Legal Business Blogs

Eversheds inches closer to US tie-up as Foley & Lardner emerges as front runner

Eversheds is moving closer to its much sought-after US merger, with Foley & Lardner identified as the primary candidate for a deal.

After a vote last June in which the Eversheds partnership heavily backed a US tie-up the firm’s executive, which includes chair Paul Smith and chief executive Bryan Hughes, have narrowed discussions down to two law firms. Milwaukee-based Global 100 firm Foley & Lardner, with revenues this financial year of $665m, has emerged as a leading candidate.

Once the final decision has been made, it will be presented to the partnership. The next stage will be due diligence between Eversheds and its chosen firm, which is likely to take several months.

Significant factors in choosing the right US merger partner for Eversheds include culture, a full-service offering and a New York presence. A strong corporate team is also important, although the US firm does not need to be led by its corporate practice.

An Eversheds spokesperson said: ‘Our global strategy, including an intention to establish a presence in the US is well documented. Our investigations continue in this respect.

‘While we appreciate that there will be speculation on our progress, a number of options remain open to us and until we are clear on the way forward it would be wholly inappropriate to comment further.’

International expansion as a whole has loomed large in Eversheds’ thinking since the mid-2000s when it became increasingly evident that the firm had to rapidly upgrade its international offering. This was further reinforced in the firm’s 2020 Vision, a three-year strategy put forward by Hughes in 2012, which emphasised global aspirations.

Foley & Lardner has 17 offices across North America, including in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Washington DC. The firm also has a presence in Brussels, as well as in Shanghai and Tokyo.

Eversheds posted essentially flat results for the last financial year, with revenues subdued at £380.7m compared to £379.1m in 2013/14, while profit per equity partner nudged up 2% from £731,000 to £749,000.