Knights is to acquire Sheffield practice Keebles for £11.6m, the 13th acquisition the consolidator has managed in less than three years as a listed business.
In line with Knights’ strategy of mainly targeting secondary legal locations, the deal means it will have 17 offices around the country, including four in Yorkshire.
Established over a century ago, Keebles has 138 fee-earners and reported revenue of £12.7m for the year to 30 April 2020. It expects this to fall to £12.2m for the last year.
Keebles also expects a profit before tax margin of 5% in 2021, which Knights said it expects to increase to 18% “following full integration and realisation of all synergies”.
Knights will acquire Keebles from its 10 equity partners on a debt-free, cash-free basis for £11.5m. It will pay £8.4m upfront – made up of £4.9m in cash and £3.5m in shares – with deferred £3.1m to be paid in cash over the two years following completion.
Knights chief executive David Beech described Keebles as “a business with an exceptional cultural fit and talented team of lawyers with a strong reputation across Yorkshire and beyond”.
He continued: ““Having grown our position significantly in Leeds and York, Keebles provides us entry into the important city of Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire area, allowing us to join up our presence across the region and execute our ambition to become the leading legal and professional services business outside London.”
Keebles partner Paul Trudgill added: “The culture of Knights is closely aligned to Keebles, making it the natural home for our business as we enter the next stage of our growth journey.
“Having grown to become a leading law firm in South Yorkshire, we are delighted to be joining Knights as it executes its ambitious expansion plans and look forward to thriving as part of a larger group.”
Knights’ shares are currently trading at 445p, up more than 50p on the year.