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McKenna Calls Off Merger Deal With Dentons

Firms part ways after vote at McKenna does not go through

, Daily Report

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The proposed combination between McKenna Long & Aldridge and global megafirm Dentons is off, the firms have confirmed.

After several delays, McKenna put the proposed deal to its partnership for a vote Tuesday—but called a halt to the voting by midday because of too much opposition. The partners received an email before the balloting had closed informing them that the firm's board had decided not to go forward with the merger, according to a McKenna partner.

"We are not in a position to successfully bring our firms together at this time," the firms said in a joint statement on Tuesday. "We look forward to maintaining the many friendships and working relationships, including with shared clients, that partners in both firms have forged. Both firms will continue to advance their respective strategic priorities."

The combination would have created one of the largest law firms in the world, with about 3,175 lawyers and professionals. McKenna has about 575 partners and professionals, while Dentons has 2,600.

McKenna's partnership agreement required a two-thirds vote by its equity partnership to approve the deal. The firm weighs votes by equity interest, not headcount, so two-thirds of the firm's equity points were needed for the vote to go through, the McKenna partner confirmed.

McKenna and Dentons confirmed they were in merger talks at the end of September, then announced Oct. 29 that the boards of the two firms had approved the deal and were putting it before their partnerships for a vote, with a deadline of Nov. 14.

McKenna suspended the vote on Nov. 8, saying partners had requested additional information, then set a new deadline of Nov. 26 for voting to conclude.

But before Tuesday's voting period had closed, the partners were notified that the board had decided not to go forward with the combination with Dentons.

The McKenna partner said it was possible the firm had the requisite votes but was not prepared to "jam it through" over the opposition. "There was a perception that a substantial portion of the partnership opposed it," the partner said.

Even if the "no" votes were not enough to kill the deal under the partnership agreement, the firm may have decided that pushing it through would be "destructive," the partner suggested.

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