Legal Business Blogs

Hill Dickinson cites focus on growth areas as it ships off insurance business to Keoghs

National insurance and shipping specialist Hill Dickinson has completed the sale of part of its insurance business group to fellow LB100 firm Keoghs.

The sale involves the transfer of 17 partners and 311 staff, giving Keoghs a new presence in Liverpool, where it will sublet premises from Hill Dickinson, as well as adding staff to its offices in London and Manchester. No sale price was disclosed for the deal, which excludes Hill Dickinson’s marine insurance and clinical negligence work.

Both North West-based firms confirmed they had held ‘high-level preliminary discussions’ in August last year, on what was said to be the potential transfer of £23m worth of business. Yesterday’s (12 February) completion of the deal was the third and final phase of the sale process.

In a statement, Hill Dickinson said the sale allowed the firm to focus on strategic areas of growth in its core business areas of health, marine and commercial. Chief operating officer Iain Johnston told Legal Business in August it had become clear the firm needed to find a new home for some of its insurance business as a number of other parts grew very quickly.

The sale follows a challenging few financial years for Hill Dickinson, and the loss of a 24-strong casualty claims team to Kennedys last March. Turnover at the Liverpool-based firm fell 1% to £101.7m in the year to 30 April 2017, continuing a trend which has seen revenue drop 8% since 2011/12.

The firm’s most recent LLP accounts, released to Companies House earlier this month, show the highest-paid member received £367,000, up from £350,000, as member numbers fell from 143 to 138. Key management personnel were paid £3.8m, down from £4.2m.

A business review in the accounts said strong growth in the business services and health business groups was offset by falls in turnover in legal services to the insurance industry and challenging market conditions for legal services in the global shipping markets.