Law firm lands £60m funding deal to drive growth strategy

LAW firm Irwin Mitchell has secured a £60m four-year finance package with three major UK banks to fund its ambitious growth plans.

The package, which also includes a £30m ‘accordion’ facility for further finance if required, has been agreed with HSBC’s Yorkshire Corporate team as the lead provider, along with Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking and Royal Bank of Scotland.

The firm said the deal signals the next stage in its plan to be a leading provider of legal and related services in the UK and internationally, building on the group recording income of more than £200m for the first time in the financial year 2012/13.

Group chief executive John Pickering welcomed the funding deal.

He said: “The fact that we have been able to agree this facility with our banks at a time when the legal sector faces some real challenges demonstrates the strength of our business financially.

“We have a clear plan in place to build on the impressive growth we have delivered in recent years. Passing the £200m mark was a real milestone for us but our plans are to grow the business much more significantly in all the areas we operate in.”

He added: “Our investment to date in acquisitions and recruitment has been a real signal of our intention to take advantage of the right opportunities when they arise. We will continue to seek out those opportunities and we are grateful to our banking partners for the considerable support they have shown us with this package.”

His comments were echoed by the company’s new chief financial officer Andrew Merrick, who joined Irwin Mitchell in April 2013 from airline and logistics firm Dart Group.

Merrick said: “This is a very strong vote of confidence from our bankers, who are supportive of the clear strategy we have in place to grow Irwin Mitchell into an even more significant presence in the legal marketplace.

“To commit themselves for four years is a positive sign of how well our financial position is regarded and we are now clearly well-resourced to deliver our strategic growth plan and take advantage of opportunities arising in the sector.”

He added: “The £60m package will be available to invest in further growth opportunities which fit with our clear strategic plan. The accordion facility is there if we need it and only if a substantial opportunity arises, but the fact we have this facility to call on is again a clear demonstration of the confidence our banking partners have in this business.”

HSBC Senior Corporate Banking Manager Neil Abbott led the deal on behalf of the bank. He said: “Irwin Mitchell is a strong business that has a clear strategy for growth. The finance gives the company the ability to invest in expansion opportunities and further demonstrates HSBC’s desire to work with corporates across Yorkshire.”

Adam Barraclough, relationship director in Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s Sheffield-based team, said: “Having integrated the majority of its recent acquisitions, Irwin Mitchell is in a strong position to fulfil its growth potential in the coming years. This deal reinforces our belief in the management team’s strategy and vision for the firm.”

Martin Kelly, relationship director at RBS, said: ‘RBS has supported Irwin Mitchell over a number of years. We remain firmly of the view that they will continue to succeed in the fast-changing UK legal services sector and are delighted to back them in their plans for further growth.”

The deal comes in a month when Irwin Mitchell announced the acquisition of the business of Manchester-based HL Interactive through debt legal services arm Ascent, establishing Ascent as the UK market leader among recoveries law firms, particularly in relation to secured lenders.

It also builds on a successful 2013, in which it acquired PI firm MPH in November and also two firms through Ascent – adding to the acquisition of PDP at the end of 2012.