Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG), HBJ Gateley Wareing and Hill Dickinson have agreed the basis of a deal that would see the three firms take over the majority of troubled firm Halliwells.
Any deal would be subject to partnership approval at each firm, with at least one needing the backing of 75 per cent of partners. Subject to partnership backing, BLG will take over Halliwells’ defendant-focused insurance practice, including head of insurance liability Kevin Finnigan, James Dadge and Peter Walmsley, who are thought to be joining BLG’s Manchester office.
National firm HBJ plans to take over the remainder of the Manchester office, which includes the corporate and real estate practices, and is expected to take on Halliwells’ Spinningfields HQ.
HBJ has been eyeing a Manchester launch for some time to add to its six existing UK offices. It is expected that any deal would lock equity partners in for a three-year period.
The biggest surprise comes with regard to Liverpool-headquartered Hill Dickinson, which will take over Halliwells’ smaller Liverpool office. Hill Dickinson was considering taking over Halliwells in its entirety, with a view to getting a shot in the arm for its own smaller Manchester office.
It is unclear what will happen to Halliwells’ Sheffield and London offices, which have been diminished in recent years by exits and raids by rivals, notably Kennedys’ 2009 swoop on the Sheffield insurance practice.
Halliwells filed notice of its intention to appoint an administrator on 24 June, following falling fee income, increased indebtedness and rising property costs.