Private equity giant in talks to buy DWF for £342m

DWF: Celebrations at the stock exchange on the day of admission

DWF – the only law firm listed on the main London Stock Exchange – is in talks with a leading private equity company over a possible buyout that values it at £342m.

Inflexion Private Equity Partners already owns O’Neill Patient, one of the country’s largest conveyancing firms.

The terms of the deal would see DWF shareholders paid 100p a share – the company has 342m shares in issue. The share price started the day on 65.5p and shot up to 88p at the time of writing.

DWF listed in March 2019 and ended that year with its share price barely changed at 123p. It closed 2020 down at 81.5p, 2021 at 114p but fell back to 80.4p in 2022, down 29%.

This is despite DWF reporting good results and continuing to its acquisition strategy, most recently spending £28m on a leading Canadian law firm.

In a recent trading statement, DWF said it expected its results to 30 April 2023 to show net revenue of around £380m, up more than 8% on the year before.

The proposal includes two additional options for shareholders: to elect to receive 65% of the consideration due as loan notes and/or preference shares, and the rest in cash; or to receive the cash and immediately reinvest 40% of it into loan notes or preference shares.

DWF said that, should an offer be made on the current terms, “it would be minded to unanimously recommend it to DWF shareholders”.

Under stock exchange rules, Infexion has until 7 August to decide on whether to make an offer.

Inflexion has a broad portfolio of mid-market investments that includes legal publisher Chambers & Partners. It is also a former investor in National Accident Helpline. In all it has backed over 100 companies since launching in 1999 and has £8bn of assets under management.

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