Berrymans enters Scottish market with HBM Sayers merger

Berrymans Lace Mawer (BLM) and Scotland’s HBM Sayers are to merge on 1 May to form a £100m risk and insurance firm.

The merger will give BLM its first presence in Scotland with the addition of HBM’s offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Scottish firm also has a small office in London which will now become part of BLM.

The new firm, which will be rebranded as BLM, will be lead by BLM senior partner Mike Brown. He will be supported by BLM’s managing partner Andrew Relton along with HBM Sayers management board chairman David Taylor.

The merged firm will have both an executive board and partnership board, with representatives from HBM Sayers on both. 

The combined firm will be a 170-partner business with 1,550 employees and 12 offices in the UK.

Berrymans Lace Mawer’s Brown said the merger was the start of, “a clear strategy to deliver the right capability in the right places, internationally as well as in the UK and Ireland”.

HBM Sayers’ Taylor said: “BLM will be about more than just claims. It will be a modern risk and insurance law business. Although we work with many of the top global insurers, our client base also includes large numbers of corporate insured businesses, and health and public sector bodies.”

This is the first merger at BLM since legacy firms Berrymans and Lace Mawer combined in 1997 (18 February 1997), although the firm did acquire a partner and seven staff from Morgan Cole in December (15 November 2013).

Last year HBM had been in the frame as a second Scottish merger candidate for DWF, with sources in the Scottish legal market saying the 16-partner firm had been in talks with the acquisitive insurance heavyweight early last year (18 January 2013).

In other recent Scottish market moves, Kennedys had been pursuing a merger with Simpson Marwick until the deal was called off citing ‘complex reasons’ at the end of last year (11 December 2013).