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Corporate and commercial: Manchester

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Manchester
  2. Leading individuals

Addleshaw Goddard LLP’s ‘pragmatic and commercially focused’ department is headed by Michael Birchall, who led for Peel Group on the sale of a 50% investment in MediaCityUK to Legal & General. The ‘experiencedRoger Hart advised Norcros on the £21.9m acquisition of Croydex Group, and Paul Medlicott, who leads the private equity practice, advised Livingbridge on its investment into Sykes Cottages and Webcottages. In another private equity highlight newly promoted partner Andrew Green advised Inflexion Private Equity on the acquisition of the animal health and crop business of market research company GfK. Richard Lee, who recently relocated to the Manchester office, advised Clinigen Group on the acquisition of Idis Group Holdings. Paul Devitt and Richard Thomas left the firm to join EY.

The ‘experienced’ team at DLA Piper UK LLP delivers ‘consistently good and clear advice’ and ‘understands client needs’. Corporate head James Kerrigan advised Conviviality on its £200m reverse takeover of drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark. Jonathan Watkins (who is rated for his ‘practical approach’) acted alongside the ‘excellent’ Elia Montorio to advise the shareholders of Fullwood Packo Group on its sale to the Verder Group, a Dutch manufacturing and distribution company. Yunus Maka advised Hoist Finance on its £117m acquisition of a diversified banking portfolio from Compello Group. Commercial team head Lee Brierley assisted new client JD Williams with the outsourcing of its creative services and technical infrastructure, while Stephen Wright acted alongside Montorio in advising The Co-operative Bank on the outsourcing of its mortgage administration services to Capita Group.

Eversheds LLP’s ‘hardworking’ and ‘efficient’ team is led by Simon Masters, who splits his time between the firm’s Manchester and Paris offices and advised Lookers on its £87.5m acquisition of the Benfield Motor Group. The ‘brilliantDaniel Hall advised Euro Garages on its £1.3bn acquisition by Optima Bidco, and also advised Zeus Capital and Investec Bank on the £198m acquisition of Matthew Clark by Conviviality. Alistair Cree acted for API Group on a £46m hostile takeover bid from Steel Partners. The ‘first-rateTom Bridgford leads the commercial team. Alasdair Outhwaite joined DWF in February 2016.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s ‘top-quality’ and ‘proactive’ department delivers ‘tremendous personal service with excellent response times’. The ‘brilliantGregg Davison heads the ‘outstanding’ private equity team and led ECI Partners and its management team on the sale of the Fourth Hospitality Group to Insight Partners, and advised a number of individuals, including management, and Livingbridge on the sale of 80% of the share capital of Inov-8 to Descente. Manchester office head Helen Ridge and newly promoted partner Andrew Phillips ‘epitomise professionalism in their field’. Ridge advised a prominent manufacturing group on a €405m disposal. Phillips led Palatine Private Equity on its investment in the WHP group. Senior associate Amie Norris is also recommended.

Brabners LLP’s ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘focused’ team advised Restore on its £55.7m purchase of Wincanton’s records management business, and advised Impellam Group on its £37.2m purchase of Global Group. It also advised the management team of Project Adler Bidco on the MBO of Vernacare, backed by Palatine Private Equity. Corporate team head David Bowcock has ‘an excellent reputation’, and Tony Harper is excellent’. The ‘experiencedAndrew Millar is also recommended.

The ‘fantastic’ team at DWF is singled out for its ‘commercial awareness’. Highlights included advising Equiniti Financial Services on its acquisition of the business and assets of Selftrade from Talos Securities; advising RooGreen Ventures on the MBO of Wilmslow-based Total Fitness; and acting for Inspired Capital on Bentley Park UK’s £47m increased cash takeover offer. Key corporate figures include Frank Shephard, who heads the team and is ‘very highly regarded’, the ‘outstandingJonathan Robinson and ‘excellent’ director Lisa Stavropoulos. Craig Chaplin leads the commercial team. The department was bolstered by the arrival of Alasdair Outhwaite from Eversheds LLP in February 2016.

Highlights for Gateley Plc’s ‘quality practice’ included advising Palatine Private Equity on the £37m sale of Electranet to Capita, and assisting Palatine Private Equity with the MBO of Vernacare. National department head Charles Glaskie is ‘first class’ and is supported by Nigel Brown, who specialises in funding and public company work and leads on Asia-related instructions; Rebecca Grisewood and Paul Jefferson, who are recommended for private equity work; and Khurshid Valli, Mark Halliwell and Chris Dunn, who focus on acquisitions and disposals.

Squire Patton Boggs’ ‘highly regarded’ team advised Bibby Line Group on GLI Finance’s investment into Verus360, a portfolio company owned by the client, and acted for Molson Coors Brewing Company on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Rekorderlig UK. Other highlights included advising Innospec Active Chemicals on the sale of Innospec Widnes to Emerald Kalama Chemical. The ‘outstandingJane Haxby is EMEA chair of the firm’s global corporate practice, which includes Giles Chesher, who has ‘an excellent reputation for private equity work’, and Darren Warburton, who is a ‘brilliant operator’.

Hill Dickinson LLP’s ‘hardworking’ and ‘dedicated’ team advised Investec Bank and Cenkos Securities as joint brokers on Flowgroup’s £23m AIM placing and open offer, and acted for Cenkos Securities on Reneuron Group’s £68.4m placing on the London Stock Exchange. Other highlights included acting for pharmaceutical manufacturer Nupharm Group on its sale to Quantum. Ian Gillis and Ian Riggs head the ‘strong’ corporate team, which includes Jonathan Gillow and David Mkhitarian. The ‘efficient’ and ‘technically ableMark Fitzgibbon leads the commercial department.

Kuit Steinart Levy LLP is rated for its ‘superior technical ability and unwavering commitment’. Highlights included advising Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs on the redevelopment of a site at Jacksons Row, Manchester, as part of a joint venture with Rowsley and Beijing Construction and Engineering Group, and advising Progress Group on its sale to the Priory Group. Key figures include team head Robert Buckley, who is ‘a commercially savvy and practical team player’; the ‘excellentKirsti Pinnell; Robert Levy, who stands out for his ‘balance of technical ability and practicality’; and Martin Lewis. Peter Allen joined from DWF in September 2015.

Steven Grant leads the ‘highly responsive’ department at Pannone Corporate LLP, which ‘works seamlessly as a team’ and is ‘always available and willing to work the hours to deliver against challenging instructions and schedules’. Highlights included acting for the lead investor in Parmenion Capital Partners on its sale to Aberdeen Asset Management, advising Conviviality Retail on the purchase of GT News Holdings, and acting for Enterprise Solutions on its acquisition of Aimteq Energy Management. On the corporate front, the ‘very able’ Mark Winthorpe, ‘charismatic’ Tom Hall and Richard Hepworth are all recommended. The ‘experienced’ Amy Chandler and Udo Pope are singled out for commercial matters.

The ‘very astuteKieran Toal and ‘excellentKaren Procter lead the team at Shoosmiths LLP, which delivers ‘exceptional service’. In an illustration of its strength in the retail and hospitality sectors, the team advised Truworths International on the £256m acquisition of the UK footwear retailer Office Retail Group, and advised Palatine Private Equity on the MBO of Alchemist Bar and Restaurant from Living Ventures. In another highlight it advised NorthEdge on the acquisition and management buyout of T. K. Components. Ursula Gould is ‘excellent for commercial matters’.

Stuart Campbell leads the ‘growing’ team at TLT, which was bolstered by the arrival of Ian Roberts, Andrew Needham and Pauline Cowie from Millbank Edge LLP in September 2015, and Susan Honeyands from Knights Professional Services Limited in October 2015. Highlights included advising Ecotricity on its £18.5m mini-bond issuance, and assisting the founder and shareholders of Sandown Holdings with NVM’s investment into a new holding company to acquire the shares in Sandown. Standout figures include the ‘outstanding’ Stephen Devlin, Jon Close, and David Gardner, who is recommended for IT-related instructions.

Turner Parkinson LLP’s ‘proactive, professional’ and ‘consistently reliable’ team advised the shareholders of paper-based packaging group Logson on the sale of a 60% stake to W&R Barnett. It also advised Inspirepac Holdings on its £43.5m sale to Smurfit Kappa. ‘Outstanding’ team head James Sheridan, the ‘fantastic’ Andrew Sturge and Stephen Hadlow are all recommended.

Clients of Weightmans LLP appreciate the firm’s combination of ‘very fast response times’ and ‘excellent business acumen’. It advised British Ceramic Research Limited on its buyout via court-approved scheme of arrangement, which involved a novel transaction structure to enable management and employees to acquire the company through a newco without requiring cash financing. It also advised the Well Pharmacy chain on the acquisition of Care4U Pharmacy and Ideal Healthcare. Key figures include national team head Paul Raftery, who is ‘highly regarded’, the ‘first-rate’ Sarah Walton, consultant Robert Turnbull, and Vincent King and Martin Vincent, who lead the ‘excellent’ commercial team.

Paul Ellaby leads the team at DAC Beachcroft LLP following his recruitment from Ward Hadaway in September 2015. Highlights included advising the shareholders of Cloud Amber on its £5m sale to IDOX Group. Legal director Andrew Rankin is also recommended. Leila Porter left the firm in 2015.

Highlights for JMW Solicitors LLP’s ‘thorough’ and ‘responsive’ department included advising WHP (Holdings) on its £38m secondary buyout by Palatine Private Equity, and acting for HPR Holdings on the £20m sale of Rendel to Ingerop and the sale of its strategic management consultancy business to KPMG. Mike Blood heads the corporate team and Richard Parkinson heads the commercial team. The ‘excellent’ Vicky Protano was promoted to partner in May 2016.

Headed by Chris Wilkinson, the team at Mills & Reeve LLP is able to ‘maintain and grow excellent client relationships’. It advised Martin Forest and others on the disposal of a regional estate agency business to Connells, and advised The Manchester College Group on the purchase of Total People. Also recommended are the ‘exceptionalChris Ross and principal associate Paul Knight, who leads on commercial, IP and IT matters.

The ‘motivated, knowledgeable and very astute’ Howard Gill heads the team at Nabarro LLP, which is particularly active in the real estate and hospitality sectors. Highlights included advising Redefine International on its £490m acquisition of AEGON’s UK property fund.

Highlights for Ward Hadaway’s team included advising Antal International on its purchase of Smart Moves, and assisiting the management team of Trafford Rubber Products on its MBO. ‘Good operators’ Sean FitzGerald and Paul Johnson are recommended.

gunnercooke LLP fields ‘an array of talented individuals’, including Darryl Cooke, Nick Ducker, Samantha Ogden and Tim Hamilton. In an illustration of its growing market profile, the team advised new client NorthEdge Private Equity on the MBO of Total Fitness.

Key names at Laytons include David Sefton, Barney Leaf and John Gavan.

Nexus Solicitors Limited advised Peter Wright on the sale of the entire issued share capital of Blithe Computers to 6PM Holdings. Jamie Lloyd heads the team.

Slater Heelis LLP’s ‘responsive team’ ‘really gets to know the needs of the client’. Team head Katharine Mellor is recommended alongside the ‘brilliantSimon Wallwork, Sunil Mohindra and associate Rhian Owen. Highlights included advising the shareholders of Paragon Telecoms Limited on its £3.5m sale to WHP. Nicky Collins joined from Browne Jacobson LLP in April 2016.

Blackburn-based Elaine Hurn leads the team at niche commercial law firm Taylors, which includes Stephen Jarman and Andrew Livesey. The firm has established a strong foothold among SMEs and owner-managed businesses, and regularly advises on its clients’ exit strategies.

Corporate and commercial: Liverpool

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Liverpool
  2. Leading individuals

At Brabners LLP, head of corporate Mark Rathbone (who is rated for his ‘commercial awareness’) led advice for Paul Feather, the owner and chairman of the Feathers Hotels Group, on its sale to Topland Hotels Group. In other highlights, the ‘first-rate’ *Denise Walker advised Cold Move on the carve-out and sale of a cold storage and logistics business; Andrew O’Mahony assisted Business Growth Fund on its £7m investment in Hobs Reprographics; and the ‘outstandingRupert Gill acted for Urban Sleep on the £41.6m sale of its portfolio of student accommodation to Empiric. The ‘knowledgeableNik White leads the commercial team, which includes Matt Brown and recently promoted partner Richard Hough. It acts for an array of technology and software companies. *Following publication of The Legal 500 UK 2016, Denise Walker has left the firm to establish Claus Walker & Partners.

Hill Dickinson LLP’s ‘solution-orientated’ practice is ‘a real force in the market’. The ‘commercialJonathan Brown worked alongside the ‘detail-orientatedMatt Noon in advising Eddie Stobart Logistics on the sale of its UK automotive logistics business to BCA Market Place. Craig Scott led Next Wave Partners and Next Wave Sports Bidco on the £51m secondary buyout and partial exit of Fox International Group to Mayfair Private Equity. Mike Jones advised Bowdena on the disposal of the business, property and assets of the Hard Days Night Hotel to Millennium Copthorne Hotels. Sue Russell advised Johnson Service Group on its £69.4m acquisition of London Linen Supply. Stephen Lansdown joined the Qatar office of Al Tamimi & Company in association with Advocate Mohammed Al Marri.

DLA Piper UK LLP’s ‘responsive’ corporate team (which is singled out for its ‘commercially pragmatic advice’) is now led by Manchester-based James Kerrigan following the departure of former corporate head Gareth McIntegart to Napthens LLP. Other key figures include ‘very skilled’ commercial head Peter Brook and the ‘extremely hardworking and dedicated’ Sarah Bell. Key clients include Liverpool Football Club & Athletic Grounds, Whirlpool, Sutton & Son, Unilever and Liverpool City Council.

DWF’s corporate team is led by the ‘excellentPaul Rimmer, while the ‘experiencedPaul Attwood leads the commercial team. Highlights included advising The Authentic Food Group on its acquisition of a facility in Dundalk, Ireland from Heinz, assisting Inflexion Private Equity with its minority investment in Mobica.

O’Connors LLP stands out for its ‘quality of client care and combination of intellectual knowledge with a savvy approach to issues’. Key figures among the ‘exceptional team’ include Mark O’Connor, Paul O’Connor, Michael Ainsworth, Nigel Wallis and John Spofforth. Kerry Boyle, Pamela Rafiq and David Malone were promoted to the partnership in March 2016.

The ‘excellent’ department at Weightmans LLP was instructed by the sellers on a secondary buyout of Haydock Commercial Vehicles, and advised Enterprise Ventures on the establishment of a £40m SME loan fund. Ian Vicary, Gary Jones, Patricia Grinyer, Roland Hutchins, Sean Crotty and Laurence Pritchard are recommended.

At Bermans, corporate head Kieran Donovan is ‘customer focused, reliable and knowledgeable’. The team advised Academy Leasing on its £12m sale to 1pm plc, and assisted Nutriculture (UK) with its acquisition of Plant Magic Plus.

Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the North West

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the North West
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

The ‘excellent’ team at Aaron & Partners LLP is noted for its ‘efficient service’. Venture capital investments are a particular strength of the firm, which has acted for a number of fund managers on their investments. Stuart Scott-Goldstone heads the team, which includes partnership specialist Mark Briegal.

Highlights for the ‘impressive’ team at Gorvins Solicitors included advising the shareholders of Performance Doorset Solutions on the sale of its entire issued share capital to Masonite International Corporation. Team head Andrew Curwen, Christian Mancier and consultant Paul Lupton are recommended.

The ‘thorough’ team at Myerson Solicitors LLP advised Willows Veterinary Group on its merger with Charter Veterinary Group and assisted Associated Security Solutions with its acquisition of Safes International. Team head M Akeel Latif ‘always understands the issues very quickly’ and managing partner Carl Newton provides ‘in-depth expertise’. The ‘excellent’ Andrew Brown and Scott Sands are also recommended.

Napthens LLP’s ‘very responsive’ department attracts praise for its ‘unfaltering attention to detail combined with its ability and willingness to explain in plain English’. Highlights included advising the shareholders of Cyclesport North on its partial sale to True Capital, and assisting the shareholders of Eison with the disposal of the company to ANS Group. Standout individuals include team head Richard Robinson, the ‘incredibly experienced’ Keith Melling, and ‘outstanding’ Robert Dobson. Gareth McIntegart joined as a consultant from DLA Piper UK LLP.

SAS Daniels LLP advised the trustees of the employee benefits trust of Meridian Healthcare on the sale of the entire issued share capital to HC One, and acted for the shareholders of Voice Marketing on its sale to Capita. Corporate head Jeremy Orrellis very responsive and clear in his advice, which is always jargon free and easy to understand’. ‘Experienced’ commercial head Kaye Whitby and Andy Booth are also recommended.

DTM Legal LLP’s team stands out for its ‘quick response times’. Highlights included advising the shareholders of Redwalls Care Services and Drew Care on the sale of two private nursing homes to Kingsley Healthcare. Key figures include Alison Brennan in Chester and Edward Barnes, who splits his time between the Liverpool and Chester offices. Phil Whitehurst joined the Liverpool office from Hillyer McKeown.

The ‘first-rate’ Pauline Rigby heads the corporate and restructuring team at Forbes Solicitors, which advised Stokers on its acquisition of Lucas World of Furniture, and assisted ACME with the acquisition of the Canopy Company. Daniel Milnes is also recommended.

Slater Heelis LLP’s ‘excellent’ department is experienced in the healthcare, education and life sciences sectors. Highlights included advising the shareholders of Cre8 Holdings on its sale to Ridge & Partners. Katharine Mellor heads the team, which includes Geoffrey Blower, who has a ‘wealth of experience’.

Chafes Solicitors LLP’s ‘impressive’ team acts for a range of owner-managed businesses. The ‘very responsive’ Tony Morris leads the team, which includes consultant Ruth Smith, who is recommended for commercial IT and IP matters.

Fielden Marshall Glover Strutt delivers an ‘absolutely first-class service’. It advised Colemans-ccts on the sale of its legal services business to Simpson Millar LLP. Nicholas Fielden is singled out for his ‘accessibility and collaborative approach’.

Jolliffe & Co LLP’s ‘professional team’ provides a ‘top-drawer service’. It advised the shareholders of Vannplastic on its £8.5m sale to Epwin Group. The ‘approachable’ Simon Williams heads the team and is noted for his ‘well-rounded and objective advice’.

The ‘top-notch’ team at KBL Solicitors LLP advises on corporate and commercial matters for a range of individuals and businesses. Phil Stephenson and consultant Jonathan Shorrock are recommended.

Steve Hartley heads the team at MLP Law LLP after joining from Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers LLP in 2015. The department advises a range of high-net-worth business owners. Managing partner Stephen Attree is also singled out for praise. Emma Lewis left the firm to form EL Law Ltd.

Corporate tax

Index of tables

  1. Corporate tax
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Clients rate the team at Addleshaw Goddard LLP for its ability to provide ‘pragmatic solutions tailored to the clients’ needs’. Headline work includes advising Peel Group on the sale of a 50% investment in MediaCityUK to Legal & General. Team head Justine Delroy, who is based in the firm’s Leeds and Manchester offices, ‘rises to all challenges and has an enthusiasm for technical detail’. Michael Hunter delivers ‘pragmatic advice’, and managing associate Catherine Concannon is ‘a very impressive negotiator’.

DLA Piper UK LLPresponds promptly’ and provides ‘thorough and detailed advice’ to clients such as Conviviality Retail, Flowtech Fluidpower, Scapa and Heineken. David Thompson is singled out for his ‘experience and judgement’. Legal director Stephen Jones is also recommended.

Specialist corporate tax firm MSA Law Limited has a ‘fantastic reputation’. Clients single out ‘superb tax lawyers’ Bernard McIlroy and Fiona Sutherland.

The ‘knowledgeable and professional’ department at Pinsent Masons LLP is ‘able to provide quality advice in a timely fashion, with an understanding of the business context’. Clients include William Hill, Speedy Hire, Halfords Group and Greene King. Lynette Jacobs heads the team, which includes senior associate Steven Porter and chartered accountant and chartered tax adviser Heather Self.

Squire Patton Boggs acts for a number of regional and national clients including Reward Gateway, GB Group, HB Villages and CBRE Group. ‘Responsive and commercial’ team head Patrick Ford and associate Victoria Carpenter are recommended.

At Brabners LLP, team head Mark Whiteside (who splits his time between the firm’s Manchester and Liverpool offices) acts for a range of companies and individuals, and has particular strength in contentious and non-contentious VAT matters.

At DWF, Leeds-based John Toon heads the team. Associates James Cashman, and Sam Dooley, who recently joined from Addleshaw Goddard LLP, are recommended.

At Gateley Plc, legal director Richard Clitherow works closely with the firm’s Birmingham office to advise clients across the North West.

At Weightmans LLP, the ‘notable’ Haydn Rogan advised Imagen Biotech Limited on a share capital restructuring to introduce a new class of growth shares and to implement a new employee share scheme.

EU and competition

Index of tables

  1. EU and competition
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

DWF is rated ‘excellent on state aid’ matters. Jonathan Branton (who splits his time between Manchester and Leeds) heads the team, which advises clients such as Morrisons, Birmingham City Council, UK Commission for Employment & Skills, and Dairy UK. Also recommended are associate Jay Mehta, Michael Mousdale, who is experienced in public procurement, and recently promoted partner Colin Murray. The practice was strengthened by the opening of its Brussels office in 2015 and the recruitment of James Lupton from Eversheds LLP. Howard Cartlidge, the former head of EU and competition at Olswang LLP, recently joined the firm's London office.

Clients of Weightmans LLP’s ‘excellent’ team include C P Foods, Healthcare at Home, Edward Billington & Son and Motor Insurers’ Bureau. Key figures include ‘experienced’ department head Laurence Pritchard, Gary Jones, who handles state aid matters, and Martin Vincent, who advises on public procurement.

Mark Molyneux is the key figure at Addleshaw Goddard LLP following the departure of former national team head Phil McDonnell to join Ernst & Young.

Pannone Corporate LLP was bolstered by the arrival of Tristan Meears-White from DWF in May 2015. He is ‘a good listener with the intelligence and acumen to provide relevant advice first time’.

Squire Patton Boggs’ clients benefit from the firm’s national and international network of offices, enabling it to handle large-scale merger control reviews, judicial review proceedings and behavioural investigations before the European Commission and the High Court. Senior associate Nicola Elam and Diarmuid Ryan, who is based in London and Manchester, are recommended.

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