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Corporate and commercial: Bristol

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  1. Corporate and commercial: Bristol
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Bristol clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Burges Salmon LLP’s corporate department is ‘always professional, timely and ready with solutions’, and is singled out for its historic strength in transport sector related mandates. Bolstered by a network of relationships spanning Europe, US and Asia, the team has seen a rise in international investment work, as well as increased activity in the energy, hotel and leisure and financial services sectors. In an example of the department’s international push and ‘sound knowledge of the hospitality sector’, Rupert Weston advised Singapore-based YTL Hotels on three hotel acquisitions from Westmont Hospitality, which were structured as share purchases and formed a key part of the client’s strategy for growth in the UK. Dominic Davis acted for Bord na Móna on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of White Moss Horticulture, which was the client’s first investment in the UK market. New infrastructure and energy clients include the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Wessex Water. Also recommended are practice head Richard Spink, who is ‘an excellent team manager’, Mark Shepherd, and Chris Godfrey, who heads the firm’s financial services team.

Osborne Clarke has ‘great strength in depth’, with a track record of corporate advice normally associated with City firms – its expertise ranges from PE and VC fund formation and transactional matters, to equity capital markets and major M&A. The department’s sector strengths include digital business, financial services, real estate and infrastructure and energy. Simon Spooner was involved in multiple international matters in 2016, including advising Automobile Association Developments on an international vehicle telematics joint venture with Dutch and Austrian roadside assistance clubs and Intelematics, a market-leading Australian automotive software company. Mark Wesker (who is ‘uncompromising in his approach’) assisted Amerisur Resources, a company investing in full-cycle oil and gas initiatives in South America, on a cash box placing of new ordinary shares on the LSE to raise $35m. David Ferris specialises in M&A, transactional and commercial contract work for energy and utilities clients, and acted for the shareholders of Integral UK on its $330m sale to US-headquartered investment management company JLL. Department head Alisdair Livingstone acted for one of the UK’s leading mid-market PE funds, Lloyds Development Capital, in relation to private equity financing of the management buyout of ADEY.

TLT’s ‘dynamic’ corporate group specialises in fundraising and M&A for clients in the renewable energy and retail sectors, as well as private equity investments and corporate restructuring and turnaround mandates, while the commercial practice provides support to clients in the retail, consumer goods, leisure, energy and financial services sectors. John Wood heads the corporate side of the department and advised Savills on its acquisition of GBR Phoenix Beard Holdings, and assisted the same client with its investment in real estate start-up YOPA. In another highlight, Alice Gardner advised Briefing Media on its acquisition of French company Global Data Systems. On the commercial side, ‘heavyweight commercial lawyer’ Perran Jervis acted for WHSmith in connection with a commercial JV regarding the operation of post offices within the client’s stores; Jervis is also acting for Sainsbury’s in relation to a collaboration with Euro Garages for the operation of a national chain of petrol station forecourt convenience stores. Commercial practice head Bill Hull assisted Merlin Entertainments with the commercial aspects of its $34.4m investment in Big Bus Tours.

Ashfords LLP’s Bristol-based corporate team is increasingly acting for large national and international clients, especially in the retail and tech sectors. The corporate department is known for its work in capital markets transactions, including IPOs, as well as transactions involving private equity and venture capital funds. Andrew Betteridge heads the corporate team and is acting for Sysrepublic on the sale of its entire issued share capital to TRE SR Holdings, a deal valued at several tens-of-millions of pounds. In an illustration of the group’s real expertise, Betteridge led a large team that advised Perwyn LLP on the buyout of Sumo Digital by Perwyn Private Equity, which received senior debt financing from Clydesdale Bank and mezzanine financing from PIF Republica. Chris Dyson acted for Notion Capital Managers on a $13m investment in GoCardless, a subsidiary of US-based Groupay, and in another US-facing matter, advised the shareholders of Internal Results on the sale of the business to US-based Madison Logic. Rory Suggett is also recommended.

Clients of Bond Dickinson LLP rate its ability to provide ‘depth of expertise at competitive rates’ to regional and national companies in the energy, private equity and insurance sectors. The ‘thorough and commercialTom Fitzpatrick advised Rockpool Investments on the management buyout of NCE Computer Group and led a team acting for the Gillett family on the disposal of Gillett’s (Callington) Limited, which operates 63 SPAR stores throughout the South West. Simon Hewes splits his time between the firm’s London and Bristol offices and specialises in advising on M&A and private equity transactions. In an example of the firm’s national reach, Hewes acted for Piper and JamJar, the investment vehicle for the founders of the Innocent drinks brand, on a £7m private equity investment in Catapult Enterprises, which owns the Propercorn business. Alex Fergus acted for Hydro International on its agreed takeover by Hanover Bidco, which included the delisting of Hydro’s shares on AIM. The department also has expertise in Middle East and African jurisdictions.

Clarke Willmott LLP regularly handles corporate transactions for mid-market clients, managers and investors, and the team has noted increased activity in private equity-backed transactions. Practice head Simon Thomas has handled multiple instructions for Altitude Partners, the most recent of which concerned the client’s multimillion-pound investment into Moortec Semiconductors. Thomas also advised longstanding client Goonvean Holdings on its acquisition of Francis Holdings. The ‘dynamicKirill Bingham, who joined the firm’s Taunton office from Ashfords LLP, regularly works alongside the Bristol team; he was part of a team led by Simon Smith acting for management on the Lloyds Development Capital-backed £17m management buyout of Panther Logistics. Smith often advises on transactions with international elements.

DAC Beachcroft LLP is routinely called on to handle complex cross-border transactions, and is renowned for its M&A and VC work related to the financial services, TMT, renewable energy and healthcare sectors. John Williams jointly heads the practice and has expertise in corporate finance, capital markets and PE transactions. His recent highlights include advising the sellers and management team on the £30m management buyout of Oakland Capital. Fellow co-head James Reed advised Oxygen Freejumping on its first major fundraising, resulting in an £8m debt facility with Beechbrook Capital and £2m additional equity investment from the client’s existing shareholders. In an illustration of the firm’s ability to leverage its Singapore presence, Michael Pearce acted for Old Mutual Wealth on its acquisition of Singapore-based AAM Advisory. Senior associate Jonathan White is also recommended.

For some, Roxburgh Milkins LLP is ‘at least comparable in every way to that of larger firms’. The boutique corporate firm specialises in the technology, leisure and financial services sectors, regularly acting for sellers in PE-backed exit transactions, as well as for acquirers. Richard Hopkins and the ‘methodical and focused’ Charles van der Lande assisted Financière Mademoiselle Desserts on its acquisition of South West-based Ministry of Cake. Practice head Bruce Roxburgh (who attracts praise for his ‘insightful and honest advice’) led the team advising Curtis Banks Group on its £45m acquisition of Suffolk Life Group, which was the client’s largest takeover since its AIM flotation in 2015. On the sell-side, the team was instructed by the shareholders of The Farleigh Group in relation to the sale of its issued share capital to Wealth at Work, a PE-backed provider of financial education in the workplace. Jason Milkins is another key contact.

Foot Anstey’s corporate and commercial team provides ‘commercial and down-to-earth’ advice in the technology, energy and utilities sectors. Jonathan Oddy leads the commercial group, which includes Martin Cuell, who acted for Smiths News Trading on the negotiation and amendment of a business critical contract with Daisy Group. Other key figures in the Bristol office include Emily Settle, a ‘strong deal negotiator and clear communicator’ who was part of a team led by Plymouth-based Chris Worrell acting for Centrica on a £145m acquisition of ENER-G Cogen International. Senior associate Ed Bodey is also recommended, as is Joanne Rumley, who joined the Bristol team in 2017 from Bond Dickinson LLP.

Thrings LLP’s corporate and M&A department is known for its work regarding mid-market M&A, joint venture agreements, funding and equity investments, restructuring and compliance advice. The Bristol-based practice is headed by Jane Oakland, who in 2016 led a cross-disciplinary team advising a holding company on the sale of an automotive group. Mike Tomlin acted for a shareholder on liability and consideration arrangements in relation to a multimillion-dollar sale and was part of a team led by Bath-based Alex Pyatt advising a Cornwall-based client on investment and shareholder agreements concerning a portfolio of hotels. Pyatt also acted for a Bath-based client in relation to a complex reorganisation and demerger. Elaine Meyrick is also recommended.

The ‘proactive and professional’ team at VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) regularly acts for healthcare, education and family business, and has been increasingly active in the technology sector, having advised over 30 tech start-ups in 2016. Nathan Guest is ‘truly passionate about new technologies and working with early-stage SMEs’; he advised start-ups such as Ripjar and enModus in relation to various fundraising rounds. In the education sector, corporate practice head Robert Collier acted for Bellevue Education on 12 school acquisitions in the UK, including the acquisition of Sherborne House School from Dubai-based GEMS Education. Also recommended are Edward Rimmell, who is a ‘responsive and knowledgeable’ commercial contract specialist, and Doug Locke, who heads the commercial practice.


Corporate and commercial: Dorset and South Wiltshire

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Dorset and South Wiltshire
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Dorset and South Wiltshire clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Lester Aldridge LLP is known for acting for SMEs in the software, healthcare, manufacturing and exporting sectors, and its corporate department is experienced in advising UK businesses on their international expansion efforts. In one particularly high-value example of the team’s cross-border capabilities, practice head Grant Esterhuizen acted for a group of shareholders on the £20m sale of the entire issued share capital of C4L Group Holdings to a Slovakian buyer. Similarly, Esterhuizen assisted Herb UK with the acquisition of the business and assets of Australia-based Goroncy PTY, which involved the establishment of an Australian subsidiary company. Alex Bilionis, who focuses on private equity matters and work for technology clients, is assisting the shareholders of a UK tech company with the sale of its issued share capital to an overseas buyer. Healthcare specialist Susan Cowan advised on investment and corporate agreements for a property and healthcare investor group. Edward Adamson is also recommended.

The corporate group at Steele Raymond LLP specialises in acting for regional corporate clients, with a particular emphasis on exit strategies. Financial services and manufacturing have traditionally been areas of focus for the department, while tech-related mandates have increased. Department head Tim Stone advised The Classic Printed Bag Company Group on its acquisition by Bunzl, which involved the extraction of a Hong Kong subsidiary of the firm’s client, which the team had helped establish years earlier, but was not desired by Bunzl. Craig Hardman has acted for property holding groups and property developers in matters regarding JV shareholder agreements and organising share and trust structures, while Paul Longland has experience of partnership and LLP law, and outsourcing and insourcing agreements.

Laceys Solicitors incorporating HLF’s sector expertise covers the healthcare, leisure and tech sectors. Following the merger with HLF at the end of 2015, the firm has continued to expand and recruit; in 2016 Jeremy Channon joined from MJP Law. Sam Freeman leads the practice and acts for clients in the care home and energy sectors on business and asset transactions. Natasha Duffy-Jones is experienced in financial services related corporate transactions and banking matters. On the commercial side, Edwina Young acted for a UK security company on a cross-border licensing arrangement as part of the client’s expansion into France. The firm has also handled a number of new instructions from clients in the technology and media, care home and leisure and hospitality sectors. David Steele retired in 2016.

Wilsons handles a variety of corporate and commercial matters and is led by the well-regarded Stephen Whitmore. Whitmore specialises in acquisitions and disposals of limited businesses and also has experience of trade mark registrations and other IP issues. James Johnson focuses on commercial aspects of M&A, partnership arrangements, PE transactions and investment and fundraising matters. Tax expert Jonathan Stephens has extensive experience of tax structures and advises clients on their commercial strategies.

Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP has a ‘five-star service’ that compares very well to other local solicitors. Known for its ‘plain-speaking’ advice to regional corporate clients, the team is also adept at handling matters with international elements. ‘Highly personable’ department head Neil Cook has been increasingly involved in the care home sector and acted for Luxurycare Group on its £10.5m purchase of the Bird Hill Nursing Home. He also acted for Tic Toc Partnership, alongside the property and employment teams, on the £1.8m sale of a children’s nursery in Twickenham. Hugh Craig advised a shareholder on the high-profile sale of three companies with operations in Dorset. Gustav Patrick has been deeply involved in the tech sector and acted for a business owner in relation to a joint venture for the development of a technology-based programme in the utilities space.

Frettens LLP’s ‘professional and timely’ corporate team ‘demonstrates appropriate levels of technical knowledge’ related to M&A and share transactions, group reorganisations and general commercial advice. Matthew Fretten, whose ‘technical skill complements his practical advice’, heads the corporate and commercial department, which acts mainly for regional owner-managed businesses in the tech, insurance, care home, sports and manufacturing and engineering sectors. The team also acts for property holding companies and marketing groups on an ongoing basis in relation to strategic commercial agreements and M&A. Fretten’s highlights included acting on the sale of a care home division of a UK corporate, valued at tens-of-millions of pounds. Associates Karen Edwards and Sarah Sillar are also recommended.


Corporate and commercial: M4 Corridor and Gloucestershire

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: M4 Corridor and Gloucestershire
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: M4 Corridor and Gloucestershire clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s corporate team provides ‘straightforward and concise advice’ and an ‘excellent all-round service’ to national and international clients. The department is especially active in the Middle East and Africa, and has sector specialisms in aviation, energy and leisure and hospitality. In 2016, department head Richard Norton advised the sellers of Kliklok International on the UK aspects of the $60m sale of the group to Bosch. Norton also acted for A. Tsokkos Hotels on its €500m group restructuring. Adrian Mayer has deep expertise in Africa-facing work and is assisting Kenyan solar energy company M-Kopa on the re-domiciling of its group to the UK. In an example of the group’s national work, Mayer handled the £3m AIM placing for Pennant International Group. Jonathan Morley specialises in corporate finance, and advised Donares Limited on the €65m sale of Novero Group to Laird Plc. On the buy-side, Morley also acted for a private equity client on the high-value acquisition of Parametric Investments. Also recommended are associate Matthew Hobbs, who joined the team from Lyons Davidson, senior associate Edward Robinson, and associate David Clements.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys has a full-service corporate and commercial offering, with specialisms in areas such as private equity-backed transactions and corporate finance. The practice is taking on an increasing number of international transactions, including outbound US and Scandinavia-facing work, and inbound and outbound matters with Chinese and Indian players. Practice head Richard Wilkey acted for Direct Online Services Limited on a 10% equity disposal to the Business Growth Fund, which included companies in Czech Republic. Richard Knight has been acting for GR Lane Health Products for more than 20 years, and in 2016 assisted the client with its acquisition of the Pro-Plus brand from Bayer through a competitive auction. Nicolas Groffman, who heads the firm’s international department and has built up a formidable Chinese-facing practice, was part of a cross-disciplinary team advising a UK-based college on a restructuring exercise and on negotiations with potential Chinese investors. Nick Wagstaffe acted on the formation of ProVen Legacy, a venture capital-backed business property relief fund, which involved drafting the client’s prospectus and securing approval by the Financial Conduct Authority.

BPE Solicitors LLP splits its department into separate corporate and commercial teams, the former focusing on corporate acquisitions, fundraisings and flotations, while the latter handles national and international commercial work. Anthony Rudge heads the corporate practice and advised Totally Plc on its £6.75m acquisition of Premier Physical Healthcare and its £7.7m acquisition of About Health. Other clients include Mears Group, Big Sofa Technologies, Concepta and Dotdigital. Tim Ward primarily focuses on M&A, but also advised Howard Tenens on a debt refinancing. On the commercial side, Iain Garfield has advised PCA Predict on a litany of commercial licensing agreements in 2016, and acted for a household name auto manufacturer on the classification under EU law of a prototype device as well as potential routes for getting the product to market. Corporate lawyers Louise Grzasko and Emma Payne joined from Osborne Clarke and Deutsche Bank, respectively, and Zoë Reynolds joined from Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

Clark Holt provides a service that is ‘bespoke, personable and relevant, without losing the technical skills around the execution of complex transactions’. Department head Richard Clark, who is deeply experienced in M&A, management buyouts and corporate finance, advised the shareholders of Abritas on its sale to Civica UK. He also acted for the shareholders of Finders Keepers Limited on its sale to Countrywide Estate Agents. Philip Humphreys focuses on corporate finance and is noted for his ability to ‘translate complex legal issues into a language that is understood by clients’. Humphreys acted for the shareholders of Ridgeway Biologicals on the sale of the business to IDT Biologika. Joe Lewis, who joined the firm in 2016 from Bond Dickinson LLP, handles a range of corporate and transactional work, and acted for Overark Limited on an investment into the group by Asta Underwriting. Jeff Jenkins acted for the shareholders of Koh Thai on the company’s management buyout.

Royds Withy King is singled out for its ‘particularly strong offering in relation to owner-managed, private equity-backed and smaller quoted businesses’. A recent merger with Royds significantly strengthened the corporate team, positioning them to extend their geographic reach both within the UK and internationally. The group has strong sector focuses in technology, health care and financial services, where the firm handles high-value transactions for clients such as HSBC. The ‘experienced and responsiveKatharine Mortimer advised the sellers of Applicable Limited on its sale to Arkadin. James Worrall (a ‘knowledgeable young solicitor with a mature approach’) is advising Bath City Football Club on its proposed takeover of Bath City Supporters Society. Healthcare sector specialist Hazel Phillips, who joined the firm from Burroughs Day LLP, advised on a corporate transaction involving international elements. David Cavaliero retired in 2016.

Thrings LLP’s corporate department is well known for its work for corporates and owner-managed businesses in the healthcare, financial services and engineering and aerospace sectors. The team, which has experience of third-party funding and highly active in mid-market M&A, is jointly headed by John Davies, who acted for the shareholders of T Brewer & Co on the sale of the business to FTSE-250 company Grafton Group. On the buy-side, Davies advised Procurri UK – a subsidiary of international company DeClout – on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of EAF Supply Chain Holdings. Simon Hore assisted the shareholders of Banks Accountants Limited with its sale to RSM, a global accountancy practice, and advised Wasdell Packaging on its acquisition of Shire Acquisitions UK. Senior partner Jonathan Payne jointly heads the corporate team and advised on a large cross-border share transaction in 2016. Additional clients include Arkell’s Brewery, HSBC, World Fuel Services Europe and Yuasa Battery UK.

The ‘knowledgeable, meticulous and extremely personable’ lawyers at Willans LLP provide corporate and transactional advice to clients in the technology, telecoms and manufacturing sectors; the group also has particular expertise in the charities space. Paul Symes-Thompson, who is known for providing ‘client-focused advice’, acted for the shareholders of Blueberry Wave in connection with the sale of a 26% stake in the company to Veriteva. Symes-Thompson was also involved in the establishment and funding of Abbeyserve Limited, a new company formed by two veterinary practices to acquire Abbey Vets in Derby. The ‘experiencedTheresa Grech handles a wide-range of corporate and commercial matters and was involved in the management buyout of CGT Lettings and Tewkesbury Residential Lettings. Grech, who has extensive experience of commercial contracts, advised Cheltenham Festivals on a variety of commercial sponsorship agreements. Kate Hickey left for Harrison Clark Rickerbys, and senior associate Caroline Leviss joined the department from Stone King LLP in 2016.

Lodders Solicitors LLP is an ‘excellent firm’ whose Cheltenham office acts for a range of corporates and investors across the South West. The ‘pragmatic’ Stephen Thomas, whose key strengths include ‘relaying complex legal matters in a practical way’, specialises in financial services and the software and IT sectors. He advised the shareholders of SWAT Holdings on its multimillion-pound sale to Wilmington. Buy-side highlights included acting for a longstanding client on its acquisition of a pensions business from a household name. Thomas also advised a tech company on an investment made by a private equity business, and acted for an investor on its investment in a Romanian start-up.

Mogers Drewett LLP’s corporate and commercial group acts for a range of SMEs and business owners in the tech, media and IT sectors, in addition to handling matters related to the hospitality, leisure and food and drink industries. The team, which is led by M&A specialist Tom Webb, acted for a business owner in relation to the £5m merger of Elitebet Kenya Limited with Oxygen 8 East Africa. In another highlight, Webb acted alongside associate Emily Eccles for the shareholders of Property Solutions (UK) Limited on its sale to Bellrock. On the investment side, Webb and Eccles assisted a coffee business with a first-round investment by a London fund and several individual investors.

The corporate and commercial group at Stone King LLP specialises in advising clients in the charity and education sectors, but also acts for a wider variety of commercial clients across the South West. Miguel Pereira leads the corporate and commercial department and advised Hussey Seatway on the company’s shareholders’ agreement and the buyback of shares from one of its founding shareholders; this transaction required a structure that accommodated both UK and US based shareholders. Pereira also acted for the shareholders of a Bath-based financial services company on its merger with another local company, following the demerger and reorganisation of the client’s business. Laura Giles is also recommended.


Corporate and commercial: The West Country

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: The West Country
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: The West Country clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Ashfords LLP’s ‘approachable and responsive’ corporate and M&A team is recognised for its experience of venture capital and private equity-backed transactions, as well as capital markets transactions. Primarily located in Exeter, but with offices in Taunton and Plymouth, the department operates seamlessly across firm’s West Country offices, as well as offices in Bristol and London. The ‘pragmatic and client-friendly’ Louise Workman leads the corporate practice out of the Exeter office and assisted Flybe Limited with a reduction of capital for the purpose of providing distributable reserves to support the allocation of shares under the company’s employee share schemes. Other highlights for the Exeter team included advising Swallowfield on its £11m purchase of Brand Architekts. Rebecca Dury advised Tavistock Investments on financing arrangements related to the client’s acquisition of Abacus Associates Financial Services. Pauline Bearblock and Zoe Brewer left the firm for in-house roles, while Simon Staples joined Blake Morgan LLP.

Foot Anstey’s Plymouth and Exeter offices have ‘an exceptionally strong corporate team, where clients deal with the principals rather than the assistants’. The cross-office team has specialised partners handling a range of corporate matters, and also works closely with the Bristol-based commercial, banking and restructuring departments. Corporate head Chris Worrell acted for Centrica in relation to the client’s £145m acquisition of ENER-G Cogen International. On the sell side, ‘supportive and pragmatic’ practice head Duncan Sykes acted on the multimillion-pound sale of the entire issued share capital of C3 Resources to Cofely UK. The firm has a very active private equity team led by Matthew Stoate, who advised Chinese private equity house, Sailing Capital, on the high-value acquisition of Astrum Education Group from Sovereign Capital. Stoate also acted for Silvergate Media on an investment into the company by US-based private equity firm Shamrock Capital Advisors. Ken Lewins was made partner in 2016 and leads the entrepreneurial and private company offering in West Devon and Cornwall. James Evans joined Tozers Solicitors LLP and Mark Langford left for gunnercooke LLP in 2016.

Michelmores LLP’s corporate team is among the largest in the region. In an example of the group’s experience of emerging markets related work, Henry Taylor advised African Agricultural Fund on a high-value investment into General Plastics Limited. Taylor also assisted Succession Group with the £10m acquisition of Clay Rogers & Partners. Richard Cobb heads the corporate department and acted for St Austell Brewery in relation to its acquisition of Bath Ales and its portfolio of pubs and restaurants. Cobb was also involved in the management buyout of EMC Advisory Services, working alongside Stephen Morse, who heads the business group. Ian Holyoak heads the commercial department and specialises in the renewable energy sector. Holyoak and newly-promoted partner Alexandra Watson acted for Downing LLP on establishment of a crowdfunding platform and a series of bond issuances, which raised nearly £10m.

Although its focus remains on SMEs in the South West, Stephens Scown LLP now acts for a number of national clients. In an energy sector highlight, David Culshaw acted for Ernesettle Community Solar as borrower in connection with the refinancing of a Plymouth solar project with two separate lenders. Simon Morris led a large team that acted for a German electronics company on a complex multimillion-pound transaction with a UK manufacturer. Robert Brightley is involved in another high-value transaction and corporate restructuring for a UK corporate, which involves a German utilities company. The corporate group is headed by James Keliher, who has experience of sale transactions and exit agreements in a number of jurisdictions. Sally Norcross-Webb is a specialist in mining and mineral matters and acted for Strongbow Exploration on the acquisition of the South Crofty Tin Mine, which required a deal structure allowing the holding company to be released from administration and subsequent share-purchase agreement.

Murrell Associates’s corporate team is known for its ‘detailed legal knowledge’ as well as its ‘professional and competent business advocacy’. The group has been especially active in the energy sector, with department head Chris Wills advising Kronos Solar Projects on the sale of KS SPV 35 Limited, which was the 17th disposal handled for the client over four years. ‘Very responsive and knowledgeable’ associate Henry Maples who has been extremely active in a number of M&A in 2016; highlights included acting for Classic Cottages Limited on its acquisition of Wight Locations Limited. Founding partner Hugh Murrell led a team acting for RIV Holdings, a new client of the firm, on its multimillion-pound acquisition of Rose in Vale Hotel, which included advising on a secured debt financing with NatWest Bank. Noted for her ‘keen eye for detail’, associate Rebecca Anforth has handled a number of commercial contractual issues.

OTB Eveling is well known for acting for regional SMEs, but also has experience of acting for private equity investors and multinationals. In a cross-border highlight, managing partner James Eveling acted for the shareholders of Simpleware Limited on its sale to Synopsis, one of the largest software companies in the US. Eveling also led a team including Rebecca Roberts advising the shareholders of Hentland Limited on ist £7.6m sale to an AIM-listed company. David Gebbie acted for Clearvac group on its restructuring and refinancing and on the acquisition of Ford & Sons (Sidmouth). Emma Thomas is also recommended.

Kitsons LLP’s corporate team is headed by Dominic Hollingsworth, who is an ‘experienced, well-networked operator’. The team has been involved in a number of multimillion-pound share transactions in 2016-2017, and also has experience of refinancing matters. Corri Pedrick is an associate in the corporate team and specialises in commercial drafting, and Graham Forward is a consultant in the department.

Porter Dodson LLP handles a wide-range of corporate matters for a growing regional and national client base. Key figures include Evelyn Adfield and Sarah Young. Highlights included advising a food wholesaler on its corporate restructuring involving JV agreements, a reorganisation of nine group companies and a multimillion-pound refinancing with Lloyds Bank. Adfield led a cross-disciplinary team that advised the shareholders on the sale of a medical services business.

Traditionally a property-focused firm, Solicitors Title LLP has also developed particular experience of commercial and corporate matters in the tech and IP space. The team also works for clients in the automotive and healthcare industries and has expertise in franchising matters, acting for both franchisors and franchisees. Department leader Richard James acts for a range of clients, from entrepreneurs to well-known brands, and has experience of joint venture arrangements, multimillion-pound MBOs, commercial licensing matters and investment structures. Guy Curry is another contact in the group and specialises in corporate finance, banking and funds work.

Tozers Solicitors LLP handles investment and restructuring work and has a niche focus on the mobile home and holiday park industries. The department is headed by James Orpin, whose experience runs the gamut of corporate and commercial law, from M&A to group reorganisations. Orpin acted for an acquiring company in the particularly high-value purchase of the entire share capital of a significant regional business. Amy Laver is an associate in the corporate and commercial group and acted for the sell-side clients in the sale of the share capital of a caravan park.


Corporate tax

Index of tables

  1. Corporate tax
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate tax clients in South West using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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According to clients, Burges Salmon LLP has one of the South West’s ‘premier’ tax teams. The group is headed by Nigel Popplewell, who advised Virgin and Virgin Active in connection with a number of issues, including capital allowances and transfer of a going concern (TOGC) aspects of the disposal of a variety of gyms and health centres. Popplewell acted for The Crown Estate on commercial and agricultural property transactions, which included VAT and SDLT advice on surrenders, re-grants and re-gearings. John Barnett makes up the other half of the two-partner team and focuses on matters involving owner-managed businesses, private equity, HMRC disclosure and remuneration and planning; Barnett’s clients include Yeo Valley Group. Specialising in structured transactions and funds work, Ian Carnochan part of a team assisting a corporate director on the merger of funds of a UK investment company into those of an Irish umbrella fund. Senior associate Nicola Manclark is also recommended.

Osborne Clarke’s three-partner corporate tax department attracts praise for its ‘uniformly excellent bench’ and ability to pool large cross-disciplinary teams from its sizeable international network. The group, which acts for public listed companies, family-owned businesses and investment funds, handles a range of tax matters, including property tax, partnership restructurings and tax aspects of fund formation. The ‘authoritative and extremely knowledgeable’ practice co-head Michael Bell assisted Progressive Digital Media, a company with offices in four continents, on the tax aspects of its acquisition of GlobalData and the subsequent corporate reorganisation. Bell also led a team advising the management of Odeon & UCI Cinemas on the international tax structuring of its proposed £921m sale to AMC Theatres. Tracey Wright is the tax team’s real estate and infrastructure specialist, and acted for M&G RPF on the tax structuring of two rented-sector forward-funding acquisitions for sites in London and Manchester. Erika Jupe heads the firm’s international tax team.

Ashfords LLP’s tax team regularly advises on the tax aspects of large, often multi-jurisdictional mergers and demergers. In addition to handling the gamut of taxation issues affecting businesses, such as land tax, VAT, EIS and SEIS, and stamp duty, the department also has expertise in employee share and share-option schemes. In 2016, practice head Angus Bauer acted for Schlumberger Oilfield UK on the tax aspects of multiple cross-border share purchase transactions, including the $110m purchase of Rubislaw Investments and the purchase of Meta Downhole’s issued share capital for $32.2m. Bauer provides ongoing assistance to The Planning Inspectorate on a number of taxation issues such as employment tax and VAT. In another highlight, the team advised Karhoo on obtaining approval for an enterprise investment scheme, and also helped with the implementation of an enterprise management incentives option scheme. Clare Werry has been involved in a number of multi-jurisdictional and national demergers in 2016.

A great proactive and technically proficient firm’, Foot Anstey’s tax group is known for providing ‘succinct and clear advice’ in relation to M&A, employee share schemes, company reorganisations and property investment structures. Noted for his previous experience working for HMRC, clients of practice head John Pindard consider it ‘difficult to get similar service at the same value’; his clients include investors, entrepreneurs and regional, national and international corporates. Pindard acted for Best Nature on the structuring of a property development programme with a joint venture party, and advised China Fleet on the formulation of an overpaid VAT claim and on liaising with HMRC and other tax tribunals. Other highlights for the group included acting alongside the corporate and financial services departments for Succession Group on tax due diligence and related post-transaction tax documentation in connection with multiple acquisitions.

At Michelmores LLP, Exeter-based tax specialist Brian Garner has extensive experience of corporate and transactional tax matters and regularly works alongside the firm’s corporate, employment, disputes, private client and family departments. With previous experience working for one of the Big Four accountancy firms, Garner has been exposed to various facets of tax; recent highlights include advising on the tax aspects of the £8m management buyout of EMCAS. He also advised Succession Group on tax issues related to a series of acquisitions, and assisted the same client with an employee share incentive programmes. Garner also acted for the ex-finance director of The Plastic Surgeon Limited regarding his decision to exit his role and sell his interest in the company.

TLT’s tax department ‘compares favourably’ to its South West competition. Practice head Nathan Williams, who splits his time between the firm’s Bristol and London offices, is noted for his ‘detailed knowledge’ of tax issues connected with M&A, private equity transactions, reorganisations, fund formation and joint ventures. He also has experience acting for borrowers in relation to the banking tax issues associated with loan facilities; as an example, he acted for BGL Group on withholding taxes in relation to a £130m revolving credit facility and another £240m securitisation facility. The tax team was also involved in a large cross-disciplinary matter regarding Swan Housing Association’s £250m Tower Hamlets regeneration project, advising on the SDLT and VAT planning, as well as corporation tax and charity tax issues related to a joint venture structure. Ben Watson is also recommended.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s corporate tax practice in Bristol has ‘good expertise’ in the energy and financial services sectors and is also noted for its private equity work. Managing associate Ronan Lowney acted for Rockpool Investments on international tax issues relating to VAT arising from the management buyout of Flightline Support. The tax team also acted for Piper Private Equity on an investment into Propercorn Group; the tax group worked with the corporate department to advise on management incentives, the debt and equity structuring for the investment, and the enterprise investment scheme. In the energy sector, Lowney is handling the VAT and SDLT aspects of the purchase of 13 UK wind farm projects by Dream Alternatives Wind.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) is well known for providing VAT and SDLT advice to charities in the education sector. The group also has experience of share option schemes and has been particularly active advising individuals on the proposed change of legislation regarding the taxation of non-UK domiciled persons. Practice head Emma Bradley advised Ripjar Limited on the terms of its existing share scheme. The tax group also advised Unit DX on the possibility of an HMRC agreement related to certain investment reliefs concerning a pioneering entrepreneurial laboratory and science incubator in Bristol. The team has also handled the tax aspects of multi-jurisdictional acquisitions in the hospitality sector and, in 2016, provided VAT assistance to an educational client faced with insolvency in connection with a property and business disposal.


EU and competition

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Clients of Burges Salmon LLP’s competition department attracts praise for its ‘partner-led service and prompt response times’. The team is highly experienced in UK merger control aspects of acquisition and disposal transactions, with particular emphasis in the transport, sport, retail and water sectors, and is advising Ofwat on a host of issues regarding the regulation agency’s Water 2020 programme. Practice head Laura Claydon is assisting FirstGroup with merger control aspects of its bid for the TransPennine Express franchise. Claydon’s competition team advised on the £117m sale of 298 of the client’s stores to McColls. Alongside the London projects team, state aid-specialists Stephanie Rickard and John Houlden are acting for Greater London Authority and TfL on the procurement and state aid strategy for multiple regeneration projects in London. In addition to the group’s non-contentious work, Claydon, Noel Beale and Brian Wong have experience in competition litigation; recent work includes acting for Co-operative Group and Somerfield Stores in a successful claim against the CMA. Ruth Jefferson left to join Wessex Water, while Becky Ellis joined from Hogan Lovells International LLP.

Maitland Walker LLP’s EU and competition practice handles the full gamut of contentious and non-contentious competition law. The team is headed by Julian Maitland-Walker, a ‘dedicated creative-thinker’ who is acting as special adviser to the Business Enterprise Committee of the House of Commons in connection with its inquiry into the extent to which pub licensees were restricted from purchasing beer on the open market and were thus forced to overpay large pub companies for their product. On the non-contentious side, the group’s experience spans competition law in relation to M&A, state aid and public procurement. In 2016, Maitland-Walker advised a US client on a tender to a consortium of public authorities for a waste recycling plant, and also acted for the acquirer on the regulatory aspects of a gaming industry related acquisition. On the contentious front, the department focuses on pursuing follow-on claims in competition cases and is experienced in group litigation. Other key figures include consultant Susannah Sheppard, who handles public and private sector work spanning a range of industry sectors.

The team at Osborne Clarke comprises ‘experts in the field’. The team acts for an array of international clients in the TMT, transport and retail sectors, and provides ‘excellent service’ on state aid and merger control matters and general competition and regulatory advice, as well as antitrust litigation. The ‘peerless’ Simon Neill leads the department and acted for SMART Technologies in connection with the UK merger control aspects of its $200m acquisition by Hon Hai Precision. Neill alos advised Chargemaster on the merger control aspects of its multimillion-pound acquisition of Elektromove. Focusing on competition and state aid, Marc Shrimpling advised Centrica on the funding aspects of a £19m trial programme aimed at developing a local energy market in Cornwall. Andrew Bartlett leads the antitrust litigation group and is representing Granville Technology Group in a £20m follow-on damages claim against multiple well-known technology companies, which arose from the DRAM cartel decision of the EU Commission. Catherine Wolfenden, who specialises in regulated public sector and utilities procurement work, is also recommended.

TLT handles a range of competition law issues, from merger control to state aid, with particular focus on the retail, consumer goods, financial services and energy sectors. The Bristol group has seen increased activity in cartel and market investigations and regulatory matters, working in conjunction with the firm’s London office. Miles Trower heads the competition department and is instructed by a household name food retailer to advise on a UK and EU merger analysis regarding a proposed transaction in the grocery sector. Trower also provides legal training to UK retail networks covering ongoing competition compliance. Bill Hull specialises in competition law and public procurement and is advising an industry association on practices concerning the gathering and dissemination of market data following a CMA investigation into the aggregates market. The team also assists listed companies with day-to-day competition and antitrust matters and has represented a multitude of corporates before the CMA and other regulatory authorities in relation to trading and distribution issues and other anti-competitive arrangements.

The ‘approachable and down-to-earth’ competition department at Ashfords LLP is renowned for its specialised state aid practice, which is the ‘best in the region’. Working for a range of public and private sector clients, the team is noted for its expertise in state aid funding solutions, as well as public procurement. Practice co-head Elizabeth Gibson specialises in state aid and procurement work and acts for a number of city and county councils on issues such as the implications of the European Commission’s decision on the National Broadband Scheme for the UK. Gibson acted for Your Consortium Limited on the state aid implications of the client’s application to the Building Better Opportunities funding programme for a grant of £7.4m. Joint department head Stuart Mathews is ‘very thorough on the competition and commercial side’ and focuses on providing competition and merger control advice related to national and international M&A and business disposals. Lucy Woods rounds out the state aid and procurement team.

Michelmores LLP handles national and international procurement, state aid and competition law matters. Ian Holyoak heads the commercial team in Exeter and focuses primarily on merger control issues arising from contract or trading arrangements, and also advises on procurement and state aid matters, particularly relating to EU structural funding. Holyoak recently acted for a listed company on the competition aspects of the proposed acquisition of a US-based competitor. David Thompson is also a member of the commercial team and handles competition law matters in the context of IP, especially for clients in the food and drink sector. Michail Papadakis joined the London office in 2016 and focuses exclusively on procurement, competition and state aid. Papadakis works closely with the projects team and has advised clients such as MOPAC, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Indigo Group. Working between the firm’s London and Exeter offices, Andrew Oldland QC has experience of contentious competition matters and has been involved in the ongoing CMA investigations into anti-competitive practices in residential estate agency services.

Foot Anstey is known for its ability to manage state aid and competition law across a range of sectors, such as energy, water, fisheries and agriculture. The department also handles procurement issues and has particular experience of the regional implications of the State Aid Modernisation reform package. The procurement, competition and state aid department is led by James Falle, who has expertise in competition investigations and multi-jurisdictional merger control filings. Falle assisted Pennon Group with the merger filing of a joint venture with South Staffordshire Water regarding an agreement to merge their non-household water and sewage businesses. He also acted for new client, the British Tourism Authority, on the state aid aspects and structuring of the Discover England Fund, which will create available funding for third parties to develop new products. Additional clients include the Met Office, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and North Devon District Council.


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