Slater & Gordon in UK takeover triple as listed firm plans $64m raising

Slater & Gordon is set to continue its push into the UK market with the proposed $35.5m (£23.3m) triple acquisition of personal injury (PI) law firms Simpson Millar, Goodmans Law and the PI arm of Taylor Vinters.

The Australian Stock Exchange listed firm is planning to raise $63.9m (£41.9m) in equity to fund its UK growth through an underwritten placement and a share placement plan.

The firm, which last year entered the UK market through the £53.8m takeover of Russell Jones & Walker, has agreed terms on the three purchases as part of its strategy to lead the consolidation of the UK personal legal services market.

Leeds-headquartered Simpson Millar is spread across 10 locations including London, Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham, and has revenues of around £15m. The firm, which has a particular focus on work for trade unions, gained its alternative business structure licence this February.

Goodmans Law is a Liverpool-based 50-strong claimant-side medical negligence and serious PI boutique, with the takeover set to hand Slater & Gordon its first base in Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Slater has also reached an agreement to acquire Taylor Vinters’ Cambridge PI practice, which has a focus on major and catastrophic injuries.

Slater & Gordon expects to complete the acquisitions between August and December 2013 for a combined valuation of A$35.5m (£23.3m), while the firm is also hoping to complete further transactions over the next six to 18 months.

The firm has forecast international revenues of $290m (£187m), with its UK business on track to reach £48m by the end of the 2013 financial year. The firm’s UK turnover last year was £23.5m.

Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech (pictured) said: “A number of options have been investigated in the UK and the three potential acquisitions now identified will deliver a number of strategic benefits, including an expanded geographic base and specialised practice areas.

“The capital raising provides us with the financial flexibility to pursue the broad spectrum of growth opportunities in the UK. Twelve months on from entering the UK, the timing is now optimal to accelerate our growth plans in line with our strategy to become a dominant law firm brand in consumer legal services in the UK.”

The news comes as it was announced today that Plexus Law is to merge with insurance dispute resolution firm Greenwoods in a deal that will create a £90m defendant insurance litigation business. Plexus is part of the Parabis Group, which last year sold a majority stake in its business to private equity house Duke Street, handing it a a war chest of around £50m to fund ambitious expansion plans.

For more, see Plexus and Greenwoods in £90m tie-up as Parabis kickstarts post-PE growth.