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Banking and finance

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At DLA Piper UK LLP, Birmingham head of finance Stephen Bottley advises international banks and major UK banks on leveraged finance, corporate finance and asset-based lending and, in 2016, he continued to be active in a variety of major cross-border deals for both lenders and borrowers. Examples of his work include advising a three-bank syndicate of HSBC, RBS and Clydesdale bank on the £74,500 facilities agreement and £22,000 receivables finance facility agreement relating to the management buyout of City Sprint Group, and representing Dechra Pharmaceuticals in the £205m refinancing and subsequent amendment and restatement of the revolving credit facility provided to the group by HSBC, Barclays and RBS. On the real estate finance side, Brian Woolcock is well known in the market and was busy in relation to the refinancing of property portfolios, as well as on new credit facilities secured against investment and development properties. Changes to the team include Laura Cashmore’s promotion to legal director and a number of hires at associate level. Leeds-based Sarah Day heads the team.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s team deliver ‘first-class response times, cross-market knowledge that is wider than LMA, and real understanding of current terms, notably even in deals in which they have not been directly involved’. The team remained highly active in its focus areas of private M&A, real estate finance and corporate lending, and in one significant deal, newly promoted partner Richard Davies, who leads on real estate finance, advised Bridgepoint Development Capital on financing its £23m buyout of Practice head Patrick Davis provides a ‘very balanced approach to risk and commerciality, and never waivers from the ultimate aim of delivering a long-term relationship banking deal for lenders and client’. Davis acted for a trio of banks, including RBS and HSBC, on the £175m refinancing of Domino’s Pizza Group, and also advised the same banks on the £200m acquisition of Putney by Dechra Pharmaceuticals. Another name to note is senior associate Nathan Pritchard, who is ‘developing well’. The practice focuses on acting for lenders and, as well as advising all the main UK banks, also represents international banks and private equity houses such as Svenska Handelsbanken AB and Lloyds Development Capital.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s substantial practice has a lender focus and covers a full range of work, including syndicated lending, real estate finance, acquisition and leveraged finance, asset-based lending, social housing finance, securitisations and debt capital markets. The team is led by David Doogan, who was active on a number of key deals in the region, including advising Barclays on the finance related to the £140m IPO of Joules Group, and acting for HSBC in its funding for the £12m take-private of SWP Group. Besides corporate mandates, Doogan was also busy in the real estate space, where he represented Lloyds Bank as agent and Scottish Widows as lender in relation to a new facility of £45m to Custodian REIT. The practice is noted for its strong asset-based lending capability, with national head of asset-backed finance and debt capital markets Edward Sunderland the name to note in this regard; Sunderland and Doogan represented RBS and RBS Invoice Finance on the funding to Hills Numberplates in connection with its £10m acquisition of Faab Fabricauto.

Gateley Plc’s broad practice takes in private equity and acquisition finance, real estate finance, asset-based lending and consumer credit. Head of practice Andrew Madden has particular expertise in leveraged and corporate finance deals and, in one highlight, advised a syndicate of international insurers on the provision of £300m of insurance bonds to support the UK pension scheme of an international trading group. Madden also handled a number of MBO financings, including acting for Santander in connection with financing the MBO of Panther Warehousing. Carol Betts leads on real estate finance and asset-based lending, and acts for clients such as ABN Amro Commercial Finance and Santander Invoice Finance. Betts is particularly commended for her ‘knowledge and commerciality in the real estate sector’. James Dyson moved to Freeths LLP.

At Gowling WLG, Chris Brierley has worked for funders and borrowers in a number of sectors, including health, energy, franchising and social housing, and in one example of work, he advised Sanctuary Housing Association on its entry into a new revolving credit facility with HSBC. The team is particularly noted for its project finance expertise, with Brierley advising on a number of energy projects, including acting for Ecotricity on the second tranche of funding with Aviva Investors relating to a portfolio of operational wind and solar parks across 21 sites, and advising Primrose Solar on the debt financing with Deutsche Bank to refinance its Eveley solar farm in Hampshire. Principal associate Navin Prabhakar was active on various private equity-related mandates, including assisting LDC with the finance for the MBO of Panther Warehousing, and acting for HSBC in the £52m sale by its borrower Avingtrans of its aerospace division in a buyout backed by private equity house Silverfleet Capital. Nick Iliff divides his time between Birmingham and London and focuses on project and real estate finance.

Browne Jacobson LLP has particular strength in advising on funding within the health, social housing and residential housing sectors, and the team continued to be busy in these areas in 2016. Head of practice Paul Ray and Emma Hinton acted for Local Space Housing Association on its £250m funding to refinance existing facilities and to provide finance to fund the acquisition of 800 new homes; and Hinton advised Clydesdale Bank on a £10.5m revolving credit agreement for Horizon Care and Education. Ray, who ‘provides guidance and explanations in simple terms while dealing with complex situations’, focuses on the public sector and regularly acts for the lending division of the Homes & Community Agency on the funding for residential housing developments. The team’s expertise extends to asset-based lending and, in one example, Ray is acting for the Fogarty Group on its raising of £9.9m of additional funding from Close Brothers to provide finance for its future development plans.

Irwin Mitchell’s team is ‘proactive, as well as reactive when required, and is highly knowledgeable about receivables finance and asset-based lending’. The practice covers all aspects of asset-based lending, including factoring, receivables finance, off-balance sheet finance, inventory lending and distribution finance. Head of practice Jon Bew, who ‘always listens and comes up with solutions that are commercially viable’, represented Hills Numberplates in relation to a £10m new financing package consisting of a combination of term loans and receivables financing from NatWest Bank, RBS Invoice Finance and Finance Birmingham; and, in another highlight, Bew and senior associate Natalie Barnes advised Shawbrook in relation to the provision of finance facilities to Calumet Photographic and Bowens International. ABN AMRO and Close Brothers are key clients.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s practice is led by Naomi Tudor, whose debt expertise spans advising borrower and lenders in the charity and education sectors to crowd funding. Tudor advised New Blue Chip and Blue Chip Customer Engineering on an LMA loan agreement for a term loan of £32m from Lloyds Bank, relating to the company’s MBO. Another name to note is Christopher Gayle, who works across the firm’s Birmingham and London offices. Gayle, who is ‘extremely efficient and knowledgeable, gets things done on time, on budget and without fuss’, was active on a number of real estate finance mandates, including acting for Allied Irish Bank on the £2m refinance of two care homes. On the corporate finance side, Helen Readett handled various refinancings, including acting for Summit Media on the restructuring of its debt in advance of the company’s sale to TCC Media.

At Shoosmiths LLP, areas of strength include real estate finance transactions, asset-based lending deals, corporate lending in the mid-market, leveraged and private equity-backed deals and complex pensions funding. David Adams heads the practice and handles a good mix of lender and borrower mandates; recent examples of his work include advising August Equity and Berkeley Home Health on working capital and acquisition finance facilities from HSBC for the acquisition of a number of healthcare targets, and acting for Kier Living in connection with its debt investment into a joint venture with Spectrum Property Ventures to develop a residential mixed portfolio of housing. National head of real estate finance James Needham represents both major commercial lenders in property-based funding transactions, and also borrowers seeking funding, whether by secured debt or interim development finance.

Squire Patton Boggs provides ‘commercially orientated advice based on a good understanding of the requirements of finance providers’. Practice head Roy Grist, who is ‘not only technically excellent, but excellent regarding client relations and project coordination’, handles a varied caseload that takes in acquisition finance, real estate finance, asset-based lending and general bank lending. In one highlight, Grist acted for Barclays in connection with financing the acquisition by Mellors Group of Fantasy Island theme park. Areas of specialist expertise include acting for education institutions in connection with investment, development and general finance, and advising on pension fund financing; an example of the latter was Grist acting for Kier Group Pension Trustees on funding matters relating to the sale by Kier Group of its Mouchel Consulting business to WSP Global.

DWF’s ‘knowledgeable’ team was particularly busy on real estate finance mandates, often with a cross-border component. Head of practice Alice Broadfield, who is ‘easy to work with and keeps transactions flowing’, acts for a range of major lenders, and has niche expertise in areas such as education finance and charity finance. The team was developed by the return of senior associate Richard Holmes from secondment, and the hire of real estate finance specialist Stuart Reynolds from Gateley Plc.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s team is increasingly instructed on international finance mandates for lenders including Wells Fargo and Webster Business Credit Corporation. It also wins praise for its specialist sector knowledge, with one client stating, ‘its knowledge of the agri-food sector is particularly strong - and a differentiator’. Head of practice David Varnham provides ‘Magic Circle-quality advice’ and ‘makes complicated subjects easy to understand’, and advised the management of SWP Group on funding from HSBC for the £18m purchase of the shares of SWP Group by a NewCo; in another deal, the same lawyer advised PNC Financial Services (UK) on the restructuring of its existing facilities to Bright Blue Foods. The practice was strengthened by the hire of two senior associates, real estate finance specialist Arvin Bhamra, who joined from Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP, and acquisition finance lawyer Rory Milligan, who joined from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and has experience in cross-border transactions.

Aaron & Partners LLP’s provides ‘precise and speedy responses’ to clients such as Santander, for whom the team was active on a number of matters, including the financing for three major hotel projects. Other key clients on the lender side are HSBC and Clydesdale Bank. The practice is led by the ‘pragmatic and commercialHugh Strickland, who is particularly strong in the corporate finance space; in one standout transaction, he advised Zwanenberg UK on a group refinance package with a consortium of ABN AMRO and Rabobank to support the ongoing growth of the company.

At Brethertons LLP, Mary Anderson focuses on secured lending in the healthcare sector and has in-depth experience in representing project financiers; in one example of work, Anderson advised Sussex Health Care (Rapkyns) on a £31m loan to an offshore company secured over all of the trading assets of the company. The team also regularly acts for Lloyds Bank on real estate finance mandates, and advised the bank on a £1m loan to Office Pads on a multi-let property in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Other clients are Svenska Handelsbanken and London Mutual Credit Union.

George Green LLP’s team advises borrowers and lenders on cash flow as well as asset-based lending, covering syndicated loans, short-term lending, acquisition finance, real estate finance and development loans. The team is led by Philip Round, who specialises in bridging finance and is ‘an outstanding banking lawyer, particularly with respect to documentation’. Round was active on various matters for Ortus Secured Finance, including advising on a multimillion-pound secured loan to finance a property acquisition. In another piece of work, the same lawyer acted for St Philips Care Group on Clydesdale’s refinancing of £27m of Barclays debt.

Wright Hassall LLP’s team covers all mainstream funding work and has particular expertise in social housing, real estate development and financial restructuring work (often involving asset-based finance and receivables finance). Key players include Keith Ainsworth, who focuses on corporate finance for clients such as Hilco Capital, and senior associate Christopher Jones, who is ‘strong at leading the transaction, working with customers, lawyers and the bank’. Jones’ caseload included advising Hadrian’s Wall Capital on its first post-IPO financing, and acting for Lloyds Bank on the £7m refinancing of Heartlands Furniture Group.

Insolvency and corporate recovery

Index of tables

  1. Insolvency and corporate recovery
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Insolvency and corporate recovery 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


DLA Piper UK LLP’s ‘commercial and proactive’ team continued to feature heavily on significant restructuring mandates for professional services and banking clients, such as KPMG and Lloyds Bank. Practice head Huw Dolphin is advising PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrators of the Caparo Industries Group on the ongoing administration of 16 companies in the group, and he is assisting the same client with the administration of the Polestar Group. Another key player is John Jeffreys, who focuses on the non-contentious aspects of real estate insolvencies and wins praise for his ‘negotiation skills and transaction execution’. Jeffreys acted for the private office of Ranjit Singh Boparan and the 2 Sisters Food Group on the acquisition of the business and various assets of the Bernard Matthews Group following a pre-packaged sale of the company; and in another piece of work, the same lawyer is advising the asset managers for Erste Abwicklungsanstalt and Colliers International on the appointment of Law of Property Receivers regarding Sim Chem House in Cheadle Hulme, Manchester. Legal director Charlotte Duce is also strong in the real estate space and, together with Jeffreys, is advising Ernst & Young on the administration of Tesla Exploration International.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP was active on restructuring mandates across a broad range of sectors, including retail, education, aerospace and financial services. The team is led by the ‘highly effectiveAndrew Jordan, who ‘has a number of strong local and national relationships in the lender and turnaround market’. Jordan acted for Bernard Matthews and Rutland Partners in the long-term restructure of the business and its subsequent sale, and also advised Deloitte in relation to the pre-packaged sale of the business and assets of CAV Aerospace. Below partner level, principal associates Jenna Poulton and Anne-Louise Lawrence provide significant depth to the practice; Poulton was active in restructurings for clients such as Gardman Group and Grange Securities, while Lawrence, who specialises in real estate restructuring, often with a retail element, assisted Jordan in representing PricewaterhouseCoopers in the pre-packaged sale of the business and assets of Brantano, including dealing with the workout of 140 stores. The team was further enhanced by the hire of principal associate Laura Taylor, who joined from DLA Piper UK LLP; Taylor specialises in providing non-contentious advice to banks as well as private equity and distressed funds.

Gateley Plc is a favourite with clients such as Santander and BDO and is hailed for its ‘team approach and willingness to work on matters where the fees are particularly at risk’. On the contentious side, practice head Mark Wilson, who has ‘developed into one of the best lawyers in the sector’, has particular expertise in high-value director and officeholder duty, misfeasance and complex fraud cases; Wilson successfully acted for Grant Thornton in an application for summary judgment/interim payment against former directors of Angelmist, in relation to losses arising from the offshore transfer of a London commercial property valued at £190m. Daniel French leads on non-contentious mandates and is recognised as ‘an excellent restructuring partner with a good breadth of experience, who is very well thought of in the marketplace’. French acted for KPMG as administrators of Trod in relation to the sale of certain assets of the business to two separate trade buyers, and also represented Laidlaw (UK) and Intrinsic Equity on the acquisition of Leaderflush Shapland (in administration) and Interiors Manufacturing (in administration). The substantial team includes newly promoted senior associate Louise Gill, who is ‘detailed and confident’.

Gowling WLG’s team has a long-established reputation for acting as advisers to regional corporates, local authorities and lenders on confidential debt restructurings, exits and workouts, and dispute matters. Jasvir Jootla has particular expertise in the retail and leisure sectors, and represented Dunelm Group in its £8.5m acquisition of the assets of online retail businesses Worldstores, Achica and Kiddicare following a pre-packaged administration sale by KPMG. In another piece of work, the same lawyer advised United Biscuits on its acquisition of a warehousing operation in insolvency. The practice was also active in the public sector, where it advised Gloucestershire County Council in the sourcing of services as part of the pre-packaged administration of 4Children. On the insolvency practitioner side, clients include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and Baker Tilly. Contentious specialist Ian Weatherall, and London-based Julian Pallett, who heads the team, are the other main contacts.

Irwin Mitchell’s practice, which is noted as ‘very good on restructuring asset-based lending matters’, was instructed on the largest insolvency in the West Midlands in the last 12 months, the administration of Covpress. As well as providing pre-administration advice to ABN AMRO Commercial Finance and ABN AMRO Lease NV on funding, security and cash flow issues in respect of Covpress, the team also assisted Grant Thornton prior to and after its appointment as administrator. Non-contentious specialist Stephen George, who ‘provides pragmatic and effective advice with a strong focus on high-quality delivery’, leads the team and has particular expertise in advising on pension deficit matters for corporates, insolvency practitioners and the PPF. In another highlight, George and associate Amy Keogh, who is ‘thorough and detailed’, represented Lloyds Bank Commercial Finance, Lloyds Banking Group and Deloitte as administrators in relation to the administration of Laidlaw Interiors Group.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s practice is particularly recommended for its ‘knowledge of the not-for-profit and education sectors’, and the team advised FRP on the administration and sale of Dagfa House in Nottingham, including assisting with an application for consent from the Charity Commission. Practice head Amy Flavell is ‘technically very strong, provides fantastic restructuring leadership, and gets highly complex assignments over the line’. Flavell’s caseload included representing Grant Thornton on the administration of Vantage Design & Build, and advising the board of Silverstar Foods on its options prior to administration. The team benefits from the firm’s strong bank and asset-based lender client base, and Flavell regularly assists Edward Sunderland with the refinancing of invoice finance facilities arising from distress. Commercial property specialist Carl Scott leads on property insolvency matters.

Advice is provided in a straightforward and accessible manner’ at Shakespeare Martineau LLP, where the team handles transactional and contentious work for the likes of Lloyds Bank and KPMG. Head of practice Andrew Taylor demonstrates a ‘strong commitment to client service, with a highly effective commercial edge’, and advised Grant Thornton in relation to the administration of Hobby Products International Europe. Taylor also handles personal insolvency, and assisted a trustee in bankruptcy on various contentious issues arising from the bankruptcy of a care home business, including defending an application to appeal the trustee’s rejection of a proof of debt of a family member. Another name to note is Stuart Taylor, who advises asset-based lenders such as Aldermore Invoice Finance and has a ‘comprehensive knowledge of the receivables financial market’. Sam Payne moved to Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

Shoosmiths LLP’s ‘very knowledgeable team’ acts for a wide variety of clients on the full spectrum of insolvency matters, from business sales to litigation. One particular area of strength is the retail sector, where team continued to be highly active: it advised Grabal Alok (UK) in relation to a company voluntary arrangement, and acted for AlixPartners, as administrators of Be-Wise. National head of practice James Keates is ‘flexible and creative’ and regularly assists private equity investors in connection with their recovery strategies for distressed investments. Below partner level, recommended lawyers include senior associates Aaron Harlow and Charles Williams, who both assisted Keates with mandates for FRP Advisory, including advising on the administrations of Redhill Analysts and R Capital, and Vent Vision.

At Squire Patton Boggs, ‘business acumen and industry knowledge are particularly strong’, which continues to attract new clients such as Handelsbanken and Tipton & Coseley Building Society. On the contentious side, practice head Devinder Singh, who has a ‘great reputation for client service’, focuses on litigation for officeholders, creditors and other stakeholders and specialises in the retail, automotive and manufacturing sectors. Non-contentious specialist Russell Hill ‘has a really good knowledge of restructuring best practice, and works well in complex matters where he can set the right tone amongst all parties to move the project forward’. Hill was busy on a number of cross-border mandates, including representing Traxxas on the proposed acquisition of Hobby Products International Europe (in administration), and also advising KPMG as administrators of Mayridge on the sale of two divisions of the business in the UK and the Czech Republic.

Richard Preston is in charge at Beswicks Legal, where the team remained busy on litigation arising from personal and corporate insolvencies. Besides handling an increase in instructions from directors in defending complex insolvency claims, the team also secured work from new clients such as Oury Clark and AABRS. RSM and Begbies Traynor are key clients.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s ‘value-for-money’ practice focuses on asset recovery work for insolvency practitioners and the Insolvency Service and has a good record for recovery of sums from misfeasant directors. The team has expanded its advisory and transactional expertise, advising management teams, banks and asset-based lenders on distressed situations; in one example, practice head Stephanie Slinn advised on the MBO of an insolvent business, including finance and property reorganisation in preparation for securitisation. Senior associate Sheena Tandy is able to ‘apply her excellent knowledge of legislation in a commercial manner’.

DWF’s team is probably best known for handling a significant amount of distressed property and receivership for lender clients such as Nationwide Building Society and West Bromwich Commercial. Senior associate Richard Holmes provides ‘very good, solid insolvency and restructuring advice’, and practice head Sean McGrath, who divides his time between the firm’s Birmingham and Manchester offices, is praised for his ‘excellent overall case management’.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys continued to develop its turnaround offering to management teams seeking to address and avoid insolvency events, albeit with some change at the top, following the arrival of Sam Payne from Shakespeare Martineau LLP to take charge of the team. Payne, who ‘cuts straight to the key issues and gives straight answers’, is acting for RSM Restructuring Advisory as joint administrators of a company producing digital assessment technology, and is also representing an agricultural parts manufacturer on a substantial restructuring mandate. In other highlights, the team secured a number of instructions from directors facing disqualification proceedings.

Under the leadership of David Ellis, Higgs & Sons provides ‘prompt, reliable commercial advice and a depth of knowledge that can be relied upon’. In 2016, the team was engaged on a good mix of contentious and non-contentious work and had further instructions in areas such as deceased insolvency, insolvencies of charities and not-for-profit organisations, and buy-to-let insolvency. Associate Oliver Ward-Jones joined Squire Patton Boggs in 2017.

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s practice offers ‘exceptional value for money’ and is also noted for its ability to ‘quickly grasp the instruction and work with the officeholder to implement (and refine as necessary) the strategy’. Practice head Leanne Schneider-Rose has a loyal following of lenders and insolvency practitioners, such as AIB Group and Smith & Williamson, and wins praise for her ‘attention to detail and thorough approach’.

David Cleary and John Cooper are the main contacts at The Wilkes Partnership, where the practice covers a full range of insolvency services, including formal corporate and individual insolvency advice to insolvency practitioners, advice to corporates on restructuring, and provision of legal support to directors under attack after liquidation.

Wright Hassall LLP’s team underwent some change in 2016, with the arrival of senior associate Caroline Benfield from Knights Professional Services Limited and the departure of Emma Easton to gunnercooke LLP. Benfield has the ‘ability to immediately understand the issues’, and acts for insolvency practitioners on both corporate and personal insolvencies. The team handled numerous contentious mandates – including wrongful dividends and misfeasance claims - for clients such as Robert Day & Company and Accura Accountants Business Recovery Turnaround.

At FBC Manby Bowdler LLP, commercial litigator Gareth Ruddock has strong experience acting in contentious matters, including cases involving allegations of wrongful trading, fraud and breach of duty, as well as officeholder claims under the Insolvency Act 1986. Recent examples of Ruddock’s work include representing a client in a contested court administration application dealing with validity of debenture and ability to appoint an administrator, and handling antecedent claims against directors with cross-jurisdictional property assets. Corporate specialist James Sage focuses on non-contentious matters and, together with Ruddock, advised an invoice factoring business on the restructuring of the company and the recovery of assets.

Thursfields Solicitors’ team is led by senior associate Lauren Hartigan-Pritchard, who is ‘experienced beyond her years, intellectually savvy and popular with clients’. The team secured a number of new clients in 2016, including RSM, Monahans and Deloitte, and Hartigan-Pritchard acted for the latter named in connection with the recovery of assets following the administration of the VIA Partnership. The practice encompasses both non-contentious and contentious work and has experience in corporate and personal insolvencies.

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