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‘Too far apart’: Ashfords and Boyes Turner abandon £60m merger talks

Southern English law firms Ashfords and Boyes Turner have ditched their proposed merger which was set to go live in May after citing ‘structural differences.’

The firms were deep into merger talks that started in early 2017, with south west-based Ashfords having been eager to complete a tie-up with another southern outfit for some time. Ashfords had been the senior party throughout the talks, with the merged firm set to trade under the Exeter outfit’s name and brand.

In a written statement, Ashfords said: ‘Following months of discussions it has been agreed that the structural differences of Ashfords and Boyes Turner are currently too far apart to work at this time.’

The breakdown in talks will carry a familiar sting for Boyes Turner. In 2013 the firm saw preliminary discussions for a tripartite merger with legacy firms Blake Lapthorn and Morgan Cole collapse with the other two firms going on to form Blake Morgan.

However, a spokesperson for Boyes Turner told Legal Business the decision to abandon the merger was not a unilateral one on behalf of Ashfords, and that the firm remains open to merging but ‘only if it’s right for them.’ Staff were informed at the firm on Wednesday last week following a vote of Boyes Turner’s partnership.

Ashfords meanwhile had gone into the talks in a strong position, having notched up a growth track of 43% over the last five years in the LB100, while growth for the last financial year had stood at 11%. Boyes Turner meanwhile reported revenue of £14.3m for 2018, up from £13.2m the previous year, but a decrease on the £15.4m it posted in 2015. A merged entity between the two would have produced a 100 partner-strong £60m southern leader.