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Burford results indicate shifting market attitude

London Stock Exchange-listed Burford Capital, the world’s largest third-party funder, has revealed growth of 75% in its business during 2016, with a record USD 378 million committed across 30 cases (up 83% on the 2015 figure), including a single USD 100 million portfolio arrangement.

At this time last year, when it reported a 27% increase in operating profit for 2015, the company referred to the legal sector as a “sleeping giant” awakening. Now that metaphor rings true with a 61% increase in operating profit in 2016 to USD 124.4 million (from USD 72.2 million in 2015).

Of its 2016 highlights, which included its share price more than trebling, perhaps the biggest news was the company’s USD 160 million acquisition of US rival Gerchen Keller Capital (GKC), which propelled Burford to the position of the largest funder in the global market by far, and added USD 1.3 billion in assets under management, which combined with Burford’s business now totals USD 2.3 billion in and available for legal finance.

That business includes GBP 40 million in funding allocated to the GBP 14 billion consumer claim against MasterCard, inherited from GKC, which is currently awaiting certification before the Competition Appeal Tribunal, of which GBP 2 million has already been used in proceeding the claim to its current status.

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