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‘A personal decision’: BLP’s David Collins resigns after missing out on top job

Just five months after making the final two to succeed Neville Eisenberg as managing partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner, corporate chief David Collins has resigned from the firm.

Longstanding partner Collins stood against Lisa Mayhew in the leadership battle at BLP following Neville Eisenberg’s decision late last year to step down as managing partner after 16 years at the helm. Mayhew, running on a ticket to modernise the firm, ultimately triumphed and succeeded Eisenberg on 1 May.

Collins resignations comes after 20 years at the firm, the last two years of which he has spent running the firm’s corporate group, controlling the corporate finance, funds and financial services, employment and EU, competition and trade practice groups. He also heads the firm’s betting and gaming sector group and is a member of BLP’s mining and metals sector team.

Collins, who has held a string of management positions during his time at BLP, is now on sabbatical until the 31 October, at which point he will no longer be a partner at the firm. He controlled a large amount of business at BLP, with his list of clients including Liberum Capital, Numis and Westhouse Securities, CMC Markets, Galleon Holdings, Playtech and Xchange Technology Group.

One partner at the firm told Legal Business that Mayhew was looking to refresh the leadership positions within the firm, and that Collins was no longer guaranteed to continue as corporate head. Longstanding disputes head Jonathan Sacher has already been replaced by high-billing Nathan Willmott in what amounts to a refreshing of the firm’s management since Mayhew’s election to managing partner.

While no partnership vote is needed to elect a new corporate chief, BLP management is currently consulting with the group’s partners over Collins’ replacement.

Current co-head of corporate finance, Benjamin Lee, is believed to be the frontrunner for the role, with one senior source at the firm stating that he is seen as being ‘more punchy’ than his fellow co-head Michael Anderson. Lee has a broad corporate practice based on M&A and equity capital markets work and also advises companies on London-based listings. A decision on the next corporate chief is set to be announced within the next fortnight.

A spokesperson for the firm said: ‘We can confirm that David has made a personal decision to retire from BLP at the end of October. After 20 years at BLP we thank him for his loyalty, dedication and commitment during his time at the firm. We will announce shortly who will replace him, following proper consultation with the corporate partners. David leaves with the corporate finance group having hit both revenue and profit targets in the last financial year.’