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Corporate and commercial: Birmingham

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Birmingham
  2. Leading individuals

DLA Piper UK LLP’s ‘wide professional skillset and flexibility in providing additional resources at short notice is a key advantage’. The five-partner team, which includes UK head Charles Cook and Birmingham team leader Noel Haywood, was once again active on a wide range of cross-border matters, including advising Longway Trading on the €285m sale of its Cyprus subsidiary, Mountain Peak Trading, to Adler Real Estate. Other key players are John Campion, who has particular expertise in the technology sector, and the ‘strong, pragmatic’ Tim Lake, who advised on various local deals, including assisting Tattershall Castle Group with the disposal of its business and assets to Stonegate Pub Company. Private equity specialist James Lavery acted for the institutional shareholders of Stadco on its sale to Magna Automotive Europe.

Eversheds LLP’s ‘impressive’ team provides major global corporates and significant local businesses with a complete range of advice, including assistance with equity capital markets and private equity deals. An array of transactions included Sue Lewis advising Lloyds Development Capital on its £307m purchase of NEC Group from Birmingham City Council, and head of department Keri Rees and Steven Hacking assisting Eurocell with its £175m main market IPO. In other highlights, ‘great deal-makerMark Beardmore advised the Daisy Group management team on its £494m public-to-private buyout of the company. The team was further developed by the hire of Nigel Cooke from DLA Piper UK LLP.

Gowling WLG’s industry strengths include technology, real estate and the public sector. Notable clients include the Business Growth Fund, Southco and Birmingham City Council, the last of which David Vaughan advised on the £307m sale of the NEC Group to Lloyds Development Capital. The highly rated Jeremy Millington advised VIRTUS Data Centres on its acquisition of Slough-based Infinity SDC’s West London data centre, while Andrew Lawton Smith, who focuses on entrepreneurs and family businesses, assisted Riviera Travel with a significant investment made into the company by Phoenix Equity Partners. Baljit Chohan heads the team.

At Gateley Plc, equity capital markets specialist Paul Cliff advised the firm on its £100m IPO and conversion to a PLC – the first UK public listing by a law firm. Tom Durrant heads the practice and represented Jacopa and its management team in the cross-border MBO of the municipal arm of Ovivo, while CEO Michael Ward advised the Business Growth Fund on its equity investment in Prodrive Composites. Chris Reed is ‘very knowledgeable about the owner and private equity managed business environment’.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s strength in the healthcare sector was once again in evidence, with practice head Julian Smith advising Tenet Healthcare on its £145m acquisition of Aspen Healthcare. In another key deal, Peter McLintock acted for all of the shareholders of 99p Stores in the £55m sale of the company to Poundland Group. Healthcare specialist Rhian Vandrill arrived from Gowling WLG and ‘calm and thoughtful’ outsourcing specialist Jayne Hussey joined from Pinsent Masons LLP.

At Pinsent Masons LLP, Paul Harkin’s team includes technology specialist Andrew Hornigold and Nicole Livesey, who has particular expertise in the manufacturing sector. The team assisted Magellan Aerospace with its share acquisition of Euravia Engineering, and it advised Optare and its major shareholder, Ashok Leyland, on the delisting of the company from AIM. On the commercial side, Clare Francis assisted the Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner with designing the procurement process for a major IT project.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP delivers a ‘punctual and thorough service by providing all facts and risks in a clear, defined way’. The team was active on numerous transactions, including practice head Richard Wrigley advising the shareholders of HL Plastics on the £95m sale of the company to Quanex Building Products, and Keith Spedding assisting Ansell with the £59m acquisition of Microgard. Kavita Patelprovides creative solutions’ for private equity transactions.

At Shoosmiths LLP, the ‘technically very good’ Martin Letza, who heads the practice, followed up the 2014 IPO of BCA Marketplace by acting for the client in its £43m acquisition of SMA Vehicle Remarketing. In another deal, Letza advised Thorntons on its £112m sale to Ferholding. Ben Turner worked a number of cross-border transactions, including advising Indutrade on its acquisition of Adaero Precision Components; on the private equity side, Alastair Peet was active on behalf of key client Octopus Investments. David Jackson leads on commercial work.

Squire Patton Boggs was successful in securing a number of new clients, including Marston’s, for which it acted on the £25m acquisition of the trading operation of Thwaites’ beer division. The practice was also enhanced by the hire of Andrew Glaze from SGH Martineau. One particular area of expertise is equity capital markets, and the team was once again active in the space, with Edward Dawes advising Numis Securities as nominated adviser and broker on the AIM IPO of Hunters Property. Geoff Perry heads the corporate team, while on the commercial side Stuart James’ expertise ranges from international sales and distribution agreements to consumer debt sale and management agreements.

Nottingham-based Gavin Cummings heads the practice at Browne Jacobson LLP, where the team ‘consistently provides sound advice’. Kevin Jones has strong expertise in the telematics sector and advised Box Innovation Group on the sale of part of its shareholding to Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Company of Europe, and the ‘skilled and technicalMike Jackson was active on a number of equity fundraisings for main market and AIM listed clients. Other names to note are Roger Birchall and commercial specialist Richard Nicholas.

At Clarke Willmott LLP, Andrew Beedham has a particular specialism in advising on and facilitating complex private company sales and purchases, including management buy-ins, buy-outs and joint ventures.

At DWF, Mark Gibson’s team continued to develop its expertise in the manufacturing sector by acting for Nord-Lock International on the acquisition of Boltight. Gibson is often involved in deals with a cross-border component and, in one highlight, advised the management team of ARM Holdings on the £95m sale of the group to Nissha Printing. Key clients include Park Holidays and Utopia Furniture.

Lee Clifford’s team at Freeths has developed a strong reputation in the private equity sphere and handled a sizeable volume of transactions in this area, including advising Lloyds Development Capital on its £20m purchase of Away Resorts from Close Brothers. In another deal, Clifford advised the management team of Santia Holdings on the £47m sale of Better Capital’s interest to Alcumus. Tom Brown was busy on behalf of key client Funeral Partners.

Hill Hofstetter provides ‘on-point advice’ under the leadership of ‘very good problem-solver’ Chris Hill. Zanna Patchett handled a number of acquisitions in the healthcare sector, and Graham Muth, who specialises in advising professional services business on M&A and restructuring, advised a global energy and environment company on a major transaction. Commercial specialist Jane Thomas is ‘great at managing other parties’ lawyers to keep negotiations on track’. Peter Seary left for Roythornes Solicitors.

Irwin Mitchell continued to make inroads in the mid-market M&A space, advising Sunrise Medical Holdings on its acquisition of RGK Wheelchairs and Lexon on the acquisition of Norchem. Key players in the corporate team are national practice head Chris Rawstron and Nick Dawson, who leads in Birmingham; on the commercial side, Sarah Riding advises clients such as National Grid and the British Chambers of Commerce.

The Wilkes Partnership’s four-partner team is led by Gareth O’Hara, who handles a range of work for private equity and corporate clients, including Business Growth Fund and PPS Equipment Holdings. In one recent highlight, O’Hara advised the executive board on the management buyout of Lee Longlands.

Weightmans LLP expertise in healthcare, not-for-profit and public sector work has been broadened by the arrival of Mathew Harvey, who joined from Shakespeare Martineau LLP; Harvey specialises in advising clients operating in the automotive manufacturing supply chain. Other names to note are Manchester-based head of practice Paul Raftery and Gareth Griffiths, who is ‘widely experienced in M&A’.

Name partners Greg Emms and Stephen Gilmore lead the corporate team at Emms Gilmore Liberson Solicitors, which provides a full range of business advice. Areas of expertise include equity fund raising and shareholder and partnership agreements.

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s John Irving has particular expertise in commercial contracts and provides ‘prompt and useful advice, especially on distribution agreements’. On the corporate side, Irving advised an investment company on the acquisition of a 50% shareholding in a frozen foods manufacturer.

Corporate and commercial: elsewhere in the West Midlands

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: elsewhere in the West Midlands
  2. Leading individuals

George Green LLP offers a ‘large-firm service at regional rates’ and covers the full spectrum of corporate and commercial matters, including private equity, cross-border transactions and IPOs. ‘Leader in the fieldGuy Green advised oMbiel on its sale to Ex Libris, while Paul Bennett assisted new client Olive Communications with an equity investment from the Business Growth Fund.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys has the ‘correct level of expertise in the business to cover all requests’. Arpinder Dhillon focuses on transactional work, particularly in the healthcare sector, and the ‘pragmatic’ Alison Scott has strong cross-border expertise and assisted key client E J Group with its acquisition of a group of companies based in Ireland and Australia. The highly rated Rod Thomas heads the team.

Higgs & Sons’ ‘proactive, knowledgeable and solution-focused’ team was involved in a number of high-value transactions, including advising CPBigwood Group on its sale to Shepherds Director, and acting for the shareholders of Estate Technical Solutions in the disposal of the entire issued share capital to a division of Daily Mail General Trust. Department head Nick Taylor and Richard Griffiths are recommended.

Robert Lee’s five-partner team at Wright Hassall LLP was busy on a number of cross-border matters, including joint ventures in Brazil and Australia, and acquisitions in Canada, Australia and the US. In the local market, Steve Halkett advised Mask-arade on its sale to Rubie’s Masquerade Company. Commercial specialist Lindsay Ellis handles a broad range of technology procurements and outsourcings.

Ansons Solicitors Ltd’s ‘capable and professional’ team has ‘built a strong reputation within the pharmacy sector’ and is also active on cross-border mandates; in a recent example the team advised Avril Group on its acquisition of The Kerfoot Group. Hilary D’Cruz provides ‘strong leadership’, and newly promoted partner Neil Jones is ‘attentive. Senior associate Julian Milan joined from Sydney Mitchell LLP.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP’s team, led by James Sage, has increased its sector focus, with further development in the manufacturing, agricultural, renewables and construction sectors. Key players are Kam Johal, whose clients include Newell Palmer Group, and Shrewsbury-based Stuart Rea, who advises landed estate and agri-business clients on a range of business and company law issues.

Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers Limited’s recent work includes acting for Vale Brothers on its purchase of E Jeffries, and advising the management team of Arthur M Griffiths & Son on its buyout of the company from the Griffiths family. Colin Rodrigues has a ‘strong reputation’.

Knights Professional Services Limited’s rapidly growing practice was further enhanced by the hire of commercial specialist Peter Manford from an in-house role. Other names to note are Jonathan Tyson, who has particular expertise in the healthcare and childcare sectors, and head of department David Beech, who has strength in private equity transactions.

Beswicks Legal reported an increase in transactional activity, with Peter Ellis active on a number of matters, including advising Stormking Plastics on its sale to Epwin Group. Nick Phillips heads the team and focuses on commercial contracts work for clients such as Wrights Pies.

Gráinne Walters now heads the practice at Lanyon Bowdler following Richard Murrall’s departure to Sharman Law LLP. Walters, who wins praise for her ‘very strong empathy and good, clear advice’, advised the management team of The Recycling Group in connection with AO World’s investment in the company. Commercial specialist Ruth James has an ‘excellent appreciation of complex business issues and risks’.

Andrew Smith leads Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s practice and was once again active on various cross-border matters, including advising the shareholders of Oxalis Group on the sale of the company to Eaton.

Thomas Horton LLP has been active on deals across various sectors, including manufacturing, retail, advertising and logistics. The ‘very pragmatic’ Jeff Taylor heads the team and acted for Agility Group in its acquisition of RSP Safety Services.

The ‘approachable and collaborativeGareth Burge leads the team at Thursfields Solicitors, where recent highlights include advising CFI Group on the acquisition of Concept Furniture International. Consultant Stuart Price focuses on commercial work.

Corporate tax

Index of tables

  1. Corporate tax
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Gowling WLG is particularly known for its strength in real estate tax, where it provides ‘commercial and practical advice on complex issues’. Department head Lee Nuttall is ‘very experienced’, and director Chris Nyland is ‘technically excellent’. The team also handles corporate work, with an example being Zoe Fatchen’s tax advice to the departing CEO and management team in the MBO of Aeromet International. A particular specialism is the development of warranty and indemnity insurance in relation to tax liabilities.

The ‘commercial and problem-solving’ team at Parisi Tax LLP Birmingham has a broad practice, taking in Becky Rees’ expertise in EIS/SEIS and Jennie Newton’s ‘robust advice’ on property tax. On the corporate transactional side, ‘standout lawyer’ Lisa Stevenson advised the management shareholders on the tax aspects of the sale of RFIB Holdings to Calera Capital.

DLA Piper UK LLP has significant strength in real estate transactions and structuring, with one specialist area being student accommodation. Mark Burgess heads the team and handles all areas of corporate and real estate taxation; in one highlight, Burgess advised Oaktree Capital on the tax aspects of the sale of 13 student accommodation properties via share sales. Aviva and Blackstone Group are key clients.

The ‘commercially and technically astuteJon Stevens leads the team at DWF, which focuses on real estate and M&A tax. In addition to advising Colony Capital on the property tax aspects of its purchase of the Gemini property portfolio, the team assisted CentralNic Group with the tax elements of its acquisition of Instra. Stevens is known for his expertise in business premises renovation allowances.

At Gateley Plc, James Gopsill advises on all areas of corporate tax, real estate tax and share schemes, and specialises in the taxation of real estate investment, development and urban regeneration. Senior associate Martin Jahreiss is recommended.

Browne Jacobson LLP’s team is led by dual-qualified chartered tax adviser and lawyer Andrew Noble, who focuses on corporate, public sector, and property tax. Noble assisted the management team of Insure The Box with the tax aspects of its share sale to Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance. Associate Beth Dowson is the other name to note.

Higgs & Sons provides a ‘first-class service’ under the leadership of Susheel Gupta, who is particularly strong on corporate tax planning work. Highlights included advising the shareholders of Domotec on the tax aspects of the group’s reorganisation. The team was enhanced by a number of hires, including chartered tax adviser Adam Rollason from RSM.

Henry Davenport is the main contact at Knights Professional Services Limited, where areas of focus include corporate transactions, employee share schemes and capital gains tax planning.

At Mills & Reeve LLP, Kevin Lowe provided tax advice on a range of corporate transactions, including acting for the shareholders on the sale of My Goodness to Aurivo.

Shoosmiths LLP’s Kate Featherstonecuts through the detail’ and specialises in corporate tax. In a notable deal, Featherstone advised Indutrade on the tax aspects of its acquisition of Adaero Precision Components.

EU and competition

Index of tables

  1. EU and competition
  2. Leading individuals

Browne Jacobson LLP’s team is led by the ‘very flexible and responsiveMatthew Woodford, who handles a mix of multi-jurisdictional merger control and behavioural competition work. As well as continuing to advise a client in relation to the CMA’s ongoing investigation into the bathroom fittings sector, Woodford advised Cromwell Group on the application of multi-jurisdictional merger control rules to its £310m sale to WW Grainger. The team wins praise for its ‘high level of professionalism’.

At Gowling WLG, Bernardine Adkins was active advising a client on a major cartel investigation by the CMA and was also involved in a number of litigation matters, including acting for Dixons in its multimillion-pound claims against MasterCard relating to damages suffered as a result of MasterCard’s multilateral interchange fee rate. The team also undertakes merger control work. Thai Airways International and AstraZeneca are clients.

Gateley Plc’s practice is led by Andrew Evans, who focuses on merger control and anti-competitive agreements and practices, state aid and anti-dumping investigations. Evans also has experience in cartel investigations, particularly in the construction and homebuilding sectors.

At Pinsent Masons LLP, Giles Warrington is known for acting for blue-chip corporates on the full range of cartel and dominance investigations, and also regularly represents clients in merger control proceedings. Clients include IMI and Polypipe.

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