Legal expenses insurer Abbey Protection is planning an acquisition drive after announcing intention to float on the AIM.

The specialist insurer, offering products to SMEs within the legal expenses and tax related professional fees market, plans to make £5m of new money, resulting from the floatation expected to take place at the end of the month.

It is anticipated that the market capitalization of Abbey Protection on admission will be approximately £55m.

Group managing director Chris Ward said the company will use the money to fund major expansion plans.

Although Abbey Protection doesn’t currently have its eye on a specific acquisition target, Ward said it has a list of companies it is considering.

He said: “We have some pretty firm criteria in place and details on quite a number of companies. The raising of new money is important because we’re looking to develop as a business and believe this will give us a strong platform.”

Ward said money raised from the floatation will also help Abbey Protection take advantage of opportunities afforded under the new Legal Services Act.

He said: “The Legal Services Act signifies the whole market is going to free up. This is an exciting time.”

Ward said the company wouldn’t rule out acquiring a law firm but said the first move will be taking advantage of new freedoms granted for employing solicitors and Abbey will begin looking at commercial contract disputes, health and safety and trading standards.

The insurer is also looking to expand its team of 60 solicitors.

Abbey Protection had plans to float since the summer but Ward said given the current market climate and announcements that some companies have recently called off floatation, he is proud of what has been accomplished.