Legal Business Blogs

Consolidation continues as Manchester institution Pannone succumbs to Slater and Gordon’s advances

After months of speculation, Slater and Gordon has finally announced the acquisition of the consumer services and personal injury (PI) business of Manchester’s Pannone today (28 November) in a deal worth £33m.

Slater and Gordon will acquire the majority share of Pannone, including personal injury and serious injury, clinical negligence, court of protection, family, wills, trusts and probate, property, as well as some elements of the employment and dispute resolution practice areas.

According to a statement by Pannone: ‘A new and independent business called Pannone Corporate LLP will be formed at the same time which will focus on commercial and corporate work for business clients.’

The acquisition aims to increase Slater and Gordon’s operations in the UK by around 50% and grow headcount to over 1200.

Due diligence has been substantially completed and the transaction approved by the Slater and Gordon board and the Pannone partnership. The transaction is expected to complete in February next year.

Slater and Gordon head of UK Neil Kinsella (pictured) said: ‘This acquisition will transform us into a significantly larger firm offering a broader range of legal services and allowing us to help more clients in their fight for justice. The planned acquisition of Pannone Solicitors is a vital step in our strategy for growth, bringing us closer to our aim of becoming the UK’s leading law practice for everyday people.

‘We believe Pannone is an ideal partner for Slater and Gordon. I am particularly pleased that this transaction significantly increases our personal injury practice area, while also reinforcing our commitment across a broad range of personal legal services. Bringing together our teams will give us leading positions in many fields, including family law in Manchester, and strengthen our ability to help ordinary people across a broad range of legal areas.’

For Pannone, this takeover of the lion’s share of its business brings to an end a tough few years for the firm financially with revenues suffering as its key insurance business has been increasingly squeezed. By no means the worst performer in the Legal Business 100, the firm has nonetheless seen revenues fall 10% in the last five years from £50.8m to £45.6m.

Pannone Corporate LLP will be led by partners Paul Jonson and Steven Grant. Jonson is the head of dispute resolution and regulatory at Pannone, while Grant is currently the senior partner, former managing partner and head of corporate, at Pannone. A statement from Pannone Corporate LLP said that they will be joined by around 50 other partners and lawyers from the commercial side of Pannone’s practice and that the firm will focus on its existing client base while competing in the upper mid-market across its practice areas.

Jonson commented: ‘We are all hugely excited by this opportunity to do something different. We have the ability to offer continuity to our clients from day one with the same teams and levels of client service that our clients have been used to.”

Grant added: ‘We believe our proposition is very much in line with current market requirements and our clients will be hugely supportive of our plans. We intend to offer an attractive alternative to the traditional law firm model.’

This latest move will further consolidate Slater and Gordon’s position in the personal injury sector, particularly in the Manchester region. In October the firm completed the acquistion of Manchester-based clinical negligence and PI practice John Pickering & Partners. This is in addition to Manchester personal injury firm Fentons in August, adding around 280 staff to the rapidly growing firm, as well as Russell, Jones & Walker for £53.8m last year, Goodmans Law and the personal injury practice of Taylor Vinters.

This summer Slater and Gordon revealed a total 2012/13 revenue increase of 36.7% to A$297.6m and net profits up by 67.6% to A$41.9m.