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Halliwells appoints BDO as administrators 21 July 2010

BDO partners Dermot Power and Shay Bannon have been appointed as joint administrators. 

Shortly after the appointment the entire business was sold in a number of transactions which safeguarded 700 partner jobs and staff roles.

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert has scooped 19 of the firm’s partners who will join its Manchester office. The expanded Manchester practice, which will focus on catastrophic injury, fraud, regulatory and public sector work, is expected to take annual revenue at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert past the £100m mark, making BLG one of the top 25 biggest law firms in the UK by revenue. Former Halliwells litigation experts Helen Bourne and Damian McPhun have also joined the firm’s London office as partners.

Rival Hill Dickinson has bought the Halliwell’s 19-partner Liverpool office and the remains of its Sheffield practice. 

While law firm HBJ Gateley has purchased the Manchester commercial practice and will take on City employment partner Guy Guinan, corporate partner Dan Kelmanson and insolvency partner Sadaf Buchanan. 

HBJ Gateley has taken on around 200 staff and lawyers including 40 former partners of Halliwells, while Hill Dickinson has signed up around 89 staff in Liverpool - comprising 19 partners, 41 fee earners and 29 support staff - as well as a further 36 in Sheffield.

Hill Dickinson forecasts that the deal will give the firm around 1,000 staff and a predicted fee income of £105m, against the firm's 2009-10 revenues of £87m.

The deals follow months of negotiations to safeguard jobs after the stricken firm secured more time to complete the transfers after securing an extension to the deadline before an administrator steps in

Dermot Power, BDO business restructuring partner said: “Securing sales of the business to other highly regarded firms, which will protect approximately 700 partner and staff jobs, is positive news for the employees and the industry as a whole. 

“It is well known that the firm assumed substantial property obligations in recent years which significantly increased operating costs. This, together with the slowdown in transactional activity in the current economic climate, put unsustainable pressure on cash flow and the partnership resources.”

Power added: “Other professional firms will have to pay far greater attention to management and particularly cash management, following the stress testing of an LLP frame work which has been less than robust.”





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