in 2013 to create a 220-partner firm – which would have been known as Kennedys worldwide and Kennedys Simpson & Marwick in Scotland – but was abandoned at the end of the year after both firms said the combination had to be pulled due to ‘complex reasons‘.

Kennedys has since launched its own offering in Scotland with the hire of partners from commercial litigation firm Francis Gill & Co and McClure Naismith and creation of offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The potential Anglo-Scottish tie-up comes after a line of large English firms have secured tie-ups north of the border in the last three years including Scottish firm McGrigors acquisition by Pinsent Masons in 2012 and DAC Beachcroft’s union with Scots insurance litigation boutique Andersens.