Kennedys exits talks but takes on office

LONDON firm Kennedys has stepped down from its merger talks with Liverpool practice Weightmans and Teesside's Jacksons and taken over the eight-partner London office of Manchester insurance practice Elliott & Co.

A tripartite merger between the three insurance practices would have created a top-25 UK firm, but Kennedys said there had been a lack chemistry between it and its would-be partners.

Weightmans and Jacksons, however, are still on track to merge. According to Professor Martin Read, chief executive of Weightmans, they are also in discussions with other firms, which he would not identify.

Kennedys' exit from the talks coincides with its hiring of 16 of the 18 lawyers at Elliotts' London branch, including the firm's senior partner, Geoffrey Lord.

Only two partners are not joining one is setting up on his own and the destination of the other is unknown.

Commenting on the collapse of the merger talks, Stephen Cantle, partnership chairman at Kennedys, said there had been no specific disagreements between it and Weightmans and Jacksons, rather a general lack of chemistry. But he said that it was only in the course of talks that firms could find out whether or not they would gel.

Cantle said Kennedys still had “an open mind” about a merger with another firm, adding that the original reason for the proposed merger the consolidation in the insurance company sector and the rationalisation of their panels of solicitors was still valid.