A city law firm’s move to become the first in the UK to float on the stock exchange has been hailed as “a great Birmingham story” by its boss.
Gateley, which is headquartered in Edmund Street, has confirmed it will float on the London Stock Exchange in a bid to “expand and diversify” its business.
Chief executive Michael Ward said the £140 million flotation on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) would open up acquisition opportunities, amid a plan to grow through taking over niche firms or legal teams.
Although the firm’s focus is national rather than regional, Mr Ward said ,given its Birmingham roots, the latest move was good news for the city.
Speaking to the Post Mr Ward also said messages of support received from other businesses based in Birmingham had been hugely positive.
He said: “The general comment from wider Birmingham companies has been if anyone can do it you can.
“This particular story is of a business that started in Birmingham in the early 19th century – we can track it right back here to the city of Birmingham. It is a great Birmingham story.”
Mr Ward also pointed to the fact that two banks currently advising Gateley – Lloyds and HSBC (formerly Midland Bank) – had started out in the city, though added that unlike them Gateley was not planning “world domination”.
Gateley currently has more than 380 fee earners across its six offices in England – which also include Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham – and one in Dubai.
In 2014, Gateley took advantage of legislation changes to adopt an alternative business structure, allowing non-lawyers to own and invest in law firms.
That move was key to the transition from a limited liability partnership to a listed entity.
Gateley’s board believes the transition will allow expansion and diversification by acquiring other legal firms and recruiting individual lawyers or specialist teams.
However, it will also be looking to acquire firms offering complementary professional and other business services. It is also planning to launch an employee share scheme to appeal to new recruits.
Mr Ward added: “This isn’t the end of the agenda, this is the beginning, and we think it is the right next step.
“It will differentiate us in the marketplace and allow us to diversify revenue streams, which in a crowded marketplace is good.
“It is also an opportunity to incentivise staff, putting capital in their hands far earlier than would otherwise have been allowed.
“Our view is you have to keep investing and innovating and you can do that in different ways.
“Our step into the public market is a perfect opportunity.”
Acquisitions director Nick Smith added: “We are not trying to reinvent ourselves, we will still be recognisable principally as a legal services business but as a firm historically we are an innovative and an entrepreneurial business. We see this as being a logical next step and continuing in that vein in the light of opportunities in the marketplace.”
Cantor Fitzgerald Europe is acting as financial adviser, nominated adviser and broker to Gateley.
Gateley was formed through the merger of Henderson Boyd Jackson and Gateley Wareing in 2006 and since then further mergers have taken place with Shaw & Croft and Holmes Hardingham.
It has seen sustained growth in recent years, increasing its profit before tax from £17.1 million in 2012/13 to £20.4 million in 2013/14.