The Competition and Markets Authority has given Peninsula Business Services the green light to complete its acquisition of Croner Group. The integration of the Leicestershire based employment law firm will add 270 staff to Peninsula’s ranks and marks, according to Peninsula managing director Peter Done, a landmark deal in the industry.
With revenues of £116 million, Peninsula Business Services is one of the largest health and safety and employment law consultancies in the UK. In December last year the firm – owned by Betfred founders Fred and Peter Done – announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire counterpart Croner Group from Dutch listed company Wolters Kluwer.
The deal sparked interest from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), as the two firms operate in a similar marketplace and with relatively similar offerings. Manchester based Peninsula however focuses on SMEs and mid-sized clients (estimated to be 28,000 across the UK) across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, while Croner focuses on larger organisations. “This is an exciting acquisition which complements Peninsula’s existing business, in that both organisations focus on different sectors of the marketplace,” said Done, Group Managing Director of Peninsula Business Services, on 10 December 2015, when he unveiled the transaction.
Given the potential impact the joining of forces could have on market dynamics, the CMA decided to review the transaction and conducted a merger inquiry, with invitation to comment opened to any interested parties and a consultation process. Following a detailed assessment, which included a comprehensive review of the marketplace and the competitive landscape in which both companies operate, the CMA on Monday 9th May 2016 decided to clear the completed acquisition. “We are delighted that the CMA has made the decision that this acquisition does not give rise to lessening of competition in our marketplace and will not refer the acquisition to any further investigation,” says Done.
With the green light in the pocket, Peninsula and Croner Group have started work on integration plans. Croner, based at Hinckley, Leicestershire, will continue to run as a standalone business within the Peninsula Group. “We look forward to developing the Croner brand alongside that of Peninsula, investing in and taking the company forward as part of our broader Group.” The Croner tax fee protection business will merge with Peninsula’s existing Taxwise business and rebrand as Croner Taxwise.
Alan Price, Group Operations Director of Peninsula, says: “Our aim is to take the best of both operating models and propositions to create two enhanced market leading offerings across both brands in the SME and corporate sector.”
Wolters Kluwer, meanwhile, will continue to deliver its expert information solutions under the Croner and Croner-I product brands in the UK. “Along with the software and information services offered by Wolters Kluwer, we can now provide a one stop shop for any size organisation,” comments Done.