Corporate and commercial: elsewhere in East Anglia in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has a five-partner corporate group in Ipswich that is a key hub for the firm's cross-office corporate finance, transactional and commercial work. Acting for both local and national businesses, the firm handles a growing volume of cross-border matters, alongside major domestic M&A transactions. James Austin, Mark Henry and Mark Gipson are the lead partners for corporate finance, commercial advice and transactional matters. Alexandra Nelson, who has experience in cross-border M&A transactions, and Andrew Tubb are other partners to note. Associate Emma Bysouth is one to watch.

Testimonials

The team looks for practical solutions to complex issues. Its members work well together and coordinate communication with client. The firm provides good value for money and is both creative and hardworking. Available when needed, the team provides diligent and timely work to extremely tight deadlines.

Mark Henry is very business-savvy and solution-oriented. He is also a good lateral thinker.

Emma Bysouth provides excellent attention to detail and follow up.

Birketts offers a wide spectrum of legal expertise, coupled with a depth of industry-specific knowledge that is exceptional to the region.

In addition to first-class technical knowledge, Alexandra Nelson offers superb client support. Alexandra Nelson and Emma Bysouth consistently deliver a high-quality service that exceeds client expectations and delivers solid results that have both enabled and protected the business.

Mark Henry, Alex Nelson and Emma Bysouth work well as a team. They are incredibly committed to getting deals done and always go the extra mile to ensure deals are concluded in a timely and efficient manner.

I recently completed a very complex M&A transaction with the firm. It involved 32 different country jurisdictions with four of them being critical to a successful deal being completed. The team moved seamlessly with local counsel in identifying and negotiating all of the critical issues. They also were able to move from position to position and accommodate deal structure changes without losing the focus or economic benefits for the client as situations evolved and obstacles arose. I do not believe that a Magic Circle firm could have achieved any better result and their costs were a fraction of what would have been expected by such a competing larger firm.

I would definitely recommend them to anyone and use them again for complex, international transactions that required dedication, 24/7 work as needed, diligence, negotiating skill and the flexibility required to close. They also worked very well with City investor groups and addressed local UK issues smoothly and skillfully. Neither the client nor I could have been more impressed. I have worked with global counsel around the world for 30 years in deals covering more than 75 countries, and this team was among the very best.

Mark Henry was the partner on the international M&A matter with whom I worked, and Emma Bysouth the associate. Mark has that extremely rare combination of “down to earth” practical advice and highly sophisticated and complex analysis that is extremely hard to find in outside counsel. He is pragmatic, hard working, detailed, thoughtful, and strategic in everything that he does as well as highly sophisticated in addressing complex international matters. He is solution-driven, a great team leader, and was always available, 24/7 from whatever time zone required to move the deal forward and get it closed. He handled opposing counsel with dignity and grace while aggressively moving his client’s position forward. He never said no but rather “here are alternatives”, which inevitably he or his associate Emma Bysouth had already researched and outlined as positive work-arounds.

Together with his expertise in working [across] many different cultures, country legal systems, and time zones, Mark Henry’s skills in managing the transaction to a successful close were frankly outstanding. Emma Bysouth was no less impressive. She was a constant presence in ensuring that all of the detailed documentation was correctly assembled, analysed and in place. Her dedication to the client was second to none and her insights were outstanding. She worked literally around the clock periodically for many weeks to support and ensure that the deal closed successfully. She was uniformly cheerful, positive and detailed at all times. She is nothing short of extremely impressive as well.

Key clients

Silk Industries Limited

Jas Bowman & Sons Limited

Notcutts Limited

Muntons Plc

Thurlow Nunn Holdings Plc

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

Work highlights

  • Advised consulting engineers MLM Group Partnership on the sale of their substantial business, comprising numerous trading companies to a Swedish multi-national.
  • Acted for Acteon Group Limited, a large provider of sub-sea services to the oil and gas industries, on its acquisition of an international pipeline cutting and maintenance business.

Greenwoods GRM

Greenwoods GRM is a prominent regional firm with its headquarters in Peterborough, where the core of its corporate and commercial practice is based. It acts for businesses of all size from start-ups to listed companies, among which are local, regional, national and international enterprises. The team works in close co-operation with other key practices such as property, employment, pensions and regulatory, and with the firms' other offices in Cambridge and London. Practice head David Woods, key partner Alastair Gunn and associate Claire Banks are the names to note.

Practice head(s):

David Woods

Other key lawyers:

Alastair Gunn; Claire Banks

Testimonials

David Woods and Claire Banks both had significant roles to play in my acquisition and were able to communicate to me in a language I could understand and relate. Their effort and hard work was exceptional and they worked long hours, evenings and weekends to maintain the momentum of the deal to ensure we got through to the end. They are true professionals and nice people to boot. I wouldn’t consider any other company for legal matters in the future.

The Greenwoods team is friendly and helpful compared to other firms I have dealt with.

There is a good mix of experience and youth. My main contact David Woods has handled corporate matters for our business for many years.

Honesty and trust are the valued qualities we have experienced during our long-term business relationship.

Key clients

Encasement Limited

Fairline Yachts Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Encasement Limited in its acquisition of Pendock from Davidson Holdings Limited.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal focuses on core sectors such as technology, veterinary practices and care homes. It also has the region's leading franchising practice. It has a strong client base among the region's SMEs, which call on it for advice on commercial matters and corporate transactions. Geoff Hazlewood leads the Ipswich practice. He and Paul Whittingham, who handles corporate matters for clients in the veterinary sector, are 'standout partners with excellent reputations across the region'.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Hazlewood

Other key lawyers:

Paul Whittingham

Testimonials

The practice is very well led, particularly in company commercial and commercial property, based on City experience up to AIM flotations, but delivering pragmatic local advice.

Geoff Hazlewood, Ron Clare and Paul Whittingham are standout partners with excellent reputations across the region.

Key clients

The Payroll Service Company

Cosworth Group

Medical Management Systems

Thyngs

TaxAssist Group

Signs Express

Buckles Solicitors LLP

Buckles Solicitors LLP in Peterborough has a 'professional, knowledgable and very responsive team' that handles complex regional and cross-border corporate matters. The firm has an established reputation for assisting family-owned generational companies, working closely with the wealth management practice team on corporate restructurings. Through its affiliate offices in Paris and Milan, the firm also handles deals with international elements. Practice head Nigel Moore and associate Nadine Duncan are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Moore

Other key lawyers:

Nadine Duncan

Testimonials

A professional, knowledgeable and very responsive team.

I have had great support and advice in my dealings with Giles Betts, Nicola Cockerill and Katy Poole in a difficult business acquisition.

I always felt and appreciated the opportunity to discuss in detail the issues faced during the acquisition and the determination and the team’s professionalism was exceptional.

Key clients

Rob Facer – Barnack Estates Limited

Andrew Danzey/Russell Irving – vendors ARC Building Solutions Limited

Stobbs (IP) Limited

Johnsons Garden Centre Limited

Flag Communication Limited

Rob Newcombe – Hydromarque Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Barnack Estates Limited in the sale of the entire issued share capital of a major regional storage and logistics hub together with ancillary property-related transactions.
  • Advised the sellers of the entire issued share capital of Guttridge Limited in a complex secured transaction with substantial deferred consideration.
  • Acting for Hydromarque Limited in facilitating an exit route for retiring shareholders and reorganising share capital for remaining shareholders with corresponding debt adjustment.

Ellisons Solicitors

Ellisons Solicitors in Ipswich advises a large number of early stage investment clients on corporate matters in sectors such as online retail, as well as many owner-managed businesses from the local area in many industry sectors. The firm also has an impressive roster of large business clients for commercial law advice. The 'succinct and swiftJon Bloor is the lead partner in Ipswich, working in close collaboration with partners in Colchester and Chelmsford. Senior associate Petra Sharp joined from Gotelee Solicitors in 2019 and one clients describes her as 'one of the best solicitors we have ever worked with'.

Practice head(s):

Jon Bloor

Other key lawyers:

Petra Sharp

Testimonials

The team has a broad knowledge and skill set, whilst being quick, efficient and reasonably priced. As a growing startup, it’s really important we can get all our legal support in one place, from a trusted partner.

We love working with Petra Sharp and she is one of the best solicitors we have ever worked with. What makes her great is that she really understands our business and knows what is important for a business of our stage. She explains the facts and risks very clearly and the key points in a contract we need to win during a negotiation. She’s fast, efficient and reliable. Her input and advise has been fundamental to our business growth of the last few years and I hope to work with her for many more.

The firm is very responsive and Jon Bloor is succinct and swift in replying.

Ellisons is a very strong regional practice which has all relevant specialisms covered. The quality and reliability of the firm, its partners and staff is excellent.

I have worked with Petra Sharp, Seamus Clifford and Paul Forsyth in their corporate team on a number of occasions. I have found them to be extremely knowledgeable, practical and collaborative.

Key clients

Sudbury Silk Mills Ltd

Pitpatpet Limited

Suffolk GP Federation CIC

StrategiQ Group Limited

East of England Co-Operative Society Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising William Currie Group and Sir Terry Leahy as existing investors in relation to an investment by Robbie Williams into Liverpool Media Academy.

Gotelee Solicitors

Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich provides a comprehensive range of commercial services to businesses across Suffolk and further afield, including the corporate restructuring and trading aspects of companies, and corporate constitutional issues. It is a key adviser to the region's transport and logistics sector, particularly through its Felixstowe office. Partners Max Harnden and Victoria Spellman are the key partners in a practice that handled corporate transactions with a total value of £21m in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Max Harnden

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Spellman

Key clients

Portals to the Past

Mervyn Lambert Plant Limited

Above Surveying Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Mervyn Lambert Plant Limited on the £5m disposal of the entire issued share capital in relation to its subsidiary company.
  • Advising a local business owner in relation to the purchase of two well known Jourdain Bistro waterfront restaurants.
  • Initial drafting of franchise agreement and supporting documents to start up the franchise ‘Portals to the Past’ – workshops for students to study history.

Greene & Greene

Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds has a four-partner company commercial group that has 'a depth of experience, professionalism and a proactive approach', according to one client who praises it for providing 'the absolute best representation when dealing with complex matters'. Among the firm's clients are multinational companies, investors, SMEs and owner-managed businesses. Practice head Simon Ratcliffe and corporate finance specialists Mark Daly and Neil Walmsley are highly recommended, as is associate Mark Williams who has a particular focus on the technology sector.

Practice head(s):

Simon Ratcliffe

Other key lawyers:

Mark Daly; Neil Walmsley; Mark Williams

Testimonials

Greene & Greene offer a depth of experience, professionalism and a proactive approach to their work and this allows for the absolute best representation when dealing with complex matters such as commercial deals and ensuring at all times that the client’s needs are number one priority.

With a wide spread of issues arising from my specific matter they were able to deal with these within the depth of the team.

Mark Daly was superb. The matter became very complex but his practical but professional approach managed to ensure that my interests were protected at all times and he was able to steer the deal to the best possible outcome. He reacted quickly to the unexpected and ensured that the deal was completed on time and without unnecessary delay.

Key clients

Nexus Underwriting Management Limited

The Vitec Group plc

Treatt plc

Future Marine Services Limited / Safe STS Limited

The Dunamis Group

Smart Modular Buildings Limited

Jacob Bailey Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Nexus Underwriting Management Limited on the acquisition of the share capital of Capital Risk Limited, an insurance MGA based in the City of London.
  • Advised Cipher Surgical Ltd on an investment by a US-based family investment fund.
  • Advised the management team of EPI 3000 Limited on the MBO of Independent Project Engineering Limited.

Barker Gotelee

Barker Gotelee provides 'superb support, offered in a way which is easy to understand, cutting out jargon'. The firm, which joins the ranking this year, focuses on privately-owned companies operating in the East Anglian rural economy. Many of its clients operate in the agricultural, manufacturing and haulage sectors, though the firm is building more client relationships in the technology and creative industries. Clare Richards leads a practice that is 'highly competent, knowledgeable, professional and diligent'.

Practice head(s):

Clare Richards

Testimonials

I found the practice to be professional, polite and patient in all the matters I have brought before them and [they] have got the expertise to deal with all commercial matters that have arisen.

I have had some excellent advice from Clare Richards with regards to the contract for a potential long-term relationship with a new customer.  I have always valued the advice given.

They listened to our needs from day one and explained how their services could be tailored to meet these needs.

Superb support, offered in a way which is easy to understand, cutting out jargon and targeted appropriately for our business. They provide fast responses and are efficient to deal with in every day.

We have received a lot of advice from Clare Richards, Dermott Thomas and Nick Palmer. Their advice has always been superb and accurate. Everything has always been followed up on and further advice offered if needed. We feel completely confident and in safe hands knowing that we will be offered the best advice and support in all areas as and when needed.

My dealing with Barker Gotelee has been on behalf of a local charity needing to change its constitution to that of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). The procedure is complicated and demanding but Barker Gotelee was able to provide the knowledge, experience and understanding and effectively and in a timely manner produced the result required and at a cost which was entirely acceptable. Andrew Nicholson the managing partner showed keen interest and it was clear to me that the team functioned as one to give confidence and leadership.

Liz Gifford’s understanding of what is involved and her ability to explain and to anticipate the different stages was impressive. It was clear that this piece of work was important to her and her engagement in it brought confidence and reassurance.

We have been very impressed with the level of service we have received from Barker Gotelee. All the individuals we have dealt with have been highly competent, knowledgeable, professional and diligent.

They have always been prompt when responding to our enquiries and have managed our requests well and within agreed time frames. They have a wide range of experience and skills and we trust their expertise in all our legal matters.

Clare Richards and Liz Gifford fully understand the pains we have had with our legals in the past and have done everything to ensure that we do not continue to have such pains. They are prompt with replies, set out timescales for all projects presented to them and have given full explanations of all charges.

Clare Richards and Liz Gifford are very good at translating legal terminology into plain language that is easily understood.

The depth and breadth of knowledge across the team, and  the excellent communication within the Barker Gotelee team and with us the client are, in our experience, unrivalled.

As an agricultural based but diversified limited company access to a range of excellent specialists under one roof has been and continues to be invaluable.

We had the good fortune to work with Clare Richards in the resolution of a corporate matter. Clare led us through the labyrinth of company shareholder legislation, decoding the jargon when necessary, always being thorough and detailed and ensuring not only did we understand the process and our options but also the later consequences of our choices so progress could be made. It was a pleasure to work with Clare and latterly we were joined by her associate Liz Gifford. Although corporate law is by nature complex, intricate and not a little dry, both Clare and Liz brought a human touch with kindness and good humour whilst always remaining professional so we had absolute confidence in their advice.

Key clients

Eastern Waste Disposal Limited

Aramar Solutions Limited

Cento Engineering Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Handled a review of the entire contract suite of Aramar Solutions Ltd.

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors is primarily based in Norwich, but its North Walsham and Sheringham offices play important roles in the firm's growing presence in the Norfolk market. The practice led by senior associate Jade Tinney acts for many large companies in the county, as well as for high-net-worth individuals across East Anglia, in corporate transactions and investments. 'The team is well organised, supportive to clients and efficient,' remarks one client.

Practice head(s):

Jade Tinney

Testimonials

The team is well organised, supportive to clients and efficient.

Jade Tinney was very efficient and knowledgeable. She was also willing to accommodate my thoughts and understanding of the risks I was willing to take.

Work highlights

  • Represented a client in negotiations with prospective new purchasers of the company in which he is a shareholder.
  • Assisted a district council with entering into a loan agreement and associated security documents.
  • Assisted a client with buyback documentation with the companies in which he holds shares.

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough deals with corporate transactions including the sale and purchase of shares and business assets, as well as handling commercial agreements, joint ventures and corporate structuring. It has a loyal following among local SMEs, though it also acts for multimillion-pound commercial enterprises and ecclesiastical property funds. Practice head Anna Spriggs is supported by a solid team of solicitors with broad-ranging commercial expertise.

Practice head(s):

Anna Spriggs

Key clients

The Chapter of Peterborough Cathedral

The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance

Anglia Home Furnishings Ltd trading as AHF

The IS Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Handled company secretarial work for Anglia Home Furnishings Ltd, a major furniture store retailer with a growing number of superstores around the country.

Kerseys Solicitors LLP

Kerseys Solicitors LLP in Ipswich handles corporate and commercial matters in sectors such as property and food retail. The expansion of the firm's practice has seen it involved in transactions of increasing value, as well as broadening the scope of its commercial work. Partner Kimat Singh leads the practice and associate Adrian Chaffey , who joined from Cripps Pemberton Greenish in London, frequently advises on the sale and purchase of corporate entities with substantial property portfolios.

Practice head(s):

Kimat Singh;  Adrian Chaffey

Metcalfe, Copeman & Pettefar

Metcalfe, Copeman & Pettefar provides 'practical, commercial and tailored advice' and clients praise it for 'explaining the issues in a clear and concise manner'. The firm advises local businesses in diverse sectors including retail, agriculture, technical services, engineering and construction on transactions and commercial matters. Paul Garner in Wisbech is the lead partner. Associate Aimee Hedley in Thetford also handles corporate transactions and compliance matters.

Practice head(s):

Paul Garner

Other key lawyers:

Aimee Hedley

Testimonials

For us, the firm’s knowledge of our target area allows it to offer practical, commercial and tailored advice in relation to the issues we raise with them. Being a regional East Anglian firm the commercial department has a broad spectrum of knowledge and understanding in relation to our sector. They are well placed to deal with minor issues at hand right through to a completed multimillion-pound company sale for us.

The firm’s corporate and commercial department is always proactive in responding to us and dealing with the challenges we present them. They explain the issues at hand in a clear and concise manner that we are able to understand and act on.

The firm is commercially-focused and professional.

Jack Peart is very responsive and our clients highly recommend him.

Work highlights

  • Represented a company in the creation of an employee share trust.
  • Represented a supplier to the entertainment industry in a management buyout and group reorganisation.
  • Represented a long-established letting agency in the sale of its assets to a national competitor.

Nicholsons Solicitors LLP

Clients of Nicholsons Solicitors LLP in Lowestoft describe the firm as 'professional, knowledgeable and efficient in dealing with clients' affairs with good, in-depth technical knowledge coupled with commerciality'. The only commercially-focused law firm on the Norfolk/Suffolk coast, it advises a large number of local businesses on matters including acquisitions, disposals, shareholder agreements and share option schemes. Practice head Joseph Long works from both the Norwich and Lowestoft offices.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Long

Testimonials

The firm has good, in-depth technical knowledge, coupled with commerciality which ensures that the transaction is completed as efficiently as possible.

Joseph Long is an extremely proficient lawyer with a fantastic grasp of the law. He listens carefully to his clients to ensure that his advice is tailored to their individual requirements.

I have always found Nicholsons to be professional, knowledgeable and efficient in dealing with clients’ affairs.

Joseph Long has always been very honest and efficient in dealing with any issues raised.

I found the team very quick and well organised, very helpful and not too costly.

Joseph Long in particular is extremely efficient, pleasant and helpful.