Gateley buys human capital consultancy + more ABS news

Shah: Advising on how to scale up

The UK’s first listed law firm, Gateley, has made another non-legal acquisition by buying a “human capital” consultancy for what could reach £3m.

London-based Kiddy & Partners specialises in assessment, talent management and leadership development.

It operates in 25 cities across five continents and numbers 80 of the FTSE Global 500 and 20 of the FTSE 100 among its clients.

Kiddy will continue to trade under its existing name, with all staff relocating to Gateley’s London office.

In the year ended 31 December 2017, Kiddy generated a profit of £213,000 on revenues of £2.4m.

Gateley told investors that it expected the acquisition to be “immediately earnings enhancing”.

It will initially pay £850,000, split equally between cash and shares, with deferred consideration of up to £2.15m based on a multiple of 4.5x EBITDA in respect of the post-completion period up to and including 30 April 2021.

Deferred consideration will also be settled 50% in cash and 50% in shares. The maximum consideration payable cannot exceed £3m.

The acquisition follows Gateley’s launch of a global mobility service last year.

“The acquisition of Kiddy significantly broadens the group’s employment and people services offering, now including legal advice and strategic consultancy across assessment, selection, management and development, both domestically and in relation to an employer’s international business strategy,” the stock exchange announcement said.

Gateley chief executive Michael Ward said: “There will be clear opportunities for us to collaborate and deliver integrated advice and services to a broader set of large-scale employers and across a wide range of industries.

“Kiddy represents our first acquisition in the human capital sector, which when put alongside global mobility and our Entrust pension trustee operation, moves our business forward, offering employers a range of legal and consultancy services as their businesses require.

“This acquisition is in line with our stated plan and follows similar progress made in our real estate group where high-value, niche, chartered surveying services now sit-alongside and complement our core legal offering.”

The firm’s previous acquisitions were of surveyors Hamer Associates and tax advisory business Capitus, while in May it made its biggest acquisition to date, and first of a law firm, with a £4.15m deal to buy Surrey property firm GCL Solicitors.

In other ABS news, leading south London law firm Capsticks – best known for its healthcare work – has been awarded a licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, to which it is the sole external adviser on regulatory matters.

A spokeswoman said: “Capsticks has always been keen to develop new models of working and managing a business. Our move to becoming an ABS is to ensure we retain and develop appropriate business skills in the partnership.

“Our former managing director, Alison Morley, who qualified as a legal executive, has great business strengths and managed the firm for over 11 years. We are obviously keen to have Alison remain in the partnership and she has a new role as director of sales and innovation and is helping the firm develop new products as well as mentoring our business development talent

“In addition, Neil Middleton, who was our former director of HR and has been our chief operating officer for over eight years, has now joined the equity partnership.

“We believe that setting up our ABS allows us to reward those who contribute significantly to the business, gives us more flexibility to manage our business efficiently and to be agile enough to take advantage of commercial opportunities that may come our way.”

Meanwhile, Bristol-based DAS Law – the law firm owned by legal expenses insurer DAS – has launched a graduate academy that comprises a fully funded three-year apprenticeship scheme for law graduates and post-graduates.

On completion of the course, the eight graduates who will be recruited will qualify as chartered legal executives with the opportunity to join one of DAS Law’s core legal departments – litigation, employment, legal advice or personal injury.

The academy will use funding from the government’s apprenticeship scheme and supersedes a previous version of the academy which was launched in 2016 and comprised a two-year course focusing solely on personal injury. Five graduates have gone through that.

Will Ellerton, head of litigation and dispute management at DAS Law, which employs over 200 people, said: “There is a huge gap in the market for talented law graduates who wish to pursue a structured training course outside the usual solicitor training contract.

“This scheme is aimed squarely at them and makes use of the government’s apprenticeship levy which is an excellent but under-used scheme within the legal industry.”

Finally Fletchers, the Southport-based ABS that specialises in serious injury and clinical negligence work, has appointed Vikas Shah MBE as a non-executive director to its board.

Mr Shah is chief executive of international textile company Swiscot Group and a venture investor in numerous businesses across the world. In 2012, he also co-founded feature film studio, 53 Degrees North.

He is a member of the UK Industrial Development Advisory Board, and received an MBE for service to business and the economy in this year’s New Year’s Honours.

Fletchers already has two non-executive directors: Professor Nigel Savage, former chief executive of the University of Law, and Paul Duncanson, a marketing and brand management expert.

Founder and chairman Rob Fletcher said: “Vikas’s extensive experience will add to the expertise of our existing board of directors as we continue to grow our business in line with our vision of becoming a profitable, sustainable, people-centric law firm.”

Mr Shah added: “I am looking forward to contributing to the ongoing success of Fletchers, particularly by consulting and advising on how to scale up and move the business to the next level.”

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