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Three firms bring funeral deal to life

Three firms bring funeral deal to life

Addisons, Johnson Winter & Slattery (JWS) and Minter Ellison have acted in the Australian acquisition of a funeral services company.InvoCare Limited, Australia's largest provider of funer

Addisons, Johnson Winter &Slattery (JWS)and Minter Ellison have acted in the Australian acquisition of a funeral services company.

InvoCare Limited, Australia's largest provider of funeral services, including cemeteries and crematoria, acquired Bledisloe Group Holdings Pty Limited, which operates such services in Australia and New Zealand.

The acquisition -settled for $114 million in cash and shares - complements InvoCare's existing operations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast while introducing the company into New Zealand, Tasmania and regional parts of Queensland.

Addisons partner Michael Ryan has counted InvoCare as a client for the past 20 years. He said that Bledisloe was the largest rival to InvoCare in the funeral services market and that this acquisition is a major coup for his client.

"The first hurdle was getting an agreed price and when they did finally agree on the price the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was not happy because there was a fear that InvoCare would dominate the market," said Ryan

The acquisition price was agreed in November 2010 but only recently completed due to the ACCC public consultation and clearance process.

As a condition of the acquisition the ACCC required that InvoCare divest its Gregory & Carr business in Sydney and Great Northern Garden of Remembrance in Brisbane.

Those businesses were sold to people that [InvoCare] thought would be significant and worthwhile competitors in the market," said Ryan, adding that it was a challenging logistical exercise to settle the main acquisition while selling the other two arms of InvoCare "almost all at the one time."

The Bledisloe acquisition was completed on the 15th June; the Gregory & Carr sale was completed at the end of June; and the sale of the Garden of Remembrance last week.

Ryan was supported by Addisons senior associate Kristy Dixon and lawyer Sarita Walpola.

Minters Brisbane partner Bruce Cowley acted for the shareholders of Bledisloe, supported by senior associate Stephen Knight. JWS partner John Kench, a competition and consumer protection adviser, assisted with the ACCC negotiations on behalf of InvoCare.

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