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PE-backed conveyancing firm hits acquisition trail

Forshaw: Looking to acquire other firms

Leading conveyancing firm O’Neill Patient (ONP) – which was last year bought by a private equity firm – has acquired Cavendish Legal Group, the first of what it says will be “a number of acquisitions of property focused law firms”.

South-East firm Cavendish – which was created in 2012 following the merger of Cramer Pelmont with GTC solicitors – recorded profit before tax of £2.6m on a turnover of £11.4m, according to its most recent accounts, for the year to 30 April 2019.

It has around 100 staff handling residential and commercial conveyancing as well as a range of other legal services in offices in North, East and central London, as well as Epsom, Hove and Reading. It is retaining its brand name.

Last July, Inflexion bought [1] ONP, which is based in Stockport and is one of the top five conveyancing firms in the UK, and helped it immediately acquire Stoke firm Grindeys, another major player in the market.

ONP’s most recently published accounts, for 2018, showed an operating profit of £10.6m on a turnover of £31m.

The deal is the latest sign of how private equity is consolidating the conveyancing market. Last year, Palamon Capital Partners acquired My Home Move [2] to create by far the largest conveyancing business in the country in combination with its existing investment, the Simplify Group.

In announcing its deal, ONP stressed how its “state-of-the-art technology” made it “amongst the most efficient conveyancers in the industry, providing innovation, speed and the highest quality service”.

In a statement, it said: “This technology, together with the robust management team at ONP, will accelerate the growth that Cavendish has experienced every year for the past seven years.”

Adam Forshaw, managing director of ONP, said: “Cavendish Legal makes a great addition to our group and provides clients with increased choice and a larger reach across the UK. Cavendish has a strong group of partners and is well known for its premium service.

“Our joint management teams will be looking to accelerate the growth of Cavendish Legal; we will also look to acquire other legal firms that could add value to our group.”

Last week, we reported that Inflexion has taken a minority stake [3] in solicitor-owned legal technology company Lavatech Ltd, developer of the inCase platform, of which ONP is set to become the biggest user.