Corporate and commercial: Edinburgh and Glasgow
Corporate and commercial: Edinburgh and Glasgow
DWF Biggart Baillie(Edinburgh)
- Gillespie Macandrew LLP (Edinburgh)
Harper Macleod LLP(Glasgow)
Corporate finance boutique Dickson Minto WS has established a deep practice in the private equity market, and in 2011 commercial property specialist Ewan Gilchrist advised Dunedin on its £44m buyout of Red Commerce. The experienced Bruce Minto leads the team, which includes Douglas Armstrong, Kevan McDonald and Andrew Todd.
Dundas & Wilson CS LLP’s strong institutional client base – including RBS and Lloyds Banking Group, among others – has been a core driver of its success in the transactional space. In 2011 it represented the institutional shareholders of oil services company PSN in its sale to Aberdeen-based John Wood Group for £607m. Edinburgh-based Douglas Crawford, Wendy Colquhoun, Michael Polson and David Hardie are all recommended, as is Glasgow-based Graeme Bruce.
Maclay Murray & Spens LLP maintained a high transactional workload, including acting for Associated Seafoods Limited in a £12.9m investment by Scottish Seafood Investments. Glasgow-based Kenneth Shand leads the 11-partner team, which includes the highly regarded Brian Moore in Edinburgh. Richard Cockburn joined the Aberdeen office from Shepherd and Wedderburn.
Pinsent Masons LLP’s merger with McGrigors LLP married the two firms’ strengths in the energy sector. In 2011, the former McGrigors team represented PSN in its £607m merger with John Wood Group. On the legacy Pinsents side, a team led by the ‘genuinely unstuffy’ Derek Stroud advised AIM-listed Minoan Group on its acquisition of John Semple Travel.
Shepherd and Wedderburn’s corporate practice has strengths in the energy, natural resources, finance, real estate and infrastructure sectors. Highlights included acting for Infinis on its £174m acquisition of the companies owning the Minsca, Dalswinton and Slieve Divena wind farms from Scottish & Southern Energy. Practice head Andrew Blain has ‘a keen commercial sense and is very well connected within the Edinburgh legal and business community’, and is ably supported by the ‘diligent’ Stephen Trombala, Walter Blake, Michael Wylie and Rodger Cairns, who is ‘a top man for share plans’. George Frierjoined from McClure Naismith LLP.
Brodies LLP, which provides ‘excellent value for money and industry knowledge’, acted on more deals than any other Scottish firm in 2011, with an aggregate value in excess of £7bn. Julian Voge leads the ten-partner team, which acted on Edinburgh’s largest investment deal of 2011 when it represented the buyer in a share purchase deal to acquire Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh’s largest shopping mall. Andrew Rigby has ‘a vast depth of knowledge’.
With a client base that includes BlueGem Capital Partners and Maxim Integrated Products, Burness LLP continues to dominate the corporate finance market in Scotland, and in 2011 advised on some 50 deals with a combined value edging above £4bn. Peter Lawson’s seven-partner team acted for AIM-listed SeaEnergy on its £42m sale of its 80% interest in SeaEnergy Renewables to Repsol. Lorna Finlayson, Tony Byrne and Walter Clark are also recommended.
DLA Piper Scotland LLP’s managing partner and practice head Simon Rae is ‘very easy to work with’. He and his team acted for Inaer Aviation on its £300m acquisition of Bond Aviation Group. The Scotland office is highlighted as providing ‘much better value for money than London firms’.
Anderson Strathern gives ‘accommodating, measured advice’ in the energy and technology sectors, with its capability in the latter area boosted by the hire of Leigh Davidson from Lindsays. In 2011 it acted for John Martin Group in its purchase of the Glasgow Hyundai motor dealership and service centre from Hytec (Glasgow) Limited. Corporate group head Simon Brown is recommended, as is ‘patient, helpful’ senior associate Ewan Regan.
HBJ Gateley’s strong track record with SMEs and private equity companies, as well as a growing base of larger corporates, makes it a go-to firm in entrepreneurial and high-growth sectors. Practice head Fraser Jackson and his five-partner team acted for Capital Pub Company on its £93m takeover by Greene King. David Horne joined from Murray International Holdings.
MacRoberts LLP represents a diverse corporate client base, and handles a growing number of cross-border mandates for overseas clients. Reflecting this and its core strengths in the transport, infrastructure and energy sectors, the team acted for Australia-based Sinclair Knight Merz Group on its acquisition of Colin Buchanan & Partners. Robert Burns and team head Alan Kelly are recommended.
McClure Naismith LLP represented Phoenician Corporation V Limited on its reverse takeover of Prime Investments Group Limited.
Austin Flynn’s corporate team at Morton Fraser advised the shareholders of Schuh Limited on its sale to Genesco. Adrian Bell is also recommended, along with consultant Iain Meiklejohn, who joined from Shepherd and Wedderburn.
DWF Biggart Baillie’s ‘highly responsive’ team advised McGill’s Bus Services Limited on the acquisition of Arriva Group plc’s Scottish bus passenger division. Derek Ellery is recommended for his ‘knowledge and good manner’.
Christopher Smith’s team at Gillespie Macandrew LLP is noted for its ‘partner-led service and good attention to detail’, and recently expanded its commercial offering by recruiting Morag Radcliffe from Archibald Campbell & Harley WS. Its strong base among family-owned businesses and other SMEs makes it a regular fixture in sub-£50m transactions.
Harper Macleod LLP has a strong SME client base, and is particularly well regarded for its renewable energy and public sector expertise. In 2011 it acted for Arriva on the sale of Arriva Scotland West Limited to McGill’s Bus Service Limited. Team head Donald Munro, Christopher Kerr and Paula Skinner are the key figures.
Lindsays’ niche technology practice acts for spinout companies and angel investors on financing matters. In 2011 it was appointed as representative to The James Hutton Institute, which was created by the merger of The Scottish Crop Research Institute and The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute. Practice head David Wood is recommended.
Semple Fraser LLP is particularly well respected for its real estate and renewable energy expertise. In 2011 it acted for Eden Springs UK Limited on the purchase of the entire issued share capital of Shakespeare Coffee Company Limited. Practice head Bill Fowler and Scott Kerr are recommended.
Tods Murray LLP provides ‘overall great service and good value compared to others’, and represents a growing commercial client base, including new clients Scott Moncrieff and Daysoft Limited. Practice head Malcolm Holmes is recommended, as is the ‘very commercial’ Stephen Chan. Granger Brash retired.
Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in Scotland
Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in Scotland
Raeburn Christie Clark & Wallace(Aberdeen)
The Commercial Law Practice(Aberdeen)
Paull & Williamsons LLP ‘more than matches any other Scottish firm for industry awareness, value for money, proactive and business-minded solutions, and adherence to deadlines’. In 2011 it acted on 34 deals, a large proportion of which were in the oil and gas sector. Kenneth Gordon heads the team, which includes ‘astute, calm and thorough’ managing partner Scott Allan.
Pinsent Masons LLP’s merger with McGrigors LLP brought Aberdeen-based oil and gas experts Bob Ruddiman and Roger Connon into the fold. They led a multidisciplinary team representing global oil services business PSN in its £607m sale to John Wood Group. John Rutherford and David McEwing are also recommended.
Ledingham Chalmers LLP’s practice straddles the energy and public sectors through its offices in Aberdeen and Inverness. In 2011, Rod Hutchison advised Tendeka BV on the pre-sale restructuring and disposal of its subsidiary to Nova Metrix. Practice head Malcolm Laing is also recommended.
Blackadders LLP has ‘sufficient strength and depth to advise on the full range of issues that arise on acquisitions and disposals’. The Dundee-based corporate and commercial practice has a particular focus on life sciences, and in 2011 represented The Insights Group in a joint venture with a Benelux partner. Campbell Clark provides ‘an exceptional quality of service’.
Blackwood Partners LLP’s ‘small but knowledgeable team’ was created in 2011 by former Maclay Murray & Spens LLP partners Alastair Wyper, Scott Swankie and Judith Stewart. It has already accumulated a significant client base that includes Maven Capital Partners and The Scottish Loan fund. Swankie ‘particularly understands what is needed from a practical perspective’.
Brodies LLP’s Aberdeen office hit the ground running following its inception in 2011 through the recruitment of Clare Munro from Total and the firm’s strategic merger with local commercial firm Davies Wood Summers LLP. In 2011, it represented Transocean Drilling in its negotiations with various purchasers of Transocean’s shareholding in Challenger Minerals (North Sea) Limited. Gill Summers is also recommended.
Splitting his time between the firm’s Edinburgh and Inverness offices, Harper Macleod LLP’s Christopher Kerr advises family-owned and owner-managed businesses on corporate and commercial matters.
Despite Alastair Wyper’s departure to form Blackwood Partners LLP, Maclay Murray & Spens LLP maintains an active presence in Aberdeen through Uisdean Vass, Gordon Hobkirk, and oil and gas specialist Richard Cockburn, who joined from Shepherd and Wedderburn.
Thorntons Law LLP’s practice spans the telecoms, education and healthcare sectors. Michael Royden is the key figure.
Keith Napier is the main corporate partner in Raeburn Christie Clark & Wallace’s Aberdeen office.
The Commercial Law Practice’s Keir Willox has expertise in MBOs and business transfers.
Maclay Murray & Spens LLP’s corporate tax practice brings together legal and chartered accountancy expertise, with the combined offering making it ‘as good as, if not better than, the Big Four accounting firms and the Magic Circle’. In 2011 it advised Scottish Equity Partners on the tax implications of its investment in Media Ingenuity Holdings. Gwen Souter heads the practice, which also features director Lorna McCaa, who has ‘superb knowledge of tax law’.
Brodies LLP’s three-partner corporate tax team provides ‘very structured, straightforward, comprehensible advice in areas where the statutory code can sometimes be complex and cumbersome’. It expanded its offering in 2011, adding director Nigel Watson, an expert in employee benefits/share schemes, from Addleshaw Goddard LLP, and associate Joanna Clark, who has contentious experience, from Shepherd and Wedderburn. The group has strong property tax expertise, particularly in relation to Scottish stamp duty land tax (SDLT), and in 2011 it advised Scottish Borders Council on the SDLT issues arising from a residual waste services PPP contract. Isobel d’Inverno is ‘a very skilful communicator’.
Burness LLP’s corporate tax team advised Sea Energy on the tax aspects of its disposal of shares in Sea Energy Renewables to Repsol, and NASDAQ-listed Maxim Technology Limited in its acquisition of the entire share capital of Genasic Designs. John Finnick’s team is also experienced in advising investors and managers on private equity investment structures.
MacRoberts LLP’s corporate tax group advised the UK subsidiary of Munich-based TUV SUD Group on the tax implications of its acquisition of Wallace Whittle Holdings. Ainsley MacLaren leads the team.
Karen Davidson’s Scottish tax team is now part of Pinsent Masons LLP. It advised on the tax aspects of PSN’s merger with John Wood Group, which involved structuring employee incentive arrangements, and acted as tax adviser to Goldfield Partners’ solar EIS fund.
Shepherd and Wedderburn’s ‘extremely efficient and approachable’ tax team handles bespoke tax planning for shareholders as well as corporate tax work for clients such as Cairn Energy and Heineken UK. In 2011 it acted for British Airways Pension Fund on the VAT, SDLT and capital allowance aspects of its disposal of part of Straiton Park, Midlothian. Stephen Miller provides ‘excellent and clear advice’.
Highlights for Ronnie Brown’s corporate tax team at DWF Biggart Baillie included advising Visit Scotland on the tax implications of its purchase of the business and assets of eTourism Limited. It has experience advising retailers such as J Sainsbury, Arcadia and Marks and Spencer plc on SDLT, VAT and capital allowance matters.
Dundas & Wilson CS LLP’s corporate tax team acted on the tax aspects of Netherlands-based Stork Technical Services’ worldwide corporate acquisition of the RBG Group. Jim Hillan splits his time between Edinburgh and London.
EU and competition
EU and competition
Maclay Murray & Spens LLP provides ‘faultlessly useable advice’. Michael Dean and two other partners cover the full gamut of competition law matters, from merger clearances to complex investigations. In 2011 it acted for Stagecoach Group in a Competition Commission investigation into the local bus market. Dean combines ‘amenability with a no-nonsense approach to his area of the law’, and Catriona Munro has ‘a grasp of detail few can match’.
Gordon Downie’s competition team at Shepherd and Wedderburn acted for Lothian Buses in securing interim orders from the Court of Session against Edinburgh Airport in relation to its plans to award an exclusive right to operate a bus service between the airport and Edinburgh city centre. John Schmidt is also recommended.
Building on Mark Clough QC’s arrival, Brodies LLP’s competition practice made great strides in 2011, which was capped off by the opening of offices in Brussels and Aberdeen. ‘Among the leading pack in Scotland for public law and competition issues’, it represented Lothian Buses in the Competition Commission investigation into the local bus services market. The ‘outstanding’ Christine O’Neill is ‘very commercial and delivers her advice with humour and sagacity’, and associate Charles Livingstone ‘knows Scottish public law inside out’.
Burness LLP’s practice is ‘easy to work with and gives a clear assessment of risk’ in EU procurement and state aid matters. Recent highlights include providing EU procurement law advice to Glasgow City Council regarding an unsuccessful bidder’s challenge to a waste contract award. David Goodbrand heads the team, which includes ‘public sector expert’ Stephen Phillips.
DWF Biggart Baillie’s competition team has ‘a high degree of knowledge and expertise’ in investigatory work and procurement matters. In 2011 it advised Fife Council on UK and EU procurement rules applicable to development agreements for a site owned by the council at John Smith Business Park. Team head Colin Miller is ‘always able to address any challenge’.
Dundas & Wilson CS LLP’s competition law practice draws strength from the firm’s track record in the financial services, utilities and public sectors. In 2011 it advised Clyde Union Pumps on the competition law aspects of its £750m sale to SPX Corporation. Peter Willis leads the team, which is based in London.
Highlights for David Flint’s competition practice at MacRoberts LLP included advising a major UK commercial property owner on competition issues arising from the land agreement for a proposed development.
Anderson Strathern’s competition and procurement expertise spans the public and private sectors, and it represents clients such as Glasgow School of Art and Lloyds Pharmacy. In 2011 it advised a large international construction company on EU procurement matters arising from its participation in a consortium bid for a PFI schools contract. Karyn Watt is the key figure.
The merger with McGrigors LLP was a boost to Pinsent Masons LLP’s public sector procurement capability; Stuart Cairns is recommended.