DWF in talks over sale to private equity firm

Listed UK firm ‘minded to recommend’ offer if tabled by Chambers and Partners owner Inflexion
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DWF listed in 2019 Shutterstock

Listed UK law firm DWF has confirmed it is in talks to be acquired by private equity firm Inflexion in a buyout reportedly valued at around £342m. 

DWF said today (10 July) that it is discussing a cash offer of 100 pence per share including a special dividend with Inflexion, which includes legal directory Chambers and Partners in its extensive portfolio of mid-market businesses.

Shares in the firm rose by as much as 40% on Monday to 92 pence in morning trading, following media reports of the possible deal. 

The proposed offer includes 97 pence per share alongside a special dividend of 3 pence per share for eligible DWF shareholders that is conditional on the deal going through. DWF said that should Inflexion make a firm offer under the current financial terms it “would be minded to unanimously recommend it to DWF shareholders”. 

The firm added that its talks with Inflexion are ongoing and that “there can be no certainty that an offer will be made, even if the pre-conditions are satisfied or waived”. Inflexion is required to confirm by 7 August if it has a firm intention to make an offer for DWF, though the law firm said the deadline could be extended with the consent of the takeover panel. 

DWF grew net revenue 3.4% to £179.1m in the six months to the end of October 2022. The Manchester-based firm offers legal and business services across eight key sectors including financial services, energy and natural resources, insurance and transport. The business has 30 offices across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and North America, including in Canada after acquiring Vancouver firm Whitelaw Twining Law Corporation last year. 

Meantime, Inflexion specialises in mid-market deals and has around £8bn in assets under management, according to its website, investing between £10m and £400m per transaction. The firm has backed more than 100 companies since it was founded in 1999, and in 2018 completed the acquisition of legal rankings provider Chambers. 

Stifel and Fenchurch Advisory Partners are acting as financial advisors to DWF in its talks with Inflexion. An Inflexion spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.  

DWF became the largest listed UK law firm when it floated in 2019 with a value of £366m. It ran into difficulty during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the then chairman, Sir Nigel Knowles, took over as chief executive. Knowles instituted a major cost-cutting programme and was able to hail a “transformational year” when revenue rose by 12% in the 20/21 financial year. 

Meantime, listed UK law firm Knights announced this morning that it had grown revenue 13.1% in FY23 to £142.1m as profit before tax jumped nearly 20% to £21.6m. 

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