Slater & Gordon set to acquire UK’s Fentons as revenue rises 37 per cent globally

Australian listed firm Slater & Gordon has announced a 10 per cent increase in UK turnover and the acquisition of UK personal injury practice, Fentons.

Turnover for the firm’s UK arm was A$70.5m (£46.1m) at the end of the 2012/13 financial year, which just beat the target of A$70m set in last year’s annual report and represents a 10 per cent increase on the like-for-like revenues in the previous year.

Last year was the first full year for the Australian firm in the UK, which acquired Russell Jones & Walker in January 2012 (30 January 2012).

Globally the firm saw revenue increase by 36.7 per cent from A$217.7m (£142.5m) to A$297.6m (£194.8m). Net profit rose by 67.6 per cent, from A$25m to A$41.9m at the end of the latest financial year.

The results presentation to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) said the firm would acquire personal injury firm Fentons in October this year. Last week Slater & Gordon completed its acquisition of the Cambridge-based personal injury team of Taylor Vinters (19 August 2013) and its planned merger with Goodmans is set to complete by the end of this month. However talks with Simpson Millar, first reported earlier this year (7 May 2013), have been deferred until early 2014.

London and Manchester-based Fentons will add approximately 280 staff and annualised revenue of £27.7m to the UK business. Slater & Gordon’s report to the ASX said the two firms had executed a formal business sale agreement and due diligence had been substantially completed.

Slater & Gordon is paying upfront cash of £24.25m for Fentons, together with equity of £4m and deferred conditional cash of £4.25m over two years, according to the results presentation.

The acquisitions of Taylor Vinters, Goodmans and Fentons will together add annualised revenue of £35m, or A$58.3m, to Slater & Gordon’s revenue. The firm is forecasting total group revenue of A$320m for the current financial year.

Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech said integrating the UK acquisitions would be “a significant step in building the depth of talent and business base required to achieve long term sustainable growth in the UK”.

Fentons Solicitors senior partner Kieran Maguire said: “Our organisations have much in common, both have forged reputations in fighting for justice for the victims of industrial disease, workplace accidents, and clinical negligence.”

Macfarlanes corporate partners John Dodsworth and Jessica Adam have been advising Slater & Gordon on all its UK acquisitions, including Fentons. Pinsent Masons has been acting for Fentons, with corporate partner Gregg Davison leading a team including property partner Rachel Pitman. Accountancy firm Baker Tilly is also acting for Fentons.

The firm used an average conversion rate of £1 to A$1.5281 for the 2012/13 financial year.