Dentons on the lookout for UK merger partner

Denton Wilde Sapte chief executive Howard Morris has kicked off surprise plans to investigate a UK merger, as part of a bold and comprehensive shake-up of the firm’s strategy.

Morris has approached competition head and former DentonHallmanaging partner Jonathan Tatten about formulating a list of ideal merger suitors for the firm.

Sources say the document will detail the reasons for a merger and the strategic objectives to be obtained from any tie-up. Most obviously, the firm needs to raise its profits and bolster key practice areas such as corporate, where it lacks critical mass.

It is widely accepted that Dentons’ low profitability rules out a US merger and a national merger is also unlikely, but internal sources say the firm has identified several mid-sized UK contenders already. Taylor Wessing, with its German operation, is an early possibility, as are CMS Cameron McKenna and Nabarro Nathanson. Sources close to the firm would not rule out Simmons & Simmons and one cited Travers Smithas “perfection”.

Morris insists the firm is not actively seeking a merger partner, but is exploring all its options.