30 Jan 10:28 avatar

Continued growth in UK intelligence business

The fast-growing pace of the investigations and intelligence business in the UK has been underscored by the hiring of a chief executive and a cross-border acquisition at two separate companies.

GPW, the £11m-a-year company that offers risk advice and investigations for clients including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said on Wednesday that its new chief executive will be Frans Post, the former finance director at Clifford Chance, the UK’s biggest law firm by revenue.

Mr Post’s “prime task will be to continue to drive GPW’s successful growth in an expanding sector upon which the business community places ever more reliance”, the firm said in a statement.

Separately, US-headquartered Stroz Friedberg said that to increase its presence in other markets it would buy Tyrian Partners, a small London-based company that was only founded in June by three former partners at Kroll, seen as the “grandfather” of the intelligence business.

The UK’s £200m investigations business has grown in prominence and revenue over the past decade as companies have required their services as they move into emerging and unfamiliar markets, and grapple with increasing regulatory requirements. London, a centre for big-ticket litigation, has been a particular nexus for companies specialising in intelligence-gathering and corporate investigations.

That has also drawn more political scrutiny, and the 2,000-strong industry found itself in the crosshairs of the Home Affairs select committee last summer, when the methods of certain private detectives instructed by law firms, insurers and other blue-chip companies drew fire. The Information Commissioner said in October that 19 of these companies would be investigated.

By Caroline Binham, Legal Correspondent

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