Knights becomes first UK professional services firm to establish debt advisory business

AIM-listed firm's latest move follows string of acquisitions made in the first half of the year
Picture of David Beech

Knights CEO David Beech Image courtesy of Knights

UK legal and professional services firm Knights has launched a debt advisory business in response to mounting demand for debt advice.  

The AIM-listed firm, which claims to be the first legal services business in the UK to establish a debt advisory arm, said its team of specialist debt advisers, which consists of corporate bankers as well as lawyers, act independently from lenders to offer clients a proposition whereby they can receive both debt and legal advice from one business.

The team will also include Tony Dean, who is joining the firm in Manchester as a debt advisory partner after five years as director of Santander’s UK operations, and Jonathan Edwards, a veteran banking lawyer and former head of banking at DWF who joined Knights as a partner from Browne Jacobson in May.

“With the increasing presence of challenger banks and debt funds with capital to deploy, there is increasing competition with clearing banks who are also looking to grow their balance sheets,” Dean explained. 

Dean also cited the withdrawal of various government schemes that supported businesses throughout last year’s lockdowns as a reason for the increase in demand for specialist debt advice as the UK enters the post-pandemic economy. 

David Beech, Knights’ chief executive officer, added: “With our focus on providing excellent client service, there is a significant opportunity for us to expand the deep, trusted relationships we have developed with a number of clients which are seeking integrated expertise.” 

The listed firm’s latest move plays into its wider growth strategy of becoming the largest legal and professional services firm outside London. Knights’ strategy saw it acquire Sheffield independent commercial law firm Keebles in May for £11.5m a year after it bought Leeds-based outfit Shulmans for £20.1m in March 2020. 

More recently, the firm built upon its £8.5m purchase of South East-based firm ASB Law by acquiring independent Surrey outfit Mundays for £5.3m last month. The firm currently boasts 16 locations and is ranked within the UK’s top 50 largest law firms by revenue alongside fellow listed firms Ince, Gately and DWF. 

Last week, Ince made a comparable expansion play by acquiring Birmingham-based corporate adviser and stockbroker Arden Partners in a deal worth approximately £10m. By adding its own corporate advisory arm, the firm said it hoped to strengthen the development of its diversified professional services offering and build its offering of corporate finance services to current and future clients.

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