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Rumours that Birmingham firm Edge & Ellison was about to merge with a national rival grew so intense last week that senior partner Digby Jones was forced to issue a memo to all staff saying he would be the first to tell them any news.
Hot favourite as merger partner has for some time been Hammond Suddards but some sources claim Pinsent Curtis is in talks with Edge & Ellison, although management at both Pinsent Curtis and Edge & Ellison deny that there are any serious negotiations going on.
A merger between the two - two of the Birmingham 'big four' law firms - would easily dominate the Midlands' market
Jones's memo stated that only "someone living on Mars" could not have heard the rumours of merger.
"Evidently Edge & Ellison is about to announce a merger!" he wrote ironically.
He explained that early in the year it had settled on a strategy of becoming a national firm and that if there was any merger announcement, staff would hear it from him first rather than rival firms or the press.
Some even thought news of a merger would be announced at the firm's partnership conference two weekends ago; in fact it was a meeting to discuss training and IT.
Edge & Ellison, with a turnover last year of £27.8m, an increase of 15 per cent from the year, dominates the Birmingham market along with Pinsent Curtis, Eversheds and Wragge & Co.
Pinsent Curtis senior partner Julian Tonks said: "We are not about to merge with anyone." Gil Hayward, Edge & Ellison's managing partner, said his firm was not in "serious merger" talks with anyone.
Both Hammond Suddards and Dibb Lupton Alsop - with strong presences in London, Leeds and Manchester - are keen to fill a gap in their national cover by making a splash in the Birmingham market.