O'Connors advises MAPD Group on Bermans acquisition

Liverpool and Manchester commercial law firm, Bermans, has been acquired by MAPD Group for an undisclosed sum, and is planning for a period of growth.

David Malone, Natasha Lackner and Craig Geraghty at legal sector specialists O'Connors provided legal advice to MAPD Group.

Wirral-based MAPD Group took a 75% majority stake in the business, which joins North West law firms Jackson Lees, Broudie Jackson Canter, and Stoke-based Myers & Co in the group.

MAPD stands for Making A Positive Difference, reflecting its sense of purpose, which is to power the growth of local law firms by creating an environment for its people, clients and the communities within which it operates to have the best possible experience.

Bermans has 70 staff in total. The aim is to grow the firm, which will retain its brand and all of its people in line with MAPD’s philosophy, by at least 25% in the next three years.

It has a broad, largely commercial law practice with a particular specialism in asset and invoice finance.
MAPD has taken a 75% stake. One of the reasons the Bermans partners have retained 25% is to ensure that its people can continue to access ownership.

MAPD will have a turnover of around £24m following the addition of Bermans, an £8m turnover business. Backed by Shard Credit Partners, MAPD owners Brian Cullen and Joanna Kingston-Davies, CEO and COO, respectively, are currently in talks with a number of firms about similar deals as they look to expand nationwide.

Like Bermans, the firms fit the MAPD model of successful practices looking for enhanced operational and financial support to propel their businesses forward.

Fergal O’Cleirigh, Bermans’ senior partner, says the deal returns value to the firm’s shareholders while preserving its identity and culture: “In looking to the future, the partners agreed that securing investment was the way to fuel the next period of growth. MAPD is the perfect partner. Its operational expertise and financial backing, allied to a deep commitment to culture and staff, will help us achieve our ambitions for Bermans.”

Brian Cullen, who along with Joanna is joining the Bermans board, said: “MAPD is a people-first business, and we knew from our first meeting with the partners that Bermans’ culture would fit ours – the initial discussions focused entirely on how to grow the business and the people within it, with no talk about finances. It also adds heavyweight corporate and commercial expertise to the group.”

He added: “We see great opportunities for strong regional law firms that need the rocket fuel we can provide to take them to the next level. We believe in sustainable growth, which means investing in people, delivering great client service, providing high quality advice and ensuring a fair profit. Bermans has all the ingredients we look for and will make for a great addition to MAPD.”

MAPD was created in 2020 when Brian Cullen and Joanna Kingston-Davies led a management buyout of the Jackson Lees Group with the backing of Shard Credit Partners, which provided a £20m unitranche loan facility to advance their plans. More than half of this has so far been committed on the acquisitions made to date.

Kish Patel, associate at London-based Shard Credit Partners, said: “Everything we’ve seen to date has justified our belief in MAPD’s buy-and-build acquisition strategy to create a significant legal services group nationwide. Law is an extremely fragmented market and there are some excellent firms out there that just need the skilled support MAPD can provide to grow their share of it significantly.”

Bermans’ recent work includes Known Origin’s sale of its non-fungible token marketplace to eBay, EHE Capital’s investment in Peppercorn AI, and the sale of the national car rental company Easirent to Leasys SPA.

MAPD’s advisers were David Malone, Natasha Lackner and Craig Geraghty at O’Connors (legal), James Curtis and Connor Monaghan at DSW (corporate finance) and Andrew Cameron at Ryecroft Glenton (financial due diligence).