SLATER & GORDON made the first of its expected acquisitions last week following the firm’s listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in May.
Slaters bought D’Arcys Solicitors, a Queensland firm specialising in military compensation work, for $2.8 million — $475,000 cash and the rest shares in Slater & Gordon Limited. It is the firm’s sixth acquisition in two years.
Mike Feehan, chief operating officer at Slater & Gordon, said the purchase was not dependant on the listing, but provided more options they could offer to the target firm.
“It was positive that we were able to offer shares in the transaction, and tradable shares. But we’ve completed five other acquisitions before the listing in the past two years, and each of those involved some share component as well,” he said.
The deal is subject to amendments to the Queensland Legal Profession Act due to commence on 1 July, which will allow law firms in that state to be owned by non-lawyers.
The takeover is expected to be effective from that date, but the issue of shares will also be subject to approval by Slater & Gordon shareholders at a general meeting in November. If approval isn’t granted, however, Slaters will pay the shortfall in cash.
D’Arcys’ principal, Vince Green, has been contracted to work with Slater & Gordon for at least three years and D’Arcys staff will move to Slaters’ Brisbane office when the transaction is completed.
Feehan said they were still on the lookout for more acquisitions, but had “nothing to report” as yet on any possible targets.
“One of the reasons that we were proposing to list was to get the capital for growth and we highlighted the fact that we saw growth by acquisition as one of the key routes to doing that, so certainly we are still on the look out,” he said.
Four of the previous acquisitions occurred last year, all outside Slaters’ Victorian base.
These were Canberra firm Gary Robb & Associates in October, Hunter Valley-based Reid & Reid in May, Sydney firm Maurice May Lawyers in April, and Broken Hill practice Paul J Keady & Associates.
In 2005, Slaters bought Sydney and Newcastle firm Geoffrey Edwards & Co.
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