DWF circles as Cobbetts prepares for administration

DWF is understood to be reviving tie-up talks with Cobbetts, after the latter filed notice to appoint administrators on Monday.

Andrew Leaitherland
Andrew Leaitherland

DWF and Cobbetts had been in merger talks in 2011/12, but discussions broke down in January 2012, with both parties citing uncertain market conditions as the reason for the breakdown (31 January 2012).

News broke yesterday that Cobbetts was seeking a buyer after filing notice to appoint administrators on Monday (30 January 2012) and now multiple sources in the Manchester market have said that DWF is poised to take over Cobbetts in a pre-pack deal.

Members from DWF, most likely managing partner Andrew Leaitherland, are understood to be meeting with the SRA today to thrash out the details of a deal. DWF did not respond to requests for comment.

Sources say a pre-pack takeover would be a good deal for DWF, as it could acquire Cobbetts’ practice with no debt.

DWF has made a number of acquisitions since talks with Cobbetts broke down. Most recently the firm merged with Scotland’s Fishburns, a niche insurance practice (18 January 2012).

Meanwhile, KPMG looks set to be appointed Cobbetts’ administrator. A KPMG spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, but sources in the market said that KPMG had been looking at Cobbetts in recent weeks and was the most likely candidate to be appointed.

Cobbetts did not respond in time to comment.