Midland law firm Harvey Ingram is extending its push into Birmingham.

It is increasing its presence with the launch of a corporate group to be based in the city centre professional district.

The aim is eventually to create a major Birmingham office.

It has a 28-strong insurance team in St Paul's Square which it acquired in 2002. Now it has swooped on Wragge and Hammonds to establish a corporate arm by hiring two new partners.

Rick Smyth joins from Wragge where he has specialised in private equity and corporate finance. Mat Harvey arrives from Hammonds' Birmingham office. They will be joined in Birmingham by further corporate and banking lawyers, starting with five fee earners.

There will be back-up from Harvey Ingram's main base at Leicester where it has 200 staff including a dozen corporate lawyers.

The firm also has expertise in real estate, projects, pensions, employment law, dispute resolution and intellectual property.

Harvey Ingram corporate partner Simon Astill said: "This is an exciting time for the firm and its corporate finance and transactions team, which already has an excellent reputation and client base locally and regionally.

"We are delighted to welcome Rick and Mat on board. We believe that with the right team in place we can advise and support new and existing clients alike on any corporate issue they may have. Birmingham is the regional capital and is a very important area for us."

Ultimately it was looking to establish a "substantial" presence in the city.

Managing partner Chris Finlay said: "The Birmingham office opened two years ago has been a great

success; we see our new corporate team as the natural progression as the firm develops from an East Midlands-based practice into a genuine Midland firm. We look forward to the continued development of our Birmingham presence."

Mr Smyth said: "With its commitment to attract new businesses into the Birmingham corporate finance market, Harvey Ingram represents an outstanding opportunity." ..SUPL: