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Dentons to merge with Scotland’s Maclay Murray & Spens to gain foothold in European oil and gas centre

Dentons is to combine with Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens, embarking on the latest phase of its European expansion into Scotland’s oil and gas markets and bringing its total UK lawyers to over 800.

The merger is the latest in a series for the Dentons, the world’s largest law firm by number of fee earners, as it adds three more offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Dentons’ European offices will total 31 on completion of the deal.

Maclays partners and Dentons UKMEA partners have approved the takeover, which will add 196 lawyers and 62 partners to Dentons UK operations, bringing its partner figure in the UK to 198.

The deal awaits the go-ahead from Dentons global partnership, expected in three weeks. Maclays will then operate under the Dentons brand.

The Scottish firm focuses on financial services, energy, transport and real estate. The two firms also share clients in the banking sector including RBS, Lloyds Banking Group and Santander and are both on the panel of transport company Network Rail.

Dentons UKMEA CEO Jeremy Cohen told Legal Business that the strong practice fit between the two firms and the opportunities to service clients ‘much more seamlessly’ north and south of the border were the main factors in the merger.

‘The office in Aberdeen gives us the opportunity to have a presence in Europe’s leading oil and gas centre,’ Cohen said.

Maclays advised Aberdeen Asset Management on its merger with Standard Life in March 2017, which valued the Scottish fund manager at £3.8bn. He also mentioned the firm’s clients in the whisky sector, which is ‘mostly served and consumed outside Scotland’, as other potential beneficiaries of the merger. They include the Edrington Group and Inver House Distillers.

Maclays CEO Kenneth Shand (pictured with Cohen) told Legal Business: ‘The merged entity is the sort of organisation that operates globally and we will be able to provide a better service for them as part of Dentons.’

This is the third merger this year for Dentons, after it combined with Dutch law firm Boekel in March and with Monterrey-based Canales Zambrano y Asociados at the start of the year. In May, the firm launched in Georgia, taking on a team of 11 lawyers from DLA Piper in Tblisi, and opened its second office in Saudi Arabia alongside Riyhad with a launch in Jeddah.

The firm also recently announced plans to form an alliance with Brazilian firm Vella Pugliese Buosi Guidoni, which will give Dentons access to 13 partners and 116 fee-earners in São Paulo and Brasília.

Denton’s UKMEA financial results in 2016/17 revealed a 9% fall in profit per equity partner (PEP) to £481,000 and a modest 1% increase in revenue to £166.4m.