Gateley bids to win over institutional investors


Ward: stony faced investors

Ward: stony faced investors

National law firm Gateley has already made presentations to 30 investment funds and has to convince them that it has learned the lessons of other professional services firms that have listed, the firm’s chief executive has told Legal Futures.

Speaking in the wake of the firm’s announcement that it intends to list on AIM, Michael Ward said he had another 25-30 presentations to make as it sought to attract institutional investors.

He described them as “a stony faced bunch”, making it difficult to tell how enthusiastic they were to invest in the first law firm to go public in the UK, but that a key issue was that “the people who have gone before in professional services businesses haven’t done so well”.

Mr Ward said Gateley had looked at these forerunners “and addressed all the issues” they raised.

He added that the firm had decided early on that seeking private equity was not the route to raise the money it intends to apply to diversifying its offering and revenue streams.

Such money was expensive, he explained, “comes with demands on investment horizons and returns” and does not provide the management with the same freedom as listing would.

Further, having been an LLP for a decade, Gateley was used to the greater demands of transparency that listing will impose, while clients have been expecting the firm “to operate to the highest corporate governance anyway”.

The firm told the stock exchange that it would look to buy law firms “which offer geographical expansion or specialist services”, and other businesses “offering complementary professional and other business services”.

Nick Smith, the head of Gateley’s London corporate team and also now its head of acquisitions, emphasised that it was not looking to become a multi-disciplinary practice. It would look to buy the likes of town and country planning, environmental or regulatory compliance consultancies, rather than accountancy or finance businesses. “You will still recognise us as a legal services business,” he said.

Mr Ward would not speculate on whether others would follow Gateley’s lead, but said he was “not short of e-mails from heads of other law firms asking to take me to lunch”.

He added that Gateley will be looking to sell its new-found expertise to other firms that want to list. “We’ve been working on it for a year and have built up a huge amount of intellectual property… Where’s there IP, there’s an opportunity.”




Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Reports

No larger firm can ignore the demands of innovation – that was the clear message from our most recent roundtable: “The law firm of the future”, sponsored by LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions. It comes in many forms, predominantly but not just technology, and is not simply a case of automating process. Expertise and process are not mutually exclusive.

Blog

18 October 2018

Further tips to improve email conveyancing quotes

Personalising an email quote and ensuring your first contact with the customer is decisive and positive is very important in converting enquiries. Similarly, refusing to give a verbal quote can make your firm seem unprofessional.

Read More