RJW wins SRA backing for ABS conversion

Russell Jones & Walker has been authorised by the SRA to convert to an alternative business structure (ABS) and will list on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASE) as part of its planned merger with Slater & Gordon.

Neil Kinsella
Neil Kinsella

Slater & Gordon unveiled the £53.8m takeover of RJW in January, handing over a cash consideration of £36.4m for the firm, of which £8.8m was deferred subject to performance targets and £10.3m used to repay outstanding bank debts. In addition, the Australian firm said it will issue £17.4m Slater & Gordon shares, subject to restraints on sale for four years (30 January 2012).

SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said of the SRA endorsement for the ABS conversion: “It’s a further example of the kind of innovation which ABSs are bringing to the legal services market.”

RJW will become the first domestic firm to list publicly. Chief executive Neil Kinsella told The Lawyer in February: “It’s crucial that Slater & Gordon has five years’ experience in a listed environment.

“This not only gives us a competitive advantage, but also enables us to introduce a share scheme that will be more widely available than was possible under our partnership model.” (13 February 2012).

Welcoming the move, Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech said: “This is the optimum time to enter the UK market because of the changes in ownership laws and impending changes to the personal injury sector.”

Seventy four Stage 2 ABS applications have been submitted so far, the SRA said, following initial interest from more than 200 applicants.