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Gateley and Anderson Strathern gear up for ‘best friends’ arrangement

AIM-listed law firm Gateley is close to finalising a ‘best friends’ referral arrangement with Scottish Independent firm Anderson Strathern, as the merger between HBJ Gateley and Addleshaw Goddard is due to go live this week.

It is understood that both firms have been speaking since February, with Gateley also approaching a number of other firms including other Scottish independents MacRoberts, Morton Fraser and Harper Macleod.

It is likely that there will be no formal, exclusive collaboration between the two firms. The relationship, however, could lead to something more formal down the line.

One partner at Anderson Strathern told Legal Business: ‘If we have this relationship and our partners get to know each other, our clients enjoy this, our staff get something out of this – then I would have thought you would tend to consolidate your relationship.’

‘Whether that would be a merger, it is not on the cards as far as we’re concerned. It might be something that they would be interested in – but we would have to change our strategy. We reviewed it recently and we are very happy to remain independent and Scottish.’

Speaking to Legal Business, Michael Ward, chief executive of Gateley would not confirm or deny that the firm was planning to enter into a ‘best friends’ relationship with Anderson Strathern, but said the firm was planning to make an announcement soon.

‘As you know we are looking for a partner in Scotland when our arrangements with HBJ Gateley come to an end, which is the end of the month. We are not at this point in a position to announce anything. But we hope to be in a position to do that relatively shortly.’

Ward also added that the preferred outcome would be similar or more embedded than the firm’s relationship with HBJ Gateley ‘if that was comfortable to the other party’.

‘It might happen over a number of years rather than immediately. We could consider that. Nothing is off the table and nothing is on. We are keeping an open mind.’

Legal Business revealed earlier this month that Gateley was making approaches to a number of firms regarding a new Scottish tie-up.

Last week, Legal Business reported that Gateley had seen turnover soar 15% for the financial year ending 30 April 2017, from £67m in 2016 to £77m. In addition, adjusted EBITDA also saw double digit growth, increasing 14% from £12.9m to £14.7m.

In a trading update, the firm said that the integration of acquired complementary businesses, including tax adviser Capitus, the continued investment in new staff and the development of the firm’s newly opened Reading office, were positive focus points for the firm during the year.