12 May 2015

Gateley set to become first UK listed law firm

Midlands-based law firm Gateley is the first law firm in Britain to become a public company after it appointed bankers to advise on a £140m London float.

By Des Cahill

Gateley will become the first UK law firm to list in the city of London

The firm announced its stock market flotation plans today and  will have an initial market value of about  £140 million when it floats on London's junior AIM market. Gateley is working with the capital markets advisors Cantor Fitzgerald which is advising the firm on its listing. Gateley was established in 2006 through a merger of Gateley Wareing in Birmingham and the Edinburgh firm Henderson Boyd Jackson.The firm specialises in commercial law with expertise in shipping and transport, construction and insurance. It has offices in nine British cities, including Leeds, Aberdeen, London and Manchester. In 2007 it opened for business in Dubai. The Edinburgh-based sister firm HBJ Gateley is a separate legal entity and will not be listed on the stock exchange, sources said.

Good results

Gateley has enjoyed a strong run of results in recent years and posted a profit of £20.4m for 2014, up from £17.1m the previous year. Turnover rose to £53.8m from £50.7m.The highest-paid member of the partnership received more than £570,000, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Legal Services Act

The background to the potential listing lies with the introduction of the Legal Services Act, which came into effect in October 2011. Essentially, the legislation liberalised the way legal partnerships can obtain funding, allowing third-party investors to buy equity stakes in them.Irwin Mitchell, a top 50 firm in the UK, has already outlined plans to join the stock market and in January it allegedly instructed brokers to work on a listing, according to reports. The launch is expected to take place later this year. Gateley is expected to float in the next six to eight weeks, according to City sources.

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