‘Litigation finance is here to stay’: Former A&O senior partner Morley joins Vannin ahead of IPO

‘Litigation finance is here to stay’: Former A&O senior partner Morley joins Vannin ahead of IPO

Fast-growing litigation funder Vannin Capital has appointed former Allen & Overy senior partner David Morley as chair ahead of a planned IPO on the London Stock Exchange.

The company announced today (10 September) that it planned to issue £70m of new shares and sell part of the shares held by existing shareholders in a float expected to take place in October.

Morley, who retired as A&O’s senior partner in 2016 after a 36-year stint at the Magic Circle firm, has taken over from Vannin’s co-founder Dan Craddock, who has assumed the role of deputy chair and will continue as chair of the funding committee. Morley’s appointment comes at a time of rapid growth for the funder and follows the hire of Fountain Court Chambers’ Paul Martenstyn as managing director in July. So far in its 2018 financial year, which ends on 30 September it has signed £62m of new funding commitments and has a £90m pipeline of potential new funding commitments.

Between 2015 and 2017 total income increased by 42% to £36.5m, operating profit increased by 32% to £28.1m and profit after tax increased by 22% to £21.2m. Vannin expects to end the 2018 financial year with roughly double the £42m funding committed in 2017. Part of the proceeds from the float will be used to repay a £27.2m shareholder loan provided by Craddock.

Morley enjoyed an illustrious career at A&O, having been elected managing partner in 2003 for five years and then global senior partner until 2016. Under his leadership, the firm’s revenues doubled from £652m to £1.31bn, resulting in 175% profit growth from 2004 to 2016.

He told Legal Business: ‘Vannin Capital approached me about five or six months ago. At the time, I didn’t know much about litigation finance, but the more research I did and the more people I spoke to, the more I realised this was exactly what I wanted to do. What attracted me was the fact that this is a business focused on the high-end side of the market. I knew I could add my insights on the way lawyers think about global business.’

Since his retirement, Morley has headed a leadership and consulting business and has acted as chair of private equity fund Elaghmore, chair of A&O’s newly established leadership centre and an Honorary Visiting Professor at Cass Business School at City, University of London. He is also a Meyler Campbell-trained business coach.

On the IPO, Morley added: ‘Litigation finance is here to stay. It’s about rapid change as well as rapid growth. It’s going to be part of the legal landscape. Every law firm will have to have a strategy around it. These ambitious global growth plans need access to large amounts of capital, but it’s also about raising the profile.’

Within the last year, Vannin Capital has also hired Richard Hextall from global insurer MS Amlin as its CEO and David Collins from Prudential as CFO. It intends to drive growth in its core areas and also plans to expand into Singapore, Hong Kong and the US.

It also expected to invest in commercial arbitration and investment treaty with additional hires, and to increase its headcount generally with targeted hires.

Craddock commented: ‘David is known and respected the world over as a proven business leader and legal services innovator. His appointment underscores Vannin’s strategic intent and continues the strengthening of the senior team’s ability to deliver its ambitious, sustainable growth strategy.’