SNR Denton UK LLP

30 September 2010 merger update

Effective 30 September 2010, UK-based Denton Wilde Sapte LLP merged with US-based Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP to become SNR Denton. The combined firm boasts offices in 48 locations in 32 countries across four continents.

Ed. note: The profile below refers to the pre-merger Denton Wilde Sapte.

 

THE SCOOP

Denton Wilde Sapte's reach extends from the City of London to the Persian Gulf, and focuses on four core sectors: energy, transport and infrastructure; financial institutions; real estate and retail; and technology, media and telecoms. Although the firm faced some difficulties in its early years, it managed to post growth in both turnover and profits in 2008. The firm's alliances in Africa look set to yield greater dividends as the firm pursues closer ties with the region, while it continues to expand its presence in the Middle East and the CIS.

Millennium merger

Denton Wilde Sapte came into being in the year 2000, after respected international media outfit Denton Hall joined forces with Wilde Sapte, known for its expertise in banking and finance. The merger saw the creation of one of the UK's top 10 largest firms, though the years that followed were not easy. In 2002, declining deal markets led to the layoffs of 70 people in what was the most severe staff cut in the City at the time. This was soon followed by dissolution of the firm's European network, and in 2004, Denton Wilde Sapte shut down its 50-lawyer Asian network to concentrate its investment elsewhere. The merger in 2000 formed a £162.4 million firm with 810 fee earners and 194 partners; by 2006, the firm had shrunk almost to the size of the pre-merger Denton Hall.

By 2008, however, the firm had begun to turn its fortunes around. Its 6 per cent revenue increase was largely driven by successes in the firm's Middle East practice, which saw a 59 per cent revenue rise over 2007.

The numbers game

Bolstering its clout in the Middle East, Denton Wilde Sapte welcomed Clifford Chance's Paul Davies into its fold as the new head of the Middle Eastern real estate team in October 2008, where he oversees the practice across the firm's Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha offices. The team has been busy over the last year, including advising on the $1.5 billion construction of the Atlantis Resort on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. The project is being carried out by Kerzner Istithmar, a joint venture between hotel developer Kerzner International and investment company Istithmar. Also benefiting from Denton Wilde Sapte's advice is Starwood Hotels & Resorts in its proposed St Regis resort in Abu Dhabi.

In Islamic finance, Denton Wilde Sapte brought Sheikh Muddassir Siddiqui on board as a partner in its Dubai office. Siddiqui is qualified as a Shari'ah expert as well as a lawyer and is a member of the Shari'ah Board of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions.

Additions in the firm's Milton Keynes office boosted its numbers considerably, when it took on six partners and nearly 40 staff from Howes Percival in autumn 2008. While augmenting Denton Wilde Sapte's real estate, litigation and employment practices, the hires also gave Denton Wilde Sapte a local corporate practice for the first time and increased the support available to its Middle Eastern, CIS and Asian offices.

Energy boost

Denton Wilde Sapte guided two Eastern European energy companies to London IPOs in July 2008. Both CIS firm Arawak Energy and Ukrainian-based Cadogan Petroleum made successful initial public offerings on London's main stock exchange at a time when market activity was running at a general low. In the first quarter of 2009, the firm advised Centrica plc, the parent company of British Gas, on its acquisition of a controlling stake in one of the UK's largest offshore gas storage projects."

In December 2008, Denton Wilde Sapte stepped in to aid London Scottish Bank through administration. Denton Wilde Sapte represents Ernst & Young, the administrators for the bank, as well as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), who are taking care of compensation facilities for depositors. The work for London Scottish Bank comes hard on the heels of Denton Wilde Sapte's advising the FSCS on compensation arrangements for the UK customers affected by the recent difficulties seen by Icelandic banks Icesave and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander.

On the contentious side, Denton Wilde Sapte won a settlement for Sheffield United, resolving a two-year dispute triggered by West Ham's signing of Argentinean player Carlos Tevez in 2006. West Ham had failed to comply with Premier League rules in Tevez's transfer, and Sheffield United argued that West Ham should have been deducted points as well as fined for its breach.

Masters of emerging markets

Denton Wilde Sapte has had a presence in Central Asia for more than a decade, with offices in Almaty and Tashkent, and the firm recently added another satellite to its network through an association with Turkmen practice AK Counsel. In Africa, Denton Wilde Sapte set up an association with South African practice Glyn Marais in March 2009, in a move to enhance ties in the region. With alliances already in place with Algeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, Ghana, Mauritius, Kenya and Botswana, the link-up marks Denton Wilde Sapte's first foray into South Africa and is a major boost to its coverage in the continent. Recent work in the region includes advising the African Energy Infrastructure Fund, a joint venture between investment bank Fieldstone and South African asset management company Prescient Investment Management. The fund plans to raise $500 million for power and energy projects in Africa.

Also in 2009, Denton Wilde Sapte set up its first outpost in South East Asia with the launch of an office in Singapore, where Denton Wilde Sapte will work in association with Singaporean firm Global Law Alliance.

Saying good-bye

In January 2009, Denton Wilde Sapte launched a redundancy consultation with staff across several departments in its UK offices. The talks concluded in the middle of March with the loss of 76 positions, including 37 fee earners, in London and Milton Keynes; almost half of those who left accepted voluntary redundancy packages. Some jobs were also saved thanks to other cost-cutting options, including sabbaticals, pay cuts and part-time schedules.

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SNR Denton UK LLP


One Fleet Place
London EC4M 7WS
Phone: +44 (0)20 7242 1212
www.dentonwildesapte.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chief executive: Howard Morris
  • Total No. Attorneys 2009: 600

Major Office Locations

  • Masqat-matrah, Oman
  • Doha, Qatar
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Paris, France
  • Amman, Jordan
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait
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