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Pinsent Curtis Biddle's regional offices are losing work to the firm's London practice following the merger.
Pinsents, which has just announced figures indicating growth of 12.5 per cent on the combined total of Pinsent Curtis's and Biddle's turnovers last year, now has more than half of its headline clients using the London branch. Senior partner Julian Tonks believes this is inevitable. "When there's merchant banks involved, they prefer to work where there's a City presence," he said. Earlier this year, the Leeds office was edged out of a £477m deal when Bromley Property Investment took over BPT. Tonks said: "Leeds could have dealt with the case, but in London there was easy access to a merchant bank." And US drugs company Perrigo Corporation did its first UK transaction in London, despite former links to Pinsents' Birmingham branch. "We work where our clients want," said Tonks. New clients are also being attracted to the London office. Of Pinsents' 10 new headline clients, six are working with the City set. NGBI Private Equity was advised on its investment in easyRentacar, Numis Securities was provided with flotation planning and Adtranz Pension Plan worked with the pension practice from the London branch. Leeds only received publicity for acquiring Allen, a Mancunian company needing demerger advice. Pinsents has restructured its approach to the market. Instead of working across the board, it is focusing on nine areas, including insurance, private equity, property and media and technology. Tonks thinks that the change has helped to improve profits. He said: "We have clear evidence that our chosen market strategy is delivering enhanced value for our clients [and] accelerated performance for us." The firm's 78 equity partners each enjoyed an average profit of £282,000, 25.3 per cent more than Pinsent Curtis partners received last year, but only 4 per cent up on Biddle's 1999-2000 partner profits. Partners at the top of equity got £410,000, at the bottom £150,000. Pinsents says the growth was 40 per cent organic, with the former Biddle arm providing £12.5m to the total.