Speculation is mounting among Manchester's agency community that King Sturge agents are lining up a move to Drivers Jonas Deloitte.
The rumour follows the takeover of King Sturge by Jones Lang LaSalle in May. Rather than face the possibility of redundancy if a restructuring takes place in the next year or two, the gossip goes, former King Sturge agents below the level of equity partner – on earn-outs of up to five years – are said to be seizing the opportunity to join DJD now.
The King Sturge and Jones Lang LaSalle deal has been described locally as a 'reverse takeover' due to JLL's smaller North West presence. King Sturge has 100 people in One Piccadilly Gardens Manchester and around 10 in Liverpool. JLL has 45 in Manchester's Chancery Place and no Liverpool office.
Several agency teams at the enlarged JLL are seen by many onlookers as far too large for any firm to carry given NW deal volumes.
JLL and the former King Sturge management strongly deny there is anything other than a perfect fit of clients with no overlap and the right workload for the level of staff.
Nevertheless, investment, industrial and office teams will each have eight fee earners plus secretarial support, larger than any regional competitor's.
Meanwhile, Drivers Jonas, traditionally more of a planning and development advisor than occupational agent, has to 'beef up' capacity to handle the influx of work for Deloitte clients following the acquisition of Drivers Jonas by Deloitte in January 2010.
The Drivers Jonas staff recently moved in with colleagues at Deloitte at 2 Hardman Square in Spinningfields and the handover of new work between the two is not believed to have started in earnest yet.
Simon Bedford, head of Drivers Jonas Deloitte, Manchester, said: "We have no idea where this story has come from, and it certainly hasn't come from us."
A spokesman for JLL said there was no truth in the rumour.