Leading merger broker enters the law after striking deal with ABS consultancy


Holmes: private equity has been relatively cautious

A leading merger broker has entered the legal market after joining forces with specialist advisory firm Invest in Law, Legal Futures can reveal.

Langcliffe Merger Connect (LMC), which spun out of accountancy firm RSM Tenon last year, said it wanted to capitalise on the increasing M&A activity in the sector.

LMC claims to have the country’s most comprehensive database of companies for sale with revenues of £1m to £20m.

Invest in Law was set up two years ago by solicitor Ben Holmes in a bid to connect law firms with private equity houses. However, he said the biggest surprise over that time was “not the level of M&A activity, but the identity of the buyers”.

He said private equity firms have been “relatively cautious” in getting into the legal sector, with some well-publicised exceptions. “The buyers have tended to be other law firms, so the requirement to form an ABS has been less pressing.”

Mr Holmes said the impending civil justice reforms made personal injury the busiest sector for mergers. While a lot of firms are looking to get out, and there are a lot more sellers than buyers, “it doesn’t mean they have think about a firesale,” he said, with other firms keen to buy so as to build up volume.

He predicted that private equity interest will grow, especially once the “dust has settled in the personal injury sector”, with wills and probate attracting interest because of the fragmented nature of the market, together with the volume and profitability of the work available.

Mr Holmes claimed that the combination of LMC and Invest in Law would create “the UK’s premier deal origination specialist in the legal sector”.

He explained: “We’ve put together the most comprehensive list of law firms for sale in the country, so that we are the first point of contact for anyone wanting to acquire a law firm. We receive our fees from the buyer’s end, who pay to use our service, which ensures we are only introducing parties who are serious about their acquisition strategy.”

The law firms for sale are listed anonymously and for free on Invest in Law’s website, and only once both parties are comfortable, are names provided under non-disclosure agreements.

LMC managing director Mark Eardley said: “I have been looking at the legal sector for some time, and saw that it was ripe for consolidation. We have unrivalled access to vendor advisors, particularly accountancy firms and corporate finance boutiques, providing us with details of their disposal mandates. In Ben Holmes we have found the perfect partner.”

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