Allen & Gledhill LLP, Singapore’s largest law firm by number of attorneys, ended merger talks with London-based Allen & Overy LLP.
“We will continue to review strategic options to enhance our position in Singapore and Asia,” Allen & Gledhill Managing Partner Lucien Wong said in a statement last night. The firm also ended an 11-year-old joint venture with another London firm, Linklaters LLP.
Allen & Overy and the Singaporean firm said in November they were in preliminary merger talks, three months before Singapore changed its rules to allow foreign law firms to own stakes in local legal practices or share in the profits, a change seen as helping such deals.
“Both parties have agreed not to proceed,” Allen & Overy spokesman Campbell McIlroy said in a statement. The firm’s Singapore office has around 60 lawyers and Allen & Overy continues to see it as strategically significant, he said. Allen & Gledhill declined to comment beyond their statement.
In a separate statement yesterday, Allen & Gledhill and Linklaters said the decision to end their joint venture was amicable.
“Both firms now wish to pursue different strategic directions in the dynamic Southeast Asian region,” the firms said. Allen & Gledhill and Rajah & Tann are the two largest law firms in Singapore, with around 300 lawyers each, according to their websites.
Singapore began opening its legal industry in 2000, when it allowed foreign firms to set up joint ventures with local ones. Several tie-ups, including those involving New York-based Shearman & Sterling and San Francisco-based Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, have ended.
Allen & Overy, with 2,639 lawyers in 27 countries, was one of six foreign firms Singapore licensed in 2008 to practice local corporate law. The firms made commitments to double their revenue, staffing and profits in Singapore in five years.
Allen & Gledhill advised on deals including the $5.5 billion Hutchison Port Holdings Trust initial public offering last year. Managing Partner Wong is a board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and companies including Singapore Airlines Ltd.