Cobbetts: a bargain, not a victim

Plenty of interest in Manc flop, and now recovery practice is on brink of sale too

DWF’s rescue of fellow Manchester firm Cobbetts, following the latter’s notice to appoint administrators on 28 January, has been seen almost as an act of altruism, but it seems that Cobbetts was, in fact, a bargain a number of firms were willing to fight for.

According to sources close to the event as many as seven firms were interested in acquiring Cobbetts – or at least part of it – and one of these is understood to be another Manchester player, Pannone.

Pannone managing partner Emma Holt will not comment directly on her firm’s apparent interest in Cobbetts but does tell The Lawyer: “First, we were saddened to hear about Cobbetts […] and we’d always look at opportunities that would align with our strategy, but that’s all that we would say on the matter.”

It is not known which other firms threw their hats into the ring with regard to Cobbetts, but DWF managing partner Andrew Leaitherland tells The Lawyer he had no interest in engaging in a tender. The banks and administrators did not want to risk losing DWF’s offer, so any chance of a battle for Cobbetts was to be avoided.

Still, there is one loose end to this tale. Incasso, Cobbetts’ debt recovery practice, will not be joining the rest of the firm in its move to DWF (nor will the finance litigation team, which is heading to Walker Morris) and is still up for grabs.

However, sources suggest there is already at least one interested party and a deal is not far off.