Listed top 50 UK law firm Gateley has acquired Belfast-based reputation management and media law boutique Paul Tweed for £2m.
The practice, which is led by top media lawyer Paul Tweed and also has offices in Dublin and London, will trade under the name Gateley Tweed.
The deal marks Gateley’s eighth acquisition – and its second of a law firm - since it became the first law firm to list on London’s AIM exchange in 2015.
The former senior partner of leading Northern Ireland firm Johnsons Solicitors, Tweed set up the boutique in 2017 with the aim of advising companies, governments and individuals on reputational, privacy and data protection issues.
His celebrity clients have included Britney Spears, Liam Neeson, Nicholas Cage and Jennifer Lopez.
The team at Gateley Tweed also includes partner Selena Kerins and senior solicitors Peter McGrath and Emma Jane McSteen.
Gateley said the deal, which is being funded by a 50/50 split of cash and shares, would provide it with a platform to grow in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and provide cross-selling opportunities to its existing and future client base, adding weight to its existing dispute resolution capability.
Chief executive Mark Ward said: “We have considered expanding into the Irish market for some time and Tweed strengthens our presence in the Irish professional services market. We see this move as a springboard for developing a strong legal services offering in Ireland...”
Since its IPO, the firm has grown from 600 to more than 1,000 employees with fees increasing by 70% to £102.5m for the 2018/19 financial year.
Until now most of its acquisitions have focused on non-legal services, the firm having acquired chartered surveyor, tax consultant and occupational psychologist businesses.
However, its highest-value acquisition was that of Guildford-based property firm GCL Solicitors, which it bought for £4.15 million in May 2018.
In its interim results presentation last October, the firm said it had a strong acquisition pipeline and had held multiple discussions with prospects across all five of its groups.
The deal comes in the wake of a busy period for fellow top 50 listed law firm DWF, which acquired Chicago-based managed services business Mindcrest for $18.5m in January and Spanish law firm RCD for €50.5m in December.