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Dibb Lupton Alsop is emerging as the front-runner as merger partner for Birmingham firm Edge & Ellison.
Dibbs is officially not commenting, but The Lawyer understands that the firm has made a strong offer and is confident of hearing a positive reply by the end of July.
Meanwhile, Edge & Ellison senior partner Digby Jones has confirmed for the first time that his practice had been talking to a number of national firms as well as several based in London.
He told The Birmingham Post he had always wanted his firm to have a presence in large UK cities, such as Leeds and Manchester, and hinted heavily that Edge & Ellison was likely to be the junior partner.
Edge & Ellison has been the focus of speculation for some weeks now that it is about to merge. Contenders have included Dibbs, Hammond Suddards - both with strong Leeds and Manchester presences - and Pinsent Curtis, with offices in Leeds and Birmingham.
Speculation has also circulated regarding interest from Big Six accountancy firm Coopers & Lybrand.
However, Hammond Suddards senior partner John Heller said he had never met Jones. Furthermore, Pinsent Curtis senior partner Julian Tonks has told The Lawyer that Pinsents is not about to merge with any firm.
A Dibbs spokeswoman said: "I'm afraid that the answer is no comment at this moment in time."