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Pinsent Curtis Biddle is opening in Manchester and hiring a quarter of the partners from Manchester firm Chaffe Street in the process.
The office will also be staffed by three existing Pinsents partners who have been relocated from other offices. The four partners from 16-partner firm Chaffe Street are Chris Lumsden, Sean Fitzgerald, Paul Johnson and Anna Whetham, all specialists in private equity and banking. They will be joined by three partners from Pinsents' other offices who specialise in banking, corporate recovery and dispute resolution. Pinsents managing partner Julian Tonks said the firm had a long-term plan to win banking and private equity work in Manchester, and leapt on the Chaffe Street partners as soon as they became available. "Private equity and financial institutions are two of the sectors we are targeting at the moment," said Tonks. "Obviously, the Biddle merger gave us a resource in private equity. I suppose our competitors in the North West will be Addleshaw Booth & Co, Eversheds and DLA, with Halliwell Landau in a different league. But we already service a number of private equity and banking clients in Manchester from our other three offices." Tonks was unable to comment on whether the partners would be bringing all of their assistants with them. "We're just focusing on the partners at this early stage," he explained. Tonks was also unable to reveal whether the four partners were under restrictive covenants, but said that they were not forbidden to bring their clients to Pinsents. "The partners all have very good relationships with their clients, who are welcome to vote with their feet," he said. Pinsents suffered a heavy blow to its private equity practice when Biddle senior partner and private equity rainmaker Martin Winter refused to join the merged firm. He moved to Taylor Joynson Garrett, bringing three new clients to his new firm within three months. "But I think the best private equity lawyer from the old Biddle is Roger Fink, who is still working for us," Tonks said. Pinsents' Manchester office will be operational from the beginning of the new year.