A spokesman for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has confirmed that the London-based 'magic circle' law firm will open an office in Manchester city centre in the second half of 2015.
Freshfields instructed Knight Frank on a 100,000 sq ft requirement in central Manchester earlier this year, as part of plans to relocate some legal and support staff from its Fleet Street London office by 2017 as a cost-saving measure.
Contracts were then signed on 40,000 sq ft in Manchester's Arndale House in April, as an interim base while the firm continued its hunt for a new-build office.
Initially staff were expected to have moved to Manchester by the beginning of 2017, but the deal at Arndale House will allow for a Northern office to be established in the coming months while the firm decides on its long-term base.
Previous requests for comment from Freshfields on the Manchester move have been declined, and in terms of the lease in Arndale House, a spokesman at the time said that they could not comment on market speculation.
For its permanent base, the firm is understood to be considering Muse Developments' One New Bailey, Ask Developments' 101 Embankment, Argent's One St Peter's Square, Mosley Street Venture's Two St Peter's Square, and Allied London's Cotton Building.
Arndale House is a 23-storey office building set within the Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre. M&G Real Estate and Intu are the landlords. The joint letting agents are JLL and TSG Property Consultants.