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Updated: Crunch time – Pannone partners face imminent vote on Slater & Gordon acquisition

Pannone’s ongoing discussions with Australian-listed Slater & Gordon (S&G) over the sale of its consumer services and personal injury (PI) practice are coming to a head, with an equity partnership vote originally scheduled for next Tuesday (12 November) now put back until 19 November.

Should the Manchester-based firm’s partnership approve the business sale agreement – which requires a 75% vote – the firm’s board will now meet on 25 November to exchange agreements. Until today (8 November) that date had been set at Friday 15 November.

To date the discussions have been hampered by disagreements over how to house the corporate team, which is expected to be hived off and continue to practice under the Pannone name. There are also questions over whether the 241-lawyer firm’s white label service Affinity and Connect2Law network fits with S&G’s model.

S&G is expected to take the serious injury, clinical negligence, property, and family teams, together with certain parts of the dispute resolution practice.

Now listed in the LB100 top 65 law firms, S&G, which generates an annual revenue of £45.5m, confirmed in late October that it had acquired Manchester-based clinical negligence and PI practice John Pickering & Partners.

The newly-acquired Northern firm has offices in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Halifax and annual revenue of £3m. S&G’s UK chief executive Neil Kinsella said the acquisition would see its operations in the UK grow by approximately 27 staff.

Should the Pannone deal go ahead, it will further consolidate the acquisitive S&G’s position in the personal injury sector, particularly in the Manchester region. Other recent acquisitions including Manchester personal injury firm Fentons in August, which added around 280 staff, as well as Russell, Jones & Walker for £53.8m last year, Goodmans Law and the personal injury practice of Taylor Vinters.

‘It’s giving them a chance to almost leapfrog Irwin Mitchell, and possibly make them the biggest player, and at the higher end of this market’ one regional partner commented.

Pannone declined to comment.