Corporate and commercial: elsewhere in East Anglia in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP in Ipswich is ‘all round supportive, human and technically excellent‘. The corporate practice works as one integrated team across the firm’s four offices, providing advice on corporate finance and large M&A deals, regionally, nationally and, increasingly, cross-border. The firm has a strong bench with senior partner James Austin, cross-border deal specialist Alexandra Nelson, IT contract partner Mark Gipson, real estate finance partner Andrew Tubb and finance and insolvency adviser Mark Henry the key partners. Associate Emma Bysouth increasingly runs her own large M&A transactions.

Practice head(s):

James Austin; Alexandra Nelson; Mark Gipson; Andrew Tubb; Mark Henry

Other key lawyers:

Emma Bysouth; Rachel Astill

Testimonials

‘The team delivered exceptional performance in the sale of our business which culminated in working through the night to complete before 8am when the purchaser wished to announce the acquisition to the stock market.’

‘Particular mention to Mark Henry and Emma Bysouth whose tenacity and attention to detail were first-class. The communication was brilliant with non-legally trained clients to ensure we were fully aware the implications of all aspects of the deal.’

‘All round supportive, human and technically excellent.’

‘Rachel Astill has been very supportive during some complex transactions, always patient and happy to explain in clear non-legalise language. Very pragmatic and commercial as well as technically excellent. Also very human with a great sense of humour which is very welcome during drawn out negotiations. James Austin has been very supportive and responsive. Again providing excellent service.’

Key clients

Skinner Pet Food Ltd

Jas Bowman & Sons Limited

Notcutts Limited

Muntons Plc

G.A.H. Refrigeration Ltd

Nationwide Metal Recycling Limited

Green Label Foods Limited

Autumn Foods Holdings Limited

Morrison Freight Limited

Tex Holdings Plc

Perivan Limited

Marshall Wolfe Limited

Gressingham Foods

Bruni Erben

Host Capital Ltd

Juuce Limited

Vehicle Replacement Group Ltd

Greene & Greene

Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds has a deep bench of partners who handle regional, national and cross-border corporate transactions, including recent deals in the US, Hong Kong, Malaysia and throughout Europe. Solicitor advocate Simon Ratcliffe leads the practice, in which Neil Walmsley handles acquisitions, disposals, financings and restructurings, and Mark Daly has developed a niche in advising shareholders of high-growth VC-backed science and technology companies. Andrew Cooper is known for corporate restructurings and for providing fundraising advice to technology companies. Mark Whittaker, who joined from gunnercooke LLP in late 2020, is 'commercial, pragmatic, responsive and diligent'.

Practice head(s):

Simon Ratcliffe

Other key lawyers:

Neil Walmsley; Mark Daly; Andrew Cooper; Mark Whittaker

Testimonials

‘Mark Whittaker is excellent, Very commercial and pragmatic. Responsive and diligent.’

‘Mark Whittaker delivers on time and with quality. Offers proactive advice and has a very strong grasp of the commercial detail.’

Key clients

Larsen & Toubro Limited

Felda Global Ventures / FGV Holdings

Herbonis AG

Miles and Barr Holdings Limited

Aran Group Holdings Limited

Newmore Capital

Xactium Limited

Wolfgang Capital

Work highlights

  • Acted for Larsen & Toubro Limited on the disposal of Servowatch Systems Limited (a UK entity) to Rolls-Royce.
  • Acted for FGV on the disposal of its 70% equity interest in FGV Cambridge Nanosystems Limited to Meditech Gloves SDN BHD.
  • Acted for Herbonis AG on the acquisition of Wyreside Products Limited.

Greenwoods Legal

The Peterborough office of Greenwoods GRM is a central hub for its firm-wide practice, which handles corporate, commercial, finance and restructuring matters. The firm acts for companies of all sizes, form start-ups to listed companies, in regional and national matters. Alastair Gunn is the lead partner in the business and finance group, as well as being head of the media and banking team and a key member of the agricultural and rural business group. Consultant David Woods has more than 30 years' experience and remains a key member of the practice, while senior associate Claire Banks is increasingly involved in high-value M&A and restructuring projects.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Gunn

Other key lawyers:

David Woods; Claire Banks

Key clients

Encasement Limited

Fairline Yachts Limited

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has 'an excellent team of practical individuals who are focused on delivering on the brief in a practical and comprehensive way'. Lead partner Geoff Hazlewood, who works in both Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, handles corporate and finance issues, particularly those relating to the care homes sector. 'His advice is concise, and he is willing to drive a deal to ensure I achieve the best outcome', notes one client. Ipswich-based Paul Whittingham has a broad practice but is particularly noted for his corporate work in the veterinary sector.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Hazlewood

Other key lawyers:

Paul Whittingham

Testimonials

‘The practice has a diverse team and depth of knowledge . I have have excellent service in all areas of engagement. It’s a pleasure to receive the same high level of service regardless of what department or whom you are dealing with.’

‘An excellent team of practical individuals who are focused on delivering on the brief from their clients in a practical and comprehensive way. They ensure clients understand the risks that may be involved in a given scenario and allow them to make informed decisions.’

‘Geoff Hazlewood provides the perfect service with an ideal balance with his explanation and understanding of risk, but his desire to help the client get deals done and protect themselves, as appropriate. Ultimately this saves the client spending unnecessary fees and helps to avoid situations going bad and eats falling through. It may mean less fees in the short term, but he’ll earn more in the long run as his client loyalty is fantastic.’

‘Geoff Hazelwood and Paul Whittingham in company commercial are pragmatic, approachable and very good.’

‘The practice is complete with very experienced and extremely knowledgeable partners and associates which gives confidence in the advice we are being given. This is fundamental because there is no point in paying for legal advice and then not being confident enough to take it.’

‘The individuals are experienced and apply their knowledge well to individual circumstances. They are able to adapt their expertise top our commercial situation.’

‘The Ashtons Legal team offers a complete spectrum of legal expertise. The advice provided by the professionals at Ashtons is pragmatic and centred on meeting the specific demands of their clients.’

‘Geoff Hazelwood is a practically minded corporate lawyer who clearly understands what I need to achieve in my acquisitions. His advice is concise, and he is willing to drive a deal to ensure I achieve the best outcome.’

Key clients

Stow Healthcare Group

Cosworth Group

Medical Management Systems

Thyngs

TaxAssist Group

Signs Express

Work highlights

  • Advised Stow Healthcare Group Limited on the acquisition of the Cedars Care Home in Essex.

Buckles Solicitors LLP

Buckles Solicitors LLP in Peterborough has 'a hugely personal touch that clients like and will always go the extra mile'. The firm handles private company corporate finance matters, mainly for sellers, though it also handles acquisitions in ranging in value from £5m to £100m. Through its association with a firm based in Italy and France, it also handles cross-border deals. Lead partner Nigel Moore has 'an innate ability to work out what is worth fighting for'. Senior associates Nadine Duncan and Katy Poole play pivotal roles in major deals.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Moore

Other key lawyers:

Nadine Duncan; Katy Poole

Testimonials

‘Buckles has a broad range of services that can cater for all the clients needs. They have a hugely personal touch that clients like and will always go the extra mile.’

‘Nigel Moore is a deal maker in the truest sense. He has the wisdom of a lawyer whilst being hugely commercial which is invaluable.’

‘Buckles has a great personality. It is not just another legal firm, but one that understands and connects with clients on a very personal basis. And unusually in corporate law firms, you really do get the pitch team working on your project. As a result, briefing is quick and easy, and responses to any queries are prompt – even at weekends.’

‘I have dealt with partner Nigel Moore for over 25 years. It is easy to engage and follow through assignments. I have worked with many other firms where the impressive partner wins the work and then passes it on to an intern. Nigel also has an innate ability to work out what is worth fighting for. Too many lawyers want to battle every point, but Nigel knows instinctively what is worth the effort. This leads to speedier resolutions, and lower fees.’

Key clients

A K Retail Holdings Ltd

Stobbs (IP) Ltd

Nigel Gittins – former owner Webroster Ltd

Puffin Produce Ltd

Thursdays (UK) Ltd (Owner of TGI Restaurants)

Total Recall Ltd

Vortex Clothing Industry Co Ltd

John Dutton

Auction Rebel Ltd

Ellisons Solicitors

Ellisons Solicitors is praised for its 'flexibility and technical knowledge'. The firm frequently supports early stage investment clients on corporate matters in sectors such as e-commerce, as well assisting owner-managed businesses across the region. Jon Bloor, who works in both the Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds offices, leads the practice, in which Andrew Fleming stands out for both corporate and property matters. Senior associate Petra Sharp, who is 'great to work with and always makes the transaction go smoothly', and associate Ed Manning provide 'high-class, seamless service'.

Practice head(s):

Jon Bloor

Other key lawyers:

Petra Sharp; Andrew Fleming; Petra Sharp; Ed Manning

Testimonials

‘Working relationship, flexibility and technical knowledge crossing into the realism of business.’

‘We engaged Ed Manning to advise us through a contract negotiation. He was able to help us navigate through the multiple contentious areas, from service level agreements through notice periods. Overall, a high-class, seamless service from a top professional.’

‘Jon Bloor was very knowledgeable and experienced. He concentrated on the important areas during at times difficult and lengthy negotiations. I would be delighted to work with Jon again.’

‘Petra Sharp is great to work with and always makes the transaction go smoothly.’

‘We have collaborated with the firm well. It has shown a great understanding of our commercial and strategic needs and collaborates with us within its legal scope. It differs from most of its competitors by its consistent quality of service and professional ethics. Just like every law firm, they had a period to gain our trust. We gave them a chance and they have never disappointed us to date.’

‘Ellisons is an outstanding regional firm serving mainly South Suffolk and North Essex with highly competent and skilled partners and associates in the corporate sphere. The breadth and depth of expertise and experience is excellent. I have always been impressed by the supportiveness, engagement and availability of their client-facing staff.’

Key clients

Enigma Marketing Services Limited

Smarter Metering Services Ltd

Pitpatpet Limited

Suffolk GP Federation CIC

StrategiQ Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the shareholders to Enigma Marketing Services Limited on their merger with California based Just Media.
  • Advised Smarter Metering Services on a strategic agreement as part of the national roll-out of smart meters.

Gotelee Solicitors

Gotelee Solicitors is mainly based in Ipswich, though it also has offices in Hadleigh, Woodbridge and Felixstowe, through which it provides advice on corporate transactions and constitutional issues. Its client base is predominantly in Suffolk, though it extends across East Anglia, and includes a number of charitable organisations and SMEs. The practice led by Max Harnden is 'extremely helpful and diligent, and always available when needed'.

Practice head(s):

Max Harnden

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Clazie

Testimonials

‘Max Harnden and Elizabeth Clazie were both extremely helpful and diligent, always available when needed, kept us well informed throughout the stages of the sale and kept the process moving when the buyers appeared to be stalling. Their help was invaluable from the initial meeting right up until the final accounts were approved some time after the date of the sale. ’

‘The team which assisted on our case worked well together, communication throughout.’

‘Elizabeth Clazie had a passion with her role to help resolve our case, she provided valued knowledge and advised on items which they could see being possible issues. She also made us aware of the limitations in our case and the possible outcomes should it be resolved how we hope.’

‘We found that the teams to be cohesive, in our case we where selling a company with a high degree of property and the property team worked seamlessly with the corporate team to provide a full in house package with a great depth of knowledge this was all achieved during the height of the COVID epidemic. The use of Teams/Zoom conferencing calls, the flexibility shown by all teams to fully embracing modern technology was key.’

‘Max Harnden has a great depth of knowledge, ability assisted by his team.

Aquabridge

Aquabridge, which was founded in in 2012 in Chelmsford by former Prettys Solicitors LLP partner Keith Vincent, now has an office in Felixstowe. Clients note that Vincent is 'available at any time and highly committed to helping its clients get the right deal, at the right price'. His work encompasses M&A transactions, corporate finance, private equity investments, joint ventures and advice on corporate governance, particularly for owner-managed businesses in Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and North London.

Practice head(s):

Keith Vincent

Testimonials

‘The team at Aquabridge always gives first-class advice in clear and easy to understand responses. Replies are prompt, helpful and often pre-empt my next question or concern.’

‘Very approachable, diligent and keen to help in a proactive, solution-focused way.’

‘A highly experienced team when advising on acquistions of SMEs.’

‘Available at any time and highly committed to helping its clients get the right deal, at the right price.’

Key clients

Scendea Limited

Academia Limited

Texo Group Limited

Brentwood Communications Ltd

Goldstar Transport Limited

Secure Shield Limited

Kersey Freight Limited

Power Testing Limited

Lockwood Packaging Limited

Maze Logistics Limited

Osea Leisure Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the shareholders on the sale of a majority stake in Academia Limited.
  • Advised Brentwood Communications Ltd on its acquisition of Capcom Land, Sea and Air Communications Ltd, which was the second strategic  purchase for the longstanding client that year.
  • Advised the shareholder on his sale of care home group Aldanat Care Ltd.

Barker Gotelee

Barker Gotelee acts for private companies in East Anglia, frequently advising on matters in the agriculture, technology, manufacturing and transport sectors. This work includes M&A, demergers, share issues and restructurings, as well as advice on a broad range of commercial matters. Lead partner Clare Richards and associate Liz Gifford provide 'well-rounded and fully comprehensive advise in a manner that is easy for clients to understand'.

Practice head(s):

Clare Richards

Other key lawyers:

Liz Gifford

Testimonials

‘Excellent support and communication in all aspects of business. I always feel that whatever legal support I need will always be well addressed with the correct level of knowledge and expertise. I have complete faith and trust in everything that Barker Gotelee advise us on.’

‘Clare Richards and Liz Gifford provide well-rounded and fully comprehensive advise in a manner that is easy for us to understand and feel comfortable with.’

‘Great communication, speed of response and the ability to explain stuff in language that I understand.’

‘They clearly understand our position and have depth of experience.’

‘Barker Gotelee is unique and therefore valued, not because of its innovations and new ways of working, but for the complete opposite! I know what I am going to get with them as a layman. Clear expectations, an understandable method and delivery to an agreed timeline.’

‘The team works very well together to deliver the service required. The division of advice within the team is without duplication and delivers a project in an efficient and joined up way.’

‘I worked with Clare Richards and Liz Gifford, both of who worked with determination and commitment to delivering a complicated transaction for the benefit of a mutual client.’

Key clients

Clarice Leisure Plc (t/a Riverhills)

Park Properties Housing Association Ltd

CMG Technologies Ltd

Aramar Solutions Limited

Eastern Angles Theatre Company Limited

Appmetric Software Limited

Pinford End Limited

Felixstowe Hydrocycle Ltd

Work highlights

  • Prepared a new suite of commercial contracts for Aramar Solutions Limited.
  • Advised Park Properties Housing Association Ltd on the sale of a housing association subsidiary.
  • Provided ongoing commercial advice to award-winning company CMG Technologies Limited.

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough has a small corporate and commercial practice that nevertheless has a strong local following, particularly among SMEs. Lead partner Anna Spriggs focuses mainly on commercial real estate matters, but her broad practice also sees her involved in corporate transactions involving ecclesiastical clients and agricultural businesses. This work encompasses commercial agreements, share purchases, joint ventures and advice on company law.

Practice head(s):

Anna Spriggs

Key clients

Anglia Home Furnishings Ltd

East of England Showground Services Ltd

Practice Cover Ltd

Work highlights

  • Handling company secretarial work for Anglia Home Furnishings Ltd.

Nicholsons Solicitors LLP

Nicholsons Solicitors LLP is the only commercial law firm with a focus on the Norfolk and Suffolk coast and through the Waveney Valley. It acts for a wide array of local SMEs in corporate transactions, as well as advising a growing number of local authorities. Practice head Joseph Long and new hire from Clapham & Collinge Solicitors, Jade Tinney, both work in both the Norwich and Lowestoft offices. 'The practice stands head and shoulders over any of its competitors in the immediate area', remarks one client.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Long

Other key lawyers:

Jade Tinney

Testimonials

‘Their knowledge and contacts and personable manner gave me confidence which was then proven by their actions and swift conclusion. I felt that I was given a fair price for the work undertaken and it was done well.’

‘My work was dealt with in a friendly but professional manner and I was kept informed at every step. I could not fault Joseph Long – I would definitely recommend him.’

‘The practice stands head and shoulders over any of its competitors in the immediate area with a group of competent partners covering most business areas, and in recent years an influx of competent younger partners and associates. Frankly, they are the only legal firm in town whom we feel able to recommend to our clients.’

‘Competent, knowledgeable and efficient. Joe Long is our main contact and is an extremely competent and approachable corporate lawyer.’

‘This firm is responsive and shows an understanding of the business requirements of its clients. It is pragmatic in its advice and for a regional practice offers a high level of support and quality of advice.’

‘The partners’ approach demonstrates that they understand the business requirements of their clients and their advice reflects that.’

‘A great team of solicitors who are very knowledgeable and informed, but with a good amount of commerciality to ensure the deal progresses to completion efficiency. ’

‘Joe Long is a great solicitor. He is approachable, effective and very capable with a wide knowledge base.’

Butcher Andrews

Butcher Andrews in Fakenham joins the ranking this year due to its corporate work for high-net-worth individuals and clients in the agriculture sector. David Richards and Helen Hemingray are the key partners who oversee the corporate and commercial practice, which has recently branched out from the firm's commercial property team. Associate Wendy Davidson is in charge of day-to-day matters including asset and share sales, partnership agreements and business incorporations.

Practice head(s):

David Richards; Helen Hemingray

Other key lawyers:

Wendy Davidson

Key clients

Grocott & Murfitt

Work highlights

  • Acted for NN Developments Limited in a loan facility and legal charge relating to a property development.