Mergerballs

Suspicion of strains at Private Eye adviser Davenport Lyons, as tie-up dream fades 

If Private Eye devoted an issue to one of its advisers, Davenport Lyons, the cover caption might pose the question: “Marry me?” to Shakespeare.

But there’s more to this than meets the, er, eye. This is not a caricature of the sonnet superstar, but rather merger-hungry Midlands firm, Shakespeares

Until last week word had it that Shakespeares was roaming the streets of shame pining for a new Juliet, aka Davenport Lyons (that’s enough, ed).

While Shakespeares CEO Paul Wilson told The Lawyer merger talks had ground to a halt, Davenport insiders were unaware of the fact. 

What’s going on? Wilson won’t elaborate and Davenport CEO Richard Williams has gone to ground. So let’s look at Davenport Lyons. The media boutique made a living out of defamation cases, many conducted on a conditional fee basis. That model was torn up by the Jackson reforms.

This, however, was not the trigger. Things started to tumble soon after the firm took out a loan to fund a hiring spree in 2008. Former Lawrence Graham finance director Williams was brought in 18 months ago to boost profits after PEP fell by 20 per cent in two years.

A source says equity partners were called in to an “urgent” meeting on 30 January, although
it is not known whether this concerned the shape of the firm. 

Nobody from Davenport Lyons had responded to requests for comment at the time of going
to press. 

Shome mistake surely.