Both sides of the volume insurance market saw significant Legal Services Act-themed developments today as two of the most touted investor-backed law outfits announced four proposed acquisitions in a single day.
Plexus Law today (7 May) confirmed it is to merge with insurance dispute resolution practice Greenwoods, creating a £90m defendant insurance litigation business. Plexus is the defendant arm of the Parabis Group, the legal outfit that last year sold a majority stake in its business to buyout house Duke Street in a move expected to fund a war chest for expansion.
The newly merged entity will have over 1,200 employees and aims to re-establish Plexus at the specialist end of the insurance law sector, particularly in the London market. Heads of terms have been signed and the deal is expected to complete in May. Group revenues for Parabis Law are now estimated at around £150m. Greenwoods focuses on defendant work in the property, construction, general insurance and catastrophic loss area.
Under the deal, Greenwoods partner Malcolm Henké will become senior partner of the combined firm. Both Henké and fellow partner Richard Houseago will join the executive management team of Plexus.
Greenwoods senior partner Paul Parsons, who will take an integration role after stepping back from senior management, said: ‘The insurance market is consolidating with fewer firms emerging as a result. A merger with Plexus has given us something no other merger could – a wired-in connection to a multi-disciplinary insurance services group with insurance law at its heart. It’s a great move for us and for the future.’
Tim Oliver (pictured), chief executive at Parabis and senior partner of Plexus Law, said: ‘By joining forces with Greenwoods, and on the back of our merger announced in 2011 with Everatt & Co, we have high-end specialist expertise and in-depth strength capable of running the biggest and most complex of cases.’
The move comes as Slater and Gordon announced it is to acquire national firm Simpson Millar, Liverpool outfit Goodmans Law and Taylor Vinters’ Cambridge personal injury practice. The Australian law firm became a global pioneer when it listed its shares publicly in 2007.
The Australian-listed ABS also announced plans to raise A$64m (£42m) to fund its UK expansion. The personal injury specialist already last year agreed a take-over of Russell Jones & Walker in a £53.8m deal.
The three acquisitions will add more than £20m in annual revenues to Slater and Gordon’s UK business and include offices in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham.
Taylor Vinters’ chief executive Matt Meyer commented: ‘We are in talks with Slater & Gordon but there are a number of matters to be finalised. The sale is subject to due diligence and binding acquisition agreements, but both Taylor Vinters and Slater and Gordon are committed to making this happen.
‘We believe that Slater and Gordon offers the best platform for the personal injury business to continue to grow and prosper in a very dynamic marketplace for injury claims. We are very proud that we have created a business that is attractive to a firm such as Slater and Gordon.’
The latest deals from two of the most high-profile players in the post-Legal Services Act landscape come amid a stream of ABS licences being awarded since the Act’s full implementation last year. Currently the momentum is clearly with the Tesco Law players.