Former EY chief Varley to chair private equity-backed law firm DWF

Steve Varley, the former head of EY in the UK and Ireland, will this week be named as the chairman of the first law firm to list on London's stock market.

Sky News has learnt that Mr Varley, who stepped down as the audit firm's chairman and managing partner in 2020, is to chair DWF, which is now majority-owned by the private equity firm Inflexion.

His appointment will be announced on Tuesday, according to insiders.

One said the recruitment of Mr Varley would underline the scale of DWF's ambition, nine months after it was taken private by Inflexion.

Money latest:
'Bleak' new security measure seen in Tesco

The former EY chief, who took on a global sustainability role at the big four accountant after leaving his UK role there, became one of Britain's most prominent business leaders during his nine years at the helm.

During his time running the firm, it doubled in size, closing the gap with rivals Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr Varley worked at Accenture, while he subsequently became a member of advisory councils appointed by two prime ministers.

DWF's decision to turn to Mr Varley underlines its determination to evolve into a broader professional services firm.

Since Sir Nigel Knowles, a prominent City lawyer, was appointed as DWF's chief executive in 2020, it has seen earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation more than treble from £16m to £55m.

The firm employs more than 4,500 people globally, and operates in 14 countries.

More from Sky News:
Strikes called off at Port Talbot steelworks
Energy price cap falls today but '£600 lift to bills ahead'

Part of its growth has come through acquisitions including the 2022 purchase of Whitelaw Twining in Canada.

Last week, DWF announced its first transaction since it was taken private, by buying Proclaim, an Australian claims management business.

One private equity source said that Inflexion's strategy for growing DWF would replicate its playbook at other portfolio companies, through acquisitions and international expansion.

Inflexion and DWF declined to comment.