Grech: strong pipeline of opportunities

Slater & Gordon (S&G) today announced the acquisition of a well-known northern legal practice – but not the one everyone was expecting.

The alternative business structure told its annual general meeting in Australia today that it is to acquire John Pickering & Partners, a leading chest and asbestos disease law firm.

There was no mention of the talks to buy the consumer practice of Pannone, however, or of the negotiations with Simpson Millar, which were put on ice in the summer.

Established in 1979, John Pickering & Partners has eight partners and 30 staff, with offices in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Halifax. Its full-year revenues are approximately £3m. The transaction, S&G’s fourth this year, is scheduled to complete on 27 November.

S&G managing director Andrew Grech said: “The transaction delivers us on-the-ground expertise in a key area of personal injury work and adds to our geographic footprint in the UK, particularly in the Leeds region.”

Paul Glanville, managing partner of John Pickering & Partners, said: “Our organisations have much in common, both having forged reputations in fighting for justice for asbestos victims. At a time when government reforms and the insurance industry are putting greater pressure on asbestos disease victims, we feel that by combining our strengths, we will be able to ensure that we offer the best representation for our clients.”

Mr Grech said the acquisitions – with Fentons, Goodmans and the PI practice of Taylor Vinters also taken into account – are expected to deliver annual revenues of £38m – “fast approaching our existing UK revenue base and well on our way to achieving our goal of becoming the leading provider of consumer legal services in the UK”.

He told shareholders that the pipeline of acquisition opportunities in the UK “remains strong”.

Mr Grech said that the firm’s 2013 results – with group revenues up 37% to £177m, and EBITDA margin of 24.5% – “provide confirmation that our strategic rationale is sound in both Australia and the UK”. The UK business delivered £42m in 2013, with an EBITDA margin of 20.5%.

For the 2014 financial year, it is expecting £48m in revenue from this part of the business.

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