“It’s not going to happen, is it?”
“No, I don’t think so. Not now anyway.”
Rob’s question and Natasha’s reply were both said with a sense of sadness. They had both invested a lot in the proposed merger of their two firms.
“Gutted” would have been Rob’s more honest reaction. Natasha realised that, yes, she was disappointed, but she was also relieved. There was enough going on back at the firm and in her life just now.
When they had met six months ago, maybe sitting at exactly the same table, there had been a huge and impressive Native American totem pole towering over them. It wasn’t there now. They both noticed this, but didn’t say anything. But it felt symbolic.
“Where did it all go wrong?” Rob asked, knowing it sounded like a line from a rom-com.
Natasha tried to sound upbeat, “Well, you know, I think we went about things very sensibly. We thought it through and tried to be rational as well as enthusiastic. We spoke to our people. We got them to meet. We looked at the financials. We did some planning.”
“So where the hell did it all go wrong then!?”. Rob couldn’t help letting his annoyance, in fact anger, show.
“Well, our people are a bit different aren’t they? I know “statement t-shirts versus gold cufflinks” was a joke we had, but it did mean something. Then there was your guy with the drink problem. Then there was the whole issue of whether people would end up moving offices …. And some of your lot seeming to think that Leighton Buzzard was practically in Yorkshire. And your partners earning shed-loads more than ours’ … apparently.”
“Hang on a minute Natasha,” Rob had to interrupt, “When Manisha wore that t-shirt it was a deliberate wind up and Rupert doesn’t have a drink problem, he’s just banned from driving right now. And some of your lot weren’t too keen on the idea of coming in to central London. And the more money bit – I don’t think we ever really clarified that.”
“And think of all the positives” Rob continued “ … the practice areas that fitted so well together, especially property and commercial work. Being bigger wasn’t just for the sake of it, but would let us put teams together and pitch for and get work we could never get separately!”
“I know, I know”, Natasha felt bad, but she wasn’t about to backtrack.
“Ok, sorry” said Rob, “I don’t want to sound like a Remainer re-running the Brexit debate.” But he did.
“Anyway, Natasha, we’ll keep in touch – and if there’s any chance you want to come and join us …”
“Don’t even go there, Rob”
Why do you think merger talks break down
What’s it like to be in a firm when merger rumours are flying around or talks are going on? When do more junior lawyers (or even partners) get to hear anything? What about the mergers you have seen happen or experienced – do you think they make sense?
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