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BGF exits investment in Setfords

BGF News 03.03.2021

BGF has announced the successful exit of its investment in Setfords, a leading tech-enabled legal services provider, following its acquisition by private equity firm, Phoenix Equity Partners.

Setfords, an award-winning top 200 law firm based in Guildford, Surrey, was set up to disrupt the legal services sector with its consultancy network model, which brings together independent lawyers under a unified brand. The company was founded by Chris Setford and Guy Setford in 2006 and has since expanded rapidly, delivering 50 per cent compound annual revenue growth over the past 11 years.

BGF invested £3.75 million of growth capital into Setfords in 2016, to support its expansion plans. During BGF’s four-year investment period, Setfords has more than doubled the number of lawyers operating on its platform from approximately 140 to over 300 today. This was supported by investment into its case management technology, brand building, and London presence. This growth has driven an outsized profitability trajectory thanks to the scalable, tech-enabled platform that the business has developed.

BGF’s investment in 2016 marked an early recognition that the legal services landscape was shifting enormously, encouraging innovative business models like Setfords to emerge.

Today, Setfords provides services ranging from secretarial and administrative support, to accounting and compliance functions, facilitated by technology. The Setfords team have been visionary in adopting a ‘New Law’ model that benefits both consumers with best-in-class service levels, and lawyers who can realise more of the value they create, whilst working more flexibly and autonomously than the traditional partnership alternative.

Rahul Satsangi, investor at BGF, said: “This has been a highly successful exit for BGF, demonstrating the value of supporting a high-calibre founding management team to deploy patient growth capital to capture market share. The investment by Phoenix Equity Partners will support the team to take the next step in their growth journey.

“It has been a pleasure working with Guy and Chris on their journey to scale up the Setfords platform. They have been relentless in their pursuit of bringing a better way of working to the legal services market which has generated strong interest from experienced lawyers looking to maximise their potential. We are confident the team will continue to outperform with their innovative platform, and we wish them the best for their next stage of growth.”

Chris Setford, Co-CEO of Setfords, said: “We are proud of everything we have achieved with Setfords to date and we would like to thank BGF for their backing over the past four years. With Phoenix on board, we see significant scope for the further development of our platform.”

Guy Setford, Co-CEO of Setfords, said: “Phoenix’s experience and knowledge of growing tech-enabled platforms such as ours, that connect vendors and customers, will be invaluable as we build on the success we have enjoyed since founding the firm. BGF has been an important partner in the growth of our business over the last four years and we look forward to working with the team at Phoenix as part of our next stage of growth.”

The deal marks BGF’s fifth successful exit this year, following the exits of investee companies CHS Healthcare, Renal Services, Arcinova and Olive Communications. Each exit generated a high return on capital.

At the same time, more than £50m has been invested by BGF across new and follow-on investments since January. New investments include Burrington Estates, Vasorum, Woodall Group, CSN Healthcare, Genflow, Snipple, Oxbotica and Cambridge GaN Devices.