Slater & Gordon breaks silence over Pannone takeover

Australian listed firm Slater & Gordon has confirmed that it is in tie-up talks with Pannone following months of silence from the firm about the top-level discussions.

In an announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) earlier today the firm said: “Slater & Gordon confirms that, consistent with our previously communicated strategy of actively pursuing expansion opportunities in the UK consumer legal services market and in light of recent speculation in the UK media, Pannone LLP is a firm with which we are discussing a potential transaction.”

The Lawyer revealed in September that the two firms were in talks with due diligence underway at Pannone in preparation for the sell off of its private client business to Slater & Gordon (20 September 2013).

Pannone partners are understood to have voted in favour of the proposed sell-off in late September (26 September 2013), but neither firm had commented publicly about the move.

Today’s announcement added: “We will continue to keep the market informed, however at present there is no material development to disclose in relation to a potential transaction with Pannone LLP. We anticipate that discussions with a number of firms including Pannone LLP will continue over the next several weeks.”

Sources close to Pannone suggest that the discussions have been fraught with tension as partners wrangle over the details (21 October 2013). There are  particular concerns about who will transfer to Slaters and who will remain at Pannone, which is expected to rebuild itself as a corporate boutique led by senior partner Steven Grant and dispute resolution head Paul Jonson.

An email circulated to partners last Thursday (7 November) said that the vote, originally scheduled for tomorrow (12 November), had been postponed for a week, leading to an anticipated completion date of the 25 November (11 November 2013).

Slater & Gordon has steadily built up its UK arm since first entering the market through the acquisition of Russell Jones & Walker in January 2012 (30 January 2012). The firm’s latest acquisition of personal injury firm Fentons, was unveiled in August as the firm revealed turnover of £45.6m for the UK branch of the Australian firm (21 August 2013).

In May the firm revealed planned acquisitions of Simpson Millar, Goodmans Law and the personal injury practice of Taylor Vinters  (7 May 2013). Deals with Taylor Vinters (19 August 2013) and Goodmans (30 August 2013) completed in August adding annualised revenues of £3.9m and £3.4m respectively.

Discussions with Simpson Millar have been deferred until early next year.

For more on this read our blog: Another Mancunian merger for Slater & Gordon?