Harneys sells fiduciary business to private equity giant Hillhouse

Offshore firm to reinvest “significant portion” of the sale proceeds into the law firm through creation of accelerator fund

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, where Harneys is headquartered Shutterstock

Offshore law firm Harneys announced today it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its fiduciary business to private equity giant Hillhouse for an undisclosed amount. 

Harneys said the final closing of the transaction was “subject to the completion of the separation of the fiduciary business from Harneys’ law firm business, certain business restructurings and other customary closing conditions”. 

Harneys Fiduciary is a global offshore corporate services provider that houses around 50 professionals according to its website and specialises in the provision of corporate administration, trust and fiduciary services in the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore, among others. Post sale the business will be led by existing Harneys Fiduciary CEO Ross Munro and chief commercial officer Pia Buchi.

“We are excited to partner with Hillhouse as they share our values and vision for the business,” Munro said. “Their support and long-term investment will enable us to take the business to the next level and provide us with the capital and strategic resources to fulfil our growth plans.”

For its part, Harneys said the sale would provide it with the means to invest in growing the law firm, with a focus on innovation, including the development of new products and services and investment in technology to enhance client service and delivery.

William Peake, global managing partner of Harneys said the sale would open “an exciting new chapter” for the law firm.

“After carefully reviewing our strategy as a firm, we fully believe that this step will mean we are better positioned to target growth and offer our clients more innovative services and solutions. A unique element of this decision is that a significant portion of the sale proceeds will be reinvested into the business through the creation of a Harneys Accelerator Fund. This will enable us to invest in new technologies and products, explore new markets and generally optimise our business operations.”

Asia-based Hillhouse has more than $100bn in total assets under management. Founded in 2005, the business draws its capital from institutional investors around the world, including university endowments, nonprofit foundations and pensions funds and is best known for making its fortunes investing in China’s biggest startups, among them Tencent and JD.com. The firm said in a statement that it invests in companies across the business services, healthcare, energy transition, industrials and consumer sectors. 

Hillhouse partner Sean Carney commented: “We are impressed by the leadership team led by Ross Munro who have built a leading offshore corporate services provider. We look forward to a close strategic partnership with the Harneys law firm following the closing.”

Harneys was advised by PwC Corporate Finance and Linklaters. Hillhouse declined to comment on its advisors for the matter. 

News of Harneys’ sale comes just a day after US legal services firm Consilio, which is itself owned by PE firm Stone Point Capital, announced that it was significantly expanding its enterprise legal services business with the acquisition of UK flexible legal services firm Lawyers on Demand (LOD). LOD was sold to PE firm Bowmark Capital in 2018 for an undisclosed amount. 

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