Listed UK firm Knights acquires Sheffield-based Keebles for £11.5m

Deal will increase AIM-listed outfit's UK location count to 17, including four in Yorkshire
Pic of David Beech

Knights CEO David Beech

UK legal and professional services firm Knights is adding to its portfolio again with the acquisition of Sheffield independent commercial law firm Keebles for £11.5m. 

The acquisition brings the AIM-listed firm’s UK location count to 17 — including four in Yorkshire — as it continues its ambitious nation-wide growth strategy in a bid to become the largest legal and professional services firm outside of London.  

Knights will acquire Keebles from its ten equity partners on a debt free, cash free basis for £11.5m. It will pay £8.4m up front, made up of £4.9m in cash and £3.5m in shares, with the remaining £3.1 to be paid in cash over the two years following completion.  

The deal, which is expected to be completed in June, will see Keebles’ 138 fee earners join Knights’ roster in Sheffield, bolstering the firm’s existing Yorkshire network and “complimenting” its existing presence in Nottingham and Leeds.  

Established over a century ago, Keebles specialises in corporate and real estate matters. In its unaudited accounts for the year ending 30 April 2020, it reported revenue of £12.7m, which is expected to fall this year to £12.2m. 

Keebles also expects a profit before tax margin of 5% for 2021, which Knights said it hopes to increase to 18% following a “full integration and realisation of all synergies”.  

David Beech, CEO of Knights, said Keebles is an “exceptional” cultural fit for the firm, in line with the firm’s strategy of accelerating its organic growth through carefully targeted legal acquisitions.  

“Having grown our position significantly in Leeds and York, Keebles provides us entry into the important city of Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire area, allowing us to join up our presence across the region and execute our ambition to become the leading legal and professional services business outside London,” he said.  

Keebles corporate partner Paul Trudgill echoed Beech’s sentiment, saying the deal with Knights is the next logical step in Keebles’ growth journey.  

“Having grown to become a leading law firm in South Yorkshire, we are delighted to be joining Knights as it executes its ambitious expansion plans and look forward to thriving as part of a larger group,” he added.  

Last year, Knights made a series of plays in the region, opening a York office in January and acquiring Leeds-based outfit Shulmans for £20.1m in March. 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. 

Last month, listed UK professional services group RBG Holdings – the parent company for City law firm Rosenblatt –  acquired London corporate law boutique Memery Crystal for £30m.

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