US law firms to merge

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Their combined London offices would create a 90-strong team of lawyers, 70 of whom would be devoted to structured finance and securities work and the remainder to M&A. This means the new firm will be able to pose a genuine threat to the 'magic circle' of UK-based finance law firms Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Linklaters & Alliance. The firm's range of work will increase to include deal arranging and underwriter work

Drew Scott, managing partner of Sidley in London, said: 'We have always had the talent, but we have had to turn away work. A merger with Brown & Wood will mean we will be able to take on anyone in the European market.' This is a view shared by Chris Mead, Scott's Brown & Wood's counterpart.

Sidley has been the victim of its own success in recent months. In January, ING Barings hired 'Boz' Plehn, a US securitisation specialist at Sidley, to head its European securitisation activities in London. The firm had to plug the gap by transferring Marc Wasserman from Washington DC.

The client synergies of the merger are clear. Both firms are close to Morgan Stanley. Sidley's client roster includes Bank One, Chicago's largest bank, Rabobank, Fitch and ING Barings. MBIA, the monoline insurer with which it recently advised on the securitisation of old Eurotunnel debt, is also a client.

Brown & Wood's main clients include Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers.

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