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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

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  1. Corporate and commercial: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers: partners

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers: partners

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Who Represents Who

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With notable strength in the health and technology sectors, Blake Morgan LLP has been advising on M&A, due diligence and service contracts, among other matters. Guy Constant and commercial partner Gayle Curry advised InHealth Group on buying shares in Health Intelligence and Pain Management Solutions, acquiring RIG Reporting from RIG Healthcare Recruit, and purchasing Care UK’s diagnostics and clinical assessment and treatment services in the North West. In another standout matter, Constant and London-based Martin Kay acted for Osirium Technologies during its £8.8m AIM IPO, which saw the commercial team advise on contracts and software licensing. Commercial practice head Alison Patten-Hall recently advised education and healthcare sector companies on matters ranging from procuring IT solutions to establishing joint ventures. Other clients include The Mission Marketing Group, DFx Technology and ByBox. Penny Rinta-Suksi splits her time between Reading and Oxford and is recommended with up-and-coming senior associate Elisabeth Bell, associate Tim Coles and consultant John Cole, who has ‘a wealth of business experience’. Simon Staples joined as corporate practice head from Ashfords LLP following Michael Stace’s departure to Browne Jacobson LLP in Birmingham. Edward Lee moved to Howes Percival LLP.

A standout firm for technology sector transactions and providing a ‘very good level of service’, Osborne Clarke acts for clients such as Xerox, Avanti Communications Group plc and NewVoiceMedia. India group co-head Jeffrey Chang made partner and advised Tech Mahindra on its acquisition of Target Group. Robert Wood is adept in private equity deals, as is business transaction practice head Greg Leyshon who ‘provides solid advice’. Wood advised the shareholders of Imagine Publishing on its sale to Future, and Leyshon assisted the management of Odeon Cinemas and UCI Cinemas with the companies’ sale to AMC Theatres from Terra Firma, Cross-border transactions expert Sara Valentine heads the Thames Valley corporate practice and recently acted for the management and shareholders of Rush Hair in a management buyout, which was backed by a £16m investment from LDC; as part of this transaction, the sellers sold their shares in Rush Holdings to a new company purchaser funded by LDC’s investment and Rush Hair’s management team. Other clients include NVM Private Equity, Trakm8 Holdings and Redwood Technologies Group. James Massy-Collier is recommended for AIM and Official List mandates and the expertise of commercial practice head Russell Bowyer includes advising on joint ventures, outsourcing and IP protection. Senior associate Caroline Drummond and associate director Mike Freer are rising stars.

Penningtons Manches LLP’s recent workload includes high-profile venture capital and spin-out transactions. Technology and life sciences expert Will Axtell assisted Evox Therapeutics and Vaccitech with their spin-outs from the University of Oxford, which included advising on establishing the companies and handling a £10m investment in each from Oxford Sciences Innovation. Other work highlights saw David Tighe assist with Evotec’s £55.7m acquisition of Cyprotex and Justin Starling advise King’s College London on an investment from Abingworth in GammaDelta Therapeutics, an immunotherapy company founded on research from the university along with that of Cancer Research Technology and The Francis Crick Institute. Chris Shelley, who heads the commercial practice outside London, ‘provides excellent input’ and recently advised on a range of niche commercial contracts for the firm’s new client WideCells Group, which included agreements with cord blood banks for the provision of stem cell processing and storage. Quarto Publishing Group, Natural Environment Research Council and Nexeon are additional clients. Rob Hayesprovides excellent and timely advice’ and recently promoted partner James Wentunderstands the practical implications of transactions’. Commercial partner Joanne Vengadesan splits her time between Basingstoke and Reading and is noted with Nicola McConville, who joined from Blake Morgan LLP. The corporate practice is headed nationally by Guildford-based Simon Bickerdike.

At Shoosmiths LLP, practice head Emma Gibson is singled out for private equity and venture capital work. She worked alongside Southampton-based Sean Wright in advising LDC on its multimillion-pound investments in Rush Hair and ByBox. Other highlights included assisting BRC Global Standards with its sale to LGC and handling Henkel’s cross-border acquisition of the Bloo, Jeyes and Parozone home care brands from Strategic Value Partners. The firm is well established in the technology, education, retail and healthcare sectors and recently added Orbis Education and Care, Proxama and Wifinity to its client list. Kiran Dhesi is a senior associate to watch and Rachel Turner was a key hire from Boyes Turner, where she garnered experience in mid-market corporate transactions and advising business angels and venture capital trusts on their investments in early-stage and high-growth companies. Simon Edwards took over as commercial practice head following Paul de Vince’s departure to Gateley Plc. Adam Dowdney also left the firm and is now with IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett).

Boyes Turner provides an ‘unrivalled level of service and value for money’, and acts for clients such as Auto Trader, Panasonic and Circor. Commercial and technology practice head Mark Blunden has been handling a number of cross-border matters and advised an electronics company on restructuring global partnerships, bringing new products to market in multiple jurisdictions and commercial contacts. Bill Gornall-King impresses with his ‘professionalism and in-depth knowledge’ and is advising Red Fox ID on a venture that provides new software products and services to the transport sector, and so far, advice has included IP and IT rights protection and developing contracts for distribution to the company’s global customers. Sarah Williamson was promoted to partner and is adept in technology, digital publishing, advertising and communications sector matters. Robert Rice leads the corporate team and acted for KYOCERA Document Solutions UK on its acquisition of M.C.L. ‘Intelligent, competent and well informedKate Eavis is another name to note and was recently promoted to partner. Rachel Turner is now with Shoosmiths LLP.

The practice at Field Seymour Parkes LLP acts for all manner of clients, ranging from entrepreneurs to owner-managed businesses and multinationals; the roster includes companies such as Whistl, Heartstone Inns and Bewley Homes. Assisting new client Opti-cal Survey Equipment with its sale to A-Plant was a highlight for practice co-head Penelope Garden, who stands out for cross-border, private equity and venture capital transactions. Recently promoted partner Chris Brightling also leads the team and advised the shareholders of Factor 21 on its private equity-backed management buyout; the company was re-registered as a private limited company and now operates as Factor 21 Limited and Factor 21 (North) Limited. Managing partner Jeremy Parkes handled LKQ Euro’s multimillion-pound acquisition of Arleigh Group, which operates under the companies Arleigh International, Nova Leisure and Midland Chandlers. Senior partner Ian Wood-Smith excels in high-value transactions and leads large-scale corporate restructurings across a range of industries, and Cathrine Ripley is the main contact for commercial work, including advising on outsourcing agreements and business terms and conditions.

The ‘reliable and flexible’ team at Freeths LLP experienced an uptick in cross-border work and shines in matters such as company disposals and acquisitions, and management buyouts and reorganisations. Corporate practice head Leon Arnold and recently promoted director Tom Walker ‘make corporate law uncomplicated and provide a reliable service’. Arnold advised Safeware Quasar on its sale to UL, a US-based safety consulting and certification company, and also assisted with a number of acquisitions for Integrity Print, including its purchase of Alliance Labels, EU Mailers and Colebourne & Partners, which is in administration; Walker acted for the shareholders of Ace Hotel in a multimillion-pound refinancing and restructuring of a central London hotel. Other clients include Higher Education Policy Institute, DTC International and ResMed. Senior partner Malcolm Sadler heads the commercial team and has a wealth of experience in advising companies in different stages of development on joint ventures and share structures, among other matters.

The team at White & Black Limited is ‘very knowledgeable, commercial and has the transactional experience to be on par or surpass significantly larger firms’. The corporate and technology-focused boutique receives numerous cross-border instructions covering M&A, investments, company disposals and share capital reorganisations. Phil Riman leads the practice with the ‘technically strong’ John Allen, who handled the acquisition of Mark Roberts Motion Control for new client Nikon and also advised ams on acquiring Cambridge CMOS Sensors, which now trades as ams Sensors UK. Recently promoted partner Stephen Silvester acted for another new client, NVM Private Equity, during its substantial investment in Lending Works. The client roster also includes Solid Solutions, Mediatonic and Highland Capital Partners. ‘Experienced’ senior associate Rob Powell is head of the sports and leisure practice but also recommended for private equity and venture capital work.

Herrington Carmichael LLP’s lawyers are ‘as sharp with legal knowledge as they are with client care’. For example, practice head Yavan Brar has ‘market-leading understanding of how the law practically needs to work for clients’; his recent workload includes global expansions, corporate restructurings, share acquisitions and selling companies for clients in industries such as hospitality and technology. Dividing his time between Camberley and Wokingham, Mark Chapman is a ‘legal champion’ providing ‘the very best advice’ on service agreements, privacy policies, supply of goods and other high-end commercial matters. Alex Canham made senior solicitor and is also highly regarded.

At Pitmans LLP, IPO and AIM listing expert Oliver Pilkington, who splits his time between London and Reading, made partner and advised finnCap on its role as AIM broker to Eco City Vehicles (now trading as Tax Systems) relating to the £73m reverse takeover of Tax Computer Systems and its £45m placing of shares. Philip Weaver, together with Gatienne Brault & Associés, advised Westcoast France on acquiring the electronic office supply division of ADVEO France and handled the supply and sale agreements between ADVEO and Westcoast in Germany, Italy and Spain. In other work, managing partner John Hutchinson assisted Ridgeway Garages (Newbury) with its £107m sale to Marshall Motor Group. Roger Gregory divides his time between Reading and London and is renowned for US and European mandates, concentrating on M&A, private equity and venture capital transactions. Recent personnel changes saw former head Andrew Peddie depart to Gateley Plc and Southampton-based department head Sean Kelly take over as leader of the team in Thames Valley.

At Blandy & Blandy LLP, Jonathan Williamson recently advised Ecrebo on its £13.2m investment from Sir Keith Mills, Joseph Schull and Octopus Investments and, in conjunction with practice head David Few, assisted the shareholders of Box Technologies with the company’s sale to Flytech Technology. IP practice head Debbie Brett and Nick Burrows, who leads the charity and education team, are the primary contacts for commercial work. Lloyds Bank and Esportif International are also clients.

Clarkslegal LLP routinely advises international companies on making investments in the UK. Practice head Ashan Arif, who also leads the technology and media sector groups, acted for the spin-out of a cosmetics company on launching its UK operations, among other matters. Aside from the technology sectors, Arif’s client base also spans the hotel and motor industries and in a recent highlight, he assisted new client Meridian Leisure Hotels with selling two hotels to International Hotel Properties. Another recent mandate saw senior consultant Jon Chapman assist Ludgate Environmental Fund with selling one of its portfolio companies. Carillion, University of Reading and Kosan Crisplant are also clients. Senior consultant Kirstin Parker is highly regarded for commercial work and advises on contractual issues, tenders, risk management and various other matters.

The ‘very professional’ department at Gardner Leader LLP acts for companies across a range of sectors, and new clients include Campion Willcocks and Molly Maid. The ‘highly recommended’ Diane Yarrow joined the Maidenhead and Newbury offices from B P Collins LLP and recently advised Progressive Technology on its merger with Innovate 2 Make. The firm’s recent mandates also include private equity investments, employee buyouts and acting for investment vehicles and consortium funders on numerous acquisitions. Newbury and Maidenhead-based Richard Buckeridge is also recommended alongside managing partner Derek Rodgers and ‘very knowledgeable and efficient’ practice head Greg Humphreys, who is dual-qualified in South Africa and the UK. At senior associate level, employment expert Michelle Morgan arrived from Freeths LLP and Emma Ladd became head of the commercial practice at Coles Solicitors.

Gateley Plc’s ‘excellent’ Reading practice was launched by the renowned Andrew Peddie, who recently left Pitmans LLP with senior associate Mark Metcalfe. The team excels in the technology, food, defence and recruitment sectors, with The Chemistry Group, New York Bakery Co and K2 Partnering Solutions featuring on the client roster. Peddie ‘has good judgement’ and, alongside Lake and Metcalfe, assisted Brand Events Holdings with selling 50% of its shares in Brand Events 1 (now known as Brand Events TM) to MGL2, a subsidiary of Trinity Mirror. Paul de Vince was another key hire from Shoosmiths LLP, where he headed the commercial team; his expertise includes outsourcing, designing trade models, supply chain management and procurement matters.

Spratt Endicottprovides the advice of a large firm with the personal touch of a small one’. Practice head and firm chairman John Spratt delivers ‘calmness and reliability in the most exacting of circumstances’; the ‘outstandingHitendra Patel’s expertise includes business reorganisations, management buyouts and partnerships; and associate Catherine O’Riordan is ‘very knowledgeable’.

Brethertons LLP experienced an uptick in company acquisitions and disposals, commercial agreement matters, and the streamlining and expansion of businesses. The firm recently acted for the shareholders of an engineering company regarding selling the majority of their shares in the business and is advising another client on acquiring a financial services company. The client roster includes Carwood Motor Units and Diligent Commerce. The department is now headed by IT and IP expert Brian Auld following Colin Witherall’s retirement.

Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors has a ‘strong presence in the local market’, particularly among owner-managed businesses; the team adopts ‘a commercial approach on fees without compromising on service and quality’. Practice head Bill Annan handled various matters for The Romans Group, including share acquisitions, the sale of a business and advising on commercial contracts. The ‘pragmatic’ Barry Niven acted for Can Advertising Holdings on the management buyout of a healthcare agency. Retail, manufacturing and financial companies also instructed the practice.

Royds Withy King receives praise for its ‘flexible and friendly service’. As part of the Withy King’s merger with Royds Solicitors, Claus Andersen joined the firm’s London office and, together with solicitor Jennifer Sampson, advised new client Shaw Gibbs on its acquisition of Cooper Murray. Sampson joined from Harrison Clark Rickerbys and ‘always aims to reach a solution for the client’ with a ‘really positive and collaborative approach’. London-based John North took over as practice head from Richard Baxter, who is now with Al Tamimi & Company. Swindon-based senior associate Rishi Ladwa is also well regarded. The firm’s clients also include Oxford Ventures Group, HSBC and TM Group.

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