Davies Group acquires Keoghs

Dan Saulter

Exclusive: Davies Group has acquired law firm Keoghs.

Keoghs will form a legal solutions arm within Davies, with Keoghs CEO John Whittle to join Davies’ executive committee and continue to lead the business.

Defendant-only firm Keoghs currently manages more than £1bn worth of insurer claims.

Dan Saulter, pictured, Davies group CEO, said: “Keoghs and Davies were both founded in 1968 and have proudly served the insurance market and our clients for more than 50 years. Both firms have a big focus on values, culture and employee success. At Davies we place considerable value on disruptive thinking and new ideas. Keoghs has made investments in R&D and innovation in the past five years, not least in its core case management system and client-facing solutions, particularly ‘Lauri’, the legal-AI platform, and ‘ADA’, the fraud detection solution.”


He added: “To compete and win in an increasingly integrated global insurance market, it is essential that we can offer our clients valuable solutions right across the insurance, claims and risk value chain. The addition of Keoghs to our growing Davies platform provides an exciting opportunity for us to take a new message to our clients, and to provide new opportunities for our teams across the world.”


John Whittle, CEO of Keoghs, added: “The insurance market is undergoing exciting change with the wide scale adoption of technology offering new innovative opportunities to provide services to the market on an industrial scale. The Keoghs strategy has always been to place our business, our clients and our people at the heart of this change, driving forwards to create the preeminent law firm in the insurance legal sector. The opportunity to join forces with Davies was too good an opportunity to miss to deliver on this, and we are delighted to be a part of an organisation that has a single, shared and unified vision for the future.”

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in Q1 2020. It represents an exit for mid-market private equity firm LDC, which has held a minority stake in Keoghs since 2012.

Expansion

Acquisition-hungry Davies reported Ebitda (before exceptional items) growth of 54% to £23.7m (2018: £15.4m) for its 2019 year, ending 30 June.

Over the period its acquisitions included Direct Group and customer experience platform Ember in October 2018; software as a service platform Veriphy in November 2018 and Topmark claims in January 2019.

Its Bermuda-based captive management arm snapped up Vermont-based USA Risk Group in December 2018.

Last year Canadian investor AIM co took a minority stake in the claims business, as Davies pushed for further expansion.

Keoghs too has been targeting acquisitive growth.

Last September the firm bought Sintons’ Newcastle-based insurance practice.

This followed Keoghs striking up a deal with Belfast-based Caldwell Warner to bring its practice to Northern Ireland.

Keoghs Topco

As at 31 May 2019:

1285 fee earners and 337 office and management staff

Turnover £93.9m (£79.3m in 2018)

Gross profit £26.99m (£22.5m in 2018)

Operating profit: £2.4m (£2.5m in 2018)

Loss for financial year: £4.3m in 2019 (£2.6m in 2018)

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