City firm dropped as legal adviser

CITY law firm Simmons & Simmons has been dropped as principal legal adviser to Hull-based Cattle's (Holdings).

The financial services group has replaced the top 10 firm with Leeds commercial practice Walker Morris.

Patrick Doherty, head of the company's legal department, declines to comment on the appointment but it is understood that cost and accessibility were key factors in Cattle's decision.

Walker Morris, a 26-partner practice, is advising the company on its recently announced u27.4 million acquisition of the Welcome Finance group from London and Manchester Group, and an associated u30 million rights issue. The firm will also refinance Welcome's borrowings of about u50 million.

Walker Morris has already acted for Cattle's u6.3 million buy-up of Manchester-based Reedham Factors.

A Simmons & Simmons spokesman says the appointment of the regional firm is for a specific project.

“There is always a certain amount of to-ing and fro-ing between City and provincial firms. But the same thing happens in reverse with companies outside London appointing city firms for their legal know-how,” he says.

But Walker Morris managing partner, Peter Smart, says selection of the provincial practice is part of the continuing process where City firms lose out to the regionals.

“But this was a nice one for us. It's the sort of company that everyone wants to act for.”

Smart says that Walker Morris first came into contact with Cattle's a couple of years ago. “They saw the quality of our work.”