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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 > South East > Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Other

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Blake Morgan LLP offers 'the superb quality standard of a City firm with a personable touch at competitive rates'. The department is divided between the Reading and Oxford offices and is 'the go-to firm' for technology transactions, including spinouts, M&A and fundraising. Sectors of expertise include healthcare, education and charities. Corporate lawyer Simon Staples specialises in M&A and disposals while commercial partners Alison Patten-Hall and Penny Rinta-Suksi are recommended for projects in IT and education sectors and advising local authorities. Elisabeth Bell is experienced in IT and procurement projects. Senior associate Timothy Coles is recommended for equity investments and IPOs on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.

Practice head(s):Simon Staples, Alison Patten-Hall

Other key lawyers:Penny Rinta-Suksi; Elisabeth Bell; Timothy Coles

Testimonials

'An excellent firm with the expertise and high quality of a City firm and yet it has a highly personable boutique feel to it. Superb attention to detail and excellent follow-through. '

'The team at Blake Morgan have expertise in their particular area of service, and provide a personable approach allowing clients to fully understand the legal terms, implications and strategies'.

Key Clients

Places for People Leisure

University of Reading

Artemis IT Solutions

Regus

Oxford Academic Health Network

Work highlights

  • Assisting the client with the development of an online platform, eMAPs,  a market access online information tool which the client wishes to commercialise. Advised on various IP licensing and commercial matters and in the formation of a commercial vehicle.  
  • Advising the client on its sale to Solid State Plc for approximately £4m.
  • Advised the shareholders of Acuity ETS and Acuity Intelligence in its sale to the world leader in eye-tracking technology, Tobii.
  • Acted for a large utility provider in its recent debt for equity conversion and private placement of a new bond issue.

Osborne Clarkes' group of 'highly dynamic commercial lawyers' are specialists in the areas of technology, telecoms and small and mid-cap private equity and venture capital. Corporate partner Sara Valentine focuses on M&A transactions and management buyouts while Robert Wood advises on venture and growth capital transactions, private equity buyouts, along with particular expertise in  transactions involving investor syndicates. Also of note are Jeff Chang for M&A and private equity transactions in the technology and automotive sectors, particularly for India-based clients; Mike Freer for fundraising, bolt-on acquisitions, disposals and reorganisations; and Caroline Drummond for cross-border M&A. Greg Leyshon chairs the national corporate practice.

Practice head(s):Sara Valentine

Other key lawyers:Robert Wood; Jeff Chang; Mike Freer; Caroline Drummond; Greg Leyshon

Testimonials

'The team at Osborne Clarke are very knowledgeable and quickly understand the timeframe and issues to be addressed. They are  always contactable and work the necessary hours to secure the goal.'

'This is a highly dynamic group of commercial lawyers, very much in tune with market practice and very responsive to client requests. The team went truly above and beyond in their quest to provide value for money and make sure the client understands the issues at hand and all available actions to address these issues.'

'Sara Valentine and Robert Wood are truly outstanding'.

Key Clients

LDC

Xerox

Redwood Technologies/Content Guru

Highland Europe

Business Growth Fund

Work highlights

  • Advised NewVoiceMedia, on its $350m sale to US-based and NYSE-listed Vonage Holdings
  • Advised Conduent on the sale of its off-street parking business and assets in the UK and France, as well as its airport business in the US.
  • Advised the shareholders of Redwood Technologies Group Limited on the sale of Redwood and the £25m investment into Redwood by Scottish Equity Partners through the SEP V Limited Partnership.

  • Acted for buyer in the acquisition of the insurance services and captive management operations from Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings Limited.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP has a strong track record in international M&A and venture capital  transactions and offers 'very practical and helpful advice' to major clients in the life sciences, technology and renewable energy sectors. Oxford-based partners Will Axtell and James Went specialises in M&A, fundraisings and AIM capital markets. In Reading Rob Hayes acts on behalf of investors and investee companies in mid-market M&A and venture capital transactions.

Practice head(s):Will Axtell

Other key lawyers:James Went; Rob Hayes

Testimonials

'Pennington Manches team possess an excellent combination of technical expertise and commercial understanding'

'The team at Penningtons Manches combined undoubted legal expertise with emotional intelligence'.

'Will Axtell is a quick thinker who took the time to understand the business and the deal. He is a truly fantastic lawyer with tremendous skills and experience in the business'.

Key Clients

Business Growth Fund

Oxford University Press

Enterprise Therapeutics

Ethical Property Company

Touchstone Innovations Plc

Work highlights

  • Assisted Enterprise Therapeutics on the closing of a circa £29m series B funding round.
  • Advised MedPharm on a growth equity investment from private equity firm Ampersand Capital Partners.
  • Acted on behalf of the majority shareholder on the disposal of their interests to FTSE-100 listed utilities company, Severn Trent Plc, in a transactions totalling £120m.
  • Represented Oxford Vacmedix on its Series A financing round of approximately £9m with a consortium of South Korean and Chinese investors.

Shoosmiths LLP has notable expertise across all aspects of corporate and commercial law, with an emphasis on private equity transactions in the technology and retail sectors. Sanjeev Sharma leads the corporate group and continues to be very active in the venture capital and private equity space.  Nina Smith, who made partner in April 2019 is the other key adviser in the Thames Valley office. Senior associate Kiran Dhesi is noted for her corporate work with large private equity and venture capital clients. Private equity partner Sean Wright heads the southern corporate practice from the Solent office.

Practice head(s):Sanjeev Sharma

Other key lawyers:Sean Wright; Nina Smith; Kiran Dhesi

Key Clients

LDC Equity LLP

NVM Private Equity

Downing LLP

Portchester Equity

Magma Global

Work highlights

  • Advised the sellers in connection with the £221m sale of smart locker technology and field service solutions company, Bybox, to private equity house Francisco Partners.
  • Portchester Equity’s disposal of Chevron Traffic Management to Triton Partners.
  • Advised Planet Organic Limited, on  a substantial investment by  Inverleith LLP.
  • Advised the sellers (including FPE Capital) of software and consulting services business, Ikon Science Limited, on its sale to US private equity firm, Great Hill Partners.

Boyes Turner is best known for its strong expertise withing the technology sector. Mark Blunden assists technology clients on the commercialisation of their products and services, including outsourcing, licensing, product and brand development, often with an international aspect. Corporate partner Kate Eavis advises life science, biotechnology and software spin-outs. Senior associate Chris Dobson is recommended for  M&A transactions in the technology and healthcare sectors. Robert Rice departed to Harrison Clark Rickerbys in December 2018.

Practice head(s):Mark Blunden

Other key lawyers:Kate Eavis; Chris Dobson

Key Clients

Shareholders of BrandView Limited

Auto Trader Group plc

CIRCOR International Inc.

Panasonic

Wayfair

Work highlights

  • Advised the founder and shareholders of Brand View Limited on all aspects of the disposal of shares to Ascential plc for £38m.

BDB Pitmans has expertise in the areas of M&A, takeovers, restructuring and AIM listings. The firm boasts a strong and varied client roster in the financial services, real estate, oil and gas and automotive sectors, among others. Oliver Pilkington has a particular expertise in equity capital markets, and John Hutchinson leads on M&A transactions and private equity investments. Corporate partner Stephanie Perry is noted for acquisitions and disposals, and management buy-outs and buy-ins.

Practice head(s):Oliver Pilkington

Other key lawyers:Stephanie Perry; John Hutchinson

Key Clients

Bridges Fund Management Ltd

FinnCap Limited

Royal Berkshire Shooting Group

Berenberg Bank

Waylands Automotive

Work highlights

  • Advised FinnCap and Berenberg, joint brokers, on a placing of new and existing shares in Taptica International Ltd, to raise gross proceeds of approximately $55m.
  • Advised CALA Homes on its takeover by FTSE-100 insurer Legal & General Capital, following the acquisition of the majority stake for £315m.  
  • Acted for Totaltec Oilfield Services Limited in raising initial equity finance to start up a Guyana based oilfield services company from numerous investors based across several jurisdictions.
  • Advised John O’Hanlon and Waylands Automotive on the acquisition of a Volvo dealership.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP supports startups, entrepreneurs and small to medium sized enterprises on all corporate matters, ranging from M&A deals and disposals, private equity transactions and day-to-day corporate advice. The technology and insurance sectors are particularly strongly represented. Corporate lawyer and managing partner Jeremy Parkes handles complex corporate finance transactions and restructurings.  Ian Wood-Smith and Penelope Garden are also of note for corporate transactions, as are Rachael Maunder and Philip Stephenson, who joined the team in September 2018 from Wilson Solicitors LLP.

Practice head(s):Rachael Maunder

Other key lawyers:Jeremy Parkes; Ian Wood-Smith; Philip Stephenson

Testimonials

'The corporate team's approach is practical, commercial and solution-focused. They have a real strength of technical expertise, consistently out-negotiating counter parties on key points, whilst balancing this with the client's commercial desire and realities to keep deals on track.'

'Field Seymour Parkes have the ability to resource deals at appropriate levels of experience, and consistently demonstrate a high standard of client care. Extremely responsive and considered very good value for money.'

'Penny Garden is noted for exceptional ability to manage complex deals across a number of industry sectors coupled with outstanding client care.

'Rachael Maunder is a great addition to the partnership and a solid pair of hands.'

Key Clients

Whistl UK

Euro Car Parts Limited

On Direct Business Services Limited(trading as Cloud Direct)

Finch Commercial Insurance Brokers Limited (now part of Broker Network)

Honda Motor EuropeLimited

Work highlights

  • Advised Whistl UK on the acquisition of privately owned Nottingham based Parcelhub Limited and Mail Workshop Limited.
  • Acted for the shareholders of Stewarts Coach Group on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to the Kings Ferry Group, a subsidiary of the National Express Group.
  • Advised Akzonobel on a share acquisition together with three further business acquisitions to expand its retail stores.
  • Represented the founders of Vineup, provider of career mentoring software, on its sale to UK based private equity backed purchaser.
  • Advised Cohort on acquisition of a majority shareholding in Chess Technologies for approximately £42m.

Freeths LLP is 'always one step ahead' and provides 'excellent' support to SME and family owned businesses in the engineering, logistics, food and education sectors. Leon Arnold, Tom Walker and Malin Svanberg Larsson are the key corporate partners; commercial lawyer Rebecca Howlett is recommended for commercial contracts.

Practice head(s):Leon Arnold

Other key lawyers:Rebecca Howlett; Tom Walker; Malin Svanberg Larsson

Testimonials

'The corporate team at Freeths  is always one step ahead of their larger competitors. They are well prepared and always put the client first'.

'Leon Arnold and his team are exceptional.'

Key Clients

Integrity Print Limited

Complete Childcare Limited

The Adolf Würth Group

Santova Limited

NSF Safety and Quality UK Limited

Travis Perkins PLC

Work highlights

  • Represented the management team of Northern Paper Board Limited on the investment, and subsequent acquisition, by Solidus Solutions.
  • Advised the selling shareholders of the JGA group companies on the sale to Jensen Hughes.
  • Advised Santova on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of SAI Logistics Limited in a deal valued of over £3m.
  • Advising White Rabbit Pizza on its fundraising activities.
  • Assisted the Oxford College with various contractual documentation relating to summer school projects and the College’s general trading terms with third parties.

Gateley Plc's Reading practice is well placed to advise TMT sector clients on all corporate and commercial law matters, particularly in connection with buy-outs, M&A and private equity transactions.  Practice head Andrew Peddle  handles M&A and fundraising work and Paul de Vince  advises on commercial agreements, with an emphasis on projects involving procurement. The team has also benefited from the arrival of commercial expert Mary-Ann Orr, formally head of corporate and commercial at Blackstone Solicitors Limited in September 2018.

Practice head(s):Andrew Peddle

Other key lawyers:Paul de Vince; Mary-Ann Orr

Key Clients

CACI Limited

Lloyds Development Capital and related group companies

New York Bakery Company Limited

Babble Cloud Holdings Ltd (LDC investee company, formerly called IP Solutions Holdings Limited)

Maven Capital Partners UK LLP

Connection Capital

Cohort PLC

Brand Events group

JD Williams

Lindhill

Transglobal Freight

Urban Science

Work highlights

  • Advised on the management buy-out of Martin Audio Limited, backed by Lloyds Development Capital, including acquisition and funding.
  • Advised the buyer, Babble Cloud Holdings on all aspects of the acquistion of Arden Communications Group Limited.
  • Advised on the management buy-out of British Waterways Marinas Limited, the owner and operator of 18 canal marinas around England, from Canal & River Trust the owner post-privatisation of the canal network in England, backed by Lloyds Development Capital and Santander.
  • Assisted Maven on a VCT investment in Lydia Limited by Maven Capital Partners UK LLP and DBW Investments.

White & Black Limited's corporate and private equity-focused boutique continues to act on behalf of technology-focused private equity houses, household name clients and SMEs in the financial services, IT and telecoms, engineering and energy fields. Co-heads Phil Riman and John Allen are noted for their 'breadth of knowledge' in cross-border M&A and private equity transactions. The practice also benefits from Stephen Silvester's 'strong commercial expertise' in the Fintech sector.

Practice head(s):Phil Riman, John Allen

Other key lawyers:Stephen Silvester

Testimonials

'White & Black are simply excellent - comprehensive and deep knowledge in corporate and shareholder law, dedicated and efficient.'

'Phil Riman and John Allen have a breadth of knowledge in the M&A and PE areas.'

Key Clients

Gigaclear PLC

Moixa Energy

Scottish Equity Partners

Matchesfashion

Highland Capital

Work highlights

  • Assisted Moixa Energy Holdings, a smart battery company, in their formation of a strategic partnership with Japan-based Itochu Corporation, which included the acquisition of shares and initial investment of £5m.
  • Advised Liquid Finance, a funding provider to small and medium-sized entities in the UK and Ireland, on its business combination with YouLend, a Danish facilitator of flexible finance and banking services.  
  • Assisted South Korean based G-SMATT Global with the establishment of a UK subsidiary.
  • Advised NVM Private Equity on its initial investment in Lending Works, including a further bridge round investment.

Clarkslegal LLP supports SME's and technology start-ups with corporate structuring, SEIS/EIS investments, funding and equity investments and commercial matters. The team also regularly assists international companies with inward investment into the UK. Department head Ashan Arif advises on the full spectrum of corporate, commercial and private equity matters, and is particularly sought after by clients in the automotive, technology and media sectors. Corporate partner Stuart Mullins joined the team  in June 2018.

Practice head(s):Ashan Arif

Other key lawyers:Stuart Mullins

Work highlights

  • Acting for a major automotive group on a number of strategic acquisitions.
  • Acting on the £30m sale of a number of businesses and associated assets.
  • Acting on the acquisition of a market leading group of companies in the catering sector.

Herrington Carmichael LLP's 'commercially astute' lawyers provide 'the high standards of service expected of a City firm' with 'reasonable billings'. The firm focuses on M&A transactions with an international element, as well as advising on share sales and purchases, corporate restructurings, company option schemes, shareholders’ agreements and other commercial arrangements.  Yavan Brar, Mark Chapman and Alex Canham are the lead partners.

Practice head(s):Yavan Brar

Other key lawyers:Mark Chapman; Alex Canham

Testimonials

'Herrington Carmichael are able to draw on multiple areas of expertise and are very commercially minded, practical and good strategists.'

'Mark Chapman is extremely thorough and has a good eye for detail, but advises with a very good balance of technical legal advice and commercial/practical suggestions. '

'Yavan Brar is outstanding in finding solutions to every problem. He is committed in terms of his energy, time and strategic mind.'

'Alex Canham provides excellent advice and takes the time to understand the nature of the client's business and objectives and explain the issues efficiently and clearly.'

Key Clients

Grundon Waste Management

Metro Bank

Cennox

Gavin Jones

The corporate and commercial group at Knights plc advise clients in connection with development and growth capital, buy-outs, M&A, shareholder arrangements, commercial contracts and asset finance matters. Paddy Gregan specialises in business sales, joint ventures, restructures and partnerships and cooperative arrangements. Hugh Tebay  is the lead commercial partner.

Practice head(s):Paddy Gregan

Other key lawyers:Hugh Tebay

Key Clients

Baywater Healthcare

59Club

Calor Gas

BGF Investment Management

Work highlights

  • Advised Baywater Healthcare on its acquisition by The Bastide Group.
  • Assisted the shareholders of Kinetic on their exit by means of an employee ownership trusts buy-out.
  • Assisted 59club in the franchise of its business across South and South East Asia.

Spratt Endicott has 'a profound understanding of clients' needs and a focus on delivering quality in a timely manner'. The practice has expertise across a broad range of corporate and commercial transactions and is also able to advise on share purchase agreements and company reorganisations and restructurings. Chairman John Spratt is noted for his 'agile thinking and ability to tackle any challenge'. Hitendra Patel has particular expertise in management buy-outs and buy-ins and joint ventures. Associate Catherine O’Riordan is lauded for 'top quality legal advice on issues concerning e-commerce law'.

Practice head(s):John Spratt

Other key lawyers:Hitendra Patel; Catherine O’Riordan

Testimonials

'Spratt Endicott have a strength in depth through a large and experienced team with a reputation for getting things done efficiently and at a fair price.'

'Spratt Endicott has a very wide scope of expertise across a diverse range of legal services.'

'John Spratt is an outstanding individual who takes the time and makes the effort to truly understand the client's business and place his advice firmly in context.'

'Hitendra Patel has a deep understanding and delivers practical solutions  regarding shareholders' agreements, sale and purchase agreements and business acquisitions'.

Work highlights

  • Advising a multinational client on its UK dealership agreement and policy under which it trades.
  • Advised on the acquisition of two associated companies in the security industry.
  • Advised the buyer on the purchase of a company specialising in the supply of scientific and registration services in the agrochemical, biocidal and chemical industries.

Blandy & Blandy LLP is instructed by SMEs and owner-managed businesses on a wide range of corporate and commercial mandates, including cross-border M&A transactions, corporate governance and regulatory issues as well as assisting companies with entrance into the UK market and UK clients with out-bound investments and expansions into overseas markets. David Few and Debbie Brett are the key figures.

Practice head(s):David Few, Debbie Brett

Key Clients

Reading Transport Limited

Austin Fraser Limited

Revium Group Limited

Box Technologies Holdings Limited

Science Media Partners Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Reading Transport Limited on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Newbury & District Limited, a regional bus service provider.
  • Assisting the company on the establishment of its operations in Germany and expansion of its network in the US.
  • Advised the trustees and directors of Padworth College Education Trust on the sale of the business and assets to Inspiring Futures Limited.

Key areas of expertise for Brethertons LLP include acquisitions and disposals, corporate governance, internal reorganisations and purchase and supply agreements. The practice is also able to draw on the expertise of colleagues in the employment, real estate and dispute resolution departments. Recently promoted partner Amy Edwards leads the practice.

Practice head(s):Amy Edwards

Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors provide a 'practical, solution-focused and efficient' service to SMEs and owner-managed businesses in commercial transactions, shareholder agreements, corporate structures and restructuring work. Practice head Barry Niven's recent mandates include advising shareholders in disposal of shares, sales and acquisitions and management buy-outs and buy-ins.

Practice head(s):Barry Niven

Testimonials

'The team at Clifton Ingram are very approachable and always willing to help on any issue, big or small.'

'Barry Niven is a brilliant corporate lawyer - always responsive, knowledgeable and tailors advice to suit the requirements of the client and the business.'

Work highlights

  • Advised multiple shareholders on the disposal of the entire issued share capital of Europe’s leading supplier of warehouse labels and rack identification solutions.
  • Advised a holding company on the sale of its trading subsidiary to a US competitor.
  • Advised a leading manufacturer and distributor of fibre optic technology on an off-market buy back of share capital from distributable reserves.

Gardner Leader LLP handles a broad range of corporate and commercial matters on behalf of start-ups, owner-managed businesses and investors. Recent matters include advising on cross-border sales and acquisitions, shareholder agreements and commercial arrangements.  Greg Humphreys, Diane Yarrow and recent hire Michal Freeman-Shor are the main advisers.

Practice head(s):Greg Humphreys

Other key lawyers:Diane Yarrow; Michal Freeman-Shor

Testimonials

'Gardner Leader are always very responsive and understanding of issues presented to them.'

'The corporate team are responsive, smart, thorough and go the extra mile for their clients.'

'Diane Yarrow takes the time to understand the client's business, products and customers with a genuine desire to uphold the clients values and ethics.'

Key Clients

Henley Women’s Regatta Limited

Individual shareholders of Easy2Name Limited

Sight Solutions Limited

Team Technology Limited

Individual shareholders of Bright Bricks Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised a technology company on a cross-border funding offer of £11m.
  • Assisted a renewable energy start-up company with the preparation of their shareholders’ agreement.
  • Advised on the sale of a property holding company for approximately £2.75m.

Royds Withy King predominately focuses on assisting owner-managed businesses and management teams in corporate transactions, company reorganisations and investments, particularly in the life sciences and technology sectors. Iain Butler heads the group and is particularly known for advising spin-out companies from The University of Oxford on various funding rounds.

Practice head(s):Iain Butler

Testimonials

'The team at Royds Withy King is very responsive, has excellent communication skills and great attention to details'

 

Key Clients

Argosy Components

Edtopia

Cellmark Forensic Services

Oxford Genetics

The Sampler

Work highlights

  • Advised the management team on the management buyout of the company from its US parent company.
  • Assisted an Oxford University spin out, on its investment from a number of investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation.

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