MAPD starts acquisition push with North-West law firm

Brian Cullen and Joanna Kingston-Davies

The MAPD Group – a business bringing together local law firms – has made the first in what it says will be a series of acquisitions this year by taking a majority stake in North-West firm Bermans.

MAPD – which stands for Making A Positive Difference – has bought 75% of the business from its owners. One of the reasons the Bermans partners have retained 25% is to ensure that its people can continue to access ownership.

The group was created in 2020 following a management buy-out funded by Shard Credit Partners of the Jackson Lees Group, made up of North-West firms Jackson Lees and Broudie Jackson Canter.

Last year, it bought Stoke-based Myers & Co in the first stage of its buy-and-build strategy.

Bermans, which has offices in Liverpool and Manchester, has 70 staff. The aim is to grow the firm – which will retain its brand and all of its people, in line with MAPD’s philosophy – by at least 25% in the next three years.

It has a broad, largely commercial law practice with a particular specialism in asset and invoice finance.

MAPD will have a turnover of around £24m following the addition of Bermans, an £8m turnover business.

With continued backing from Shard, MAPD owners Brian Cullen and Joanna Kingston-Davies – respectively CEO and COO and new members of the Bermans board– said they were currently in talks with a number of other firms about similar deals as they looked to expand nationwide.

Like Bermans, they said the law firms fitted the MAPD model of successful practices looking for enhanced operational and financial support to propel their businesses forward.

Mr Cullen said: “MAPD is a people-first business and we knew from our first meeting with the partners that Bermans’ culture would fit ours– the initial discussions focused entirely on how to grow the business and the people within it, with no talk about finances. It also adds heavyweight corporate and commercial expertise to the group.

“We see great opportunities for strong regional law firms that need the rocket fuel we can provide to take them to the next level.

“We believe in sustainable growth, which means investing in people, delivering great client service, providing high-quality advice and ensuring a fair profit. Bermans has all the ingredients we look for and will make for a great addition to MAPD.”

Fergal O’Cleirigh, Bermans’ senior partner, says the deal returned value to the firm’s shareholders while preserving its identity and culture. “In looking to the future, the partners agreed that securing investment was the way to fuel the next period of growth.

“MAPD is the perfect partner. Its operational expertise and financial backing, allied to a deep commitment to culture and staff, will help us achieve our ambitions for Bermans.”

Shard Credit Partners provided Mr Cullen and Ms Kingston-Davies with a £20m unitranche loan facility to advance their plans and more than half of it has been committed on the acquisitions made to date.

Kish Patel, associate at Shard, said: “Everything we’ve seen to date has justified our belief in MAPD’s buy-and-build acquisition strategy to create a significant legal services group nationwide.

“Law is an extremely fragmented market and there are some excellent firms out there that just need the skilled support MAPD can provide to grow their share of it significantly.”

Bermans’ recent work includes Known Origin’s sale of its non-fungible token marketplace to eBay, EHE Capital’s investment in Peppercorn AI, and the sale of the national car rental company Easirent to Leasys SPA.

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