27 Oct 2021

Ince Group acquires corporate advisory business Arden Partners for £10m

Listed firm's acquisition of Arden set to accelerate development of its corporate finance services arm

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UK listed law firm Ince is to acquire Birmingham-based corporate adviser and stockbroker Arden Partners in a deal worth approximately £10m. 

The acquisition, announced yesterday on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), is the latest to come of Ince’s ongoing efforts to expand its non-legal services division. By acquiring its own corporate advisory arm, the AIM-listed firm said it hopes to strengthen the development of its diversified professional services offering and accelerate the strategy of developing corporate finance services to current and future clients. 

Arden, which like Ince is listed on the LSE's growth market, AIM, and has counted the law firm as one of its clients since 2017, mainly offers corporate finance and advisory services for public companies. Upon completion of the deal, Arden shareholders will own approximately 21.6% of Ince’s share capital. 

Donald Brown, chief executive of Arden, said the deal is an “important strategic development” as it cements the company’s ability to provide a wider range of services and gain access to a larger client base “as a result of being part of a more diversified entity”. 

By joining up with Ince, Arden will gain access to the firm’s resources and clients across its international network, which includes 14 offices dotted across Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Ince, meanwhile, is set to benefit from Arden’s sectoral coverage across the oil and gas, renewables and healthcare industries. 

Ince chief executive Adrian Biles described the deal as one borne from client need and founded on a set of shared commercial cultural values and mutual respect between the two companies, as well as a "clear overlap" in the firms’ wide portfolios of private client work. 

“Clients in the UK and overseas are telling us that they want to streamline their advisory relationships whilst being able to access the London capital markets. This deal brings best in class professional services and investment banking together,” he added. 

The Arden deal comes just a couple months after the firm rebranded its corporate finance advisory arm, James Stocks & Co, as Ince Corporate Finance.

Ince was the second UK law firm to go public when professional services firm Gordon Dadds and shipping and litigation heavyweight Ince & Co merged to become Ince Gordon Dadds and list on the AIM in 2017, later changing its name to The Ince Group, or simply Ince. The first was Gateley, which made legal history when it listed on the AIM in 2015. 

The firm narrowly missed its revenue target for the 2019/20 financial year, the first for which it posted a full set of results for the whole Ince group, with revenue clocking in just shy of its £100m target at £98.5m. At the time, group chief executive Adrian Biles said the results were pleasing given the disruptions caused by Covid-19 and praised its “year of great progress”.  

And for the year ending 31 March, Ince saw a 4% rise in revenue to £100.2m but a 59% fall in operating profit to £3.1m, after incurring a series of ‘non-underlying’ Covid-19 related costs, including £3.2m associated with the permanent closure of one of the two floors at its London headquarters. 

It also lost its UK managing partner Mark Tantam in July when he departed the firm to pursue interests outside the legal services sector after just ten months in the role. 

 

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