KordaMentha has claimed the top prize for its strategic turnaround of high-profile listed law firm Slater and Gordon in the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) awards.
Judges acknowledged KordaMentha's role in turning around Slater and Gordon's group operating losses of more than $1 billion in FY16 to an organisation that is returning to profitability and achieving key metrics.
The TMA gala awards were held on September 12 with KordaMentha winning in the mid-size company turnaround category, based on Slater and Gordon's Australian operations. The award again recognises KordaMentha as Australia's most trusted turnaround advisers.
KordaMentha was engaged by Slater and Gordon and its debt holders, in April 2017 after a failed international expansion strategy into the UK left the business exposed. A series of acquisitions, including Quindell, a UK law and insurance claims firm, saw material decreases in Slater and Gordon's revenue and share price, ultimately leading to significant write downs in value. The firm's original banking syndicate elected to sell their debt at a steep discount to a syndicate of funds led by Anchorage.
Chris Martin, KordaMentha's lead partner on the turnaround of Slater and Gordon, says his team worked hard to protect the value and reputation of the law firm.
"Our team helped Slater and Gordon's new financier's and refreshed senior leadership to complete a phased turnaround and transformation of the group's Australian operations," he says.
"Notwithstanding its challenges over an extended period, the Slater and Gordon brand and its history remain valued by employees and clients alike. Whilst the process of continuous improvement continues, the business is now refocused and right-sized and is able to start leveraging the benefit of the new investment in its operational structure and internal infrastructure."
In a three-phase plan implemented over an 18-month period, KordaMentha's team of turnaround professionals diagnosed, planned and implemented a strategy to transform and refocus the business.
"Our first step was a series of diagnostic assessments, which revealed staff were loyal, but wanted more from the leadership team and that there was a prolonged underinvestment in key support service functions such as IT," Mr Martin said.
"Importantly, we found the personal injury law business remained a strong platform on which to rebuild."
KordaMentha professionals assumed a number of key interim roles, including CFO, COO and Head of HR, to support Slater and Gordon's leadership team, whilst recruiting for permanent replacements was underway.
The KordaMentha team was also embedded across four key turnaround focus areas to manage transformation activity: people and culture, financial management and oversight, real estate and shared services functions.
The second phase of the turnaround included the establishment of 12 key transformation projects across the business and office footprint consolidation.
The final phase of the turnaround encompassed the wind-down of non-core offices and practices, and the start of handover to Slater and Gordon's management team and ongoing operational support.
"Working through the many challenges faced by Slater and Gordon was always going to be a complex and challenging engagement. Both the KordaMentha and client teams are proud of what they have achieved and look forward to seeing Slater and Gordon take advantages of the opportunities now ahead of it." Mr Martin said.
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