Fast-growing firm DWF is set to list on the London stock exchange later this year with a valuation of up to £1 billion, according to a report in The Times. The flotation would be the largest in the legal world and the first for a big law firm since Slater & Gordon listed on the Australian stock exchange in 2007.
DWF has expanded rapidly in the past 18 months, opening offices in Istanbul, Qatar and Newcastle in southeast Australia so far this year. Last year it opened six offices in Berlin, Brisbane, Melbourne, Milan, Paris and Singapore. The firm has 3,000 employees and advises Marks & Spencer, Uber and Barclays. The Times says a listing could result in a multimillion-pound windfall for some members of the firm’s senior management, a small number of whom could be handed about £10 million of shares, making them among the best-rewarded lawyers in the City. In the past 12 years DWF has grown from a small Manchester firm with a £34 million turnover to an international law practice with 30 offices, including 11 in the UK. Last year its revenues were £201 million.
In a statement today, the firm says a flotation would ‘enable us to deliver on our strategy and for us to better serve our clients through an increasingly international and differentiated offering, we have plans to increase our investment in information technology and Connected Services. The current corporate structure of our business continues to work very well and has enabled us to deliver our key business objectives with record growth this year - but as a business which is committed to “doings things differently” it is also important to consider alternative structures which can set us apart from other legal businesses. To that end, we have been considering a number of strategic options for our business, including the possibility of an IPO on the London Stock Exchange.
A big if?
The firm concluded its statement, ‘If we were to proceed with an IPO, we believe that it would enable us to achieve our strategic objectives more quickly, while also enhancing our ability to attract and retain the best talent and to incentivise our people by aligning them through offering ownership within the business. We are focused on an IPO, however, a number of options are available to us, and we can still continue to build on our success to date, with the support of our clients, under our current structure. For the time being, it is very much business as usual for us, our clients and our business partners as we continue to focus on delivering the excellent service which our clients have come to expect of us.