NAHL increases profile in conveyancing sector by buying search business
Atkinson: opportunities to grow market share
NAHL Group – the listed business that owns National Accident Helpline – has grown its footprint in the conveyancing market with the acquisition of a property search company.
It is paying £2m for Searches UK, with £1.66 up front and a further £350,000 payable on or before 30 June 2016 dependent on certain conditions being met.
Searches UK has over 140 law firm and licensed conveyancer clients, and recorded profits before tax of £300,000 for its last financial year.
NAHL said the acquisition would be funded from existing cash resources “and is expected to be immediately earnings enhancing for NAHL”.
The group began diversifying away from personal injury a year ago with its purchase of Fitzalan Partners, which specialises in conveyancing lead generation.
NAHL told the stock exchange today: “Fitzalan has performed strongly since the acquisition in February 2015 and the integration of Searches will enable the business to offer its customers a comprehensive and tailored service proposition.
“Fitzalan currently uses a number of additional search providers so, over the course of the next 12 months and beyond, there will be an opportunity to put existing volume through Searches. There is also a very limited overlap between Fitzalan and Searches’ solicitor and licensed conveyancer relationship, presenting further growth opportunities for both businesses.”
NAHL chief executive Russell Atkinson said: “Searches is a high-quality business and has an excellent reputation within the conveyancing industry and therefore we are delighted that Andrew [Stenning, the company’s founder] and his team are joining the group.
“As we have stated previously, the conveyancing sector remains highly fragmented with significant opportunities to grow market share. The integration of Searches expands Fitzalan’s range of services to its customers and the business is ideally positioned to continue winning market share and growing both revenue and profits.”
NAHL’s share price rocketed during last year, but lost all the gain as a result of November’s government announcement of reforms to personal injury cases. This morning the share price rose 3.5% in early trading following the Searches announcement, taking the price to 230p.
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