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DWF makes first post-IPO splash with £3m Warsaw office acquisition

DWF is expanding into Poland with the £3m acquisition of K&L Gates’ 11-partner Warsaw office, its first investment since going public in March.

The move, expected to complete later this month, will see 45 lawyers and 31 support staff join DWF alongside the 11 partners in the firm’s first Poland office and seventh in continental Europe. K&L Gates Warsaw managing partner Michal Pawlowski will lead the office, which is expected to generate about £7m in revenue for the year to 30 April 2020.

It is DWF’s first acquisition post-IPO, when the firm rose £95m for a market cap of £366m, below the lower end of expectations. Of the capital raise, £19m was for repaying a portion of members’ capital contributions to DWF, up to £10m for investing in IT and the development of its managed services platform, with the remainder for general corporate purposes, working capital and to fund any future potential acquisitions.

DWF chief executive Andrew Leaitherland commented: ‘This move will strengthen DWF’s capabilities in our global sectors of financial services and real estate, among others, and provides further opportunities in technology and energy where our businesses have strong alignment.’

He added: ‘Poland has a strong and dynamic economy and is an important gateway to central, eastern and south-eastern Europe as a whole. Having a presence there delivers on our international strategy to be where our clients need us to be.’

A K&L Gates spokesperson said: ‘After a careful and thorough assessment of our clients’ needs against the backdrop of economic and related trends, current and future opportunities and factors in the market, and the great strength of the firm’s other offerings in Europe in particular and elsewhere, K&L Gates previously determined that it was in the best interest of the firm to separate from the practice based in Warsaw. The Warsaw-based lawyers are now in the process of joining with another firm and we are working with them on an amicable termination of our remaining relationship.’

DWF’s other European offices include Brussels, Paris, Milan, as well as three in Germany. The Warsaw office will take the firm’s overall headcount to more than 3,200 across 28 offices in four continents.

The firm put considerable investment into the IPO and is expected to make a number of post-listing acquisitions. In December, the firm hired former Lucozade Ribena Suntory GC Mollie Stoker as company secretary, following securing in October an exclusive relationship with $81m-revenue US firm Wood Smith Henning & Berman, as well as the hire of one of the architects behind Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Manchester legal services hub, Anup Kollanethu.