Dibb Lupton Alsop's planned merger with Scottish firm Bird Semple has been put on hold.
The firms have been forced to delay the tie-up because Bird Semple's senior private client equity partners are digging in their heels, claim sources.
It is understood that Dibbs has asked Bird Semple to split up its private client department as a condition of the merger.
A band of four senior private client equity partners, led by Lawrence Marshall, is believed to be in negotiations with Bird Semple regarding a golden handshake.
Last year, The Lawyer revealed that Dibbs and Bird Semple were in talks and aimed to make a merger announcement by the end of December (The Lawyer, 15 November 1999).
However, this did not come about, prompting market speculation that the deal may have been called off.
Industry sources say that the private equity partners have approached Brodies for a home.
But Brodies private client partner Huw Dalrymple denies this, saying: “We would look at any such approaches very sceptically, as would most Edinburgh firms.”
Dibbs was rumoured to have spoken to top Scottish firm McGrigor Donald before opting for Bird Semple.
Instead McGrigor Donald has gone for organic UK growth, spearheaded by a strategically placed senior partner in London.
Gordon Hollerin, Bird Semple's managing partner, was unavailable for comment and Nigel Knowles, Dibbs' managing partner refused to comment.
Dibbs is currently looking for further members for its European alliance D&P in Italy and Germany.