CPAlawyers set for riches

A GROUP of 230 lawyers who control legal outsourcing firm Computer Patent Annuities (CPA) are all set to be made millionaires, as the firm gears up for a stake sale to private equity.<br /><br />The firm, which offers intellectual property support services, is expected to sell at least a quarter of its equity in a transaction worth at least &pound;400m.<br /><br />Under such a deal the partners, who own equal chunks of the Jersey-based business, would be handed equity in the company worth &pound;1.74m each.<br /><br />Accountancy group BDO Stoy Hayward has been brought in to manage the sale, with CPA chief executivePeter Sewell eyeing a deal around Christmas.<br /><br />If the partners decide to sell more than a 25 per cent stake, the deal would net them far more, although they are expected to maintain majority control of the firm.<br /><br />Private equity players are thought to have expressed an interest in investing in the group.<br /><br />Sewell is understood to be keen to expand the group, which already claims to control around 60 per cent of the market for patent renewals around the world.<br /><br />The firm, founded by lawyers in 1969, has offices in the US, Europe, Asia and the Pacific region and employs 1,200 people, but Sewell wants to broaden its regional scope further.<br /><br />CPA in June announced it had entered into an agreement with mining giant Rio Tinto that would save the firm up to 20 per cent annually in legal costs. <br />CPA is thought to have made pre-tax profits of &pound;40m last year, but wants to double this figure.