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  1. Corporate and commercial: Leeds, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire
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Who Represents Who

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At Addleshaw Goddard, Yunus Seedat is divisional managing partner for the corporate and commercial department, while Garry Elliott heads the Leeds-based team; both have strength in private equity transactions. The practice is also highly regarded for its expertise acting on high-profile M&A transactions and assisting financial services clients. Recent mandates include advising MKM Building Supplies and the selling shareholders on its £200m sale to Bain Capital Private Equity, assisting the Stadium Group with the sale of four corporate entities which each own a retail park to Epic (No. 2) Limited, and acting for Elysian Capital on its acquisition of Fastflow Group. Other key practitioners include Neil Woodhouse and Mark Hallam, who focus on the financial services sector; Rosanna Bryant, who acts for retail financial services clients; managing associate James Tatro and Leeds office head Tim Wheldon. The department also recently recruited private equity specialist Peter Wood from Pinsent Masons LLP, and Richard Hunt from Squire Patton Boggs.

DLA Piper UK LLP is ‘unquestionably a top-tier practice’ as ‘one of the best firms in the region’ with ‘exemplary response times, considerable industry insight and an absolutely top-notch team’. Andrew Davies and Matthew Duncombe lead the corporate and commercial practices respectively; Davies is experienced in the retail and aviation sectors, and Duncombe’s expertise encompasses the hospitality, leisure, retail and manufacturing sectors. Jonathan Procter leads the firm’s financial services advice, Stephen Atkinson is the key name for M&A advice for private equity clients and legal director Paul Routledge regularly handles cross-border transactions. Hospitality sector specialist Wendy Harrison and John Gallon, who handles capital markets transactions, are also names to note. Recent highlights include assisting the Wellcome Trust with its joint venture with Queensway and the creation of a new hotel brand, advising Brewdog on its £213m sale of a stake in the business to TSG Consumer Partners and acting for Nisa Retail on its acquisition by the Co-operative Group. Marriott, Yorkshire Water, Booths and Q Hotels are also clients.

Robin Skelton and Peter McCormack lead Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s corporate and commercial teams respectively; Skelton recently advised Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) on the disposal of a portfolio of franchisees while McCormack acts for clients in the financial services, transport, manufacturing and waste sectors. Other work includes cross-border specialist Amanda Partland assisting DFS Furniture with its acquisition of Sofology, Skelton advising Baird Capital on its acquisition of CAV Advanced Technologies and CAV Ice Protection, and handling Fintrax Group Holdings’ acquisition of GB Tax Free. Nick Stubbs relocated to Leeds from the firm’s Manchester office in 2017 and is a key name for clients in the retail and financial services sectors; principal associate Jonathan Pollard focuses on international M&A and Partner David Milne handles M&A and private equity transactions. Charles Reynard moved to the firm’s Cardiff office.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s advice is ‘always pragmatic and demonstrates a good grasp of the operational issues involved in even the most complex transactions’. The team, which ‘has exceptional in-depth knowledge and an excellent ability to leave no stone unturned’, is headed by Andrew Black, who handles cross-border transactions and regularly acts for publically listed companies in the UK and North America. He recently advised Central Square Holdings on its acquisition of Styles & Wood. Andrew Kerr is praised as ‘extremely commercial’; he acted for DCC on the disposal of its environmental business to Exponent, advised IGT on its combined business and share acquisition of Zest Gaming, and assisted Exertis with its acquisition of the Hammer group. Other key names include legal directors Catherine Hemsworth and Michelle Kershaw, who handle M&A and private equity transactions; senior associate Joanna Jowitt, who is ‘passionate about her work and a pleasure to work with’, and legal director Lisa Harley, who focuses on the IT sector. -Martin Priestley joined Mills & Reeve LLP.

Squire Patton Boggs ‘always responds in a considered manner’ and ‘makes the client feel confident that the job will get done to the highest level possible’. The ‘thorough and knowledgeable’ team is ‘far and away one of the best’ for private equity, M&A and capital markets transactions. Key names on the corporate side include Jonathan Jones, who handles private equity mandates; team head Hannah Kendrick, who is ‘exceptionally brilliant’; national private equity team head Paul Mann and Adam Hastings, who focuses on equity capital markets work. Paul Jinks and Francesca Fellowes are names to note on the commercial side. Recent highlights include Kendrick acting for Animalcare Group on its acquisition of Ecuphar, Hastings assisting Clipper Logistics with its separate acquisitions of Team Distribution and RepairTech, and Jones advising several management shareholders of Zenith Group Holdings on its management buyout (MBO). Growth Capital Partners and SIG Trading are also clients; Mann acted for the latter on the sale of its plastics business to General All Purpose Plastics. -Richard Hunt joined Addleshaw Goddard in 2018.

The ‘incredibly strong team’ at Walker Morris LLP is ‘one of the best in Leeds and the surrounding area’ with ‘commercially focused advice that makes it equally as good as any of the London firms’. John Hamer leads the department and advises on public and private company takeovers, acquisitions, public market listings and private equity investments; his recent work includes acting for Total Capital Partners on the funding of its MBO of Walkers Transports. Clients also praise Ian Gilbert and director Jo Stephenson, Debbie Jackson, who ‘gets stuff done effectively’; Richard Naish, who ‘communicates effectively’; and Daniel O'Gorman, who is ‘pragmatic and solution oriented’. Jackson recently advised Endless on the sale of Karro Food Group to CapVest Partners, Naish acted for Servelec Group on its recommended cash offer from Scarlet Bidco, and O’Gorman assisted Data Intensity and its owner with its sale to EQT. Renew Holdings, Custodian REIT and Mattioli Woods are also clients.

At Clarion, Jonathan Simms is a key name for M&A issues and regularly acts for corporate finance clients; his recent work includes advising the shareholders of Intermarketing Group on its sale, assisting the shareholders of Walkers Transport with a private equity investment including a management buy-in, and acting on the sale of the issued share capital of Pembrokeshire Resource Centre. Richard Moran and Matthew Hattersley lead the corporate and commercial teams respectively; other noteworthy individuals include commercial partner David Cunningham, who focuses on IT outsourcing projects; and legal director Tony Berry, who is experienced in international M&A. Up Fitness Group and Card Factory are also clients; Cunningham advised the latter on a project to replace all its electronic point of sale systems.

Gateley Plc’s ‘genuinely excellent’ department is jointly led by Nick Emmerson and David Armitage; Armitage focuses on cross-border M&A mandates and Emmerson is ‘a first-class lawyer who is always on top of the commercial points and never misses a deadline’. The team is noted for its international expertise, which recently included advising Inspired Energy on its acquisition of Horizon Energy Group, and acting for WH Ireland in its role as financial adviser to CTI Engineering on its £43m takeover of Waterman Group. Other recent mandates include assisting Keepmoat with its acquisition of MCI Developments and handling Freedom Finance’s joint venture with Asda Financial Services to create Asda Loans. Sandip Khroud is also a name to note and is recognised for his M&A and private equity transactional experience.

Gordons LLP is ‘attentive to its clients’ needs’ with ‘effective and appropriate advice that compares easily to the larger firms in the city’. The practice is recognised for its M&A expertise and has recently strengthened its private equity work; the team advised Enact on its sale of Excelsior Technologies to Mondi Group, assisted Solingen Private Equity with its investment in Academic Appointments, and acted for the shareholders of Sewtec Holdings on its sale to Endless. The team is also active in the retail sector through the experience of Andy Brian; clients include Charles Tyrwhitt, Iceland Foods, Lulu Guinness and Nisa Retail. James Fawcett leads the department, which also includes Jonathan Asquez , John Holden and Duncan Firman.

Chris Schofield leads the practice at Schofield Sweeney, which is ‘excellent across the board’. The team also fields managing partner Martin Sweeney, Adrian Ballam, Chris Blantern, David Strachan, Stephen Millward and commercial specialist Luisa D'Alessandro. Highlights included Ballam advising Healthpoint on its MBO backed by Maven Capital, Rob Kelly acting for Leman Interntationl Transport on its acquisition of Maru International, and Blantern assisting the management team of Thermal Energy Ventures with its MBO backed by YFM Equity Partners. Sanderson Group and ACAD Holdings are also clients; Strachan advised the latter on the sale of The Academy Health Club and Spa to David Lloyd Leisure.

‘One of the best firms for private equity work’, Womble Bond Dickinson’s recent highlights include advising NorthEdge Capital on its investment in Clearly Drinks Group, assisting Cairngorm Capital with its acquisition of Sameday Holdings, and acting for Enact on its exit from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. Simon Pilling heads the team and is a key name for private equity and venture capital transactions supported by managing associate James Cook. The practice is also active in the manufacturing, fintech and retail sectors; Kennelpak and Chemoxy are example clients with Pilling advising the latter on its sale of a majority stake to Novacap. Managing associate Rebecca Ridley is also a name to note.

Jonathan Oxley is a key name in Lupton Fawcett’s ‘highly experienced’ group and is praised by clients as ‘a calm, pragmatic and commercial professional’. Oxley’s recent work includes advising Zenith Data Systems on its £6.2m sale to VP, acting for Snatch Media on an interim funding round and the establishment of a new parent company in the US, and assisting Valley Printing Company with the establishment of a joint venture with Outform Group. Other practitioners include practice head Giles Clegg, who also leads the firm’s care team; Martin Frost in the York office who handles cross-border M&A, ‘effective communicator’ Daniel McCormack and Andrew Lindsay, whose ‘commitment to his clients is second to none’.

At Shulmans LLP, Marcus Armstrong and Emma Roe lead the corporate and commercial teams respectively; Armstrong has ‘proved himself as an able adviser’ and Roe is ‘a go-to practitioner’. Key sectors for the group include the IT, healthcare, food and drink, financial services and education sectors; clients include Octopus Properties, 21st Century Technology and Bayfields Group. The department also advised Ultra Finishing on an investment by the Business Growth Fund, and assisted with the disposal of Redfern Travel to Corporate Travel Management. Other key team members include Andrew Bradley, who handles issues for IT and financial services clients; Chris Peace, who is a key contact for pharmacy clients; and Mark Lumley and Helen Goldthorpe, who are part of the commercial team.

Boutique commercial firm 3volution Limited acts on private equity and venture capital transactions, restructurings, M&A, corporate governance and finance mandates. Department head Jonathan Priestley handles M&A and capital markets work and Michael Cantwell is recommended for MBOs, investments and joint ventures. Recent highlights include advising Around Noon Foods on its acquisition of Chef in a Box, acting for Optrical on an equity investment from Mercia Growth Nominees 5 and Finance Yorkshire Seedcorn and assisting the seller with the disposal of the issued share capital of Brook Financial Services. Remedy Tech Centre, Proveca, Mad as Birds and Group Rhodes are also clients.

The ‘excellent’ practice at Harrowells Solicitors is recognised for its strength advising local SMEs and clients in the charity sector with an increasing number of larger Northern corporate appearing on the firm’s client roster. Susie Mortonson leads the company commercial team, which handles advisory work and regulatory matters, particularly in the food and drink, transport and healthcare sectors.

Langleys Solicitors LLP  advises clients at a regional and national level across M&A work, MBOs and corporate governance issues. Christian Hunt  heads the practice, which recently acted for the Continuum Group on its acquisition of Greenwood Forest Park, assisted NNZ with its acquisition of Levy Brothers & Knowles, and advised The Inspired Branding Group on the sale of its trading subsidiary adProducts.com to Altitude Group.

Susan Clark  and James Sarjantson  jointly head the group at LCF Law, which regularly acts for clients in the healthcare, dental, biocidal, accounting and digital sectors. In a recent highlight, corporate specialist Clark advised the minority shareholders of TSGE Consulting on its sale to Science Group; other work includes assisting with the sale of Todd Waste Management Group to Yorwaste and acting on the sale of Coombe Abbey Park Hotel to Coventry City Council. On the commercial side, Sarjantson handles franchising mandates, online trading and IP matters and assists with GDPR compliance strategies. Clementine Duckett  focuses on private equity and M&A transactions and Cathy Cook , who made partner in 2017, is active in the retail sector.

Mills & Reeve LLP ‘really takes the time to get to knows its clients and the sectors they operate in’ thanks to the ‘brilliant leadership’ of Paul Johnson, who ‘acts with a great deal of integrity, honesty and commerciality’. In an illustration of Johnson’s track record in mid-market transactions, he advised Coretronic on its acquisition of Calibre UK, acted for the shareholders of Orange County on its sale to Flowtech Fluidpower, and assisted WH Ireland with AfriTin Mining's AIM flotation and related fundraising issues. Clients also single out ‘excellent communicator and highly commercial decision maker’ principal associate Shubhu Patil. The department is also active in the healthcare, technology and private client arenas.

Philip Jordan leads Ward Hadaway’s commercial practice, which also includes competition specialist Andrew Finfer and IT sector expert Gareth Yates, while key corporate individuals in the Leeds office include corporate finance-focused Gavin Maddison, banking expert Mark Smith and James Nightingale, who is active in the healthcare, energy and infrastructure sectors. The team’s work often has an international element with notable experience in private equity investments and acting for owner-managed businesses. Highlights included advising Lexwall on its acquisition of the Cidon Group, handling Trekksoft’s acquisition of Digital Ticketing Systems, and assisting Livingstone Financial Services and The Informed Partnership with a group restructuring following the retirement of a major shareholder.

In the ‘exceptional’ team at Blacks Solicitors LLP, which ‘always goes above and beyond for its clients’, department head Nigel Hoyle is ‘an excellent, pragmatic and commercial individual who is talented at finding solutions’, David Paterson is ‘to the point and avoids excessive fluff’, Richard Buono is ‘a fantastic asset to have on your side’ and Chris Allen ‘tells it how it is’. The group primarily acts for regional SMEs and owner-managed businesses with substantial expertise in the holiday and home parks sector; it recently acted on the sale of a caravan business park. Clients also single out ‘incredibly reliable’ associate Tate Chakrabarty, who ‘has the perfect combination of being highly personal and razor sharp in his legal and commercial knowledge’.

Lester Wilson leads DWF’s department and specialises in M&A work, equity capital markets issues and corporate finance mandates. His clients span listed companies, SMEs, entrepreneurs, private equity houses and venture capitalists. Other noteworthy individuals include banking partner Chris Ramage and corporate tax specialist John Toon.

In Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, Joanne Bone is the key name for commercial advice and specialises in IP and IT mandates. Her advice covers IT contracts, e-commerce issues and data protection advice. She recently advised a hotel brand on its IT contracts, acted for a software company on a branding strategy and assisted Callcredit Information Group with its master service agreements.

Key practitioners at Needle Partners Limited include managing partner Sharon Needle and Tim Wimbush; Needle advises national and international clients including individuals, listed companies, governments and banks with expertise in Islamic finance work, and Wimbush focuses on the financial services sector. In a recent highlight, the team advised on the sale of eight Costa coffee shops; Zavarco and Panoramic Doors UK are also clients.

Shoosmiths LLP opened its Leeds office in late 2016, which is ‘quickly establishing itself in the city’, with the recruitment of team head Philip Goldsborough and the ‘commercially savvy and strategic’ James Foster from  Irwin Mitchell, and Alex Kirkhope from DLA Piper UK LLP. Goldsborough is recognised for his M&A expertise, Foster handles corporate finance deals and Kirkhope is the key commercial specialist. Recent mandates include acting for August Equity on its sale of The Leaving Care Company, Aspirations Specialist Residential Children’s Services and Crossways Care (Holdings); advising YFM Equity Partners on its buy out of 4Net Technologies and assisting HI Oldham Road with its acquisition of McGarr McGarrick. Lloyds Development Capital, SIG and Schoeller Bleckmann Oilfield Equipment are also clients.

Michelle Mathers heads Weightmans’ Leeds corporate team, which is noted for its corporate advisory and transactional work and commercial contract expertise. Clients span the public, owner-managed business, charity, transport, financial services, manufacturing and digital sectors. Other key names include associates Victoria Robertson and Harron Younis. In a recent highlight, Mathers advised Hoyer Petrolog on an outsourcing contract with Air BP; other matters include Robertson acting for Lancashire Constabulary and Lancashire PCC on its collaboration with UCLan to establish a forensic sciences academy and Younis assisting Bubba Gump Shrimp with franchise issues. Luxfer Group, Anixter International and Cornertrack are also clients.

Noteworthy individuals in Berwins’ practice include Paul Berwin , solicitor Sam Crich  and director Mike Patterson . The team is particularly prominent in the digital and technology sectors with a substantial local client base; examples include Berwin & Berwin, Humpit Hummus and Vital Technologies.

Dahren Naidoo and Andy Francey jointly head Freeths LLP’s department, which ‘works well with clients to be responsive and adaptable to their needs and builds confidence and value in every possible way’. Naidoo handles private equity transactions and M&A work while Francey assists with investments and M&A; clients praise Francey for his ‘clear expertise, incredible knowledge and commercial understanding’. Recent highlights include advising the management team of Zyro Fisher on a secondary private equity investment supported by Palatine Private Equity, assisting Neom with an investment from Piper Private Equity and acting for Filmore and Union on an investment by the British Growth Fund.

McCormicks is ‘highly renowned for its sporting expertise’ with a client roster including Leeds United FC and the Premier League; senior partner Peter McCormick leads the relationship with the latter and recently advised it on the commercial issues relating to club takeovers and financing work. Jon Healey heads the practice and joined from Walker Morris LLP in 2018; his expertise encompasses acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures, shareholders agreements, reorganisations, restructurings and commercial contracts. Other highlights include advising the Premier League Charitable Fund on a joint venture project with the Premier League and BBC Children in Need, and acting on a sponsorship agreement with Barclays Bank; assisting the Isthmian League with its restructuring and corporate governance issues and acting for Harrogate International Festivals on its corporate restructuring.

Stephen Newman leads the department at Ramsdens, which has expertise spanning M&A, MBOs, asset sales and corporate restructurings. The team focuses on SME and owner-managed business clients; it recently acted for Gee Graphite Holdings UK on its acquisition of Gee Graphite, assisted Northern Belle (Holdings) with its acquisition of Northern Belle from Belmond Group, and handled Simpson Wood’s merger with the accountancy practice of Bamforth & Co. Richard Dean and Greg Dolan are also key names to note.

Raworths ‘consistently demonstrates exceptional professionalism throughout any matter it works on with an ability to fully understand what the client wants and execute that extremely well’. Clients single out team head Simon Morris for his ‘outstanding knowledge of the local market and the law and ability to present his advice in a way that is easy to understand with the best steps to take to meet the desired outcome’. Morris’ clients include SMEs, owner-managed businesses, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals, and associate Phil Parkinson leads the firm’s commercial work. Recent mandates include advising HMC Premedical on its establishment of a UK subsidiary and related acquisition of a distributor of medical supplies, and acting for the shareholders of Chippindale Foods on its sale to a national supermarket chain.

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