Kenyan firms Hamilton Harrison & Matthews (HHM) and Oraro & Co Advocates officially announced last month that they have formally agreed to demerge just 6 months after the firms decided to join forces.
HHMOraro only legally formed on October 1 2014 in a merger that created one of the largest firms in the country. The main aim of the move was to meet the ever growing needs of clients by increasing capacity.
IFLR1000 recently requested interviews with both Kenneth Fraser of HHM and George Oraro of Oraro to discuss the topic, and while the latter politely denied the request, Fraser simply cited that “the demerger was as a result of integration problems”, before continuing to say that as a reflection of his confidence in the Kenyan market, HHM have subsequently appointed three new partners. One of these partners, Martha Mbugua, made the switch from Coulson Harney and the hires are seen in some quarters as an attempt to maintain market confidence.
The merger itself was seen as a reaction to a perceived need for consolidation in the market and though integration problems have caused a reversal of this particular move, Kamami Mweti of Coulson Harney believes that the idea of the merger was ultimately a good thing for the future of the Kenyan legal market. “These kinds of mergers are the way the law firms must go, if we are going to be able to survive," she said.