Baker McKenzie proactively seeks buys in global financial centers

Baker McKenzie proactively seeks buys in global financial centers

Chamber Member News Post Date: 04/21/17 Source: Baker & McKenzie By: Jeff Sheban

Baker McKenzie, the international law firm founded in Chicago, proactively seeks to expand its transactional practice in New York, London and throughout China, said Michael Wagner, North American chair and member of the global executive committee.

Growth will take the form of hiring individual partners or practice groups from competitors, or acquiring entire firms, Wagner told this news service. “We’re doubling down on our investments” in those core markets, he said. Potential targets are largely identified internally using professional connections, rather than through intermediaries such as investment banks, Wagner said. The firm’s eight-member executive committee works closely with regional leaders to “compare notes” regarding M&A and lateral hire opportunities.

“We continuously study the market and we do look at major and small deals,” he said, adding that the firm’s posture on M&A is “very proactively looking.” Baker McKenzie has 4,600 lawyers (1,700 of them partners) in 77 offices across 47 countries. In North America alone, the firm has hired more than 70 lateral partners since July 2014, he noted, with most of them specializing
in M&A advisory.

Baker McKenzie reported revenue of USD 2.6bn and a net profit of USD 904m for the fiscal year ended 30 June 2016, a year-over-year revenue increase of 8% and profit increase of 14%. Results in the current fiscal year will be “at least as strong as last year,” Wagner said for this report.

As Baker McKenzie already has the world’s largest M&A practice (1,300 lawyers devoted to deal advisory), cross-border transactional work will remain the driver for organic growth and acquisitions, Wagner explained. Core practice areas in the transactional segment include M&A advisory for corporations and private equity firms, regulatory advisory, and corporate restructuring and reorganization advisory, he noted. Other practice areas targeted for growth include tax law, litigation and investigation, securities, anti-corruption and intellectual property.

In North America, New York is slated for the greatest expansion, but not to the exclusion of other important markets including Chicago, Silicon Valley and Washington DC, Wagner said. Baker McKenzie has 120 lawyers in New York and would like to double that number “within a few years,” he added. Chicago is the firm’s largest North American office with 270 lawyers.
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