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£12.0 million senior secured unitranche loan facility in support of the MBO of award-winning law firm

Shard Credit Partners announces the signing and completion of a £12.0 million senior secured unitranche loan facility in support of the management buy-out by MAPD Ventures of award-winning North West law firm Jackson Lees Group Ltd and to finance a nationwide buy-and-build acquisition strategy.  The MBO of JLG, which completed on 11th March 2020, was led by its incumbent senior management team comprising CEO Brian Cullen and COO Joanna Kingston-Davies.  As part of its buy-and-build strategy, JLG will progress with its near-term acquisition pipeline of three legal services businesses, primarily based in the North West of England.

MAPD (Making a Positive Difference) is the single core value of the Jackson Lees Group and Cullen and Kingston-Davies felt it only natural that they would incorporate this ethos and vision into the name of the new parent company.  This ethos gels well with Shard Credit Partners’ stated objective to encourage and promote diversity in the ownership and board structures of its investee companies, including supporting female entrepreneurs.

JLG was formed in 2017 following the 2016 acquisition of Lees by Jackson Canter.  It is comprised of two divisions, Jackson Lees and Broudie Jackson Canter.  JLG is a leading legal services firm in the North West of England, providing individuals and commercial clients with high-quality services across clinical negligence, residential property, court of protection, wills, trust and probate and a range of other sectors.  JLG is renowned for its work in supporting families at the Hillsborough Inquest and Birmingham Pub Bombing Inquest and is currently working with families on the Manchester Arena Bombing Inquiry.

JLG is highly focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters, which Shard Credit Partners is proud to support.  The Company is proud to offer services that make a positive difference to society and has a national reputation for its Access to Justice work which ensures the most vulnerable have access to appropriate legal advice.  Furthermore, JLG established the Jackson Lees Foundation in 2015 with the aim of supporting disadvantaged groups within the community, under four pillars: justice, social, education and medical care.  JLG has received recognition via multiple award wins including the ‘’Work in the Community’’ award at the Liverpool Law Society Awards 2017.

Brian Cullen, CEO of JLG, said: “the MBO begins an exciting new chapter in the growth of our business and now allows us to accelerate finding great businesses to join the Group.  The relationship with Shard is founded on a mutual view of what a ‘Great’ business should look like, with a strong view of cultural alignment, putting people at the forefront of what we do both internally and externally, and we are delighted to have their backing.”

Joanna Kingston-Davies, COO of JLG, noted: “our strategy is predicated upon taking away the headache of “back office” for law firm owners to free up their time to focus on localised growth and development.  By providing strong operating platforms and infrastructure with defined career structures and leadership, we will enable traditional law firms to deal with succession issues and to focus on what they do best.”

Alastair Brown, CEO of Shard Credit Partners, commented: “we are delighted to have been able to support Brian and Joanna in this MBO transaction.  This represents the first investment from our current fund in the North-West UK region, which will form the nucleus of an ambitious buy-and-build acquisition strategy to create a more significant legal services group nationwide.”

Financial Due Diligence was provided by Ros Jones and Rebecca Smith from Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services.

The Vendors and senior management team leading the MBO were advised by James Curtis from Dow Schofield Watts Corporate Finance, Brian McCann of Shareholder Strategies and O’Connors Legal Services Limited.

Legal advice to Shard Credit Partners was provided by Gateley led by Partners Andrew Madden and Andrew Cowan, supported by Alison Davidson-Cox, Christian Wiltshire and Matthew Smith.

This transaction marks Shard Credit Partners’ fourth consecutive MBO financing in the North of England in the last 13 months and the third consecutive MBO financing which includes a female entrepreneur in the incumbent senior management buy-out team.  In 2019, the Fund supported the £13.5 million MBO of Leeds-based BW Legal by its co-founder Rachael Withers, the £5.7 million MBO of GadCap Technical Solutions in Tyne & Wear by its senior management team and the £9.2 million MBO of Durham-based Alexander Technologies Europe Limited by its incumbent senior management team.