Gateley looks to outsiders in bid to bolster firm ahead of London IPO

 
Michael Bow
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Gateley has a number of well known clients including football club West Ham United
A corporate law firm tracing its roots back to the industrial revolution hopes to gain “first mover advantage” by becoming the first legal outfit in Britain to list on the stock market.
Gateley, which was founded more than 200 years ago in Birmingham, is hoping to transform its corporate structure from a limited liability partnership (LLP) into a publicly listed company (PLC) by floating shares on the junior stock market.
All 81 partners will become salaried employees of the group under the change and will own shares worth 50.1 per cent in the new company.
Gateley chief executive Michael Ward said opportunities to acquire new businesses and offer employees share options in the group to aid staff retention were “most accessible as a PLC structure”.
Investment banks made a similar move in the late 1990’s when they moved from partnership structures to PLCs in a bid to retain staff by offering them lucrative share schemes.
Gateley, which has six offices across the UK as well as one in Dubai, has about 340 solicitors and 380 fee earners in total across the business.
It employs over 600 people in all, with Birmingham its biggest office.
The group, which lays claims to a compound annual growth rate of 14.5 per cent over the past decade is hoping to lure investors with the promise of a dividend payout equivalent to up to 70 per cent of adjusted profits.
Last year the group reported revenues of £54.6m, up from £51.4m in 2013. Adjusted profit before tax was £7.4m, rising from £5.1m in the prior period.
Australian company Slater & Gordon is the only other law firm in the world to list on a stock market.
It saw revenues leap from A$50m before its initial public offering to A$418.5m last year, underlining the lure for many law firms to move to a listed structure.
Cantor Fitzgerald is financial adviser on the deal.

BEHIND THE DEAL

MARK PERCY CANTOR FITZGERALD
1 Percy joined Seymour Pierce in 1997 and advised on a number of corporate deals before moving to Cantor in 2013 after the Seymour Pierce acquisition
2 He is also advising on the forthcoming IPO of Stride Gaming and also advised on the reverse takeover by Hangar 8 of Gama Aviation in January
3 Percy is currently managing director of corporate finance at Cantor. He started his career training as an accountant at PwC
Also advising...
Cantor Fitzgerald Europe is acting as nominated adviser and broker to Gateley. Cantor’s David Foreman and Michael Reynolds are also working on the deal.

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