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  1. Corporate and commercial: Newcastle
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Bond Dickinson LLP’s sizeable team regularly acts on large-scale corporate transactions for FTSE 100 companies and global corporates, as well as high-end start-ups and private equity companies. In a highlight deal Ben Butler, who is skilled in fundraisings and group reorganisations, acted for Atom Bank on its £135m equity fundraising, which involved investments from several banks and investment management companies. Butler heads the team alongside Jamie Pass (who ‘knows how to get the deal done’) and Simon Watts. Tax specialist Jeremy Smith, is ‘very responsive, practical, and extremely user-friendly’. Robert Phillips joined in early 2016 from Muckle LLP.

Muckle LLP’s corporate practice stands out for its ‘excellent job of supporting both for profit and not-for-profit organisations in their commercial endeavours’. Recent work includes acting for the selling shareholders of CAV Aerospace on its sale to Better Capital. New clients include Rosewood Packaging, Bay Plastics and Design For Sport Developments. Andrew Davison leads the practice.

Karen Simms leads Sintons LLP’s team, which regularly handles high-value corporate transactions in the financial services, energy, waste, care and leisure sectors. Other key figures include Amanda Maskery, who specialises in sales and acquisitions of dental practices, and Matt Collen, who is ‘commercial, pragmatic, knowledgeable and a good negotiator’ and has expertise in private equity transactions. Adrian Dye and Christopher Welch are also recommended.

Ward Hadaway’s team recently acted for the shareholders on the disposal of Bake Northern Holdings, and for The Pen Shop on its change of ownership. Corporate head Martin Hulls is noted for his ability to instil ‘a high degree of confidence within the whole transaction team’. Commercial practice head Colin Hewitt is also recommended.

Eversheds LLP’s Newcastle presence is complemented by the firm’s extensive international practice, making the corporate practice a natural choice for cross-border deals. Corporate head Charles Reynard recently led a group reorganisation for Nomad Holdings, which included the re-designation of share capital to align with shareholder requirements.

Hay & Kilner’s team provides ‘first-rate advice that is thorough, comprehensive and delivered in terms a layman can understand’. Team head Jonathan Waters receives praise for his combination of ‘deep knowledge with a balanced approach’. Mark Adams led advice to Chambers Chemist on the disposal of three pharmacies.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP acts for clients including Northern Bear plc, Metnor Group, Ulysses Leisure Group and Bede Gaming. Paul Hughes heads the team and is noted for his advice on IPOs and AIM flotations. John Nicholson recently advised a US-based, NASDAQ-listed company on acquisitions in the UK and Europe.

Noted for its ‘excellent in-house expertise’, Watson Burton LLP’s corporate team has particular strength in the technology, leisure, energy and waste sectors. Practice leader Duncan Reid ‘is great at governance and corporate structures; his proactive approach is a valuable addition to a mandate’.

Key figures at Square One Law include Alan Fletcher, who is dual-qualified in Scotland and England, and Ian Gilthorpe, who is highly experienced in both private and public sector commercial projects.

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