Near-magical merger for legal giants.
Leading Birmingham law firm Pinsent Curtis is to merge with London-based Biddle to create one of the UK's biggest commercial and corporate finance practices.
The merger, formally to be announced today , will come into effect on February 1 and will push the firm into the leading group of law firms just outside the so-called 'magic circle' of major City of London players such as Slaughter and May and Eversheds.
It will also reinforce Birmingham's position as a major regional European professional services centre.
The new firm will be called Pinsent Curtis Biddle and will comprise 157 partners, a total legal team of 518, and a total staff of 962 divided between Birmingham, London and Leeds.
It is expected to generate full-year fee income of some pounds 70 million.
With a total legal team of 154 (including 52 partners), the combined London office will be double the strength of the separate operations.
In the key corporate area, the new firm will have a total national team of 123 lawyers, 56 of whom will be based in the City of London.
Pinsent Curtis Biddle will be ranked 18th in the UK's top 20 law firms by turnover league.
It will take eighth position in the top ten legal advisers to UK listed companies.
Significantly, the merger will give the new firm far more clout in the corporate law field.
Pinsent senior partner Julian Tonks, who will retain the title in the new set up, said that in London terms the link-up with Biddle was a 'merger of equals' although Pinsent was the dominant force nationally.
Biddle's ability to complement Pinsent's client services was the main driving force behind the merger rather than a need to gain extra size.
Pinsent's Birmingham and West Midland-based clients would benefit from the combined firm's enlarged presence in the City. Mr Tonks said the move was a further stage in the implementation of Pinsent's 'chosen markets' strategy.
'Biddle was our preferred partner because of the very strong fit with our strategy.'
Biddle managing partner Martin Lane, who becomes London managing partner of the new firm, said Biddle had been unwilling to dilute its reputation for quality in pursuit of growth.
'The merger with Pinsent Curtis both underscores and boosts that reputation and fits well with our strategic objective of focused growth in a key areas of corporate, pensions, media and employment,' said Mr Lane.
In terms of financial performance, both Pinsent and Biddle have been riding high.
Pinsent said it had achieved 23 per cent growth in the past six months, while Biddle was said to be building on a 'very profitable' result last year.
The merger with Biddle follows the creation last autumn of a strategic alliance between Pinsent and Swedish law firm Magnusson Wahlin after the Birmingham firm had rebuffed a number of takeover approaches from US law firms.
News Focus, Page 20
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Jan 16, 2001|
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