Eversheds’ two-year search for a US merger partner finally comes to an end today as the firm’s combination with Atlanta-founded firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan goes live.
The tie-up creates a £600m-revenue firm with more than 530 partners and 2,000 lawyers across 61 offices in 29 countries, with seven offices across the US alone.
It will rank 39th global firm by revenue in The Lawyer’s Global 200 report and be run by co-CEOs Lee Ranson – who is expected to step up to the role three months early to oversee the merger integration – and Mark Wasserman, currently Sutherland managing partner, as part of a six-strong global management team. The group will be overseen by a global board of ten with equal representation for both firms.
The other members of the global management team are: Eversheds managing partner-elect Keith Froud and international managing partner Ian Gray, plus Sutherland head of real estate Victor Haley and tax partner Thomas Gick. As of April Sutherland executive committee member and Washington DC partner Cynthia Krus will also join the management team.
The global board will be made up of: Froud, Ranson, Eversheds chairman Paul Smith, plus two rotating members from their international board and regional managing partner team. From the Sutherland side of the LLP will be M&A partner Ben Clark, Gick until April, Krus from April, corporate partner Robert Pile, tax partner Eric Tresh, and Wasserman.
Speaking to The Lawyer, Ranson said his biggest challenge now was to ensure “consistency of service to clients across the global firm”.
He said: “The driver for us was to find a firm that culturally matched us and that had a reputation for quality and a track record for delivering excellent client service.
“We feel Sutherland ticks those boxes. In terms of what we can offer clients we now have a much stronger offering, not only by geography but in terms of excellent client service delivery.”
The combined firm’s clients will include Facebook, General Electric and Coca-Cola. A statement from the combined firm claimed it would represent 57 of the FTSE 100 and 71 of the US Fortune 100.
“There will always be some trepidation,” Ranson added. “You talk to a firm and you think you can see the synergies and the power of the combination. We went into it with that belief but you always need validation from clients, which is the most important thing for the merger to be a success.”
Eversheds has been vocal about its plans to pull off a US merger in the last two years. CEO Bryan Hughes has similarly been vocal about his mission to turn the firm into a global player by 2020.
Those hopes looked dashed early last year when its merger talks with Milwaukee-headquartered Foley & Lardner broke down after details were leaked to the media.
In a statement following the completion of the Sutherlands merger, outgoing Eversheds chief executive Bryan Hughes said: “Establishing a truly global platform for our clients, including a strong presence in the US, has long been our number one strategic priority. Sutherland shares completely our approach to the creation of meaningful long term relationships with clients to deliver the very highest levels of service.”
Wasserman added: “This new relationship, strengthens our core competencies and provides us the opportunity to expand our client services globally.”
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