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Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Greg Leyshon - Osborne Clarke
    • Andrew Peddie - Pitmans LLP

Blake Morgan LLP’s ‘strong team’ is singled out for its ability to deliver ‘very thoughtful responses, a good perspective on issues and fast response times’. The group has been highly active in the technology and private equity spaces; highlights included acting for Maven Capital Partners and Mobeus Equity Partners, as well as individual management members, on a high-value disposal of Westway Service Holdings. The group also advised The Mission Marketing Group on its acquisition of Chapter Agency. Corporate practice head Michael Stace splits his time between Oxford and Reading and has strong M&A expertise, while Reading-based Alison Patten-Hall leads the commercial team. Also recommended are Guy Constant, who acts for clients in the health sector, and Penny Rinta-Suksi, who regularly advises on commercial contracts.

Freeths’ ‘high-calibre team’ is noted for its ‘swift, efficient management of the transaction process’. Corporate head Leon Arnold is ‘an exceptional lawyer who ticks all the boxes’ and ‘fully understands the client’s business’; Arnold recently acted for the shareholders of Oxford Technologies on the sale of shares to Kurion, and advised the shareholders of Two Circles on the sale of a majority stake to WPP. Malcolm Sadler’s clients include Adestra, The Brunsdon Family and Oxford Cryosystems.

Osborne Clarke provides ‘a high quality of service at Reading rates’ and is noted for its international expertise, along with its strength in the digital business, financial services and real estate sectors. Highlights included advising Funding Circle on its $150m equity fundraising; acting for Majestic Wine on its £70m acquisition of Naked Wines; and assisting Lloyds Development Capital with its £500m disposal of United House Developments. M&A expert Sara Valentine heads the corporate practice, with Russell Bowyer focusing on commercial work. Private equity partners Greg Leyshon, Robert Wood and James Massy-Collier are also recommended.

Clients of Shoosmiths LLP cite its ‘personalised approach’ as well as its ‘willingness to take the time to understand the client’s industry,’ as key factors in its success. Department head Emma Gibson handles private equity, venture capital and M&A work, and recently advised Magma Global on a £40m funding round involving the introduction of a new investor. Paul de Vince is the key contact for commercial matters. Adam Dowdney joined IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) in April 2016.

Boyes Turner stands out for its ‘knowledgeable, researched responses’ and for its ‘good understanding of the client’s business requirements’. The firm has a strong client base within the IT, media and transport sectors; commercial and technology head Mark Blunden has acted for Panasonic, Ampegon and EPossibilities on various cross-border corporate and transactional matters. Highlights for Bill Gornall-King included advising the National Association of Goldsmiths on governance and compliance issues. Senior associate Sarah Williamson is also recommended.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP advises on the full gamut of transactional matters, and practice head Penelope Garden has notable expertise in private equity and venture capital work. The firm acted for Thames Valley Capital on its £1.5m acquisition of Real Engineering, and advised the management of Whistl on its management buyout. Jeremy Parkes and Ian Wood-Smith advise corporate clients on high-value transactions.

Penningtons Manches LLP has a particular focus on the technology, life sciences, media and publishing sectors, advising clients on M&A and on all stages of the equity investment cycle. Will Axtell acted for Bush & Co Rehabilitation on the £28m sale of share capital to NAHL Group, and Rob Hayes advised Veryan Holdings on an £18m fundraising by a syndicate of international investors. Simon Bickerdike heads the corporate practice, which includes technology expert Nicola McConville, who recently joined from Blake Morgan LLP.

White & Black Limited combines ‘excellent value for money’ with ‘strong business acumen and a wide breadth of expertise’. Practice co-heads Phil Riman and John Allen advised Fresh Holdings on its private equity-backed joint venture with Brakes, and Riman is also acting for an e-commerce business on a range of mandates, including two funding rounds and mezzanine debt totalling £45m. The group’s strong technology practice acts for clients including Concorde Software, Data Certainty and The Numerical Algorithms Group.

Herrington Carmichael LLP stands out for its ‘unique blend of industry knowledge and experience, as well as its in-depth knowledge of the client’s business’. Practice head Yavan Brar is ‘knowledgeable, reliable and quick to respond’, and is recommended alongside the ‘commercially astuteMark Chapman. The practice has acted on numerous cross-border deals for a client base that includes financial services companies such as Metro Bank and Ascot Lloyd Financial Services.

Pitmans LLP advised on numerous acquisitions and disposals throughout 2015, and has notable strength in the banking, automotive and technology sectors. Andrew Peddie has strong expertise in joint ventures, equity fundraisings and reorganisations, alongside transactional M&A, and Roger Gregory has significant cross-border experience for clients across Europe and the US. Highlights included acting for the sellers of ITP Group and its subsidiaries. Other clients include Starflight Aviation, Ridgeway Group and New York Bakery Company.

At Blandy & Blandy LLP, practice head David Few acted for the shareholders of Stontronics on its £6.5m sale to Stadium Group, which involved a preliminary group restructuring. Few also advised Lloyds Bank on a loan to Wharton Park Golf and Country Club. Nick Burrows and Debbie Brett, who head the charity and IP practices, respectively, advise on a variety of corporate, commercial and contentious matters.

At Clarkslegal LLPAshan Arif advises a wide range of clients on private equity, M&A, restructurings and asset finance, among other matters. Highlights for Jon Chapman included acting for OASIS on its acquisition of a company based in the North East of the UK. Carillion, Laser SA and the University of Reading are also clients.

Gardner Leader LLP’s team ‘exceeds all expectations’. Key figures include Emma Ladd, who is ‘extremely good with SMEs and partnership conflict’; practice head Greg Humphreys, who specialises in property work; and Richard Buckeridge, who advises on various acquisitions and disposals. Highlights included advising JEB Europe on a new distribution arrangement.

Headed by ‘outstanding commercial lawyerJohn Spratt, Spratt Endicott’s practice provides ‘accurate and timely advice’ and ‘always seeks to understand the client’s objectives’. Hitendra Patel’s expertise spans M&A, joint ventures, franchises and insolvency. Kärcher (UK) and De Boer Group are key clients.

Royds Withy King’s Richard Baxter has substantial experience in high-value M&A, and has also advised on numerous insolvencies and restructurings. Associate Rishi Ladwa is the other key contact. Clients include HSBC, InvestUK, Oxford Ventures and Bespoke Distribution Aviation.

Brethertons LLP is noted for its ‘commercial approach to transactions’, and for its ability to ‘accommodate the needs of local businesses’. IT and technology-focused Brian Auld is the key figure.

Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors stands out for its ‘thorough responses, good value for money’, and for its ‘attentiveness’. Bill Annan has ‘great depth of knowledge’, and Barry Niven is an ‘expert problem-solver with extensive knowledge’.

Corporate and commercial: Kent, Surrey, Sussex

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Kent, Surrey, Sussex
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Clyde & Co LLP’s team focuses on all aspects of corporate and commercial work, including M&A, joint ventures and strategic alliances. Andrew Trotter specialises in company sales and purchases, and Nick Purnell handles outsourcings and commercial projects. Legal director Stuart Hutson advises on management buyouts and is noted for his particular experience in franchising. Former legal director Vicki Abberton moved to FromCounsel, a legal resources website, and Simon Vere Nicoll is now based in the London office.

The ‘very responsive and supportive’ team at Cripps LLP regularly handles high-value acquisitions, management buyouts and corporate transactions. James Beatton heads the practice, which recently advised Balreed Digitec and its shareholders on its sale to Apogee Corporation, which involved the re-investment of the founding shareholder into the new group. Other clients include Lloyds Bank and Shinhan Bank.

Thomas Eggar LLP merged with Irwin Mitchell in 2015, giving the latter firm a strong commercial foothold in the region. Faye Bargery specialises in corporate and banking transactions. Neil Hart and Daniel Bastide are also noted for their experience in all aspects of corporate and commercial work. Matthew Newman left the firm for an in-house counsel position.

Stevens & Bolton LLP’s practice is headed by James Waddell – who took over from Keith Syson in 2015 – and includes Beverley Whittaker, who leads the specialist commercial law team. The ‘exemplaryRichard Baxter advised PCI Consulting Group on its sale to Wood Mackenzie. Other highlights included handling Thirty Three’s sale to Capita.

asb law LLP recently assisted insurance company Markerstudy Holdings with its purchase of Ultimate HC and the transfer of its six subsidiaries. Other clients include Venus Wine & Spirit Merchants and EU Supply. Helen Mead heads the ten-strong team and is supported by corporate finance specialist Russell Bell commercial expert Debbie Venn.

At Charles Russell Speechlys LLP the ‘approachable, commercial and knowledgeableTim Jenkins is known for his strength in pharmaceutical transactions. Other key figures include practice head Geoffrey Sparks, who advised on Robert Walker’s demerger through a capital reduction, and Catherine Drew, who assisted Inqo Investments with its admission to trading on ISDX. Acal and The Consort Group are also clients.

At DMH Stallard LLP, the 16-strong team regularly work with clients such as Ivy Press and Small Batch Coffee Company; work for the latter includes advising the client on its management buyout, backed by a private equity investment. Abigail Owen is recommended for her ‘strong communication skills and ability to stay on brief’, and head Jonathan Grant is well regarded.

At Mundays LLP, ‘candid, calm, and extremely knowledgeable’ practice head Neale Andrews assisted ChannelAdvisor Corporation with on post-merger completion matters, having previously advised on its $12m purchase of E-Tale Holdings. Other highlights for Andrews included acting for Baines Simmons on the sale of its issued share capital to Air Partner. Other clients include TM Lewin and Mallino Development. David Irving is ‘always helpful and a pleasure to deal with’.

Penningtons Manches LLP’s corporate and commercial practice has a life sciences and technology slant; highlights included advising LG Motion on its acquisition of a 65% controlling interest in Precision Acoustics. Simon Bickerdike heads the national team. Julian Harvey moved to Downs Solicitors LLP.

Rawlison Butler LLP specialises in mid-market transactions; highlights for Tim Sadka included advising IBA Group on the sale of its shares to Hockley Investments, and assisting Cambridge Capital Partners with its acquisition of medical equipment supplier Xograph Healthcare. Other clients include Swarovski, Suzuki GB and Arkose Group. Lisa Downs joined the commercial team from Fieldfisher.

At Barlow Robbins LLP, corporate and commercial head Mark Lucas assisted A.F.C.B. Enterprises with the sale of 25% of its shares in Bournemouth Football club to PEAK6. Head of corporate finance Philip Stephensonadds a level of pragmatism to the advice he gives’; he advised Evolve Secure Solutions on its acquisition of Genio Health and Life Sciences. Kate Norgett joined the firm from Clifford Chance.

Thomson Snell & Passmore’s team is ‘focused on outcomes rather than just the process’. Jointly led by Joanne Gallagher, the practice recently advised Borelli Tea Holdings on its acquisition of shares in a Rwandan tea company. Fellow co-head James Partridge acted alongside Nick Gabay for LetRisks on its £1.2m acquisition of The Landlord Hub. Other clients include Motorline Holdings, Bel UK and Meiosis.

Corporate and commercial: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx
  2. Leading individuals

The ‘superb’ team at B P Collins LLP is ‘commercially astute, personable, and up-to-date in the latest market metrics’. In an illustration of its strength in the waste management sector, the practice advised Biffa Waste Services on acquiring PHS Chemical Waste. Simon Deans (who combines ‘first-class client service with outstanding commercial and technical abilities’) leads the four-partner team, which includes Victoria Holland, Alex Zachary and David Smellie.

Dentons’ ‘excellent’ team is led by practice head Andrew Harris, who is valued for his ‘strong commercial acumen and team management’. The firm’s international footprint makes it a natural choice for cross-border deals, in addition to retaining an impressive roster of national clients. Highlights for senior associates Matthew Wilmot and Francesca Bettermann included advising Marshall Motors on its admission to the AIM. Other key names include Peter Cox, who provides the ‘perfect blend of commercial and legal advice’, managing associate Gary Smith, and senior associates Faye Garvey and Christopher Colclough.

EMW Law LLP acts for a core client base of owner-managed businesses, which seek it out for its track record in M&A. In 2015, Ian Morris led advice to the sole shareholder on the disposal of branded pharmaceutical business DB Ashbourne, while Simon Arkell assisted the selling shareholders with Antal’s purchase of Smart Moves Recruitment. Other key figures include corporate head Ian Mabbutt, James Geary, who leads the commercial practice, Nick Lloyd and Gurpreet Sanghera.

Freeths regularly acts for large corporate clients on UK-wide transactions. The group has handled several acquisitions for Wakefield-based AFI-Uplift in recent years and in 2015 Jonathan Hambleton advised on the purchase of Hampshire Plant and Access. Other headline matters included assisting the management shareholders with the £140m sale of CTC Aviation, an airline pilot training business and flight school. Andrew Sharplesmakes complex issues simple’.

Shoosmiths LLP’s ‘committed and commercial’ team has a strong track record of advising clients in the healthcare, technology and retail sectors. Sanjeev Sharma acted as part of a cross-office team for Truworths on its acquisition of a majority stake in Office Retail Group. On the commercial side, Sebastian Price (who ‘thinks outside the box’) assisted software provider Datix with entering the New Zealand market through a local reseller and agent.

From the firm’s Uxbridge base David Clark’s team at IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) acts for several multinational clients, including Renault UK and Cegedim, and is conducting ongoing reviews of commercial contracts for the latter. Adam Dowdney joined from Shoosmiths LLP in April 2016.

Machins Solicitors LLP’s ‘very competent’ team has a strong focus on transactional matters. Practice head Mark Pelopida, who is ‘exceptionally good with clients’, leads the team’s work in the aviation sector, with the support of consultant David Baggott. Jon Alvarez is another key name.

Chris Wilks (who stands out for his ‘insightful advice’) and Peter Goodman are the key contacts at the ‘excellentSA Law LLP, which acts for clients including CL Edwards and Rocket Medical.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s team is led by Mark Thompson, who has considerable experience in the energy sector. Bedfordia is a key client. Keith Spedding relocated to the firm’s Birmingham office in 2015.

Sherrards Solicitors LLP handles a broad range of work, with notable strength in media and entertainment sector mandates through Leigh Head, who acts for clients including Graphite Media. Highlights included advising Menkind Group on its acquisitions of Red5 and The Source.

Taylor Walton LLP bolstered its private equity credentials with the recruitment of Simon Hughes, formerly global private equity head at Baker & McKenzie LLP. M&A highlights for Mike Pettit included advising TRUMPF and its UK group company SPI Lasers on the acquisition of JK Lasers. Jeremy Brockis heads the corporate team.

Veale Wasbrough Vizards opened its new Watford office in 2016, which was staffed with a corporate and commercial team from Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP. Richard Phillips is the key name.

Corporate and commercial: Hampshire

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Hampshire
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Blake Morgan LLP’s ‘knowledge and experience of corporate transactions is first class’. James Hawkeswood heads the practice, which recently advised the shareholders of Blade Dynamics on its sale to General Electric. Mark Hepworth was part of the team assisting CVS Group in seven acquisitions in 2015, including Highcroft Pet Care. Other clients include BOFA International and Costa.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s ‘very diligent team’ is noted for its renewable energy focus, as illustrated by its advice to REG Windpower on its £24m sale of Denzell Downs wind farm to BlackRock Renewable Income UK demonstrative. Sebastian Briggs led on that deal, while Stephen Pierce advised Survitec Group on its £450m sale to Canadian private equity house Onex.

Shoosmiths LLP’s practice is led by the well-regarded Sean Wright and has access to a wide national network while still focusing on regional businesses. The team advised the management of 23.5 Degrees, Starbucks’ first franchisee globally, on Connection Capital’s equity investment into the client. Stephen Porterunderstands how to judge risks’. Lynn Knight is also recommended.

Paris Smith LLP’s ‘outstanding’ practice is led by Sean Davies, and regularly handles cross-border transactions; highlights included advising Belgium-based Diversi Foods on its acquisition of Montana Bakery. The ‘responsive and insightful’ Crispin Dick assisted Alliance One International with its $10m acquisition of the Ugandan operations of British American Tobacco. Associated British Ports and Purple Parking Group are also clients.

Coffin Mew LLP’s practice is led by Amanda Brockwell and Nick Gross, and assisted Pelgar International with its £6.5m acquisition of Agropharm Holdings. In another highlight, Gross advised BVG Airflo Group on a £10m investment by Business Growth Fund. Other clients include RBS, Capstone Foster Care and James Fisher.

Irwin Mitchell’s merger with Thomas Eggar LLP has given the firm access to a multi-office network across the South East. In Southampton, Kim Walker focuses on commercial law, while John Riddick and Dean Drew handle corporate finance transactions and M&A.

At Moore Blatch LLP practice head Roger Bailey assisted the shareholders of Armfield with its £10m sale to Judges Scientific, undertaking the role of lead adviser alongside two shareholders. Other clients include Bytes Technology Group, Cambridge Mineral Resource and Liberata. John Warchus joined from Clarkslegal LLP.

Mike Watson heads the team at Trethowans LLP, which added Sophie Eales in 2015 from Bond Dickinson LLP. Watson advised Harlow Brothers Holdings on its acquisition of Bolt Building Supplies. Other clients include Ladbrokes, The Innovation Group and Saint-Gobain.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s practice is headed by Kevin Balmont, who provides ‘practical advice in a commercial manner’ and recently advised Access Locksmiths on its £2m sale to Croma Security Solutions Group. Other highlights included assisting Cognia Cloud with multiple private equity investments. Richard Swain joined from Coffin Mew LLP.

Penningtons Manches LLP’s Basingstoke office leverages the firm’s network of offices to advise on corporate and commercial matters across the South East. Charles Brooks and Franco Bosi both have experience in M&A, corporate restructuring and joint ventures. Joanne Vengadesan focuses on commercial work, with a particular focus on IP and technology matters.

Pitmans LLP undertook several high-value transactions and acquisitions in 2015, with head Sean Kelly and Oliver Kelly playing central roles in many of these deals. Clients include Red Funnel Group Ferries, Altitude Partners LLP and Panoramic Growth Equity.

Corporate and commercial: Essex

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Essex
  2. Leading individuals

Rafael Ruiz at Birketts LLP is praised as a ‘great communicator’ with an ‘extensive knowledge of competition law’. Adam Jones led a team advising the owners of Alstons Furniture Group on its £24.5m sale to Thai Carpet Manufacturing Company. Nick Burnett advised both parties on the merger of Bird Luckin and Rickard Keen, two of the largest accountancy firms in Essex.

The team at Birkett Long LLP is led by Tracey Dickens and handles all aspects of corporate finance, banking, joint venture and commercial work. David Wisbey is also recommended.

The ‘hardworkingSeamus Clifford leads the practice at Ellisons Solicitors, which regularly advises shareholders and directors on sales and acquisitions; highlights included assisting the shareholders of Knight Developments with a management buyout.

The ‘responsive’ group at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP is led by Tony Fisher and gives ‘clear and authoritative advice’. It has particular strength in the sale and purchase of dental practices, as well as renewable energy sector transactions. Ashton Carter is also recommended.

Thompson Smith and Puxon’s team provides ‘well-researched legal advice on a wide variety of corporate matters’. Mary Anne Fedeyko is singled out for her ‘good business acumen and legal experience’. She advised E.S.C. (Europe) on the £2.1m sale of its share capital. Nick Mayles is also recommended.

Wortley Byers LLP’s ‘excellent’ and ‘exceptionally responsive’ team is noted for its ‘out of the box’ solutions. The group is led by the ‘commercially astute’ Sue Dowman and has a particular focus on the pharmaceutical sector, where it continues to assist Martindale Pharma with its expansion abroad. In another highlight, Lucy Folley has been advising Precision Lift Services on its multimillion-pound sale to Lakehouse.

Matthew Poli leads the team at Palmers, which advised on the sale of a fashion industry manufacturer and on the purchase of a financial advisory business.

Julien Pritchard heads the team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors, which ‘gets the job done efficiently, no matter how complicated’.

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP’s clients include care homes and car dealerships. Fiona Colwell, Wendy Cole and Mark Deans are recommended.

Corporate tax

At Blake Morgan LLP, practice head Simon Court has a strong focus on transactional tax matters. The group advised Beagle Healthcare and Albion Ventures on the tax aspects of its sale of joint venture Orchard Portman House to Cygnet Health Care.

Clarke Willmott LLP advised the sellers on the tax implications of the sale of shares in Forthglade Foods. Niall Murphy has ‘all-round skills and knowledge.’

At Stevens & Bolton LLP, Kate Schmit is experienced in advising on transactional tax matters, exit planning, corporate reorganisations and real estate tax. It has noted an increase in work for management teams relating to employee shareholder agreements. Clients include State Oil and Monitise.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP has a strong track record advising on the tax aspects of UK inward investment, due, in part, to the expertise of department head Philippa Roles. Highlights included advising Encryptics on establishing a parent company and trading operations in the UK, which involved tax planning and R&D tax relief.

Shoosmiths LLP’s team is led by Tom Wilde, who also leads the firm’s enterprise investment scheme and venture capital trusts tax practice. Wilde advised Octopus Investments on its investment into the HST Group.

EU and competition

Shoosmiths LLP’s nationwide competition practice is led by Simon Barnes in Reading and is frequently involved in matters before the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Barnes and senior associate Angela Gregson (who joined the firm’s London office in 2015 from Mishcon de Reya LLP) represented Fenland Laundries before the CMA on the merger control aspects of its ultimately aborted acquisition of Fishers Cleanroom. Other clients include Coca-Cola Enterprises and Euronics.

Stevens & Bolton LLP’s ‘extremely knowledgeable’ team provides ‘clear, tailored advice’ and ‘a comparable level of service to that which is offered by City law firms’. Practice head Gustaf Duhs is ‘a real expert in his field’, and is able to bring his experience at the Office of Fair Trading to bear on competition matters. Dufs and senior associate Maliha Mahmood advised on the UK merger control aspects of Nishimoto’s acquisition of Harro Foods.

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