Finers suffers loss of property head to BLP

In a blow to Finers Stephens Innocent, the firm’s highly-rated head of property David Battiscombe has resigned to join Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP).

Battiscombe has built up an impressive practice at the 30-partner West End firm, acting for the likes of property company MWB, LA Fitness and developer Wharfside Regeneration. However, his move to a much larger base with a strong real estate brand will play to his focus on development and urban regeneration.

His track record acting for entrepreneurial developer clients will also complement BLP’s relationships with public sector and institutional clients. Battiscombe quipped that BLP was “the Real Madrid of real estate”, and said the move was too good an opportunity to miss.

MWB is a common client to Finers and BLP, but has been going through a non-development phase after beginning a four-year liquidation in March 2002 and transferring all staff to ServeCo, a company launched by MWB’s executive directors.

Finers managing partner Anthony Barling said: “As partners, we’re extremely sorry that David’s moving on, but clearly we’re pleased for him that he’s going to pursue what he wants to at such a firm as BLP.” Finers has 11 other property partners, but had to make redundancies in the department in the last financial year.

Battiscombe is part of an aggressive lateral hiring strategy launched by BLP 18 months ago. The firm has also just hired Weil Gotshal & Manges corporate tax partner Gary Richards, who joins as an equity partner.
Richards has acted for a client base that includes GE Capital, Global Crossing, WestLB and MCI WorldCom.