Alternative business structure Quindell plc has had to shelve its much-trumpeted plans for a full listing on the London Stock Exchange, the company admitted today. The news has further hit the AIM-listed company’s share price.
Alternative business structure, ABS. It is hardly a snappy name. It means nothing to the general public. It doesn’t mean much more to the business community. But, for private equity firms, it’s a chink of light – a way in to a £25bn market. So, is this a gold rush? Are we likely to see high levels of PE activity? Nick West, director of legal markets at Legal Futures Associate LexisNexis considers the possibilities.
There is in excess of £1bn of private equity money available for investment in the legal market, while at least one UK law firm will proceed to a public listing this year, one of the profession’s leading bankers, James Tsolakis of RBS, has predicted.
Large law firms should consider structures that allow them “to trade in the substantial value of their businesses”, a corporate advisory firm claimed yesterday. Europa Partners said that six of the top ten by value large enough to be included in the FTSE 100 if they were listed.
Private equity firms are showing “considerable interest” in volume legal practices, the man behind Duke Street’s acquisition of the Parabis Group has said. The head of strategic projects at Irwin Mitchell claimed that most PE firms are considering investing in the law.
Russell Jones & Walker aims to use its new access to capital to become one of the two or three players that will “dominate” the consumer legal market in the years to come, its chief executive has said.
A ‘virtual’ law firm has today become the first UK solicitors’ practice to announce its intention to seek a stock market admission so as to fund growth and attract more solicitors to the business. Everyman Legal will become an alternative business structure when it can.
The German Bar has called on its American counterpart to form an international coalition against alternative business structures. The news comes as the American Bar Association prepares to publish a proposed rule change that would allow minority non-lawyer ownership of law firms, with the New York courts set to rule on the issue too.
In the second instalment of our new Legal Pioneers series, we profile Parabis, which currently operates as a co-operative of different insurance-related regulated companies. When the Legal Services Act goes lives, however, integration of legal and non-legal functions and external investment are on the horizon.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is unlikely to start licensing alternative business structures (ABSs) until 2012, it has confirmed. The news comes as the authority spelt out the detailed level of information about investors in prospective ABSs that it will expect to see.