A London-based law firm established with the help of private equity funding by a former O’Melveny & Myers and Proskauer Rose manager continues to expand with the acquisition of two businesses.
MJ Hudson, which was founded in 2010 by private equity lawyer Matthew Hudson with financing from several external investors, has acquired investment advisory firm Allenbridge and outsourced fund management provider Tower Gate Capital for undisclosed fees.
Hudson, who previously led the London offices of both O’Melveny & Myers and Proskauer Rose, said the acquisitions “significantly enhance” his firm’s offering. “Our goal is to build the pre-eminent advisory and infrastructure business in alternative assets,” he said. “We can now offer fund managers, advisers, institutional investors and others a comprehensive asset management and investment infrastructure.”
Having initially launched as a specialist investment funds law firm, MJ Hudson last year broadened its practice to provide alternative assets clients with a range of advisory and infrastructure services. It employs more than 100 professionals across offices in London, Paris, Zurich and the offshore jurisdictions of Jersey and Guernsey—all key centers for European funds.
Following the addition of Allenbridge and Tower Gate, the firm now acts for more than 400 fund managers and investors, which collectively own or manage over $870 billion in assets.
MJ Hudson is one of several U.K. practices to have taken advantage of a change in legislation by converting to an alternative business structure (ABS), which permits professional investors and nonlawyers to hold equity stakes in law firms. (Despite decades of debate, nonlawyer ownership of law firms is still not possible in the U.S.)
The firm’s external investors, which include U.K.-based investment companies Gresham House, Somers and Polygon, share a 25 percent stake in the business. The remaining 75 percent is held by Hudson and the firm’s management, while staff are also entitled to buy stock via an employee share program.
Last year, equity partners in another U.K. ABS law firm pocketed more than $8 million from selling their shares in the practice. Equity partners at national midmarket player Gateley already received a $30 million windfall when it carried out the first ever U.K. law firm initial public offering in June 2015. But the firm’s public listing allowed partners to cash in once again by offloading stock, with five Gateley board members receiving more than $400,000 each. (Gateley recently announced that it is splitting from its Scottish arm, HBJ Gateley, as that firm is in merger talks with U.K. practice Addleshaw Goddard.)
The Birmingham, England-based firm raised around $36.5 million via its flotation, valuing the business at more than $120 million. It has used the proceeds of the transaction to build working capital and expand the business by acquiring professional businesses that service the firm’s existing clientbase. Gateley has so far spent almost $6 million for a tax incentives advisory business and a property consultancy, and is now on the hunt for other targets to further broaden its offering.
Northwest U.K. regional outfit Knights, meanwhile, has increased its revenue by over 400 percent since it became the first British law firm to take on external investment in 2012. Knights, which has a referral relationship with Hogan Lovells that sees it handle some of the global law firm’s lower-value work, has used the funding to invest in new technology and carry out a number of substantial acquisitions. Earlier this year, the firm acquired medical and clinical negligence claims specialist Darbys Solicitors in a deal that doubled its total head count, to over 460 employees.