Pannone takeover by Slater & Gordon hits delays as partners rebel

Slater & Gordon’s planned takeover of Pannone has hit delays with the firm forced to allay individual concerns before any acquisition can go ahead.

Well-placed sources said Pannone was in deadlock over the future of the firm, putting the completion of the deal in jeopardy.

Last month sources indicated that more than 75 per cent of partners had voted in favour of the deal (26 September 2013) but that at least one full-equity partner remained in negotiations over the transfer to Slater & Gordon.

It is now believed that several partners in cross-over areas, such as employment, compliance and dispute resolution, which are included in the Slater & Gordon deal but do not fit with its core PI business, are particularly uncomfortable with plans to move their practices there.

Sources speculated that the individual interests of some partners was preventing a consensus from being formed about how to manage the break up of Pannone.

The Lawyer revealed in September that Slater & Gordon had targeted Pannone for takeover with an announcement expected earlier this month (20 September 2013).

Although Slater & Gordon’s primary interest is in Pannone’s clinical negligence and personal injury practice, the Australian giant was lined up to take all but the Manchester firm’s corporate practice, which is to break away under the leadership of head of dispute resolution Paul Jonson and senior partner Stephen Grant.

Pannone’s volume white-labelling arm Affinity and law firm network Connect2Law are thought to have been part of the original Slater & Gordon package, but questions remain over whether those businesses would be compatible with Slater & Gordon’s claimant portfolio.

Slater & Gordon, which is listed on the Australia Stock Exchange (ASX), refused to comment referring to its regulatory obligations to the market.

An announcement made last month notified the ASX that Slater & Gordon’s next AGM will be held in Sydney on 24 October, raising the question of whether Pannone partners will be forced to reach an agreement next week.

Pannone also declined to comment.