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Corporate and commercial: Birmingham

Index of tables

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

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Birmingham clients in West Midlands 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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DLA Piper UK LLP’s ability to handle ‘complex, high-value cross-border M&A, across a full range of markets’ was once again in evidence, with technology specialist John Campion advising HCL Technologies in a number of jurisdictions on its $186m

acquisition of Geometric, and Tim Lake acting for the management shareholders of Bromford Holdings on the disposal of the company to Bromford Acquisitions, backed by Liberty Hall Capital Partners. The team also stands out in the capital markets space, where UK head of corporate Charles Cook handled Watkin Jones Group’s admission to AIM and associated fundraising valuing the company at £235m – making it the largest IPO of the year on AIM. Other key players are Birmingham head Noel Haywood, who leads on M&A work for local FTSE companies and advised Dignity on its £43m acquisition of the Co-op Group's crematoria division, and James Lavery, who is ‘strong in a private equity context and good at proposing solutions’; Lavery was active in various cross-border mandates for pharma and transport clients. On the commercial contracts side, Gareth Stokesgives valuable insights into commercial manufacturing and supply agreements’.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s ‘strength in building client relationships ensures a consistently high level of service across the board’. The team has seen some restructuring at the top with Mark Beardmore taking over as head of practice, following Keri Rees’ appointment as global head of corporate. Beardmore is particularly well regarded in the private equity space, where his recent deals include acting for Bridgepoint Development Capital on the £52m acquisition of Cruise.co.uk. The team continued to handle the lion’s share of capital markets work in the region, with Rees and Steven Hacking acting on the £140m AIM IPO of Joules Group, while in other listed company highlights, Susan Lewis and James Trevis advised National Grid on the £13.8bn transfer of its gas distribution business to a new entity in advance of the proposed sale of a majority stake in that entity. Other names to note in the seven-partner team are Catherine Eley, who ‘gets the job done quickly with no fuss’, and newly appointed partner Kelly Holmes, who leads on commercial contracts work and regularly handles outsourcing agreements for the likes of Severn Trent Water and Hammerson. Principal associate Theresa-Marie Stodell is also noted for her wide range of corporate experience. Ian Moore joined from an in-house role.

At Gowling WLG, the ‘balance of expertise, strength in depth and value for money is highly competitive’, and the team regularly handles high-value work in areas such as real estate, automotive and small business sales. Recent highlights include head of practice David Vaughan advising Derek Hood on the sale of JD Classics and the reinvestment of 40% of his sale proceeds into an equity release and partnering deal with Charme Capital Partners, and newly promoted partner Chris Towle acting for Blackstone in its £300m sale of Carolia Tower Hotel to the Bhatia family. The team has been strengthened by the relocation to the Birmingham office of Stuart Young, who was active on a number of key deals, including advising the owners of Opus Energy on its £340m conditional sale to Drax Developments. Other names to note are Baljit Chohan, who ‘always balances great awareness of commercial context with excellent legal expertise’, and listed company specialist Jeremy Millington, who assisted the management team of Sigma Components with its management buyout from Avingtrans. In the cross-border space, Julian Henwood acted for Huhtamaki in its €103m acquisition of Delta Print and Packaging and its affiliated Polish unit.

Gateley Plc’s ‘strength in the local market’ ensures that the team handles a high volume of transactions in the West Midlands region; recent examples include Chris Reed acting for the shareholders of the ultimate parent company of LG Harris in the sale of the company to Orkla, and the same lawyer advising Roxhill Developments Group on its strategic joint venture with Segro. Mid-market private equity is a particular area of expertise, with recent highlights including Simon Gill advising Palatine on its £65m investment in Westleigh, and Reed assisting the management team of Wavenet with the £35m buyout of the company by Beech Tree. In another private equity-related deal, national corporate head Tom Durrant represented the shareholders of Callstream Group on the disposal of their equity interests to J2 Global. The team’s versatility extends to capital markets, where Paul Cliff and senior associate Tom Rush advised Franchise Brands on its £16m admission to AIM by way of flotation, and also represented Cantor Fitzgerald Europe in its role as nominated adviser on the IPO of Autins Group. CEO Michael Ward is highly recommended.

Mills & Reeve LLP is possibly best known for its expertise in the private health sector, where the team acts for clients such as Partnerships in Care and Virgin Care; healthcare specialist Julian Smith continued to be active in this space and assisted Bupa with its disposal of the entire issued share capital of Bupa Home Healthcare to Lloyds Pharmacy. Another significant player is Peter McLintock, who is experienced in handling private equity and cross-border deals, and in one notable matter acted for Tournus Expansion, backed by MML, in the acquisition of CED Fabrications. McLintock also advised Spring Ventures on its equity investment into the management buyout of Home from HFH Healthcare. Jayne Hussey leads on commercial contracts work, where the team’s experience spans automotive and engineering, energy, and hotel and leisure. Hussey advised Elster Metering on supply contracts relating to its smart meter supply arrangements, and together with principal associate Ruth Andrew assisted Silverrail Technologies with various supply agreements in relation to the National Express Rail franchise.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s sector-led team, which has deep experience in cross-border and listed company work, includes technology specialist Andrew Hornigold, who advised Teva Pharmaceutical Industries on the £603m sale of the UK and Ireland business of Activas Generics to Accord Healthcare; Hornigold also acted for the holding company and its key shareholders in the sale of Azzurri to Maintel Holding. Practice head Paul Harkin, who is ‘one of the best technical lawyers in the region’, focuses on industrial and retail clients, and assisted the management team of Millbrook Group with the disposal of the company to Spectris; in another significant transaction, Harkin advised Plastic Omnium Environment Holding on the sale of its highways signage business to Mallatite. Other key players are Nicole Livesey, who leads on deals in the advanced manufacturing sector, and Clare Francis, who was busy on post-Brexit contractual risk analysis for both private and public sector clients. The practice can also draw on London-based Joanne Ellis, who is well regarded for her expertise in the private health sector.

Shakespeare Martineau LLPcompetes well in the lower mid-market M&A space, offering an attractive balance of depth and breadth of technical resources’. The team is particularly known for its energy expertise and, in one standout matter, head of practice Richard Wrigley advised key client the National Grid on the metering aspects of the sale of its gas distribution business. Another area of strength is the advanced manufacturing sector, where Wrigley acted for the owners of Nenplas Holding on the sale of Nenplas Holdings and Nenplas Properties Holdings to Döllken-Weimar; Adam McGiveron is also noted for his specialism in this sector. The practice’s breadth is further evidenced by its capability in areas such as listed company work and private equity; for example, Keith Spedding acted for Avingtrans in the £68m sale of its aerospace division to a new company backed by Silverfleet Capital, and funds specialist Kavita Patel, who wins praise for her ‘innovation and leadership’, assisted Private Equity Investor with its £20m sale to KHP Strategic 2. Octopus Investments is another key private equity client. In the commercial contracts space, Matthew Sutton has a particular focus on the manufacturing, automotive and rail sectors.

Response times, business acumen and industry knowledge are very good’ at Shoosmiths LLP, where the practice continued to feature strongly in real estate and private equity deals. Ben Turner, who now heads the corporate practice following Martin Letza’s departure for an in-house role, advised the shareholders of GBR Phoenix Beard Holdings on the sale of their shares to Savills; and Alastair Peet, who leads the national venture capital team, acted for Octopus Ventures, Accel and Index on the disposal of TouchType to Microsoft. In another private equity deal, Peet assisted the Business Growth Fund with two significant investments into Sertec Corporation. David Jackson has charge of the three-partner commercial offering and is advising Telefonica O2 on its role in providing wi-fi communications services to a major public sector entity. In addition to telecoms, Jackson is well versed in technology outsourcing arrangements, and also acts for leisure and tourism operators such as TUI Group and Monarch Airlines. Technology specialist Craig Armstrong is another key player in the commercial team.

Squire Patton Boggs is routinely involved in mid-market deals and is often selected for its ‘international reach’; in one example, Edward Dawes advised SAICA on the acquisition of the Americk Packaging Group. Elsewhere, the commercial team, which is led by Stuart James, continued to work on international supply agreements in sectors such as manufacturing, IT and healthcare. The corporate practice is headed by Geoff Perry, who has significant experience advising on private equity-backed management buyouts, and in one major deal acted for the eight-person management team of Adey on the management buyout of Adey, backed by LDC. Perry’s caseload also extends to listed company work - he advised the shareholders of Warwick Holdings on the £55m share sale of the company to Lookers. In other highlights, the practice continued to develop its private equity offering, with the recommended Andrew Glaze acting for the Business Growth Fund on its investment into Solid Solutions Management.

Browne Jacobson LLP’s ‘fast, friendly and efficient’ team includes Mike Jackson, who was busy on an impressive range of mandates, including advising Source BioScience on the £65m sale of the company to Sherwood Holdings, and acting for Belvoir Lettings in its £22m AIM fundraising. In another highlight, Jackson assisted the management shareholders of Flydocs Systems with a strategic partnership with Lufthansa Technik. Other names to note are practice head Kevin Jones, whose ‘key strengths are knowledge, flexibility and commerciality’, Roger Birchall, and new hire Michael Stace, who arrived from Blake Morgan LLP. Jones was particularly active in the investment funds space, where he assisted various local government pension schemes with the formation and management of investment funds. On the commercial contracts side, Richard Nicholas and senior associate Ryan Harrison have ‘market-leading experience in technology areas’, and were successful in securing a number of new clients, such as the National Trust and the Salvation Army.

Fieldfisher LLP is ‘highly recommended for any entrepreneurial type of business that needs quite specialist advice with connectivity globally’. Key players include the ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Graham Muth, who advised on a number of deals in the professional services sector, and Jane Thomas, who was active for various cross-border acquirers in sectors such as manufacturing and energy. Other areas of sector specialism include healthcare, IT and financial services. Corporate restructuring specialist Chris Hill heads the practice and is noted for his ‘fantastic customer care and direct but subtle style’. The team was boosted by the hire of legal director Iain Wilton, who arrived from AGCO Corporation, however Zanna Patchett departed for REPL Group.

Freeths LLP is ‘building a strong regional franchise’ under the leadership of Lee Clifford, who is known in the market for his ‘strong private equity base’. Recent examples of Clifford’s work include acting for Away Resorts, an LDC-backed company, on the acquisitions of Cosways and Sandy Balls Estate, and assisting the management team of Clamason with its buyout of the company, backed by Connection Capital. Clifford also handles equity capital markets work and advised Autins Group on its £37m AIM listing. Other names to note are Tom Brown, who specialises in the funeral services sector and acted for the shareholders of Funeral Services Partnership on the sale of the company to Montagu; and legal director Ateeq Ahmed, who focuses on advising large corporates and represented Group Europe Handling in its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Cobalt Ground Solutions from Air France and Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij.

Irwin Mitchell’s team, which wins praise for its ‘excellent knowledge of the subject and pragmatic ability to find solutions’, is led by national head of private equity Nick Dawson. Dawson’s highlights included advising Glide Utilities on the disposal of 75.1% of its issued share capital to CableCom, and acting for the new incoming management team on the institutional buyout by ESO Capital Group and management buy-in of Janan Meat. The team was further developed by the promotion to the partnership of Rob Laugharne, who advised Reconomy on the acquisition of Cory Environmental Recycling Services and Waste Hire Services. Sarah Riding leads on commercial work and advises clients such as the National Grid and Restore; Riding is advising the British Chambers of Commerce on various matters, including Brexit-related issues affecting the network. The team is able to draw on the experience of national head of corporate Chris Rawstron.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s team was boosted by the hire of commercial contracts specialist John Irving, who joined from Sydney Mitchell LLP. Irving has particular expertise in dealing with contracts for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of capital goods plant and equipment. On the corporate side, consultant Andrew Beedham advises private companies on transactional work across sectors such as manufacturing, retail and technology.

Responsiveness and appreciation of the business environment are both excellent’ at DWF, where the team handles a steady stream of deals in the lower mid-market range. In one standout transaction, the ‘very commercial and proactiveMark Gibson, who heads the practice, advised Park Holidays on the £362m management buyout of Caledonia Investments and subsequent rollover reinvestment in the buyer vehicle. The team’s experience in the private equity space was also on display, with Gibson acting for Inflexion on the acquisition of My Policy. The practice is noted for its high proportion of cross-border work, drawn mainly from the US as well as Russia and the CEE countries, owing to Gibson’s links to that region.

Emms Gilmore Liberson’ ‘straight-talking and personal approach’ makes it a favourite with clients such as Jaffer Group and Trigram Properties, and the practice is probably best known for advising local SMEs in sectors such as manufacturing and technology. Name partners Stephen Gilmore and Gregory Emms were active on a range of matters, including advising PTV Planung Transport Verkehr on its purchase of Distribution Planning Software International, and acting for Jupiter Diagnostics Holding Company in its three-way merger followed by a £2m fundraising exercise. Also of note is associate Jon Start, who is singled out for his ‘patience and lateral thought’. The practice’s commercial offering was bolstered by the hire of Matthew Jackson, who joined from BPE Solicitors LLP.

Boutique Legal Claritytakes a very pragmatic approach to its work, is responsive and always meets deadlines’. The team focuses on corporate M&A and remained busy in this space, with healthcare specialist Chris Wright, who is ‘approachable, open and diligent’, acting for Modality Partnership, a GP super practice, in connection with its merger with seven separate practices throughout the year, and Richard Underwood representing the majority shareholders in the £13m sale of DBK Partners to RPS Group. In other highlights, senior associate David Jenkins advised Dragonfly Foods and its shareholders in relation to a £2m investment by a Japanese food group, and Underwood assisted with the statutory demerger of the Dartex Coatings group, to separate the group’s commercial textile manufacturing business from its investment and advisory arm. The practice was further developed by the hire of senior associate Martin Clifford from Continuum Corporate Lawyers LLP.

The Wilkes Partnership had a strong year in 2016, with work encompassing acquisitions, disposals, corporate restructurings and venture capital investments. Highlights included acting for F&W Forestry Services in its acquisition of OCS Forestry UK, and advising NVM and the other shareholders on their exit of Silverwing by way of a sale to Eddyfi NTD. Gareth O’Hara leads the four-partner team, which also includes Jeremy Parkin, Rick Smyth and John Soden. Parkin and Soden also handle commercial contracts and have experience dealing with issues ranging from sourcing and manufacture through to licensing, logistics and sales channels.

Weightmans LLP has particular strength in advising owner-managed and family businesses, especially in the automotive manufacturing supply chain. Head of practice Mathew Harvey was busy on a number of matters for key client Sertec Group, including advising the management team on the management buyout of the company, and then acting on Sertec Group’s acquisition of AWC Industries. The other name to note is healthcare specialist Gareth Griffiths, who is ‘highly experienced and gives fairly priced advice’; Griffiths represented various buyers in the purchase of occupational health practices.


Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the West Midlands

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the West Midlands
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the West Midlands clients in West Midlands 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.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WHO REPRESENTS WHO SITE

George Green LLP stands out in the market for its ability to handle mid- to large-cap cross-border M&A, and the team was active again in this regard, with private equity specialist Guy Green acting for Bakk AL Holdings in its acquisition of 51% of the shares in Bakkavor Group from Icelandic Institutions. In another significant cross-border deal, senior partner Paul Bennett, who heads the practice, acted for the shareholders of Dot Net IT in the sale of the company to Epicor. Bennett is also well versed in handling distressed transactions, and acted for Ash & Lacy Building Systems in its acquisition of Accordial Group’s business and assets from the administrator. While the team mainly operates from the firm’s Cradley Heath office, it also has presence in Wolverhampton, where Philip Round is noted for his expertise in the financial services sector; Round advised the shareholders of Network Direct on the £4m sale of the company to Harwood Wealth Management. The practice’s commercial offering was developed by the hire of James Bird, who joined from Wright Hassall LLP.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys’s substantial team is well known for its expertise in sectors such as healthcare, defence and security, and private equity, and the team is also well versed in handling M&A for listed companies. Notable clients include Gemini Group, Belgravium Technologies and London Graphic Supplies. The practice has particular depth in the firm’s Worcester office, where managing partner Rod Thomas, who is a ‘class act’, Alison Scott, and healthcare specialist Charlotte Thornton-Smith are based. Arpinder Dhillon is the name to note in Ross on Wye. Inger Anson, who is also located in Worcester, made partner.

Higgs & Sons continued to be highly active across a range of sectors and noted an uptick in cross-border work. In the telecoms space, Richard Griffiths acted for the management team of Wavenet regarding their private equity-backed buyout of the company, and department head Nick Taylor advised Encription on its sale to BlackBerry. Griffiths was also busy in the construction sector and advised the Stanford family on the sale of their shares in the management buyout of Stanford Industrial Concrete Flooring. Another key player is John Heaton, whose transactional work encompasses the retail, automobile and energy sectors; in one highlight, Heaton advised AF Blakemore & Son on the acquisition of the business and certain of the convenience stores owned and operated by MLCG and ML Convenience. In February 2017, Peter Manford joined from an in-house role to strengthen the practice’s commercial offering, and the practice was also boosted by the return of Adrian Cutler from a consultancy role.

Practice head Robert Lee and Steven Halkett ‘provide strong leadership’ at Wright Hassall LLP, where the team is commended for its ‘strong skill set and reputation across the South Midlands’. Areas of sector expertise range from healthcare and not-for-profit to advanced manufacturing, and the team has also developed a specialism in distressed retail. Highlights in 2016 included Halkett advising the shareholders of Flixmedia on its cross-border sale to a European joint venture between Advantage Solutions and Smollan Group, and Monica Macheng acting for Zip Textiles in its £18m sale to Johnson Service Group. In another significant cross-border transaction, Halkett represented High Performance Doors in its sale to Record UK. Lindsay Ellis is in charge of the commercial team, which acts for a portfolio of leading IT outsourcing providers; in one example of work, Christine Jackson assisted Q Associates with both private and public sector supply contracts across sectors such as defence, emergency services and higher education.

Ansons continued to feature strongly in deals within the pharmacy area, where the team has a reputation for being ‘diligent and proactive in its approach, on behalf of both buyers and sellers’. Former pharmacist Neil Jones, who along with Hilary D’Cruz heads the team, has a ‘strong understanding of the client’s position and is able to take both a pragmatic and commercial view’. The team also focuses on other healthcare-related businesses, including care homes, dentists, domiciliary care and children’s day nurseries. In other highlights, D’Cruz – who is a ‘first-class lawyer’ - advised on various multimillion-pound commercial contracts in the renewable energy sector. The fast-growing team expanded further with the hire of senior associate Adam Kudryl, who joined from Howes Percival LLP.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP reported a strong increase in transactional work in 2016, and the team was busy on a number of multimillion-pound deals for its target audience of SMEs in the manufacturing sector. Another area of focus is the health sector, where newly promoted partner David Preece undertakes a range of corporate and commercial mandates for veterinary and dental practices. Practice head James Sage and Kam Johal are leading figures in the firm’s Wolverhampton office, and in Shrewsbury Stuart Rea is ‘technically good and comes across well with clients’. Rea’s caseload extends to the agricultural sector, where he has experience advising on significant cross-border acquisitions.

Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers Limited is a ‘niche corporate practice’ whose fixed-fee approach makes it ‘very competitive on price’. The team is best known for handling transactions on behalf of substantial SME clients and entrepreneurs, and it has a broad-ranging client base that takes in steel stockholders, manufacturers and healthcare organisations. Work examples in 2016 included acting for the shareholders of Blundell Productions on the sale of the company to Hilco Capital, and advising Foragri on the cross- border sale of the company to a listed PLC based in Turkey. The team also advised on a number of corporate reorganisations for clients such as Ercho and Gilbert (Holdings). Practice head Colin Rodrigues is a ‘practical and commercially minded lawyer’ who ‘understands the wider aspects of deals’.

Beswicks Legal has a ‘wealth of experience in providing legal advice to owner-managers of businesses on sale’ and the team was active in a number of company share sales: Peter Ellis, who ‘comes up with innovative solutions to legal issues and defuses potentially contentious situations’, represented the shareholders of Motiva Group in the sale of the company to SG Fleet, and also acted for the shareholders of MCL Group Industries in the disposal of the entire issued share capital to the Cubis Group. The practice is led by managing partner Nick Phillips, who has particular expertise in advising sports organisations on commercial issues. Phillips also handles transactional work and assisted the owners of Burma Bacon Supplies with the sale of the business to a private company. Another name to note is solicitor Tom Sutcliffe, who is ‘very knowledgeable and always contactable’.

Knights Professional Services Limited handles a full range of corporate advice, including share and asset sales and purchases, private equity, MBOs/MBIs, and company restructuring. Key players include Jonathan Tyson, who specialises in the healthcare sector, with a particular focus on the sale of dental surgeries, pharmacies and children’s nurseries; and Lisa Bridgwood, whose commercial expertise takes in advising retail industry brands on the implementation of e-commerce and multi-channel initiatives, as well as negotiating franchising and agency agreements. The team is able to draw on the experience of CEO David Beech.

Under the leadership of Gráinne Walters, Lanyon Bowdler provides ‘first-class support’ to clients such as Assured Group Holdings, Jupiter Marketing and Dodd Group Midlands. As well as handling corporate M&A, buyouts, reorganisations and joint ventures, Walters has strong experience in the education sector, and is advising Severn Bridges Multi-Academy Trust on the formation of a multi-academy trust for three schools in Shropshire. At associate level, names to note include the ‘experienced and practical’ Edward Burrell and Timothy Roberts, who respectively focus on the agricultural and renewable energy sectors. In one example of work, Roberts advised Woodland Heritage on the acquisition of Whitney Sawmills. Commercial specialist Ruth James left for an in-house role.

Lodders Solicitors LLP’s ‘very customer-focused team goes out of its way to get deals over the line’. The practice is probably best known for its expertise in the healthcare sector, where it acts for clients such as Healthcare Management Solutions; in 2016, the team handled a number of high-value care home business sales. In other highlights, the well-regarded Kim Klahn acted for New Co on the purchase of shares from two individual shareholders, and the same lawyer also advised on the cross-border sale of a business to a private Belgian company. Head of practice Victor Matts is ‘flexible and unflappable’, and Mark Lewis, who leads on charities and not-for-profit matters, is a ‘strong manager of his team’.

mfg Solicitors LLP continued to see a good flow of cross-border work, with Kidderminster-based Stephen Wyer advising Isomerase Therapeutics on a £5.5m investment by Neurovive Pharmaceutical, and Worcester-based James Hayes assisting a foreign investor with a joint venture in the healthcare space. Wyer is also noted for his expertise in the education sector, where he assisted South Worcestershire College with its statutory merger with Warwickshire Group of Colleges. In other highlights, Hayes represented Skymark Packaging International in a multi-tranche share buyback from an insolvent company, and energy specialist Miles Dearden - also based in Kidderminster - advised Ecotricity Group on its first white label supply agreement for electricity and gas with Glide Utilities.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s team has expertise in a wide range of sectors and is particularly recommended for its work in the health sector, where it continued to handle a high volume of sales and corporate reorganisations relating to pharmacies and GP and dental surgeries. Andrew Smith leads the team and was active on a number of matters for key client Whitworths Holdings, including advising on the £36m acquisition of Carr’s Flour Mills from Carr’s Group, as well as the acquisition of the cake and heat treated flour business of Jas Bowman & Sons. Smith was also busy active in the distressed space, where he assisted Lee Longland & Co with its purchase of four retail stores and related assets from the administrators of the Furniture Barn.

Thomas Horton LLP’s ‘very responsive and highly knowledgeable’ team is led by

Jeff Taylor, who advises on a full range of commercial contracts, partnership agreements, corporate acquisitions and disposals, and start-up matters. Examples of the team’s varied caseload include acting for Global Pacific in a joint venture with Morrisons Supermarkets, and advising a medium-sized financial services software company on its proposed sale. In another piece of work, Taylor advised the Lord of Grafton and family in redrafting their partnership agreement concerning the Grafton Manor Hotel and conference facility. The practice also operates in niche areas, such as forestry.

Thursfields Solicitors has a ‘fantastic reputation for delivering commercial, honest and technically relevant advice’ to clients such as SFC Group and Level Peaks Holdings. The team is led by Gareth Burge, who is ‘very commercially astute and doesn’t hesitate to grasp and solve difficult issues promptly and efficiently’. Another name to note is consultant Stuart Price, who has particular expertise in assisting investors and start-up businesses with seed investment schemes in the film and technology arenas. The practice saw strong growth at the senior associate level in 2016 with the hires of commercial contracts specialist Jane Rudge, who joined from Higgs & Sons, and Tim Edwards, who joined from The Wilkes Partnership. Edwards specialises in the motor racing and media sectors and ‘adopts a pragmatic, level-headed and commercial approach’ to transactional work.

The well-regarded Sean Byrne leads the practice at Band Hatton Button LLP, which handles a good balance of corporate and commercial mandates. Recent highlights include acting on the £1.2m sale of a chemical cleaning company, and advising in relation to the £2.5m acquisition of a timber supply company. On the commercial contracts side, the team handled a range of supply agreements, including assisting with a long-term supply agreement relating to the supply of garden equipment. Other names to note include Haydn Jones and senior associate Marta Fisher, who has particular expertise in acting for healthcare professionals.

At Brethertons LLP, solicitor Katherine Cereghino specialises in the health, retail and property management sectors and draws on her previous experience as a commercial property lawyer. In 2016, she provided advice on a number of high-value business share sales to publicly quoted companies, including acting for the shareholders of Pentagon HS in the £14m sale of the company, and representing the shareholders of Malmesbury Medical Enterprises in the £10m sale of the business. Cereghino also handled various sales by way of asset purchase agreements, including assisting Carwood Motor Units with the purchase of the assets of Diesel Injection (UK). Colin Witherall has retired from practice.

Managing partner Samantha Wright heads the team at Brindley Twist Tafft & James, which works with a range of businesses, from long-established companies to start-up enterprises, as well as not-for-profit organisations. Wright is particularly active in sectors such as equipment sales and manufacturing and, in 2016, handled the £2m sale of a materials processing company, as well as the £4m purchase of 49% of a family-owned manufacturing company. Other names to note are consultant John Ruddick, who focuses on the not-for-profit sector, and John Chadaway, whose commercial expertise takes in a variety of commercial contracts, including distribution agreements.

Enoch Evans LLP’s ‘well-informed, capable and conscientious’ team is led by healthcare specialist Sukie Shemar, who ‘handles matters promptly and efficiently’. Shemar has particular experience dealing with the sale and purchase of pharmacies and continued to be highly active in this space for key client Medi-Zen Healthcare Services. Other names to note are senior solicitor James McFarlane, who was busy on a number of share purchases and reorganisations, and solicitor Amy Hylton, who ‘provides valuable guidance’ on commercial contracts. The team is able to draw on the experience of managing partner David Evans, who is ‘very easy to get along with’.

Hatchers Solicitors LLPalways provides very timely responses, especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as purchasing shares from outgoing shareholders’. The practice saw an increase in instructions from charities and not-for-profit organisations, where work included advising on the creation of Fields Multi-Academy Trust and the conversion of two primary schools to academy status. Other areas of focus are the manufacturing, farming and agricultural sectors, and the team assisted with the management buyout of a designer and installer of renewable power and heat systems serving the poultry and wider agricultural sector. Key contacts are practice head Ann Fisher, who wins praise for her ‘really good manner and communication skills’, and consultant David Saunders.

Martin Kaye had a strong year in 2016, with instructions buoyant in areas such as shareholder agreements and corporate restructuring. The practice also noted an uptick in instructions from newly incorporated businesses, particularly in the IT sector. Recent highlights include advising on the £4m share sale of a commercial engineering recruitment company to a leading PLC, and assisting with the restructure of a substantial Irish developer. In another multimillion-pound deal, the team assisted a mortgage broker with the £6m share sale of the company to a major national business. Key contacts are associate Eliot Hibbert, who heads the practice, and solicitor Barry Doherty.

At Pickerings Solicitors LLP, practice head Craig Davies handled a number of acquisitions for local accountants, and also advised a specialist vehicle company on a €14m joint venture partnership agreement with a manufacturing partner based in France. The team was also busy in the education space, with Davies acting for the vendor on the purchase of shares and property in a children’s day nursery, and solicitor Keri Pointon, who wins praise for her ‘clear, in-depth knowledge’, representing a pre-school on its liquidation and transfer of assets to an academy school. Pointon’s experience extends to sectors such as manufacturing, IT and agricultural, and in another example of work, she acted for a recruitment company in the purchase of shares in a company, accompanied by the assignment of intellectual property rights.


Corporate tax

Index of tables

  1. Corporate tax
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate tax clients in West Midlands 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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Gowling WLG’s ‘first-rate and user-friendly team’ handles an impressive variety of work, from servicing the firm’s substantial real estate practice, to providing standalone tax structuring advice for inward investment. In one example of the latter, the team is advising a group of Lebanese investors on the establishment of a UK SPV for the purposes of operating a high-end restaurant. Practice head Lee Nuttall and director Chris Nyland are ‘both very brainy’ and represented Empiric Student Properties in the SDLT and VAT aspects of its £20m multiple-site purchase of student accommodation. In another significant real estate mandate, the team acted for the London Borough of Barnet in relation to the tax structuring of a joint venture to facilitate the wholesale mixed-use redevelopment of Brent Cross, Barnet, including the redevelopment of the Brent Cross Shopping Centre. On the corporate side, director Zoe Fatchen has wide-ranging experience of M&A and restructuring and assisted Nuttall in advising Huhtamaki on the £80m acquisition of two entities, one based in Northern Ireland the other in Poland. Neil Pearson left for Mills & Reeve LLP.

Parisi Tax LLP Birmingham is ‘unsurpassed as a boutique practice’, according to one client, and is singled out for being ‘adept at routine advisory work as well as dealing with the most sensitive and strategically important matters’. The firm is regularly instructed to advise on the tax aspects transactions, with recent examples including ‘pragmatic and commercial adviser’ Lisa Stevenson acting for Glide Utilities on the sale of the company to CableCom, and Elizabeth Morgan advising the management team of Founded Partners on the staged sale of its shares to Iris Worldwide. Another area of expertise is Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), with the ‘technically excellent and natural problem-solver’ Becky Rees the name to note in this regard; Rees is currently advising Playfair Capital on several investments into EIS companies. On the property tax side, the ‘outstanding’ Jennie Newton has been providing support to a number of law firms and, in one example of work, provided SDLT and VAT advice on the sale of a shopping centre. Solicitor Jamie Chambers joined from Shoosmiths LLP, while Veronica McMahon departed for an in-house role.

Advice is always comprehensive’ at Browne Jacobson LLP, where the practice handles corporate tax, property tax and employee share incentives for both the public and private sector. The ‘sharp-thinkingAndrew Noble, who is dual qualified as a solicitor and chartered tax adviser, acted for Belvoir Lettings on the tax aspects of its acquisition of Northwood GB, and also advised the London Borough of Enfield on property tax issues (including VAT, SDLT and corporation tax) relating to the regeneration and development of a former industrial estate in North London. In other examples of the practice’s impressive scope, Noble represented Santander in tax issues arising from its funding package for the placing and admission to AIM of Autins Group, and also assisted VerdErg with EIS tax planning for a proposed new investment.

At DLA Piper UK LLP, Mark Burgess - who is singled out for his ‘very keen business acumen and outstanding technical advice’ - focuses on real estate transactions and structuring, and acts for a range of sovereign wealth funds, high-net-worth individuals and real estate entities such as Blackstone. In the student accommodation and residential development space – which is a particular specialism – Burgess’ work included acting for Threesixty Developments in the £430m sale of 15 student accommodation and two private rented sector assets located across England, Wales and Scotland, and assisting New Waverley Advisers in relation to phase one of a major mixed-use development in Edinburgh. The other name to note is senior associate Nicholas Hinton, who deals with all areas of corporate and business tax; Hinton acted for Dignity on updates to their share plans, as well as the introduction of a new form of incentive arrangement. The team also handled a high volume of insolvency-related tax advice and, in one example, continued to act for PricewaterhouseCoopers, as administrators of the Caparo Industries Group, on the ongoing administration of 16 companies within the group.

DWF’s ‘proactive and practical team’ is led by Jon Stevens, whose ‘wide legal knowledge is enhanced by his thoughtful approach’. Stevens focuses on real estate tax and corporate tax, including SDLT and VAT on development and construction, and was once again active in these areas. He also acted for CentralNic Group in the cross-border acquisition of the Instra Group, and advised on a number of sale and leaseback transactions for Whitbread Group, including the forward funding and development of the hub, a Premier Inn-branded 389-bedroom hotel at King’s Cross, London. In another highlight, Stevens has been assisting AIM-listed Constellation Healthcare Technologies with tax advice relating to the $300m recommended takeover of the company by its CEO and CC Capital. The practice also has contentious capabilities and represents clients in relation to HMRC enquiries.

At Gateley Plc, head of practice James Gopsill specialises in the taxation of real estate investment, real estate development and urban regeneration; recent highlights for Gopsill include advising on the tax aspects of Mountpark USAA’s acquisition of a development site at Manchester City Airport, and also providing tax advice to Taylor Wimpey and Redrow in relation to the development of 1,450 new homes together with a primary school, commercial area and health centre at Wrexham Road Chester. On the corporate tax side, ‘very practical’ senior associate Martin Jahreiss focuses on company tax planning, corporate acquisitions and disposals, reconstructions, MBOs and MBIs. In 2016, Jahreiss advised on a number of private equity transactions, including acting for the management team of Wavenet in the £35m MBO backed by Beech Tree Private Equity, and representing Palatine Private Equity in its investment in Westleigh. The team also has experience in handling share-based employee incentivisation.

The team at Higgs & Sonsreally know its stuff’ and, in 2016, provided tax advice on numerous corporate acquisitions, including advising the shareholders of DM Midlands in connection with the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to DM Midlands (Holdings), and acting for the shareholders of Wavenet in connection with £35m MBO of the company backed by Beech Tree Private Equity. The practice is also proficient in employee management incentive schemes and was active in this space for various companies ahead of share sales and corporate reorganisations. Practice head Susheel Gupta is supported by chartered tax adviser Adam Rollason and solicitor Johnathan Hunter.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s team was enhanced by the hire of Neil Pearson from Gowling WLG, who now jointly heads the department with Kevin Lowe. Pearson specialises in social investment, venture capital schemes and employee share ownership, and was highly active in these spaces for clients such as Maven Capital Partners UK and Funding Circle. In one example of work, he provided tax advice to Livingbridge VC, in relation to both new investments by the company and restructuring its existing portfolio. Lowe focuses on high-value M&A transactions, with a particular emphasis on VAT issues encountered by transactions in the health and education sectors. In 2016, he assisted with a number of deals in the hospitality and leisure sector, including acting for Boparan Restaurants Holdings in the purchase of the entire issued share capital of Giraffe Concepts in an auction bid process from Tesco. The practice is also noted for its tax expertise in the sports sector, where clients include the Professional Footballers Association.

At Shoosmiths LLP, Kate Featherstone advises on all aspects of corporate and business tax and has significant experience in private equity transactions, mergers and acquisitions, restructurings and reorganisations. In one example of work, she provided tax advice to the shareholders of GBR Phoenix Beard Holdings in the sale of their shares to Savills. Other clients of the practice are Mercedes-Benz, GAME and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.


EU and competition

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Browne Jacobson LLP’s practice is led by Matthew Woodford, who advises on both behavioural competition law and UK and multi-jurisdictional merger control. On the behavioural side, Woodford was busy on a variety of contentious issues, including potential cartel offences, breaches of restrictive agreements and abuse of dominance cases; in one highlight, he is advising a client on the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) investigation into the bathroom fittings sector. His work also takes in advising national and multinational clients on pricing and distribution strategies and parallel importation issues. On the merger control side, the practice is starting to see an increasing amount of work in the healthcare space and, in 2016, Woodford advised Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust on the application of UK merger control rules relating to its proposed merger with Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust. The practice’s broad client base encompasses a large number of international automotive companies, leading retail brands, public bodies, and also members’ associations, such as the National Farmers’ Union.

At Pinsent Masons LLP, Giles Warrington works closely with his London colleagues on high-profile mandates and is proficient across the full spectrum of competition matters. Besides handling competition investigations by the CMA, the sector regulators and the European Commission, he is also well versed in dealing with market investigations by the CMA, as well as advising on UK, EU and international merger control appeals of regulatory decisions. Recent highlights include representing E.ON in relation to the CMA’s market investigation into the retail energy market, and acting for Teva Pharmaceuticals in its £603m sale of Actavis Generics’ UK and Ireland operations to Accord Healthcare to meet the European Commission’s divestiture requirements pertaining to Teva’s $40bn global acquisition of Actavis Generics. Hanson, DCC and Saint Gobain are also clients of the practice.


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