Olswang’s management team has called a meeting to discuss a ‘strategic proposal’ tomorrow, according to one former partner, while CMS is also holding a partners meeting on Friday (30 September).
Olswang, which has already been linked to CMS and Nabarro as it actively looks for a merger, and has been already been associated with Bird & Bird, Osborne Clarke, Simmons & Simmons and Cooley.
CMS had previously approached Olswang over a merger with little success but Olswang’s situation has changed dramatically in recent years following the acrimonious departure of chief executive David Stewart over strategic differences and a string of departures.
No stranger to the prospect of a tie-up, Nabarro held merger talks with Addleshaw Goddard in 2013. Concerns over Nabarro’s pension arrangements for partners have previously hampered merger attempts. The combination of CMS, Olswang and Nabarro would create a UK practice with core revenues of around £500m, rising to more than £950m if you include the wider CMS network.
However it is unclear whether the discussions will lead to a full merger, as two external sources told Legal Business discussions included the possibility of a split whereby Camerons would take corporate partners from Olswang and Nabarro would bring on Olswang’s real estate partners.
Camerons has been expanding under new managing partner Stephen Millar with the firm focusing on its energy, life sciences and financial services sector strengths. The firm is in the second year of its merger with Scots firm Dundas & Wilson.
Nabarro, meanwhile, saw a modest rise to its turnover of 3.5% to £130.4m this past financial year, but struggled with profits per equity partner (PEP) as it fell by 7% to £585,000.
Olswang’s turnover tumbled by 11% to £112.5m for the financial year 2015/16 while firm PEP remained steady at £490,000. The firm placed blame on the firm’s ‘decoupling’ from its 50 lawyer, 14 partner Berlin office which was acquired by Greenberg Traurig last year.
CMS, Nabarro and Olswang were unconvincingly unavailable for comment at press time.