Shipping and trade law firm Thomas Cooper will merge with Penningtons Manches at the end of June.

The merger will create a new combined business named Penningtons Manches Cooper.

Thomas Cooper is a specialist law firm with expertise in maritime law, trade and commodities finance and international arbitration, with offices in London, Paris, Madrid, Piraeus, Singapore and São Paulo.

Penningtons Manches, meanwhile, which has offices in London, the south east of England and San Francisco, specialises in immigration, private wealth, corporate and project finance, technology, tax and insolvency and restructuring.

In a statement, Thomas Cooper says that increasing international scope was one of the significant drivers behind the merger, as it allows the firm to scale up. It says international trade will remain a core sector of focus for the new combined business.

Thomas Cooper clients, which include banks and commodity houses, will now be able to access a wider service offering both in the UK and internationally.

Speaking to GTR, Grant Eldred, partner at Thomas Cooper, says another important strategic motivation for the merger is the increasing use of technology in the commodities supply chains and maritime industries.

“When we look at the commodities and trade finance practice, the areas that we are very much interested in is in relation to fintech and IT platforms in the supply chain,” he says. “We feel that the commodity finance business is becoming more and more technologically based, and we think that the services of Penningtons Manches covering those areas will be of particular interest to commodity finance companies and banks.”

He says that Penningtons Manches’ offices in Oxford, Cambridge and San Francisco in particular have a strong background and experience within technology.

The merger comes as a growing number of banks and commodity firms are becoming engaged in technology projects, many of which involve exploring blockchain technology.

“As blockchain systems develop, you need to have up-to-date knowledge of the law surrounding that,” Eldred says. “Combining the law that we know and understand in relation to trade finance and the law that Penningtons Manches understands in relation to the technological side will provide a much better and more relevant service in that market.”

The new integrated business will have a combined turnover of over £90mn.