Thomas Eggar raids Downs after merger talks collapse

South East-based firm Thomas Eggar Church Adams has lured four from Surrey-based Downs, following failed merger talks.

Chris Elias, David Freeman, Iain MacLeod and Rosanne Baker joined the five-office firm, having met through the negotiations.
Elias and Freeman specialise in private client and property work for overseas clients and will be based in London. The other two will join the Reigate office, MacLeod in the property department and Baker as a private client solicitor. Elias and MacLeod will both remain partners.
The hires are part of the 56-partner firm's general expansion.
Elias said: “Things here are great. My client base is mainly non-UK nationals and I needed to be in a more recognisable base and in a larger firm.”
Downs senior partner David Rea said: “We are sorry to see the four go but wish them well for the future. We are currently filling gaps and expanding departments.”
He refused to elaborate on why merger negotiations had broken down.
Thomas Eggar Church Adams partner Stephen Gallico will move to the Reigate office from Horsham to head the team of five there, helping the firm to respond to increased demand.
Managing partner John Stapleton said: “We were approached by members of [Downs] who saw a future with us. I think they were attracted to the management, both people and structure, and also to the critical mass size. There is the opportunity to cross-sell into the expertise here.”
He added that the firm planned to expand the Reigate office in order to build its Surrey presence.
On the possibility of another merger, Stapleton said: “We are always prepared to talk but as a firm we are now more committed culturally, so there are limited options. Any merger now is more likely to be acquisitional.”
Stapleton compared the firm to Shoosmiths, Bevan Ashford and Mills & Reeve.
“It's our business plan to continue with a 50-50 split of private client and commercial work,” he said. “The firm can sustain this through its investment management arm Thesis Asset Management plc.”