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02 May 2017

Billion dollar merger of three city law firms marks biggest in UK history

Three London law firms officially merged yesterday, creating the sixth biggest legal practice in the world and generating more than €1 billion in annual revenue.

Rita Lowe: Head of Banking & Finance at the newly merged CMS-CMNO

The three firms, CMS, Nabarro and Olswang, first announced the agreement back in the autumn of 2016. The merged entity will boast more than 1,000 partners and 7,500 employees in 65 offices across close to 40 countries – thought to be the world’s sixth largest by headcount. Representatives of the three firms said last October that the newly combined business would have a turnover in Britain of some £450 million and global revenue of more than €1.2 billion.

'Best possible expertise'

‘Our combination with CMS and Nabarro is about providing the best possible expertise and experience for our clients, and these leadership appointments reflect that philosophy. They also acknowledge the respective strengths of each firm. Together we will provide robust depth across all of these areas and be much greater than the sum of our parts,’ commented Olswang Chief Executive Officer Paul Stevens.

Practice heads

In December a joint statement from the three firms announced the heads of departments. Banking & Finance will be headed by Rita Lowe; Commercial by Iain Stansfield; Corporate by Charles Currier and Iain Newman; Disputes by Guy Pendell; Litigation, Arbitration, Contentious IP, Insurance and Employment by Jonathan Warne and Catherine Taylor; Energy, Projects and Construction by Bob Palmer; Pensions, Financial Services & Products by Simon Pilcher and Real Estate by John Cumpson and Mark Heighton.

New client roster

Newly appointed Banking & Finance head Rita Lowe said: 'The merger is hugely exciting for the businesses of CMS and in particular our global banking and finance business. Aside from our colleagues in Scotland (who are constantly voted as the top  banking and finance team in Scotland),our banking and finance teams across Europe, the Middle East and Hong Kong have added a new roster of potential corporate and real estate clients to their target list. Niether legacy Olswang or Nabarro had the global platform which CMS has built but the syngeries are obvious and in the present challenging environment add a completely different dimension (and market) to our business.'


On the sector front, Tom Scourfield will head Consumer Products; Penelope Warne, Energy; Simon Morris, Financial Services; Thomas Page, Hotels & Leisure; Infrastructure & Project Finance, Paul Smith and Kristy Duane; Life-sciences & Healthcare, Sarah Hanson, Robert Stephen and Warren Taylor; Real Estate, Ciaran Carvalho and Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Clive Gringras.

Better positioned

Commenting on the appointments, Stephen Millar, managing partner of CMS UK said: 'This is a leadership team representative from all three firms…Together we will be better positioned to meet our clients’ rapidly changing needs in the UK and internationally.’ Similarly, Andrew Inkester, managing partner of Nabarro said: ‘Agreeing the right mix of practice and sector heads up front has been vital. It brings certainty and stability which allows us to work together now to make sure our combination benefits clients…’

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