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Firms respond to rumoured merger

Firms respond to rumoured merger

Question

Two firms with distinct Australian presences have clarified whether they’re in the midst of merger talks, following rumours being spread throughout the profession.

Sources told Lawyers Weekly that Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York were in the midst of merger talks.

There was significant speculation that one of the reasons behind it was HDY’s strong banking and finance practice. 

Lawyers Weekly reached out to both NRF and HDY on separate occasions earlier this month, asking them to comment on the growing speculation about the merger.

At the time, both declined to comment. However, today an NRF spokesman told Lawyers Weekly that the two firms are not merging, despite the rumours circulating in the legal industry.

“There is often market speculation about mergers in the global and Australian context,” the spokesman said.

“We, like many firms, are subject to such speculation from time to time. As you would expect, we often talk to people and firms in jurisdictions around the world, about all sorts of possibilities.

“We are currently focused on building out our practice in the Asia-Pacific region, most recently in Papua New Guinea, and elsewhere, and are constantly evaluating different ways of doing this.”

Meanwhile, an HDY spokesperson said the firm has no plans to undertake a merger.

"Henry Davis York currently has no plans to undertake a merger," the spokesperson told Lawyers Weekly.

According to the Australian Financial Reviews' Street Talk column, a HDY spokesperon also said:HDY, as should any law firm in the Australian legal market, talks to other firms all the time on a range of subjects.

The denial of the merger talks came after NRF announced the opening of a new office in Port Morseby, which will see at least two of its Australian partners help set up shop.

Norton Rose Fulbright launched the Port Moresby office last week, eyeing opportunities in PNG’s energy and resources sector, and in infrastructure and telecommunications as its economy continues to develop.

“Our investment in PNG comes, I think for us, at a good time,” partner Steve Johns told Lawyers Weekly.

“We’re supportive of the PNG economy, of the people, and we see great growth opportunities there so the main thing was to take the next step, and that’s what we’ve done.”

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