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Simmons in US tie-up talks

UK LAW firm Simmons & Simmons and US firm Mayer Brown have been locked in merger talks.

It is understood that Simmons’ management emailed partners on 17 June to confirm that “preliminary discussions” about a merger were taking place with Mayer Brown senior figures.

The email is also understood to have said that partners would be informed later this week with more details to follow and the matter has been added to the agenda for the firm’s partnership meeting to be held on Friday.

Both firms declined to comment on the discussions, which are believed to have been ongoing for some time. If the two merge, they would create a Trans-Atlantic firm with £1bn in revenues and 2,400 lawyers.

The move is the latest in a string of consolidations in the legal sector, which was hit badly by the recession.

Earlier this month, partners at Denton Wilde Sapte and US outfit Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal approved a management-backed merger proposal. The deal, which needed 75 per cent partnership approval, passed unanimously and will now create a 1,400 lawyer firm with a turnover of £500m.

Earlier this year Hogan Lovells completed its merger, combining UK firm Lovells and Washington-based Hogan & Hartson.