Finance

Ince Group’s boss says takeover of broker Arden pulls investment banking and legal services under one roof

The boss of listed law firm, The Ince Group, said the firm’s proposed takeover of corporate broker Arden Partners would make the firm “unique” in its ability to offer clients investment banking and legal services under one roof.

Arden’s board recommended Ince’s £10m offer to shareholders on 26 October, sending the broker’s shares soaring 35% to just shy of 28p by close of trading.

Ince chief executive Adrian Biles told Financial News that the alliance of Ince’s legal offering with Arden’s corporate broking and equity sales capabilities “makes us unique in the professional services space”.

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Biles said the combination would allow the firm to offer clients legal service and corporate broking in a more efficient way, and also predicted further consolidation in both sectors.

“Both sectors have got lots of subscale players in them that need to be consolidated, when people think about it they will see the strong commercial logic,” he said.

Biles said the deal would give Arden access to Ince’s international network and client base and “capability and size and scale that only the largest businesses have in their space”.

“It is another stage in our development as a serious financial and professional services player internationally,” he added.

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Ince posted revenue of £100.2m for the year to 31 March, up from £96.3m the previous year. Operating profit fell to £3.1m from £7.6m the previous year in the same period.

The firm has offices in nine countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Biles took law firm Gordon Dadds public in 2017, making it the second law firm to float on the stock market in England following 2012 rule changes that allowed law firms to take on outside investment.

Gordon Dadds acquired struggling City shipping and insurance law firm Ince & Co in a £34m pre-pack administration deal in 2018, rebranding to the Ince Group in 2019.

Arden acted for Gordon Dadds on its 2017 float and has remained its broker since then.

Arden posted revenue of £5.9m in the year to 31 October 2020, down from £6.6m the previous year, and made a loss before tax of £1.4m in 2020, having made a loss of £2.6m the previous year.

Under the deal, accepting shareholders of Arden will get seven Ince shares for every 12 shares held. Based on Ince’s closing price of 53p on 25 October, the offer values each Arden share at 31p and is a 41% premium to its closing price of 22p on 25 October.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email James Booth

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