Manchester firm Pannone has confirmed that ‘substantial parts’ of its business are to be acquired by listed Australian firm Slater & Gordon for a total of £33m.
In a statement released today, the firm said the majority of the business, including the consumer-facing teams and the real estate group, will transfer to Slater & Gordon.
A new and independent business called Pannone Corporate will be formed at the same time which will focus on commercial and corporate work for business clients.
The acquisition announcement brings to an end months of speculation about the future of Pannone, which has around 200 lawyers of which 64 are partners.
The deal involves £18.5m cash at completion and shares worth £3.5m (subject to restraints on sale for up to three years).
A further £7m cash and £4m in shares will be paid and issued over the next four years.
According to the Slater & Gordon announcement on the Australian stock exchange, Pannone’s current Manchester office will be ‘maintained initially’, with ‘brand integration’ to occur over time.
The firm forecasts annual revenue of £34.5m and the deal is proposed for completion in late February 2014.
Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech said: ‘Pannone Solicitors gives us the scale we believe is necessary to operate in the UK market.
‘Post-completion, Slater & Gordon will hold the number one or two market-share position in most consumer law practice areas. Our brand strength in the UK will continue to grow, benefiting from increasing marketing and business development capacity and the strong regional bran delivered by the acquisition.’
Pannone managing partner Emma Holt confirmed the deal sees Slater & Gordon acquire the Pannone personal injury, clinical negligence, court of protection, family, private client and trust and probate, real estate, regulatory, construction and teams from the employment and dispute resolution groups.
She said: ‘In terms of helping those who have suffered an injury, the combined business will offer a complete service with strength and depth in all areas of personal injury work.
‘It will be able to provide high-quality legal advice together with financial planning through its investment management company, Adroit, for those who receive compensation. The court of protection team will also manage the financial and personal affairs of those who have lost capacity.
'We are acknowledging the changing legal landscape which is rapidly evolving on the back of deregulation and legislative reforms and by combining our business with Slater & Gordon we will be a formidable force in the legal market.’
Pannone Corporate will be lead by managing partner Paul Jonson, who is currently head of Pannone’s dispute resolution group, and senior partner Steven Grant.
Pannone Corporate will focus on corporate and commercial work for business clients and the teams transferring to the new firm include corporate finance, commercial, debt recovery, and some parts of the employment and dispute resolution groups.
The acquisition is one of the biggest deals of its kind in the legal sector in recent years and continues Slater & Gordon's relentless growth in the consumer market.
In the past two years it has bought all or part of Russell Jones & Walker, Fentons, Taylor Vinters, Goodmans and Pickerings.