BLM London head quits for Clydes as HSBC takes debenture over firm's assets

BLM London head Jennette Newman has resigned from the firm, alongside fellow insurance partner Jonathan Edwards.

The pair are set to join Clyde & Co, with the exits coming as Companies House filings show HSBC has taken a charge over BLM’s assets.

The debenture agreement, first reported by RollOnFriday, was created on 2 November and was certified by Pinsent Masons.

With the filing stating that HSBC has a floating charge over BLM’s property and undertakings, the agreement represents the second charge over the firm’s assets after a deal was reached with Barclays in September 2014.

In a statement, the firm said: “Off the back of a strengthened balance sheet and falling debt, we made a decision to review our banking arrangements and agreed new terms this month. We’ve banked with Barclays for some time and now we’re pleased to say that we’re also being backed by HSBC, which is testament to our strong financial position.

“Support from both banks provides ample opportunity for future expansion and, together with our increased net asset base, a stable platform to support our development.”

Meanwhile, the departure of Newman leaves BLM without a London head and represents a second recent management exit for the firm, after former managing partner Gary Allison stepped down in July just eight months into a three-year leadership term.

Manchester claims solutions head Vivienne Williams was appointed to succeed Allison after his surprise departure. He left the firm and has not yet reemerged in a new role.

Newman joined BLM in 1994 and became London head in 2013, while Edwards is listed as a senior London partner in the firm’s liability risk managed group.

Commenting on the latest departures, a BLM spokesperson said: “Jennette Newman and Jonathan Edwards made a decision to leave BLM to pursue other opportunities. Both are partners in the London office, which continues to be a thriving location for BLM. We’re in the process of electing a London office head.”

In October, BLM hired a team of 33 lawyers from Slater and Gordon, including 11 partners. The team will launch a new commercial advisory practice for BLM, comprising lawyers based in Manchester and London.

The hires followed a difficult period for BLM which, in August, began a redundancy consultation affecting 29 Southampton staff.

The consultation, which covered 19 lawyers and 10 business service staff, was part of the firm’s plan to move its volume motor offering from Southampton to Manchester and Liverpool, and came after the firm cut 50 roles among its secretarial and direct support staff, with all of those leaving taking voluntary redundancy.

The firm has also laid off lawyers in its healthcare practice in London and Manchester, and significantly shrunk its Leeds presence with a redundancy consultation that began last November.

In the firm’s financial results for 2016-17, profit per equity partner rose by 21% from £192,000 to £232,000, although revenue dipped from £107.7m to £106.7m.

David Wynn, who heads Clydes’ latent disease and legacy solutions group, said of the hires: ”Jennette and Jonathan are both well known in the insurance market and further strengthen our national casualty practice. They bring with them a close understanding of and connections with the London market, something that is central to our business. ”