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Davenport Lyons and Howard Kennedy FSI take another chance on the mid-market merger game

After a relatively quiet few weeks for mid-tier merger mania, Davenport Lyons and Howard Kennedy FSI have done the decent thing by confirming they are in discussions regarding a tie-up. The talks come after a potential union between Shakespeares and Davenport Lyons reportedly fell through last month.

Howard Kennedy confirmed the latest discussions. A spokesperson commented: ‘We have been approached and are currently at the initial stages of talking to Davenport Lyons with a view to exploring the possibilities of a merger. We are at a very early stage in those discussions but we remain open-minded as to what may come from looking at this in more detail. We remain committed to the vision of growing HKFsi, be it through bolt-ons, mergers or lateral hires and will look at all opportunities presented to us.’

Howard Kennedy merged with Finers Stephens Innocent in January last year creating a £40.6m firm with total fee earners of 207, including 70 equity partners and 13 non-equity partners. However, this combination did dilute the profit per equity partner (PEP) figure by 50% from £259,000 to £129,000.

The top 75 law firm in November announced that its non-lawyer chief executive Mark Dembovsky was to leave Howard Kennedy.

Davenport Lyons has struggled for growth in recent years, seeing its revenues fall 11% from £24.5m to £21.9m in 2012/13, while PEP dropped 12.5% to £197,000. Last November the firm decided to close its film and TV group.

Davenport Lyons refused to comment.