NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) - London-based law firm Herbert
Smith and Australia's Freehills announced Thursday that they are
merging into a single firm that will have 2,800 lawyers in 20
offices worldwide, as well as anticipated offices in New York,
Germany and South Korea.
The new firm, Herbert Smith Freehills, will launch on Oct.
1, according to a statement from the two firms. The merger is
subject to regulatory approval.
When the merger is complete, the firm will be one of the
largest firms in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific legal market, and
the eighth-largest firm worldwide based on the number of total
lawyers, the statement said.
The merger is the latest in a string of recent tie-ups
involving Australian firms. In December, Chinese firm King &
Wood confirmed plans to merge with Australia's Mallesons. In
September, UK-based Ashurst announced that it would merge
operations with Australian firm Blake Dawson under the Ashurst
David Willis, the managing partner of Herbert Smith, said
the merger is intended to capitalize on what he called the shift
of economic power from West to East as more global companies eye
the opportunities and challenges of expanding in the Asia-
"So many of our clients ... operate in global markets, and
they're increasingly looking for global capability across a
single platform," Willis said in an interview. "We think we are
creating the leading fully integrated platform in Asia. It's
very exciting, in terms of what we can offer our clients."
Willis and Freehills managing partner Gavin Bell will serve
as joint CEOs of the new firm, working alongside a global
governing council comprised of partners from both firms. The
firm will have offices in Australia, Asia, Europe, the Middle
East and the UK.
Willis said the firm will not have a single international
headquarters. Instead, it will be organized around global
practices with focuses on energy and resources, mergers and
acquisitions, private equity, capital markets, infrastructure,
banking and finance.
Over the next several years, the firm hopes to launch
offices in South Korea, Germany and New York. The New York
office, the first foray into the U.S. for both Herbert Smith and
Freehills, would provide "fairly focused" North American-based
support to clients on issues like international arbitration,
investigations and anti-corruption matters and other
cross-border issues, Willis said.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye)
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