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Berrymans Lace Mawer's proposed merger with Linsley & Mortimer has been called off at the last minute.
The merger was first announced in June (The Lawyer, 21 June) and Berrymans had completed due diligence on the three-partner firm and was believed to be reaching the final stages of negotiation.
However, it is understood that it is the insurance specialist Linsley & Mortimer which has backed out of the discussions.
It is believed that the Newcastle-based outfit wants to be fully taken over by a firm rather than opt for the straight merger Berrymans is offering.
Paul Taylor, national senior partner at Berrymans, confirms that talks between the two firms have fallen through. He says: "We are disappointed that the talks failed to reach a satisfactory stage."
At the time of the announcement of the proposed merger, Taylor said the firm's clients had prompted the move to the North East which is where a number of other highly-regarded insurance practices are based including Jacksons, Crutes and Sinton & Co.
However, he says that the firm will still concentrate on building up its client base in the North East.
He adds that Berrymans is not in serious talks with any other firm in the region at the moment.
One industry source says it will be now be difficult for Linsley & Mortimer to find a suitable partner, since it has experienced a "diminishing run-off" in its insurance client base in the last few months.
He says: "They should have done this about 18 months ago when they were in a stronger position."