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World's Largest Law Firm Proposed

July 12, 1999|From Bloomberg News

Clifford Chance, the world's second-largest law firm, and New York-based Rogers & Wells said their partners agreed to the first cross-border combination of law firms in a bid to snap up business generated by European mergers.

During a vote Friday and Saturday, the firms also agreed in principle to merge with German firm Puender, Volhard, Weber & Axster. That would create the world's largest law firm, with 2,700 lawyers in 30 offices. Clifford Chance also is in talks to unite with a leading Australian law firm, Mallesons Stephen Jacques, said Lawrence Kranch, Rogers & Wells managing partner.

London-based Clifford Chance's strategy comes as European clients engage in record merger activity. European mergers and acquisitions surged 65% to about $692 billion this year, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data Co. Cross-border deals in which a European company was the target amountd to $167 billion, up from $100 billion a year ago.

If the three do combine, the new firm would operate under the name Clifford Chance, adding the Rogers & Wells name in the Americas and the Clifford Chance and Puender name in some European locations. A vote on the proposed Puender acquisition is scheduled for September. If all partners agree, the merger would occur in January.

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