National consumer giant Irwin Mitchell is planning a stock market float valuing the law firm at £500m, according to press reports at the weekend.
According to Sky News, the Sheffield-based firm is working with investment bankers at Rothschild on a potential initial public offering “that could take place as soon as this year”.
It cited “City sources” saying the firm has aspirations of securing a £500m valuation.
This would make it by far the biggest law firm to float to date, outstripping DWF, the only one on the main market as opposed to AIM.
An Irwin Mitchell spokesman said: “We’ve taken no decision to introduce external investment.
“We remain in a strong position financially with our existing bank facilities offering us sufficient firepower to invest further in the growth and transformation of our business.”
Stories about Irwin Mitchell going public have been around for a decade, predating the first alternative business structure licences even being granted.
Back in 2011, The Times reported it was heading for a listing; while this obviously did not happen, the firm did appoint corporate finance advisers to review the options for raising external capital.
Irwin Mitchell’s most recent accounts, for the year to 30 April 2020, showed turnover up 2% from £245m to £250m, with profits of £24.5m, up 8%, available for distribution between its 214 partners.
It said the partners “intend to grow the key areas of the business during 2020/21 through continued investment in the Irwin Mitchell brand, organic growth, in talent and further merger and acquisition activity if opportunities allow”.
The firm’s profile rose noticeably after it was struck a deal to be the legal partner of the England Rugby and the Rugby Football Union in 2019, and last year more than 1,500 clubs were given access to its legal helpline and online legal document service.