London commercial practice Stones Porter has been swallowed up by Edge & Ellison, making it the fifth small to medium-sized commercial firm to disappear in as many months.
Under the deal with Edges, six of Stones Porter's nine partners, including senior partner Hugh Edmunds, will bring their property and banking practice to the firm's London office, along with 16 of its 17 fee earners.
However, the property finance team – salaried partners Terry Green, John Clark and Stephen O'Brien and one assistant – has been snapped up by DJ Freeman.
Stones Porter's closure follows hard on the heels of the recent demise of London firms Franks Charlesly, Frere Cholmeley Bischoff, Forsyte Saunders Kerman and Manchester's Slater Heelis.
Over the past few years Stones Porter has suffered from a steady stream of partner defections. Highly-rated housing association partner Chris Smith became the fifth partner to leave when he joined the London office of Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens in June this year.
Edmunds said a strategic review conducted 18 months ago had concluded that the firm would need to double in size to compete for better work.
He said the firm had recognised it needed major growth if it wanted to succeed and the move to Edges “was an ideal way of achieving that”.
By taking on Edmunds and his colleagues, Edges has moved closer to its stated objective of doubling the size of its London office, which currently has 90 fee earners.
A greatly-expanded London office is one of three objectives in senior partner James Retallack's three-year strategy. The other two are trebling international business and becoming the pre-eminent firm in the Midlands.
Describing the Stones Porter move as “a strategic acquisition”, Retallack said: “The deal puts us a long way to achieving the doubling of our London office in one year rather than three.”
DJ Freeman chief executive Jonathan Lewis said his firm had been looking to expand its property finance capability.