One of the pioneers of the alternative business structure regime has confirmed its intention to float on the stock market - the fifth Englsh law firm to do so in its own right.
National firm Knights is expected to begin trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange at the end of this month. Details have yet to be revealed how much of the business will be placed and what valuation will be made.
The practice, which will have around 400 fee earners once the purchase of Manchester firm Turner Parkinson LLP is completed upon admission, says it wants the financial leverage to recruit more than 200 extra fee earners and make three further acquisitions.
Part of the proceeds from the IPO will go to pay down the majority of the group’s existing debt, for general working capital and for what are described as ‘corporate purposes’. The extra funds will assist the acquisition strategy, while the public listing is also envisaged to enhance Knights’ profile and make it more attractive to future lateral hires.
David Beech, chief executive, said: ‘We have worked hard to build a resilient business model that is well-positioned to disrupt the UK legal sector and an AIM listing would enable us to continue with this journey, building on the strong momentum we have generated in recent years to become one of the UK’s leading regional law firms.’
The firm is more than 200 years old but came to wider prominence in 2012 as one of the first converters to ABS status and then attracting investment from the James Caan investment vehicle Hamilton Bradshaw. The private equity investor is no longer involved in the business.
In the year ending 30 April Knights reported revenues of £34.9m, with an operating profit of £6.8m. The firm has around 7,500 clients including Aldi, Paddy Power and Rolls Royce.
Beech said the changing nature of the legal profession is client-driven and leaves the old partnership model redundant. He added: ‘We are well placed to benefit from the continued trend of commercial clients demanding an ever more relevant and value-based service offering.’
Last month City firm Rosenblatt became the fourth UK firm to float on the stock exchange, an option available under the Legal Services Act. Gateley, Gordon Dadds and Keystone Law have all made the same decision in the past three years.