Offshore law firms merge to create new international legal force

Offshore firms Appleby Spurling Hunter and Bailhache Labesse are to merge their business operations on 1 September 2006, joining the 'magic circle' of large offshore law firms.

The merger will create an offshore provider of legal, fiduciary and administrative services with a major foothold in four of the world's leading offshore business centres - Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Jersey - as well as a presence in the major financial centres of London and Hong Kong.

The combined group will be known as Appleby Hunter Bailhache and will have a projected staff worldwide of nearly 600 employees, including 44 partners.

The merged group is expected to offer significant benefits to both existing and new clients. In particular, the new group's strength and depth across multiple jurisdictions is expected to enable Appleby Hunter Bailhache to give clients access to impartial offshore business knowledge and experience, as well as a talented pool of lawyers in any of its locations. This will ensure that the most appropriate jurisdiction and team are always available to meet a client's requirements.

In recent years, the offshore legal market has experienced dramatic changes. The demand for offshore services is very strong and there has been explosive growth among the leading firms. There has also been a consolidation of firms, both globally and locally, in the main offshore jurisdictions, and those firms are also expanding their reach to gain greater access to broader European, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern markets. As the firms evolve, looking to establish a presence and critical mass in key offshore jurisdictions, a 'magic circle' of offshore firms is emerging. 

Appleby Spurling Hunter's Managing Partner, Peter Bubenzer, states: 'Our strategic vision is to be the leading provider of legal, fiduciary and administrative services in the offshore world. By merging with Bailhache Labesse, we are strengthening and extending our reach into another key jurisdiction and positioning ourselves as the first choice for clients in the offshore world.' 

He continues: 'We will be able to offer clients more choice and enhanced resources, while offering dispassionate guidance on where to place their business.  While organic growth can build expertise over time, we believe that this transaction brings immediate depth and breadth of resources and benefits to clients.'

Mike O'Connell, Chairman of the Bailhache Labesse Group's Management Committee, said: 'The two groups are a natural fit. Both are already leaders in their respective jurisdictions and we share a common vision to provide outstanding offshore services to clients. Appleby has already demonstrated success in integrating practice and client management through combination and growth to the benefit of the clients, firm and employees. The combined resources of the new group matches our vision to provide superior services and support to those clients looking at conducting offshore business in the key global offshore jurisdictions.'

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