MoneyPlus Group, backed by Manchester-based Palatine Private Equity, has been authorised as a licensed body by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The debt and financial services provider, which represents around 35,000 people, has purchased Manchester firm Richardson Mail Solicitors to facilitate the new legal service.
This is the seventh acquisition made by MoneyPlus Group as it seeks to strengthen its offering in insurance and legal services.
Sale-based Richardson Mail deals in dispute resolution, debt recovery advice and wills and probate. It also advises landlords and tenants on rental agreements.
Palatine invests between GBP10m and GBP25m in regional companies and MoneyPlus Group is one of eight businesses to be bought from the firm’s GBP100m maiden fund, which was raised in 2007.
Earlier this year, the private equity firm raised its second fund at GBP150m, with more than half of commitments coming from overseas investors, including the US, Japan and Germany.
MoneyPlus Group believes it is the first company from the debt and financial services sector to be granted an ABS licence, which will enable it to advise existing customers on legal issues.
Chris Davis, chief executive, says: “I am delighted that permission had been granted by the SRA. By virtue of our move into the legal services market we have embraced exactly the intention of the Legal Services Act. We have an ever-increasing consumer base, and this development will enable the company to service the various legal needs of those consumers and provide greater access to justice for them. I am particularly delighted that we are the first company in our sector to appreciate this potential.
“We now have the ability to advise consumers on a whole range of legal issues. The provision of this advice will cement the very strong relationship that we have with our consumer base and it underpins our strategy to become a major player in the legal services market."
Ed Fazakerley (pictured), partner at Palatine and non-executive director at MoneyPlus Group, says: “The latest acquisition ties in with our buy-and-build strategy and will enable the business to gain a foothold into the legal services market. The move will strengthen the firm’s service offering to customers and position the management team well for their next stage of growth.”
Legal advice for the transaction was provided by Frank Shephard, Lucy Shenton and Lisa Stavropoulos at DWF as well as Ed Foulkes at Clarke Willmott. Commercial and financial due diligence was carried out by Jodi Birkett and Paul Leather at Deloitte.