14:32, October 06 244 0

2016-10-06 14:32:04
Morton Fraser banks cash as merger talks continue

Morton Fraser’s LLP accounts revealed the firm has increased its bank balance to £1.6m to help fuel its “investment plans”.

The Scottish firm’s bank balance grew from £1.1m to £1.6m during the 2015/16 financial year, amid rumours that the firm is looking to expand its business through a tie-up with fellow Scottish firm MacRoberts.

The two firms are understood to be engaged in late-stage merger talks, which have been progressing over the summer. If successful the merger will create the sixth biggest Scottish firm with a turnover of £38m.

In a statement Morton Fraser’s chief executive Chris Harte said the firm would use its increased bank balance to “to implement its investment plans over the medium to long term”.

Both firms have declined to comment on the merger discussions but a Morton Fraser spokesperson said the firm has regular “exploratory discussions” with third parties.

Morton Fraser has a history of expanding its business through mergers. In 2012 the firm acquired Glasgow-based Macdonalds in a deal that increased its turnover to £17m. The merger also added an additional 13 lawyers to the Morton Fraser partnership.

The LLP accounts also confirmed that Morton Fraser’s turnover grew by 6.8 per cent last year, from £18.1m in 2014/15 to £19.4m.

Net profit also increased by 8.4 per cent, from £6.4m to £7m. As a result the firm’s average profit per equity partner now stands at £204,000, up from £187,000 in 2014/15.

The merger talks come as a number of Scottish law firms are being acquired by international firms. In 2014 Dundas & Wilson merged with CMS Cameron McKenna to create a £277m business. CMS Cameron McKenna has since engaged in a three-way merger deal with Nabarro and Olswang.

Clyde & Co also merged with Simpson & Marwick to create a £420m firm. The acquisition added a strong insurance litigation practice to Clydes’ business. It is now understood that the firm is in the market to acquire an additional Scottish firm to give it a full service practice in the region.