NRF-HDY combination fails to inspire partners

NRF-HDY combination fails to inspire partners

24 October 2017 By Tom Lodewyke
Ready to leave

Further partner resignations have come as Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York confirm they will tie the knot.

The HDY partnership and NRF board have unanimously approved the proposed merger, which has been months in the making. 

NRF managing partner in Australia Wayne Spanner and HDY managing partner Michael Greene issued a joint statement yesterday, confirming that they had signed the merger implementation agreement on Monday. 

“We are pleased to announce an important milestone for the combination of our two firms, which is progressing well and is on track for a December 1, 2017 official start date, they said. 


“Following a successful approval process at our respective firms, we can confirm that we signed a merger implementation agreement yesterday. This was the next important step after our respective partnerships overwhelmingly voted to approve an intention to combine, which we announced on June 13.

“The merger agreement approval was unanimously given by the HDY partnership on Friday, and then final unanimous approval was given by the Norton Rose Fulbright board on Monday evening.”

However, both firms have experienced major losses to their partnerships during the last four months of merger negotiations. 

Norton Rose Fulbright finance partners Fadi Khoury and Dale Rayner were the latest to hand in their resignations, Street Talk reported on Monday.

They have been picked up by Corrs Chambers Westgarth and King & Wood Mallesons respectively. Lawyers Weekly reached out to both firms but neither were able to comment.


Mr Khoury is based in NRF’s Sydney office, while Mr Rayner works in Brisbane and Sydney.

Their resignations bring the tally of partner losses across the two firms to about 22, according to Street Talk, with more expected.

Pinsent Masons poached four NRF infrastructure and energy partners to establish an office in Perth, while HDY lost five restructuring and insolvency partners to rival firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

NRF also lost a restructuring and insolvency team, including a partner, special counsel and consultant, who set up their own boutique firm.

The partner resignations from the two firms are spread across offices and practice areas. Partners have quit in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. The teams to lose out include finance, insurance and infrastructure and energy, as well as significant hits in restructuring and insolvency.  

However, NRF has also recruited several partners since the merger announcement, including in construction and engineering, dispute resolution and M&A.

NRF managing partner in Australia Wayne Spanner and HDY managing partner Michael Greene said in a joint statement several months ago that the losses were not unusual.

“We recognise that change of this magnitude is not for everyone, and accept that some of our partners have chosen a different path,” they said.

“Movement like this is not unusual at a time when the combination of two firms is under way.”

The controversial merger can be partly attributed to the “new paradigm” facing mid-tier firms, which are implementing a range of different strategies for survival and growth.

NRF-HDY combination fails to inspire partners
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