19/12/2013 - 11:56

WA accounting firm in $7.3m MBO

19/12/2013 - 11:56

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The new management team at accounting firm Lawrence Business Management has agreed to buy the business for $7.3 million cash from listed company Countplus, after two years of restructuring.

WA accounting firm in $7.3m MBO
Countplus chief executive Michael Spurr

The new management team at accounting firm Lawrence Business Management has agreed to buy the business for $7.3 million cash from listed company Countplus, after two years of restructuring.

ASX-listed Countplus said today its board had formed the view that Fremantle-based Lawrence did not meet the company's long term growth plans.

The management buy-out will be undertaken by six executives, including general manager Hayden Brown, who told Business News the new team was keen to focus on its core accounting and business advisory services.

He said that co-founders Joe and Tom Lawrence were not part of the new ownership group.

However, Joe Lawrence would continue with the business as a director while Tom Lawrence would transition out of the business to focus full-time on Applecross law firm Capital Legal.

The buyout comes after LBM exited its legal operations, an area that did not fit with the Countplus business model.

In its 2012 annual report, Countplus described the restructuring of Lawrence’s legal arm as “a distraction to our result” with chief executive Michael Spurr commenting that “legal services are unlikely to be a growth driver in the group”.

In its 2013 annual report, it said Lawrence’s legal subsidiaries “have been a drag on the company’s results”.

Countplus owns a wide network of professional services firms, including 18 accounting and business advisory firms, a financial planning specialist, a property services group and a financial planning dealer group.

Its only other WA business is West Perth-based accounting firm Bentleys, with Bentleys’ managing director Phillip Rix also a director of the parent company.

Countplus said the Lawrence sale is set to have a 3 per cent impact on its earnings per share in 2014 but is not expected to materially change the company's previously announced earnings guidance.

"The sale will enable Countplus to redeploy the capital to acquisition opportunities as they arise, which meet our strategic objectives and future growth plans," the company said.

"In the meantime, the proceeds will be applied to reduce company debt."

The Lawrence sale is expected to settle early next month.

 

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