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Further PI shake up appears imminent as Pannone votes on Slater & Gordon part acquisition

Acquisitive Slater & Gordon looks set to acquire the personal injury practice of Manchester-based Pannone as sources close to the firm say it will vote next week in what is tipped to be a done deal.

The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) listed firm, which last month announced its acquisition of Manchester-based personal injury firm Fentons, is understood to have been in talks with Pannone for several months.

Given that the firm’s personal injury practice is thought to make up for around 60% of the firm’s revenues, this move could lead to the break-up of the firm and see its referral service, Connect2Law, and white-labelling arm, Affinity, sold off as well, although sources suggest that Slater & Gordon is not interested in any of Pannone’s commercial legal practice.

Neither Pannone nor Slater & Gordon made any attempt to deny press reports of an impending deal, defaulting to the standard non-comment statements that are routinely deployed in such scenarios.

‘It’s no secret that we have an ambition to continue to grow our business in the UK, including by acquiring firms who share our values,’ said Neil Kinsella, CEO of Slater & Gordon. As Slater & Gordon is a publically listed company, any announcements must first be made to the ASX and Kinsella added he is ‘not in a position to comment on any specific anonymous reports at this time’.

Pannone also released a statement saying: ‘We have been linked to many firms over recent years and will always look at opportunities which align with the firm’s strategic aims; however there is nothing to report on this particular rumour.’

Firms that have been linked to Pannone in the past include the now defunct Cobbetts, which the firm was thought to be in talks with regarding a merger last year.

This latest move would further consolidate Slater & Gordon’s position in the personal injury sector. Last month it was revealed that the firm is to acquire Manchester-based personal injury firm Fentons, in a deal expected to be completed by next month. This would add around 280 staff to the rapidly growing firm, which has already acquired Russell, Jones & Walker for £53.8m last year, Goodmans Law and the personal injury practice of Taylor Vinters.

One Manchester-based partner commented: ‘Due to the cost associated with running a personal injury practice, not many firms get into that line of work.’ However, Slater & Gordon last month 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.