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Eversheds votes for US merger as Singapore tie-up delayed

Partners at Eversheds and Atlanta-based Sutherland Asbill & Brennan have voted today (16 December) to create a new global firm called Eversheds Sutherland. Eversheds’ threshold was two thirds of the partners who were eligible to vote, while in the US Sutherland only needed 50% of the partnership vote.

The combination will be an English company limited by guarantee and will not include financial integration between the two firms. The management structure will remain in place at Eversheds with Lee Ranson (pictured) remaining as chief executive, however the combination will create a global executive and a global board, with equal representation from both firms.

The deal, which is expected to go live in February, will see Eversheds as the larger partner with revenue of £406m in the financial year 2015/16 compared to Sutherland’s top-line of $300m in 2015.

Sutherland, which is placed at number 107 in the AmLaw 200, posted revenue per lawyer at $790,000 with profits per partner at $1.02m. It has offices across eight locations, including Austin, Houston, New York, Washington DC and London and was founded in 1924 by William Sutherland.

It is understood that the deal with Sutherland will also delay the firm’s Singapore merger with Harry Elias Partnership by 3-4 months, as Eversheds will need to reapply to Singapore’s Ministry of Law due to the name change resulting from the combination.

In September Legal Business revealed that Eversheds had moved into the same building as its Singapore merger suitor as talks continued between the two firms, but process had been slow due to Singapore’s tightly regulated legal market.

Eversheds and Sutherland announced they were in discussions last month ‘driven by a shared vision of providing clients with high-quality, consistent and coordinated service around the globe.’

Pursuing a US suitor has been high on the Eversheds’ priority list since 2014 when the partnership heavily backed the strategy during a vote. The firm held discussions with Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner, which emerged as the preferred firm.

Read more: ‘An element of control’: Market reacts as Eversheds confirms talks with Atlanta-based Sutherland’