Shares in listed law firm Ince Group fell drastically today (15 January) after the company called for an additional £16m in finance to reload its balance sheet following Gordon Dadds’ acquisition of the firm in 2018.
The placing saw shares fall almost 50% to 45p from 89p, before rising slightly to 47p. Ince sought the accelerated book build to ‘continue with its programme of partner recruitment, especially in the overseas offices to bolster and enhance their existing practices.’
Hours later the firm completed a £12m raise through the placing of approximately 27m shares, with existing and new institutional shareholders taking part. A further £4m is proposed through offers to qualifying shareholders and staff members.
Ince CEO Adrian Biles (pictured) commented: ‘This marks the completion of the Ince merger. The Ince transaction was in two parts: the UK business was acquired in December 2018; and the overseas offices joined the group in April 2019. The closer overseas integration has completed the establishment of the platform as an international brand, with a world class offering.’
Biles stressed that though the support of existing and new institutional shareholders was welcome, it came at ‘a significant discount to the market price of the company’s shares, which is an unfortunate feature of the current market conditions.’
The fundraise comes after a similar placing in January of last year, when Ince raised £10m. Similarly, shares plunged 25% from 189p to 142.5p. Later, in March, it was revealed that partners at legacy-Ince & Co ruled out a £8.5m capital injection which may have saved the beleaguered firm, according to a report from administrators Quantuma. The report went on to add that, had Ince not pursued its tie-up with Gordon Dadds, its situation would have become ‘unmanageable’.
The completion of the fundraising is conditional upon shareholder approval at a general meeting of the company, which is expected to be held on 3 February, with some of the money expected to be spent on partially reducing debts.