Maclays launches IT due diligence venture

Glasgow firm Maclay Murray & Spens has formed a joint marketing venture with a management consultancy to offer clients an IT due diligence package which the firm claims is unique to the British mergers market.

Under the arrangement, Maclays will offer clients acquiring new companies the services of Edinburgh-based HD Management's IT due diligence unit, which will provide technical advice on the IT systems they are acquiring. In return, HD Management will refer clients wanting legal advice to Maclays.

However, they will bill separately and there will be no fee-sharing. Maclays IP head Fiona Nicolson said the firm was more concerned to provide “added value” to clients.

The HD Management unit aims to identify possible hidden costs, such as Year 2000 and EMU compliance.

Nicolson explained that IT documentation handed over during due diligence on an acquisition often throws up technical and not just legal problems. “This venture means that we can go beyond the warranties and look at the IT systems themselves,” she said.

HD Management's managing director Hugh Craigie Halkett said research showed that 70 per cent of mergers failed to deliver the expected profits.

Halkett added: “Inadequate or non-existent forecasting of IT exposure was identified as the single most significant reason for this poor performance.”

Nicolson said that it was important for the firm to be able to offer to clients an adviser in HD Management which is “genuinely independent”. She added that many IT consultancies have close links to suppliers and might have an axe to grind.