Deals Review – November 2015

Wednesday 18th November 2015

In partnership with the Business Desk, several of our experts will comment on significant deals every month. For November, corporate solicitor Duncan Firman, looks at a number of transactions involving the consolidation of professional firms in Yorkshire, including Garbutt & Elliott’s acquisition of specialist charity firm Ian Pickup and Co and the merger of Baxter Caulfield with Ramsdens solicitors.

These deals are indicative of a continuing and increasing trend, with the merger of Weightmans with Ford & Warren and the coming together of BHP with Clough & Company being other recent examples in the region.

The signs are that the economy is on the up, but market conditions are now very different to the environment businesses operated in pre-recession.

Cost and added value are very much in focus for clients when buying professional services and this as much as anything is driving change. It is encouraging to see increased market activity, but businesses are also aware that – thanks to a slow-down in training and recruitment during the recession – there is a shortage of talent to help to meet this demand.

This is all taking place in an increasingly competitive environment, caused by professional firms from elsewhere in the UK setting up a presence in Yorkshire, having recognised the strength in depth and quality of businesses, advisors and opportunities here.

Looking at these factors together, it is easy to understand why more professional firms are merging and from a financial perspective it does seem to be having the desired effect.

The FT reported earlier this year that the turnover at Britain’s largest 100 law firms rose in the last tax year, which was attributed in no small part to mergers involving smaller and mid-sized firms. It will certainly be interesting to see if this is a trend that continues.