Legal Business Blogs

Private equity bidder closes in on Axiom break-off as sponsors continue New Law push

The private equity push into New Law looks to be gathering momentum with Axiom Managed Solutions (AMS) in talks to arrange a sale to MML Capital Partners.

Legal Business has learned that the sponsor had been chosen as preferred bidder after AMS was put on the market earlier this year when the wider Axiom group unveiled plans to pursue an initial public offering (IPO). Though the value of a potential acquisition is unknown, MML buyout tickets normally range from €10m to €50m.

AMS employs around 500 staff across offices in Belfast, Chicago and Wroclaw in Poland. The business has two major service lines: handling volume work for major bluechips on a managed service basis and using technology to help keep contracts updated with incoming regulatory change. It is understood that several other bidders have come forward, though MML had entered due diligence.

If the deal goes ahead it would be the latest in a long line of legal investments by private equity, with the main Axiom business, which pioneered the provision of experienced temp lawyers, itself recently shelving its IPO in favour of a sale to Permira.

Other deals have seen Axiom rival Lawyers On Demand sold in May last year to Bowmark Capital, while more recently litigation funder Vannin Capital scrapped IPO plans in favour of investment from Fortress. Another move saw leading European buyout house CVC last year make a major investment in UnitedLex, one of the largest commitments yet seen in the rapidly-growing New Law sector.

AMS had initially been part of the wider Axiom business before being spun off as part of a tripartite split in February after Axiom submitted a draft registration document for an IPO. The split also saw Axiom’s enterprise contract intelligence arm Knowable become a separate company.

At the time of the spin-off some industry observers felt the AMS business would be considered a hindrance in a float, with the core contract lawyering side of the business being a clearer story for public markets. The splitting of AMS from the main Axiom business also reflected the different dynamics between the businesses, according to Axiom’s senior vice president David Pierce.

AMS declined to comment. MML was approached for comment.