Northern merger creates top 20 firm

Addleshaw Sons & Latham and Booth & Co are merging in February next year to form Addleshaw Booth & Co. With 89 partners and more than 325 fee earners, the new firm will be one of the 20 largest in the UK, and the largest in the North.

The chair and senior part ner will be Paul Lee, currently managing partner of Addleshaws, and the managing partner will be Mark Jones of Booth & Co.

Lee said: “We are bringing together the leadership Booth & Co has in banking and our national reputation in corporate finance.”

The two firms have complementary strengths in several areas, which is reflected in the choice of heads of the combined departments. Booth & Co provides John Priestley (banking), John Pike (property) and Anthony Ruane (recovery management).

From Addleshaws the heads are Andrew Needham (corporate finance), John Gatenby (litigation) and Malcolm Pike (commercial services).

Because of the prestige and local nature of private client work the department will have joint heads, Paul Howell and David Tully. The firm will remain a member of the Norton Rose/ M5 Group.

The merger has been expected for some time, and the firms admit it has been under discussion for a couple of years. Leading clients have welcomed the move. At the Yorkshire Bank head of risk management Ken Lawford said it was “a pretty perfect match”.

“From our point of view it is very good,” he said. “We are spread on both sides of the Pennines and if we can leverage off their local knowledge. The two markets are slightly different – it is a good thing.”

Trinity International Holdings, for which Addleshaws completed one of the largest acquisitions ever completed outside London, was also happy. Finance director Mike Masters said he welcomed the “expanded resources” his lawyers would have for dealing with specialist and large-scale matters.

Because of the joint recruitment and training policy the M5 Group followed for many years there are unlikely to be the cultural differences that have caused problems in many mergers.

Booth & Co names its key clients as being the Halifax Building Society, the Yorkshire Bank and 3i. Addleshaws says its are Airtours, Trinity International Holdings and United Utilities.

Booths acts for nine of the top 10 building societies in the UK, while Lee was voted by other M&A lawyers as the best outside the City.