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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > Northern Ireland > Corporate and commercial > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Who Represents Who

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A&L Goodbody ’s corporate group is highly regarded for its ability to provide ‘expert advice across the broadest range of corporate law’. 2017 saw the team handle inbound investments into Northern Ireland and high-value M&A work, predominantly in the manufacturing and renewables sectors. In an energy-related highlight, Mark Thompson, who attracts praise for his experience in energy-related corporate transactions, led advice to Viridian in its acquisition of renewable energy company Dargan Road as part of its expansion from wind and natural gas to the waste-to-energy sector. In a tech-related highlight, practice head Alastair Keith  represented the shareholders of ticketing software company Ingresso in a £17.5m disposal of the issued share capital in the company to Accesso Technology Group. In a prominent M&A deal, the team assisted JBS, a Brazilian meat processing company, with its $1bn sale of Northern Ireland-based poultry producer Moy Park to US-based poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride. The team also includes Peter Stafford, who is singled out for his ‘calm head and tremendous attention to detail’.

Arthur Cox Belfast ’s ‘very responsive’ corporate team attracts praise for its ability to provide ‘technically superb’ advice to international and local clients from the agri-food, technology, energy, retail and pharmaceutical sectors. Agri-food-sector highlights included advising Northern Ireland-based food producer Dunbia on its high-profile merger and joint venture with meat producer Dawn Meats, which involved competition issues across international jurisdictions, and representing US-based poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride in its $1bn acquisition of Northern Ireland-based poultry producer Moy Park. Tech-sector highlights included acting for Ulster University in a joint venture project with BT, which involved the construction of the BT Ireland Innovation Centre. Alan Taylor heads the practice, which includes key partners Paul McBride and the ‘very commercialLynsey Mallon.

The corporate practice at Carson McDowell has been particularly busy with buy-side mandates for clients from the technology, energy, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, notably on private equity-related investment matters. In a key transaction, Neasa Quigley led advice to technology company Options regarding a $100m investment by New York-based private equity fund Bregal Sagemount. Gerard Armstrong assisted Davy UK with its acquisition of Danske Bank’s wealth management business, involving the transfer of over 1,000 customer investment portfolios. In another standout deal, the firm acted for Dalradian Resources in a C$78m private placement financing with Orion Mine Finance Fund II and Osisko Gold Royalties. Other clients include Helm Housing Association, the Aegion Corporation and Vinci Energies UK. Quigley jointly heads the team with Richard Gray.

The corporate team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin  continued to assist clients from the technology, energy, pharmaceuticals and real estate sectors, and saw an increase in instructions from the agri-food and manufacturing sectors. Recent highlights include advising pork production company JMW Farms on the acquisition of the business and assets of Woodlark Farming and assisting LE Pritchitt & Co, a member of the Lakeland Dairies Group, with three contracts to install two production lines in a cross-border matter involving Germany, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The group also represented not-for-profit company Catalyst in a successful proposal for a new innovation centre to be constructed in Ballymena. Practice head Hilary Griffith has a ‘good personal style but can be tough when required’. In June 2017 Scott Kennedy moved to Millar McCall Wylie LLP .

Tughans ’ corporate practice, which is singled out for its ‘excellent local knowledge of the market’, has been acting on large-scale transactions and investments across the real estate, technology, logistics, manufacturing and retail sectors; private equity work is another area of strength. Highlights included John McGuckian advising pharmaceutical contract research company Fusion Antibodies on its multimillion-pound listing on the Alternative Investment Market; the company was the only trading entity to list its shares on the stock exchange in 2017. John-George Willis heads the practice and is widely recognised for his corporate expertise. Investment fund expert and ‘excellent corporate lawyerCiara Lagan advised biometric authentication development company B-Secur on an investment of £3.5m by a syndicate comprising venture capital funds Accelerated Digital Ventures and Kernel Capital and four individuals.

Following its merger with commercial law boutique McMahon McKay in 2017, Keystone Law  is very well known for its track record on M&A and investment work. The group represents buy-side and sell-side clients from a range of sectors, including manufacturing and real estate. Highlights included advising a prominent investment fund on the £70m investment in Halo Belfast, a 5-year cyber and economic development project. John McMahon  leads the team, in which J P Irvine  and Danny McKay  are key names.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP ’s ‘very responsive’ corporate team has handled instructions from clients in the technology, real estate, renewables and infrastructure sectors. In a standout transaction, the group acted for DRC Capital in its multimillion-pound sale of the CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast to Wirefox. In another matter, the firm assisted computer animation company Humain with a £1m investment made by Crescent Capital, techstartNI and Innovation Ulster. Practice head Damian McParland attracts praise for his ‘very strong commercial acumen’. Abbie Long is another name to note. In June 2017, Scott Kennedy joined from Cleaver Fulton Rankin .

Recent work for Mills Selig’s corporate team is dominated by mandates from the technology sector, although the firm is also experienced in finance, insurance, real estate and renewables. The group assists clients with investments, acquisitions and mergers. IT specialist Kathryn Walls advised Northern Ireland-based software firm Locum Match First Derivatives on a follow-on equity investment from an institutional investor and a group of private investors, and assisted clinical communication software company Clinishare with a £1m investment from a private investor group from Crescent Capital. Other clients include First Derivatives and Tullymore House. Chris Guy  leads the practice.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP ’s corporate team provides an ‘excellent level of service’ and is highly regarded for energy transactions, for which Richard Murphy is the key name. The firm has seen a recent uptick in instructions relating to dental business acquisitions; practice head Kevin Devanny led the team advising dental supplier BF Mulholland on the sale of the business to dental dealer Dental Directory in Northern Ireland and the UK. Devanny also assisted Portman Healthcare with its acquisition of four dental practices in Northern Ireland, and the group advised Bupa Dental Care on its ongoing acquisition of four dental practices and two dental laboratories in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the UK. Associate Lisa Early is also recommended.

Davidson McDonnell Solicitors > Belfast advises investor clients on M&A deals and joint ventures in Northern Ireland and across the UK, and is noted for its expertise in matters involving real estate and technology. In a standout deal, the group assisted Northern Ireland-based investment and development firm Wirefox with its acquisition of the CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast, valued at £123m. In another key matter, the firm represented Alyson Hogg, CEO of beauty products company Vita Liberata, in the sale of her shareholding in the company to US pharmaceutical firm Crown Laboratories. Crescent Capital is another key client. Consultant Vicky Dummigan leads the team, which includes founding partners and property experts Ross Davidson and David McDonnell.

Elliott Duffy Garrett ’s corporate team has a reputation for handling instructions from clients in the agri-food sector. Highlights in 2017 included advising an agri-food sector client on the second phase of a significant joint venture involving negotiating investment and shareholder agreements. The group is advising a large charity registered in Northern Ireland on a merger with another local charity possessing similar objectives. Other clients come from the technology and pharmaceutical sectors. Kevin McVeigh leads the team, which also includes associate Caoimhe McCullagh .

Johnsons Solicitors ’s ‘timely, knowledgeable and efficient’ corporate team handles mergers and acquisitions as well as investment work for retail, motor and hospitality sector clients, among others. In a standout matter, the group advised car dealership company the Isaac Agnew Group on selling its Suzuki franchise business to the Donnelly Group. The ‘pragmaticRhys Jones heads the practice.

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