Knights, the UK’s fastest growing legal and professional services business, today announces that it has agreed to acquire Keebles LLP (“Keebles”), an independent commercial law firm primarily based in Sheffield.
Acquisition rationale and background
Established in Sheffield over a century ago, Keebles is a full-service independent law firm with a strong corporate and real estate offering, with a leading position in South Yorkshire. The acquisition sees 138 fee earners joining Knights, providing entry into Sheffield and complementing the Group’s existing presence in Nottingham and Leeds.
The acquisition of Keebles strengthens Knights’ presence in Yorkshire, in line with the Group's strategy to accelerate its organic growth through carefully targeted acquisitions which are a strong cultural fit.
In its unaudited accounts for the year ending 30 April 2020, Keebles reported revenue of £12.7m. It is budgeting revenue of £12.2m in the year to 30 April 2021, with a corporatised PBT margin of c.5% in 2021. Following full integration and realisation of all synergies, the Board expects Keebles to contribute a PBT margin of circa 18% which, combined with a typical level of revenue churn post-acquisition, means the acquisition is expected to be immediately earnings enhancing.
Terms of the acquisition
Under the terms of the acquisition, Knights will acquire Keebles from its ten existing equity partners (“the Sellers”) on a debt free, cash free basis for a total consideration of £11.54m, subject to working capital adjustments at the time of completion. This comprises an initial consideration of £8.41m, made up of £4.91m in cash and £3.50m in 791,990 new ordinary shares in Knights (the “Consideration Shares”), along with deferred cash consideration of £3.13m to be paid in equal instalments over the two years respectively following completion. The cash consideration will be satisfied from Knights' existing facilities. Completion is expected to take place on 11 June 2021.
Commenting on the acquisition, David Beech, CEO of Knights, said:
“We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Keebles, a business with an exceptional cultural fit and talented team of lawyers with a strong reputation across Yorkshire and beyond.
“Having grown our position significantly in Leeds and York, Keebles provides us entry into the important city of Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire area, allowing us to join up our presence across the region and execute our ambition to become the leading legal and professional services business outside London.”
Paul Trudgill, Partner, Keebles commented:
“The culture of Knights is closely aligned to Keebles, making it the natural home for our business as we enter the next stage of our growth journey. Having grown to become a leading law firm in South Yorkshire, we are delighted to be joining Knights as it executes its ambitious expansion plans and look forward to thriving as part of a larger Group.”