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Led by Steve Berry, Acuity Legal Limited’s six-partner team attracts praise for its ‘prompt and value-for-money service’. Its expertise covers the spectrum of corporate and M&A work, including advising on private equity led transactions, joint venture (JV) structuring and corporate restructurings. Berry acted alongside ‘talented’ senior associate Phillip Pugh for the majority shareholders of Swansea City FC on a £110m share sale to US investors. Christian Farrow continues to handle small-cap M&A for Capita, recently advising it on its acquisition of e-learning business Brightwave Holdings and digital marketing agency Orange Bus. Beverley Jones acted for Brickability Group and its management team on the private equity backed management buyout (MBO) of Brickability UK Holdings. The ‘giftedPaul Lowe regularly handles corporate work for private and public sector clients including the Welsh Government, CISCO and Scansource, and is praised for his ‘understanding of how best to meet a client’s objectives; he is great at adapting his approach to the context and the opposing party’. Rounding out the team are Rachelle Sellek, who handles a range of corporate and commercial work, and Kerry Beynon, whose arrival in November 2016 from JCP Solicitors enhances the firm’s capability in IP and IT-related commercial matters.

Led by the ‘very strong and commercialRobert Cherry and aided by a ‘talented and experienced group of lawyers’, Blake Morgan LLP’s two-partner team provides a ‘responsive and professional’ service to clients from a range of industry sectors. The team’s experience covers a wide range of strategic and private equity-led M&A transactions, corporate restructurings, and JV structuring mandates. Cherry continues to advise PHS Group on its corporate strategic acquisition programme, recently acting for it on the £87.5m sale of PHS Data Solutions to Restore. Cherry also advised Finance Wales on its partial exit from Comtec Group. The ‘very ableJames Williams, who attracts praise for his ‘well-considered and commercial advice’, advised Bankhouse Care on its acquisition of a care home business. Also recommended are ‘very professional and commercial’ senior associate Richard Jones, and senior solicitor Alex Butler, who ‘always acts in the best interest of the client’.

The ‘very strong and commercial’ five-partner team at Capital Law LLPpunches above its weight’ and provides a ‘client-friendly and pragmatic service’ across a range of corporate and commercial matters, to businesses of all sizes – from start-ups to large corporates. The team has built up a particular specialism in private equity transactions in Wales and nationwide, where the team can provide ‘very cost-effective advice’ to sponsors, management teams and investees. The ‘very technicalTom Kelleher (who is ‘excellent at seeing the wood from the trees’) continues to pick up a steady stream of work for WestBridge Capital, including recently advising it on its £10.5m secondary buyout of ISG Technology from RJD Partners. Formerly an in-house lawyer at 3i prior to setting up the law firm, ‘very experienced’ team head Duncan Macintosh has ‘significant expertise’ within the private equity space and has deep connections within the London market. Praised for her ‘calmness under pressure and tenacity’, Alys Carlton regularly acts for management teams on private equity-related M&A, and is also the lead relationship partner for Admiral Group and Waymade. Other clients include Finance Wales, Active Energy Group and Inspire Growth Wales.

With three partners based in Cardiff and also benefitting from an extensive network of offices in the UK and internationally, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP excels at handling big-ticket strategic deals, predominantly outside of Wales. ‘Hardworking and responsive’ team head Paul Pugh has significant experience within the public sector and has been leading a multi-disciplinary team representing the Welsh government in its negotiations with Tata Steel to attempt to secure a rescue deal and protect thousands of jobs at stake in Port Talbot due to Tata Steel’s plans to sell the steelworks. Pugh has also handled numerous transactions in the financial services sector, including advising mortgage lender Castle Trust on its £26m acquisition of Omni Capital Retail Finance. Spearheaded by the ‘dedicated and responsiveIwan Walters and Michelle Davies, the office is also regularly engaged in renewable energy M&A. Walters recently acted for a Dutch private wealth fund on the disposal of two solar special purpose vehicles (SPVs). ‘Pragmatic and helpful’ senior associate Richard Franklin has developed strong corporate real estate credentials and recently advised Kier on the acquisition and onward disposal of 81 Fountain Street in Manchester. Other clients include Finance Wales, Flood Re and Forest Heath District Council.

Led on the corporate front by Andrew Morris and on the commercial side by Ceri Delemore, Geldards LLP provides a ‘highly professional and skilled service’ to private, public and third sector clients from a broad array of industry sectors including gaming, manufacturing and healthcare. Morris, who has a strong pedigree in the private equity space, recently acted for Medinet Wales on the sale of its subsidiary, Medinet Clinical Services, to an MBO team backed by Volpi Capital. The firm has a longstanding relationship with Finance Wales, and was recently appointed sole provider of public procurement legal services; in an illustration of its work for the client, Delemore has been acting for Help to Buy Wales, a subsidiary of Finance Wales, on its purchase of a corporate mailing solution. The ‘pragmatic and consistent’ Geraint Tilsley handles a range of private and public sector related corporate matters, and recently advised Leekes on its £6.9m acquisition of Park Furnishers. Also recommended are tax partner and chartered tax adviser Andrew Evans, who regularly provides tax structuring advice on corporate transactions; and Bethan Lloyd, who is noted for her state aid expertise. Other clients include AerFin, Wales Millennium Centre, Knauf Group and Finsbury Food Group.

Enhanced by its merger with MLM Cartwright in November 2016, Hugh James has one of the largest standalone corporate and commercial departments in the country, with seven partners providing expertise across strategic and private equity-led M&A, venture capital investments, and commercial contracts including shareholder and distribution agreements. ‘Practical and no-nonsense’ team head Gerallt Jonesis excellent at working with local businesses and stakeholders’; he provides corporate advice to a number of anchor clients of the firm, including the Welsh Rugby Union and Finance Wales, the latter of which he recently advised on Creo Medical’s flotation on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). Jones also led on a number of deals within the London creative industries sector, including the sale of Generate Sponsorship to Mongoose Sports & Entertainment. Aled Walters has a particular niche advising betting, gaming, TV and media clients including Playtech, Bell-Fruit and Novomatic. Other recommended partners include Greg Williams, who specialises in corporate and commercial work within the healthcare sector, Jon Fernandez Lewis and Mike Baggott. Other clients include Celtic Manor Resort, Vista Retail and SA Brain.

Berry Smith provides ‘skilful, knowledgeable and practical advice’ to a loyal roster of largely owner-managed and SME clients across a range of ongoing commercial matters, as well as transactional mandates. In addition to acting for local SMEs, the ‘very experienced’ Andrew Bound (who is a ‘skilled negotiator’) has gained significant traction in the life sciences and diagnostics sector and has consequently picked up some significant AIM-related work for clients including EKF Diagnostics. Bound also recently acted for the management team in a £3m MBO of Analogue & Micro. The ‘very dedicated, professional and well-organised’ Emma Borrington has a particular niche handling corporate and commercial work within the financial services and manufacturing sectors for clients including HSBC and Julian Hodge. Borrington also handles private equity work and recently advised the management team on its purchase of RVW Consulting (with funding provided by Finance Wales). Associate Paul Evans is singled out for his work within the healthcare sector, which includes sales and purchases of dental practices and NHS surgery mergers. Consultant Philip Griffiths leads on the commercial contracts side.

Boutique corporate and commercial law firm Greenaway Scott specialises in transactions within the life sciences, healthcare, technology and IT sectors, where it is able to provide added value by virtue of the fact that several of the firm’s lawyers have additional science or IP qualifications. Praised for its ‘superior business acumen and very high levels of customer service’, the team is also able to leverage close ties with numerous prominent universities including Oxford, Cardiff and Swansea, to handle spin-outs from these institutions. The ‘talented and tenacious’ Nigel Greenaway has broad-ranging corporate expertise and is particularly adept in handling venture capital mandates at every stage of the lifecycle of a deal, from inception through to exit. Greenaway recently advised TrakCel on a shareholder rights issue and on a multimillion-pound investment by a Silicon Valley-based private equity house. He also acted for the management on the multimillion-pound MBO of CoolTherm. In addition to handling a significant amount of work for Finance Wales, the ‘incredibly talented, approachable and professional’ Matthew Sutton regularly handles university spin-out work, including recently advising Polypharmakos on its fundraising and spin-out from Cambridge University. Rhian Osborne spearheads the firm’s commercial offering and continues to provide ongoing advice to Koherent on matters relating to its various commercial contracts.

Based out of the firm’s Swansea office, JCP Solicitors’ three-partner team has significant market recognition amongst clients in south west Wales and provides an ‘excellent service’ across a range of industry sectors including healthcare, energy, manufacturing and retail. Betsan Powell advised N R Evans on the £20m sale of the company to NFT, and advised LBS Builders Merchants on the acquisition of Talbot Timber. Michael Williams, who jointly heads the practice with Powell, has particular expertise at handling corporate deals within the energy sector; he recently advised the management team of Maron Systems on its MBO. As part of his broader healthcare practice, Chris Davies regularly advises dentists and pharmacists on the sale and purchase of practices throughout England and Wales.

Led by the ‘experienced and approachable’ William Barletta, Morgan LaRoche’s four-partner team has strong visibility in the south and west of Wales, where it acts on behalf of start-ups and SMEs. Although it is active across a range of sectors, the team continues to handle a steady stream of corporate and commercial work from clients with the waste recycling sector; Barletta is continuing to represent a local waste recycling plant operator across a range of commercial matters, and Christopher Evans is overseeing the acquisition of Llanelli-based Brown’s Waste Management by way of a share purchase. Although primarily based in the firm’s Swansea office, Welsh speaker Evans has been spending a considerable time in the Carmarthen office growing the firm’s west Wales client base. Other highlights included advising a leading UK distributor of hot tubs and spas on the renewal of distribution agreements and advising a shareholder on the sale of a well-known local nightclub and leisure business.

In addition to the firm’s core commercial workload, which includes franchising and partnership law advice, Darwin Gray LLP continues to grow its roster of transactional work for sole traders, start-ups and larger UK and international-based corporates. The team, which impresses clients with its ability to provide ‘pragmatic advice with regard to commercial risks’, is led by the ‘approachable and professional’ Stephen Thompson, who is a ‘cool head under pressure’. He recently advised Passcrystal on the £4.75m sale of part of the nursing home business to a social housing company. Thompson is also well versed in insolvency-related acquisitions and recently advised Deloitte on the sale of assets of a business in administration. Senior associate Gareth Wedge has a particular niche in sales and acquisitions of veterinary practices. Other clients include 4J Leisure, Navitas UK and T2 Group.

The ‘commercially astute’ team at Douglas-Jones Mercer provides an ‘exemplary level of service’ to local owner-managed businesses and SMEs. Its expertise covers a range of corporate and commercial matters, including M&A, share schemes, shareholder agreements and partnership agreements. ‘Tenacious’ and ‘pragmatic’ team head Sheraz Akram is ‘able to grasp key points of complex matters very quickly’ and provides ‘prudent and balanced’ advice to clients including Dawn Meats Group and Dawnus Group, as well as numerous clients within the medical and healthcare sectors. Recent highlights include advising Perma-Soil on the sale of its entire issued share capital to Harlaxton Engineering Services and acting for GRS Care on the acquisition of Helping Hands Homecare. New clients include Marukyu Europe, Cladinox India and Ben Hughes Engineering.

West Wales firm Red Kite Law LLP is viewed as a ‘safe pair of hands’ and handles a range of transactional and commercial work for SMEs and owner-managed businesses in the region. Team head Paul James is well versed across a range of corporate and commercial matters; in addition to handling M&A work and ongoing commercial matters for local west Wales businesses, it has also developed significant expertise advising public sector clients on public procurement matters.

Despite the recent departure of associate Jennifer Cottle, who joined Capital Law LLP in September 2016, Dolmans still fields a number of practitioners who handle corporate and commercial work. Senior partner and head of defendant litigation Adrian Oliver also handles regulatory and contractual matters for sports clients. The ‘affable’ Justin Harris also handles a range of governance, commercial and corporate transactional work as an adjunct to his personal injury defendant practice. Clients include local authorities, not-for-profit organisations, and private sector corporates.

Headed by Mike Jenkins, Newport-based firm Harding Evans LLP’s two-lawyer team has a particularly accomplished reputation in the technology sector, where it acts for start-ups and has strong links with business incubator Welsh ICE. The team also continues to advise ESTnet, the Technology Network in Wales, on corporate governance and M&A work. Jenkins regularly handles share buy-back deals including representing Limchester Properties on the buyback of shares from the majority shareholder. Other clients include Sony, Green Duck Hotels and Aerospace Wales Forum.

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Legal Developments in Wales for Corporate and commercial: Cardiff and South Wales

  • US rules regarding offshore accounts

    The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act 2010, enacted on 18 March 2010, imposes a new US withholding tax and reporting regime, known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The FATCA regime applies generally to payments made after 31 December 2012, except on obligations (to be defined in future guidance) outstanding on 18 March 2012. Substantial effort is required by foreign entities to bring their worldwide operations and policies into compliance with the FATCA rules as of the effective date.

    - Jones Day

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