Parabis plans acquisitions with private equity cash

Insurance firm Parabis Group is set to receive a £50m war chest to fund up to five acquisitions by the end of this year through an investment from private equity house Duke Street.

Duke Street and Parabis are in live discussions with at least four targets for acquisitions, including law firms aimed at the insurance market.

The private equity house hopes to announce these acquisitions – worth between £10m and £30m – by the end of 2012, with the deals centring on the provision of services to the claims management industry, including law firms.

Duke Street’s investment, which is subject to approval from the SRA, sees the private equity house provide £50m with the hope that Parabis’ managment will make between two and five acquisitions every year in the future.

A number of these will be acquisitions of LLPs, some of which are likely to be law firms.

As part of the transaction, Duke Street has provided equity upfront, with additional funding from the syndicate of banks, which includes RBS, Lloyds, Santander and Ares.

Hogan Lovells banking partner Stuart Brinkworth advised this consortium, while SJ Berwin partners Tim Wright and Ed Harris won the role acting for Duke Street (6 February 2012). Duke Street said the leveraged finance deal, the first of a law firm, involved the creation of a small pool of new financing, with Parabis already holding a certain amount of debt.

The group’s UK support services head Iain Kennedy said it was “not a highly-leveraged deal”.

It has created a new top company in control of Parabis, in which two Duke Street operating partners, Paul Lester and Bob Scott, will act as non-executive board members. The Parabis management board overseeing day-to-day running of the firm will remain unchanged (6 February 2012).

Kennedy said: “The main message is that very little is [going] to change – we’re got a great management team – you don’t want to muck around.”