TaxPersonal TaxOnline Extra – Andersens and Wilde Sapte break off talks

Online Extra - Andersens and Wilde Sapte break off talks

Arthur Andersen has called off its merger with City law firm Wilde Sapte. Phillip Inman reports.

Andersen confirmed that negotiations broke down with Wilde Sapte in the last week of May.

Nick Prentice, Andersens? head of tax and legal affairs in Europe, said the firm had been atracted to Wilde Sapte?s strong reputation in banking and finance and its international strengths. But, he argued: ?Our objective to form a merged firm of the highest quality by allying these strengths to those of our own legal network depended on the original elements of the transaction being preserved intact.?

Wilde Sapte had lost several senior partners during the negotiations, despite a huge majority vote in favour of the takeover by Andersens. Observers reckoned the deal began to fall apart after the departures were announced.

Prentice said the loss of the partners was not the only factor that led to the split, but refused to elaborate further.

?What I would like to make clear is that this is not a change in our strategy – it is just a short-term disappointment.?

Steve Blakeley, managing partner of Wilde Sapte, said: ?It is a disappointing outcome to a long negotiation that we are unable to take our City and international law firm into the Andersen legal network.

The two firms signed agreement documents in March, after which they began to discuss the takeover with clients and regulators. It is unlikely either groups objected to the merger.

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