First its the Gray Cary/Piper Rudnick in the US and now two major UK firms, Pinsents and Masons are huddled in merger talks that look set to lead to consumation.

Pinsents and Masons are just weeks away from agreeing to a merger that would forge a national giant dubbed Pinsent Masons, it has emerged.

The surprise talks are thought to have been going on for a number of months and are now at an advanced stage, leaving a vote in favour of the deal the only remaining hurdle.

It is understood that partners have received details of the merger proposal and that a vote is due on the last weekend of the month.

The deal is set to be the biggest domestic union since the 2000 merger between Denton Hall and Wilde Sapte and would create a firm with annual revenues of more than £150m, 240 partners and nearly 900 lawyers overall.

It is understood Pinsents’ current management team of senior partner Julian Tonks and managing partner David Ryan would share leadership responsibility with Masons’ senior partner Martin Harman and managing partner Andrew Hibbert for an initial period following the proposed marriage.

The firms are comparable financially. Pinsents posted annual revenues of £91.6m this year, while Masons’ turnover was £62m. Both firms saw average partner profits remain broadly static at £270,000 and £247,000 respectively.

Pinsents has traditionally been driven by its corporate practice and has offices in Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester, while Masons, well known for its construction and IT practices, is principally based in London with outposts across England and Scotland.

One ex-Pinsents partner commented: “Pinsents will be keen on a [Masons] merger as they seem to be rather troubled in London. Masons partners will have to decide whether they want to be part of a firm that has never been run from London.”

The talks come nine months after Pinsents’ talks with London’s Nicholson Graham & Jones failed.

One source close to the talks said: “There has been a lot of analysis and hard work [put into the talks] and both sides are bullish about a huge potential upside to it.”

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