Corporate and commercial: Cambridge in East Anglia
James Allen at Birketts LLP leads a practice that clients describe as 'very commercial, always coming up with pragmatic solutions to problems'. The corporate practice works as a single unit across the firm's four regional offices, with Cambridge a key hub for the firm's regional, national and cross-border work. Corporate finance specialist Allen works closely with M&A and technology sector specialist Quentin Golder, corporate partner Adrian Seagers, whose skills include VC finance and private equity deals, and rising star Nick Burt.
“The team focuses on the important issues and doesn’t get bogged down in issues which don’t really affect their client.”
“The individuals are very approachable, reactive, and efficient.”
“The firm has a very strong local team that is well embedded into the local business community and engages a lot with that community. The practice has grown quickly and the firm has recruited a strong team.”
“James Allen gives very practical and sensible advice. Because he provides a pragmatic approach and does not seek to point score, transactions progress smoothly and positions do not become entrenched.”
Scientific Digital Imaging plc
John Henry Group
Time GB Group Ltd
Royale Parks Ltd
- Advised the shareholders of Plasgran on its £34.5m sale.
- Advised the shareholders of sale of NotSoSecure Global group on its sale to Claranet Group.
- Advised the shareholders of Frimstone Ltd, a family owned business in Downham Market, which operates from 10 premises and has over 70 years’ experience in mineral extraction, recycling and restoration projects in the East Anglian region, on its sale to Mick George Ltd.
- Advised on all legal aspects of the acquisition of learndirect’s eAssessment business. Under the deal, PSI, which has its international headquarters in California, will take over learndirect’s UK test centre network, technology and call centre along with all associated staff.
- Advised on all legal aspects of the sale of Innova Systems UK Limited, a software training and support provider, to Visiativ SA (a French listed entity).
The Cambridge office of Mills & Reeve LLP is home to to a deep bench of talent including practice head Tom Pickthorn, private equity expert Anthony McGurk and education and investment funds specialist Claire Clarke, who are leading lights in the market. Zickie Lim stands out for her work in in venture capital finance in the technology and life sciences sectors, as do corporate finance partner Stephen Hamilton and newly promoted partner Jonathan Greenwood for M&A deals in the education sector and mid-market corporate work. The firm is frequently involved in high-profile and high-value transactions around Cambridge, across East Anglia and the rest of the UK, as well as handling a large volume of cross-border matters.
Other key lawyers:
Ubisense Group plc
Mercia Investments Limited
Mercia Technologies PLC
IQ Capital Partners LLP
Kershaw Group holdings Limited
Prior Scientific Instruments Limited
Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings Limited
- Advised the family shareholders of Ridgeons on its sale to Huws Gray.
- Acted for Ubisense on the proposed sale for up to £35m of its RTLS SmartSpace business to a subsidiary of Investcorp Technology Partners subject to shareholders’ consent.
- Handled the £17m sale of Science Warehouse Limited to Advanced Business Software and Solutions Limited.
- Advising Mick George Limited on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Frimstone Limited.
- Acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Kershaw Group Limited by way of a MBO.
Taylor Vinters has an outstanding record in the technology sector for M&A and investment transactions, and acts for numerous high-profile domestic and international companies. The corporate and commercial group works closely with the firm's growth team, which focuses on supporting early stage and rapidly growing tech-backed businesses, supporting high value investments and advising on disposals and acquisitions. Head of corporate Adam Bradley leads a practice that acts for owner–managers, serial acquirers, venture capital funds and intermediaries in Cambridge, London and internationally.
Other key lawyers:
Sian Scanlon; Susan McDonald; Nick Palmer
Assael Architecture Limited
NJ Russel Holdings Limited
UK Vehicle Ltd
Clearstone Services Limited
Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass
- Advising Endomag on its $10m equity fundraising.
- Advising Kaleao on its £ 2.5m equity fundraising.
- Advising RealVNC on the management buy-out of its automotive division.
- Advising Assael Architecture on the sale of its business.
- Acting for NJ Russel Holdings on its acquisition of Prima Electronics.
The corporate technology practice at Taylor Wessing LLP works between the firm's London and Cambridge offices, as well as drawing on expertise in the firm's international network, to advise UK and international IP-rich technology and life sciences companies, and their investors. The firm frequently acts for US investors and acquirers in transactions involving Cambridge technology and life sciences start-ups, including representing Grapeshot in its acquisition by Oracle Corporation. Key partner Adrian Rainey and head of UK corporate and co-head of the international corporate Group David Mardle are the key contacts.
Other key lawyers:
David Mardle; Malcolm Bates; Adam Thatcher; Elizabeth Rhodes
“The firm has great strengths in hi-tech ventures and we get excellent advice from Adrian Rainey.”
“Malcolm Bates thinks and explains very clearly and has great experience. He manages a great team focusing on all areas of commercial and IP contracts.”
“Malcolm Bates is technically very strong on licence and commercial agreements.”
Cambridge Innovation Capital
MiNa Holdings Ltd
Bloom & Wild
- Advised Grapeshot Limited, a UK start-up and provider of brand safety and pre-bid contextual solutions to over 5,000 of the world’s leading marketers, on its sale to Oracle Corporation.
- Advised on the £74m sale by Apotex International of its six European subsidiaries in five jurisdictions to Agile Pharma.
- Advised Monzo on its Series E funding round led by new investors General Catalyst and Accel, with participation from existing investors Passion Capital, Stripe, Goodwater, Thrive Capital and others.
- Advised TTP Labtech, Cambridge-based design and development of life sciences instruments and consumables company, on its sale to Battery Ventures.
- Advised Ensoft, a UK-based software house specialising in networking software, on its sale to Cisco.
BDB Pitmans has a small but highly experienced team in Cambridge with Duncan Walker and James Stephen both highly respected in the region having practised in Cambridge for many years. The firm's clients range from entrepreneurs and SMEs to large corporates. Stephen recently acted for the founders of Cambridge Design Partnership Limited on the transfer of the ownership of the company to an Employee Ownership Trust. Walker's recent work includes advising the shareholders of a manufacturing company in its £57m disposal to an overseas trade buyer.
James Stephen; Duncan Walker
“They maintain strong personal relationships, are reliable and their fees are fair. In addition to making it easy for me to deal with them, it also gives me the confidence to recommend them to others knowing that those to whom I recommend them will be satisfied.”
“Duncan Walker is always responsive and happy to help.”
Owlstone Medical Limited
- Advised Owlstone Medical Limited on a $50m equity fundraising from global investors.
- Acting for the founders of a leading technology and product design consultancy on the transfer of ownership of the company to an employee ownership trust (EOT).
- Providing cost-effective advice to a growing technology sector company on its latest c£700k equity fundraising.
- Acting for a venture capital company, with a focus on investing in and building early stage technology companies, on its latest equity investment.
- Advising a UK company involved in the development of drug therapy on an early stage equity fundraise.
Hewitsons has a long-established reputation for M&A, corporate finance, private equity, investment and capital markets transactions. It has a broad client base with particular expertise in the technology, charities and education, healthcare, sport and energy sectors. Practice heads James Lawrence and Andrew Priest and key partner Bill Thatcher in Cambridge have a particular focus on the technology sector, in which they frequently handle acquisitions, venture capital investments, MBOs and MBIs. Newly promoted partner Laurence Evans has a strong practice in partnerships and LLPs, particularly for the firm's agricultural client base.
James Lawrence; Andrew Priest
“The level of subject matter expertise, business sense, responsiveness, and cost-effectiveness is unmatched in my experience with law firms around the globe.”
“I would like to call out Bill Thatcher as an absolutely outstanding asset to our business. His responsiveness, commercial expertise, and value is truly remarkable. It has been a true privilege to work with him over the years.”
“Hewitsons provided us with timely legal support adhering to the scope of the service agreed.”
“Great communication, reasonable fees, good value for the money.”
“I particularly liked the approach of Hewitsons in that we worked with the same lawyer from initial discussions and quotation through to completion of the sale. This meant there was good continuity throughout the project.”
“The practice was very accommodating of a change of direction that occurred mid-way through the sale and also the complications of dealing with a foreign buyer.”
“We worked predominantly with Laurence Evans on the sale of our business. He understood the business, our objectives and helped to negotiate a successful outcome.”
“I found Laurence Evans to be professional and very easy to work with. He was also very fast at turning around questions we raised and amendments to the contract.”
“I would have no hesitation in recommending both Laurence Evans and Hewitsons in general.”
“Hewitsons offers a broad spectrum of specialist support for whatever commercial issues you face.”
“Bill Thatcher has proved to be a formidable ally to have onside during tricky commercial negotiations. His ability to make the complex seem simple, and to make arguments which are hard to dispute, is uncanny.”
“Bill Thatcher has an amazing ability to deeply understand our business, despite it being extremely specialised. All in all he is an invaluable part of our team and one we could not recommend highly enough.”
“Excellent all round abilities, with very solid associates and good access to partner expertise.”
“James Lawrence has a first rate legal mind, and his advice is always succinct and completely on the point.”
Quartix Holdings Plc (listed)
KisanHub (UK and India)
Nuformix Plc (listed)
VKR Group (owner of Velux brand with HQ in Denmark)
Cryptomathic Group (HQ in Denmark)
Spirol Group, Inc (HQ in USA)
Amino Technologies Plc (listed)
Scientific Molding Corporation Ltd
Hill Residential Ltd
- Acted in the £16m private equity backed management buy-out of Hanmere Polythene, a Hertfordshire-based manufacturer of recyclable packaging products.
- Acted on the acquisition by German private equity fund BID Equity of Cambridge-based eSight Energy Group Limited, a provider of energy use intelligence.
- Acted in the acquisition by OpenView of the analogue maintenance business of Careline UK Monitoring Limited (t/a Appello).
- Acted on the £2.4m sale of Guardian Water Treatment Limited and GPCS Limited, to AIM listed Marlowe Plc.
- Acted on the sale of the sale of 100% of shares in the target company to a private purchaser.
'They have simply done it before many times and have the expertise', says a client of the corporate and commercial practice at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP. The practice is led from London, Oxford and Guildford, but key partner Helen Drayton in Cambridge plays a pivotal role in some of the firm's largest transactions. The practice acts for technology, biotech and pharmaceutical clients, as well as academic institutions and non-profit research organisations. Associate Katharine Robinson is a rising star in technology, real estate, food and agriculture M&A deals. Ross McNaughton is predominantly based in San Francisco, but still leads deals through the Cambridge office.
The bulk of the corporate and commercial practice at Ashtons Legal is outside Cambridge in the firm's other regional offices, yet the Cambridge office is involved in some substantial work. Senior associate John Yatchisin is the key lawyer and is supported by capable solicitors including Paul Mitchell for work that includes share sales and company acquisitions for SME clients.
Lead partner David Woods at Greenwoods GRM oversees the firm's corporate team in Cambridge, though he works predominantly from Peterborough. He calls upon the firm's expertise in the technology, business services and manufacturing sectors to advise SME clients across the region, as well as entrepreneurs and larger corporates around Cambridge.
‘David Woods is the one we use for commercial contracts. He is a very fast thinker and very thorough and I can always rely on him for fast action. He does not try to over-complicate matters to draw them out to earn higher fees. To the contrary, he is excellent at simplification but not at the expense of putting the Agreements at risk.’
‘Neville Drummond handles the land Property side and is very thorough and has found a number of bad errors missed by other lawyers. Again, he is very helpful and goes the extra mile to help us out in anything that is urgent. As does David.’
Albendan Limited (Derek Watts)
Key Publishing Limited
- Represented an overseas client in its investment into a UK company in the confectionary sector.
- Advised a Cambridge headquartered company on the exit of a shareholder.
Howes Percival LLP continued to grow its client base in 2018, notably among owner-managed and family-owned businesses. It focuses predominantly on corporate acquisitions, reorganisations and commercial work. Lead partner Nathan Horton, who works between the Cambridge and Norwich offices, draws on expertise in the firm's other offices to service the needs of clients in the local market, as well as his own in-depth knowledge of acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures, shareholder and investment agreements and corporate reorganisations across a range of industry sectors.
- Advised onthe merger of the Monkfield Nutrition and Euro Rep Ltd businesses.
Senior associate Sarah Ilic leads the corporate and commercial practice at Tees Law, which frequently handles high-value and complex share and asset acquisitions involving complicated deferred consideration proposals particularly in the property, haulage and family-owned business sectors. She also handles corporate reconstructions and reorganisations for professional services groups, and commercial matters including confidentiality, data protection, franchising, distribution and joint venture agreements.
- Represented a property developer in its £62.5m refinancing of its property portfolio.
- Advised on the £1.25m purchase of the goodwill, business and assets of a specialist timber provider.
- Handled the sale of high-end leisure facility.
- Represented a client in relation to the demerger of an offshore fiduciary business.
- Acted for a client on the unwinding of two software as a service technology joint ventures.
Vivienne Robinson Ltd
Vivienne Robinson Ltd is a sole practitioner who specialises in competition law at the highest level. Clients appreciate the 'personal service from a specialist who is quick to respond, sensitive to our needs and adept at providing competition law advice in connection with commercial agreements'. Her practice supports clients throughout the UK and abroad, and range from SME’s to large listed corporates. She also receives numerous instructions from law firms seeking first-class competition law advice for their clients.
“Vivienne Robinson has excellent knowledge of the practices of the CMA.”
“Vivienne Robinson is pragmatic and commercially minded, and advises on how to shape the structure of the arrangements in order to reduce competition law risks.”
“Vivienne Robinson is able to provide a clear and invaluable insight as to how she considers the competition law authorities will approach certain matters.”
“Vivienne is expert, highly responsive and able to communicate complex issues to clients in a simple and effective manner. She is always prepared to provide initial advice at a reasonable cost.”
“Vivienne Robinson is approachable and proactive, and provides quality advice.”