London-based 'magic circle' law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is understood to have agreed terms on 40,000 sq ft in Manchester's Arndale House, as an interim base while it continues its hunt for a new-build office.
A contract is expected to be signed in the next fortnight.
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 as a cost-saving measure.
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.
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.
Freshfields is currently consulting with staff. A statement from the firm said that the proposed Manchester move was part of "a range of enhancements to our global infrastructure." In terms of the lease in Arndale House, a spokesman said that they could not comment on market speculation.
The joint letting agents at Arndale House are JLL and TSG Property Consultants.
All parties declined or were unavailable to comment.