Acquisition no12 for Knights amid activity at insurance ABSs

Spencer: Range of bundled and unbundled legal services

Listed law firm Knights continued its consolidation play yesterday by announcing a £5.3m deal to buy Surrey firm Mundays, its 12th acquisition since going public less than three years ago.

Mundays strengthens Knights’ presence in the South-East, which it entered a year ago after buying ASB Law, based in Crawley and Maidstone.

Based in Weybridge, Mundays is a full-service firm with 34 fee-earners. Its unaudited accounts for the year to 31 July 2020 put revenue at £7.9m and it is budgeting revenue of £6.9m in the current year, with a corporatised profit margin of 6% in both years.

Knights said it expected to increase this to 18% “following full integration and realisation of all synergies”.

The six equity partners will receive an initial consideration of £3.9m, made up of £2.7m in cash and £1.2m in shares, along with deferred cash consideration of £1.4m to be paid in instalments over two years.

Knights chief executive David Beech said: “The acquisition of Mundays further builds our position in the South East, providing a strong platform from which to recruit talented lawyers that no longer wish to commute into London, as we continue to grow our national presence.”

Neale Andrews, Mundays’ managing partner, said: “Having built a strong and diverse client base over recent years, we look forward to being part of a larger group with the resources to execute on ambitious growth plans, offering exciting career opportunities to our team.”

Legal Futures analysis showed that Knights was the only listed law firm to defy the Covid gloom and end 2020 with its share price higher (at 393.5p) than where it began. It has since continued to rise and closed yesterday up 2% at 442p.

Meanwhile, Jason Spencer, who heads the alternative business structure (ABS) owned by global insurance services firm Crawford & Company, has been named the global head of Crawford Legal Services.

Crawford describes itself as the world’s largest publicly listed independent provider of claims management and outsourcing solutions to carriers, brokers and corporates.

Mr Spencer is now responsible for operational delivery, strategy and growth within the legal sector, “leading Crawford’s efforts to deliver bundled and unbundled legal services for Crawford’s clients on a global scale”, the company said.

Joseph Blanco, Crawford president, said: “As Crawford looks to reimagine and declutter both the insurance and legal ecosystems, I am certain that Jason will create value for our clients by cultivating Crawford’s legal service offerings around the world in support of our purpose to restore and enhance lives, businesses and communities.”

Mr Spencer joined Crawford in 2016 from defendant firm Horwich Farrelly to set up Crawford Legal Services.

Last year, it unveiled significant expansion, adding offices in Leeds and Birmingham to its existing presence in Liverpool and Manchester, where it had 40 staff, while Mr Spencer was instrumental in Crawford’s acquisition of leading defendant practice HBA Group in Australia, and then Crawford Carvallo in Chile.

The company said he was developing Crawford’s legal capability in a number of other territories.

Mr Spencer said: “The opportunity exists for a connected local and global legal service offering. Crawford is already a leader in many of the existing and targeted growth territories, and legal services share the same sales channels and market entry points as the wider Crawford business.

“Offering a range of bundled and unbundled legal services forms a significant part of our diversification strategy and supports our goal to be the embedded partner of choice for our clients.”

Also in the defendant insurance market, the company that owns leading law firm Keoghs has been bought by international investment firm BC Partners, which has taken a majority stake.

Davies only itself acquired Keoghs last year, buying out its minority private equity investor, LDC.

Keoghs is the legal arm of Davies, which delivers a wide range of professional services and technology solutions to the insurance market. Davies employs over 4,000 people supporting more than 800 clients around the world.

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