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Blake Lapthorn is set to merge with Morgan Cole on 1 July 2014 to create a firm with a combined turnover of £72m.
The merged firm will be named Blake Morgan. It is to be led by Blake Lapthorn managing partner Walter Cha, who has overseen four mergers at his firm since 2001.
Blake Lapthorn has a history of expansion through merger. In 2006 legacy Blake Lapthorn Linnell carried out two mergers in quick succession, tying up first with Hampshire firm White & Bowker (27 February 2006) and then IP firm Tarlo Lyons (16 October 2006).
The firm saw a minimal drop of 0.2 per cent in revenue for the 2012/13 financial year, to £45.6m from £45.7m, with average profit per equity partner (PEP) rising 6.5 per cent to £180,000 from £169,000 in 2011/12.
Cardiff-headquartered Morgan Cole has also undergone rapid change recently, having offloaded its Bristol-based claims group to DAC Beachcroft and Berrymans Lace Mawer last year (15 November 2013).
The merger decision preceded disappointing profit reports in January, when it emerged that the top of equity at Morgan Cole had dropped from £278,000 to £162,000 according to the LLP accounts (10 January 2014).
In 2013 turnover at the firm fell by 7.6 per cent from £36.6m to £33.7m and profit per equity partner dropped 37 per cent. Morgan Cole managing partner Elizabeth Carr attributed the fall to an issue with the firm’s premises portfolio (29 July 2013)
In November both firms were in talks over a three-way merger with Boyes Turner to create a top 40 UK firm with revenues closing on £100m (28 November 2013). Boyes Turner pulled out of the merger discussions in December (19 December 2013).
In November five partners in Morgan Cole’s volume claims and catastrophic insurance teams left to join DAC Beachcroft while Berrymans picked up a partner and seven staff. The team transferring to DAC Beachcroft includes 35 fee-earners and 24 support staff.
The new firm will have 900 staff including 120 partners.