SoftBank unit Fortress Investment acquires US litigation funder Vannin

US dollars. Photographed by Colin Watts on Unsplash

New York-based Fortress Investment Group, a unit of SoftBank Group Corp, has acquired 100 per cent of Vannin Capital, a US-headquartered global litigation funder, for an undisclosed amount, according to a release.

The acquisition comes nearly a year after Vannin, which was set up in 2010, called off its planned initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange due to what chief executive Richard Hextall described as a volatile equity market back then.

As a litigation funder, Vannin provides funding for law firms and companies to fight legal disputes in return for a share of any settlement or damages payout. Its clients range from family-owned businesses to multinationals and sovereign states.

In 2018, Vannin has put about £62 million ($76.5 million) into legal disputes, bringing its total commitment since its formation in 2010 to £164 million ($202.5 million).

Most litigation funders are private and backed by large institutional investors, including hedge funds. Fortress, based in New York, has been a significant investor in the fast-growing legal finance market in recent years, according to the release.

Fortress said it will acquire Vannin from existing shareholders, including majority owner Bramden Investments, a private equity vehicle funded exclusively by DLA Group. The deal is expected to be completed before the end of this month.

Bramden Investments has been evaluating how best to accelerate the future growth of Vannin, which has received several offers for the business. Fortress, which was taken over by SoftBank in 2017, was one of the potential buyers, which included US and UK private equity firms.

“Fortress represented the strongest choice in all aspects, not least due to its established position in the market and its long-standing relationship with Vannin,” Dan Craddock, founder and managing director at Bramden Invesments, said.

Gordon Runte of Fortress said the acquisition is a “logical next step and natural fit for our business” as it complements the breadth of the firm’s leadership in the legal finance space.