A city legal firm is set to become the first in the UK to float on the stock exchange as part of plans to growth through acquisition.

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.

He said: "We believe the catalysts for value creation are now to acquire, incentivise, differentiate and where sensible diversify.

"These opportunities for growth will undoubtedly be most accessible as a PLC and we want to be the first to be able to take advantage of them.

"Our growth and reputation over the last ten years has been driven by the quality of our people and the level of service we offer to clients.

"Our future as a PLC will help ensure these crucial strengths remain at the core of our development."

Gateley was established in the 19th century and today has more than 380 fee earners across six offices in England 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 was the legal adviser to Midland parcel delivery company City Link on its administration following its collapse on Christmas Eve last year.

Then, in January 2015, it acted on the sale of the National Exhibition Centre to Lloyds Banking Group's private equity arm LDC, one of the biggest ever deals agreed by Birmingham City Council.

Nigel Payne, non-executive chairman of Gateley, said: "I have been very impressed with the ambition and vision of the senior Gateley team.

"The dynamic growth prospects, strong cash generation and desire to look after its upcoming talent make the business a compelling investment proposition. I am very excited about the future."

The firm also has offices in Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham alongside the Middle East base.

Cantor Fitzgerald Europe is acting for Gateley.