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CMS, Nabarro, and Olswang partners agree ‘game-changing’ merger

Three-way ‘UK powerhouse’ merger to create UK’s sixth largest law firm by revenue

11 October 2016

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The partners of CMS, Nabarro, and Olswang have voted in favour of a ‘game-changing’ merger that will create the world’s sixth largest law firm by lawyer headcount and the sixth largest UK-based firm by revenue.

The merger, set to be completed on 1 May 2017, will be the largest merger ever in the UK legal services market with Nabarro and Olswang joining the CMS UK LLP partnership. The new firm will trade as CMS, and the name of the UK partnership will be CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP.

The new firm will comprise nearly 2,500 lawyers in the UK within a global team of over 4,500. With its new additions, CMS will have over 1,000 partners and over 7,500 employees across 65 offices in 36 countries, with combined revenues of approximately £450m in the UK and global revenues in excess of €1.2bn.

Commenting on the announcement, Penelope Warne, CMS UK’s senior partner, explained the merger was an important development for the firm’s clients and people: ‘For our clients we want to be a firm that delivers excellence, industry knowledge, thought leadership, and the exceptional talent that will help to meet their needs in a complex and changing business environment.

‘And for our people, we want to be a firm that is dynamic, progressive, technology-led, with a good culture which supports diversity and inclusion and all aspects of our colleagues’ careers. We believe that if we can deliver on this vision we will be an even more successful, world-class firm.’

She continued: ‘I am inspired today because we are delivering the next step to transform the legal services industry. Through this combination, we are delivering a modern firm that combines scale with an exceptional depth of sector expertise.

‘A firm that is united in its central focus on its clients, people, its commitment to diversity, and the increased development opportunities that come from stronger and more global growth. The merger will also have considerable significance for the global growth plans of CMS and is a great endorsement of the extraordinary export of English law throughout the world.’

CMS UK’s managing partner, Stephen Millar, added: ‘The combination of CMS, Nabarro, and Olswang presents a unique opportunity for us to create a new City of London and UK powerhouse, building on CMS’ deep City heritage and impressive international footprint.

‘The close match in culture and values, supported by the mutual respect of the leadership teams for the combining firms, and their extraordinary market expertise were key aspects in the creation of this new firm and we look forward to welcoming our new partners next year.’

Meanwhile, Andrew Inkester, Nabarro’s managing partner, said the merger made ‘sense’. ‘It creates a firm that is more than the sum of its parts, bringing together our market-leading expertise in six strategic sectors,’ he added.

‘Our international scale and ambition will deliver a global sector law firm to meet the future needs of clients and inspire our people. Our combined talent and economies of scale will also deliver the resources we need to invest in new technologies and transform the way we deliver legal services.’

Olswang’s chief executive officer, Paul Stevens, added: ‘We are delighted to be a part of this game-changing new business with CMS and Nabarro to form a top-quality, modern law business, which has superior client service and strategic sector alignment at its core.

‘Together, we materially strengthen all of our practice areas in the context of a firm with 65 offices worldwide. This new partnership will provide our new firm’s clients with a cutting-edge service in our strategic sectors as they grow their businesses and brands in the future.’

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mergers