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Dentons and Dacheng sign combination agreement

New top-10 global law firm to be formed by end-April 2015

27 January 2015

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Dentons and Dacheng Law Offices have today signed a combination agreement, the first between a top-10 global firm and a leading Chinese firm.

The new firm, which will be the largest in the world by number of legal professionals, will have a polycentric approach and a Swiss verein structure.

"As the only big 10 firm not headquartered in the US or UK, our polycentric approach reflects how the global economy has fundamentally changed and the legal profession must change with it," said Joe Andrew, global chair of Dentons.

The firm will be rebranded as '?? Dentons', but will continue to be called Dentons in non-Chinese spoken references. It will be called '?????????' in Chinese.

No official date for the combination has been announced, but the firm says it anticipates this to take place in approximately 60 to 90 days.

The combination will create a firm with 6,600 lawyers and professionals, of which 61 per cent will come from Dacheng and 39 per cent will come from Dentons.

It will have US$1.7bn in revenues, based on latest figures (2013), of which 24 per cent ($400mn) will come from Dacheng and 76 per cent (US$1.3bn) will come from Dentons.

A Dentons spokesperson confirmed that the combined firm will have global multidisciplinary practice and sector teams, with leaders drawn from all regions of the firm (including China).

It intends to have a polycentric approach, with no single global headquarters and no dominant national culture.

"With the largest and fastest growing economy in the world, the attraction of China to our clients is strong. All of our competitors are looking East," said Elliott Portnoy, global CEO of Dentons.

On 1 March 2012, King & Wood Mallesons became the first verein alliance combining a Chinese and Western law firm. KWM's subsequent combination with SJ Berwin on 1 November 2013 boosted its revenues from $713mn to US$1bn.

When asked in what ways ?? Dentons' client offering will be more compelling than that of King & Wood Mallesons, a Dentons spokesperson said: "Our new firm will be the only firm to offer seamless service across Africa; Asia Pacific; Canada; Central Asia; Europe; the Middle East; Russia, CIS and the Caucasus; the United Kingdom (UK); the United States (US); and all 34 of China's regional administrative divisions".

The firm said it intends to "reinvent client service, harnessing new technologies to enhance client support and deliver higher quality services while prioritizing client confidentiality and data security".

?? Dentons will be split into five regions - Asia, Canada, Europe, the UK and the Middle East, and the US - each of which will be led by a regional CEO.

A 19-member global board - comprised of 14 members from Dentons, and five from Dacheng - will include representation from each region. All members of each region's board will join a global advisory committee.

Peng Xuefeng, director, founding partner and chair of the standing committee of Dacheng, will be chair of the new firm's global board and global advisory committee.

Dentons' global chair, Joe Andrew, and global CEO, Elliott Portnoy, will continue in their roles at the new firm.

Asked if Dentons anticipates further combinations in future to better service clients in Australasia and Africa, the spokesperson said "the firm is always looking for ways to enhance the depth and breath of expertise offered to our clients".






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