Aussie firms to target private equity investment

A group of six small Australian firms are set to merge and sell the united entity to private equity investors.

The proposal is another example of Australian ingenuity within the legal profession, and follows attempts by three Western Australia firms to merge and list on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

The merged entity, to be known as DJC Lawyers, will include suburban firms from Sydney, Melbourne and regional areas and will boast a total staff of about 350 and revenues of up to A$50m (£20m).

The idea is the brainchild of former Minter Ellison chief executive Phil Clark and former PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal CEO John Churchill. The aim of the group is to grow its revenues to A$150m (£60m) through acquisitions of regional and suburban firms before selling out to private equity investors.

Recent changes in state laws in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia allow for non-lawyers to own law firms, paving the way for a listing or a private equity buy-out.

The idea is at the forefront of leading minds in Australia’s legal profession. The Lawyer this week carried an Australasia Special Report penned by Minter Ellison’s current chief executive Guy Templeton and London managing partner Rob Hanley on the potential of the legislation changes.

Perth-based Integrated Legal Holdings (ILH) had an aborted attempt to list on the ASX earlier this year after the Australian Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the proposal.

ILH is, however, expected to present an amended prospectus shortly with a view to listing on the ASX before the end of June.