Ince & Co is in advanced talks to merge with Gordon Dadds.
RollOnFriday understands that neither firm believes it will be swallowed by the other, because both will enter with fairly equal standings. Although the true test will be whether Ince Gordon Dadds has a brand strong enough to dislodge the existing IGDs, being the venerable Institute of Grocery Distribution and the illustrious International Gas Detectors.
While other City firms have grown in recent times, Ince & Co has bobbed along in a flat marine market. In the last financial year, international revenue at the shipping firm fell from £88.5 million to £83.4 million, and UK revenue slipped 11% from £48 million to £42.8 million. The firm was cagey when releasing its figures and declined to reveal its profit, so the state of its finances remains murky.
Gordon Dadds is the smaller party, with last year's revenue hitting £31.2 million, a sizable growth of 25% from the previous year. However, its profit fell almost 6% to £6.4 million.
Ince is also the bigger beast by office and global reach. It can justifiably call itself an international firm with outposts in eight countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Gordon Dadds is not as well travelled, with international offices in just London, Hong Kong and, erm, Cardiff.
Gordon Dadds floated on the London Stock Exchange last year. If the new business is created, it will become the largest UK listed law firm with revenue of over £114 million. Although that may not be the shiniest of trophies, given that only a handful of UK law firms are actually listed.
It is no secret that Ince has been looking to hook up with a firm. Hill Dickinson was in the running at one time. But consummation appears to be closer with Gordon Dadds than with any other suitor. For a start, they admitted they were talking. In a statement Gordon Dadds confirmed that the two firms' boards “are in discussions to merge the two businesses". The "precise structure and mechanics of the transaction are also under discussion", it continued, "and the respective boards are working towards a further announcement as soon as possible. There can be no certainty at this time that the merger will proceed and we will update shareholders in due course.”