Exclusive: private equity firm behind UK's first ABS on the hunt for another investment

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By Legal Futures

15 February 2012

Investment: Smedvig looks to put in £2m to £15m

The private equity firm behind the UK’s first – and so far only – alternative business structure (ABS) is beginning the hunt for another investment in the law, Legal Futures can reveal.

Smedvig Capital – which has invested around £500m since opening in 1996 – is looking for a volume practice where its money could improve both the customer experience and the firm’s own systems.

Avin Rabheru, a senior associate at Smedvig, said: “The businesses that excite us are volume players where our capital and expertise can help improve their systems.”

Smedvig has been invested in MyHomeMove for nearly seven years – MyHomeMove’s subsidiary Premier Property Lawyers, the UK’s biggest conveyancing practice, received its ABS licence from the Council for Licensed Conveyancers on 6 October last year.

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Mr Rabheru said the experience with MyHomeMov

e made it well placed to understand volume legal practices and what can be achieved. “We’d love to back another MyHomeMove in a different part of the legal market.”

Smedvig looks for “young, exciting and growing businesses” that are either market leaders or have a disruptive model, and need investment of £2m to £15m, he said. It is managing internal capital and so is able to take a “longer-term view” of its investments without the pressures some other private equity firms have to buy and sell businesses in order to raise more funds.

Mr Rabheru reckoned it would take another couple of years before most private equity firms caught onto the possibilities and then there will be a lot of activity. will “raise some profile and I suspect that over the next couple of years there will be a few funds active in this space who will seek to develop expertise in the legal sector”.

He also suggested that the conventional wisdom that private equity will steer away from more traditional partnerships will shift. The state of the economy means “funds need to consider more complex investments, where they can truly add value” and take on the task of persuading a large group of partners to accept investment.

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