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DWF to acquire Cobbetts

Plans announced exactly a year after merger talks failed 

1 February 2013

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

DWF has announced plans to acquire Cobbetts exactly a year after its merger talks with the troubled firm were called off.

On 30 January, top-100 UK law firm Cobbetts said it was preparing to go into administration.

One day later, top-100 UK law firm DWF said that it intended to acquire Cobbetts as part of its strategic growth plans to become a top-20 law firm.

DWF had been in merger talks with Cobbetts in January 2012, but these were called off on 31 January 2012 – two weeks after they were announced – due to “current uncertainty in market conditions”.

If the latest deal is approved, the process of transferring people across to DWF will start in the next seven days.

Said Andrew Leaitherland, DWF’s managing partner and CEO: “I am confident that the merging of the two firms would bring genuine benefits to both and, importantly, the joint client base. There are many synergies between the two firms in terms of the sectors in which we operate and this collaboration will further strengthen our existing business.

“We will do all we can to make the integration as smooth as possible, however, as you’d expect in a move of this size, there are some areas of overlap and we may have to displace people or find them alternative roles. We will work hard to support all those involved.”

Commenting on the reasons for Cobbetts’ financial failure, DWF said in a statement: “Like many businesses, Cobbetts had built an infrastructure reflecting the buoyant economy of the mid 2000s and had put in place plans to reduce costs.

“However, poorer than expected  trading in November and December last year caused the firm to review its financial position and subsequently obtain an interim statutory moratorium to enable a sale of the business and its assets.

“It is believed by the members of both firms that a sale to DWF represents a solution that would secure the most favourable outcome for its creditors, members, people and clients.

"For clients this move would facilitate the continuation of service delivery and business as usual, with the same service terms they have enjoyed at Cobbetts, thereby ensuring a smooth transition for them and their business interests.”

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