PEXA agrees £31m Smoove deal in bid to grow conveyancing presence

King: Building additional scale and depth in the UK

PEXA, the Australian conveyancing technology giant that last year bought a UK law firm, is set to expand significantly after agreeing a £31m deal by buy listed company Smoove.

PEXA said the acquisition would give it “a growing conveyancer presence” as it looks “to help solve the many detriments consumers and property stakeholders suffer due to the UK’s fragmented, inefficient conveyancing processes”.

Smoove confirmed yesterday that it had reached agreement with PEXA at 54p a share, a 69% premium on its share price (31.9p) from the day in April when it first announced talks, and a 23% premium on yesterday’s closing of 44p.

Smoove is made up of four elements, with the main one being eConveyancer, its conveyancing comparison platform for introducers that in the most recent financial year generated 69,662 instructions and 53,224 completions.

There is also Smoove Complete, a platform for self-employed consultant conveyancing lawyers, operating through Amity Law, which it bought in 2021; legal risk and compliance consultancy Legal Eye; and Smoove Start, a software service for estate agents that feeds into eConveyancer.

PEXA operates the leading digital property settlements platform in Australia. This facilitates the electronic lodgement and settlement of property transactions through an integrated, cloud-based platform connecting property market stakeholders.

Last year, it acquired specialist property law firm Optima Legal from Capita, having entered the UK market earlier in 2022 to support the digitisation of property transactions.

Yesterday’s stock exchange announcement said: “The PEXA board believes there is a significant opportunity for Smoove’s existing customers to benefit from PEXA’s digital property settlements platform and wider service offering, leveraging PEXA’s experience as the market leader in Australia.

“Smoove has a long-standing relationship with Lloyds Banking Group and a connection with over 75 conveyancer firms on its eConveyancer platform and circa 2,100 conveyancing firms via lender panels.

“The PEXA board believes that by integrating Smoove into PEXA, the combined group will be able to build scale and depth in the UK market accelerating the path to enhancing the home moving process.”

PEXA said Smoove would help it access the ‘cash back’ market segment not currently served by Optima Legal and, indirectly, sale and purchase conveyancing firms. It also “also presents an opportunity to cross-sell the PEXA platform to panel firms of Smoove”.

Glenn King, PEXA Group chief executive and managing director said: “Since entering the UK market, the PEXA Group has launched its first re-mortgage product, successfully brought two lenders onto the PEXA platform and acquired and progressed integration of specialist re-mortgage conveyancer, Optima Legal.

“The acquisition and integration of Smoove into the PEXA UK business will further help us address the many detriments suffered by consumers due to the UK’s fragmented, inefficient conveyancing processes.

“The acquisition will allow us to build additional scale and depth in the UK market, enabling the PEXA product suite to reach more customers, whilst streamlining and improving the UK property transaction experience.”

Smoove chairman Martin Rowland added: “Whist the board of Smoove continues to believe in Smoove’s strategy and prospects as an independent company, they believe that the combination may provide Smoove with additional scale and help accelerate its plans to materially change the home-moving experience.”

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