Birmingham unfazed by Ansbacher pull-out. edited by Robert Lindsay

Birmingham's corporate lawyers say the departure of the corporate finance arm of merchant bank Henry Ansbacher from the city is a “sad day for Birmingham”.

But they claim not to be worried about loss of work since much of the service merchant banks once provided in the city is now handled by the big five accountancy firms.

Ansbacher, which counts football clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United among its clients, has become the latest banker to pull out of Birmingham, after BZW, Kleinwort Benson and Lloyds Merchant Bank.

Nick Seddon, managing partner of Dibb Lupton Alsop's Birmingham office, said: “I'm always sorry when we lose a facility available to the corporate finance community here, but I don't think this will have a great effect in the Birmingham market.”

David Hull, a corporate finance partner at Edge & Ellison, said the “shake-up” in the West Midlands' corporate finance market had been “quite significant” and that the “big five accountants are certainly building up their corporate finance experience”.

Venture capital firms are also increasing their presence in the west Midlands, providing an increasingly attractive financing alternative for local companies, Seddon said.

But he conceded that the largest clients are still focused on City advisers.

Ian Metcalfe, head of corporate finance at Wragge & Co, played down the move's significance saying Birmingham had seen “a variety of merchant banks open and shut over a fifteen-year period”.

Paul Cliff, another Edge & Ellison partner, said Ansbacher's closure was “a sad decision for Birmingham, but appears to be a strategic decision to pull out of the marketplace”.