Eversheds Sutherland in line to have another merger

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Eversheds Sutherland is about to get just a little bit bigger, as the firm has just received permission to merge with Singapore’s Harry Elias Partnership.

The Singapore Ministry of Law gave its blessing to the pair on Valentine’s Day, according to The Asian Lawyer. The approval came hot on the heels of the launch of the transatlantic merger between UK firm Eversheds and US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan at the start of the month, creating the global giant now known simply as Eversheds Sutherland.

The merger, which has been in the works for almost two years, will create Eversheds Harry Elias, a law firm which will have more than 90 lawyers in Singapore and Brunei. Eversheds will own 33% of the resulting firm, the maximum it is allowed to own under Singaporean law.

Eversheds will have full access to all aspects of local law practice, something the firm could not do in the six years is has been in the country. Under Singaporean law, foreign law firms need to have a joint law venture (JLV), a local alliance, or a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QLFP) license to practice local law.

Eversheds and Harry Elias first talked in March 2015, the report said. Eversheds had plans to expand in Asia while Harry Elias also wanted to become a bigger player in the region. This ultimately led the firms to seriously discuss a merger.

After looking into forming a JLV and a local alliance, Eversheds decided it wanted a full-on merger.  The merger, however, had to face its share of challenges, including the launch of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) in November 2015 to oversee all local and foreign lawyers and law firms. The LSRA was cautious about approving the deal, but they did want it to succeed.

The potential Singapore merger is said to have had a positive effect on the discussions between Eversheds and Sutherland, as the US firm also lacked an outpost in Singapore.

There are only nine QLFPs in Singapore – Allen & Overy; Clifford Chance; Gibson Dunn & Crutcher; Jones Day; Latham & Watkins; Linklaters Singapore; Norton Rose Fulbright; Sidley Austin; and White & Case. There are eight joint law ventures in the country – Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow; Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore; Duane Morris & Selvam; Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee; Kennedys Legal Solutions; Pinsent Masons MPillay; RPC Premier Law; and Simmons & Simmons JWS. There are seven formal law alliances – Clifford Chance Asia; Herbert Smith Freehills Prolegis; HFW AsiaLegal; Ince Law Alliance; Reed Smith Resource Law Alliance; Stephenson Harwood (Singapore) Alliance; and Withers KhattarWong.


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