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Corporate and commercial: elsewhere in the East Midlands

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  1. Corporate and commercial: elsewhere in the East Midlands
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BHW Solicitors  stands out for its ‘exemplary service’, ‘professionalism at all times’ and its ‘extremely thorough approach’. The group primarily acts for small and medium-sized enterprises, and distinguishes itself from competitors through its specialisms in the aerospace, private equity, supply chain and secured lending sectors, acting for a client base with a geographical footprint that extends beyond the borders of the East Midlands. ‘Excellent’ practice head Ed Nurse often joins forces with ‘dedicated and enthusiastic’ corporate IT expert Matt Worsnop, who handles commercial matters. Senior associate Alex Clifton is also recommended. Recent highlights include advising MoneyThing on a new set of loan and security documents, and assisting with the redemption and refinancing of existing loans. Gardner Group, Nationwide Platforms and new client Oadby Plastics are also on the client roster.

Hewitsons’ ‘accurate’ and ‘trustworthy’ team is known for its strength in mid-market transactions and ‘delivers an excellent service across the board’. With its ‘wide range of knowledge and experience’, the team is able ‘to deal with any eventuality’ and enjoys a reputation as a ‘strong player in the Northamptonshire market’. The group’s broad sectorial scope and special expertise in the healthcare, motor industry, packaging industry, charities and agricultural sectors allow for a varied caseload that mainly consists of share and asset sales and acquisitions, complex business reorganisations (especially in the commercial property and agricultural sectors), refinancing transactions involving multiple lenders, and an increasing amount of employee share option work. Technology and intellectual property matters form the bulk of the commercial workload, with agency and distribution agreements, supply agreements and partnership agreements at the forefront. The team is led by the ‘first-class’ David Browne  and includes the ‘highly experienced’ Neil Harpham. Kevin Fletcher is the main commercial practitioner. Recent highlights include advising Medigold Health Consultancy on a £9.5m investment by BGF and the related acquisitions of Industrial Medical and Safety Services and Hampton Knight. Perrys Motor Sales, Fencor Packaging Group and Intamac Systems are also clients.

‘A top-class regional practice’, Howes Percival LLP impresses with its ‘fantastic service’. The team acts for owner-managed businesses and family-owned businesses on sales, mergers and reconstructions, and has growing expertise in acquisition finance, where it acts for banks and private equity firms, and property and development finance, where it acts for lenders. The department is also adept at assisting with a broad range of commercial issues, including commercial contracts, standard terms and conditions and franchising work. The ‘experienced’, ‘pragmatic’, ‘unflappable’ and ‘committed’  Gerald Couldrake heads the practice, which includes Daniel Banton and associate Matthew Thompson, who are the main contacts on the commercial side. In a recent cross-border highlight involving the jurisdictions of Ghana and Brazil, Couldrake and Thompson advised Blue Skies Holdings on the $18.2m purchase of a stake in the company from private equity fund 8 Miles. The team also assisted the Business Growth Fund with a £9.5m investment into Medigold Health Consultancy, and acted for Welcome Break Group on its strategically important acquisition of two Starbucks franchises from Starbucks. Other clients include Constant Equity Alpha, Acorne and Gravity Media Group.

Spearing Waite LLP is noted for ‘delivering excellent client-focused service’ and is singled out by clients as a ‘rare example of a professional and personal’ group. Having recently strengthened its corporate offering with the arrival of banking expert Haydon Simmonds from Addleshaw Goddard and the establishment of a specialist commercial team under the lead of Ian Thomson, the group now provides a dedicated corporate, banking and commercial offering. The team’s expertise in corporate transactions ranges from mergers and acquisitions to venture capital and private equity fundraising and investments, as well as complex reorganisations and corporate governance work. Clients include private and listed companies. In a recent headline-grabbing highlight, ‘excellent communicator’ Martin Smith and Jahid Ali, who jointly head the corporate team, led advice to the exiting private equity backers and founder shareholders on the secondary buyout of Ensek, an acquisition backed by Lloyds Development Capital and with debt funding provided by HSBC. In a venture capital highlight, Ali led a team assisting Longwall Venture Partners with the raising of a new £75m venture capital fund, with investors including British Business Bank and institutional and private investors. The client roster also features Beowulf Mining, Freudenberg & Co and Oxford Technology Management.

Freeths LLP’ ‘fantastic’ and ‘extremely professional team’ attracts clients with a well-rounded corporate and commercial offering. Mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, private equity transactions and corporate financing work form the mainstay on the corporate side which accounts for the vast majority of instructions, with commercial contracts making up the remaining share. Phil Baigent, who also leads the transactional healthcare practice, and the ‘very knowledgeable’, ‘articulate’ and ‘approachable’ Keith Gilbert, are the main advisers and regularly act in high-profile transactions such as the recent work for Carlsberg UK on its acquisition of London Fields Brewery or acting for the shareholders of MCR Enterprises Solutions on the sale of its entire share capital to Jonas Computing (UK). New clients VPK Packaging and Sprintquip joined Clydesdale Bank, Maria Mallaband Care Group and James Convenience Retail on the client list.

Gateley Plc’s Leicester team has a strong focus on mergers, acquisitions, buyouts and disposals. Senior partner Gareth John, whose specialisms include private equity-related work, recently included advised Certas Energy UK on its acquisition of Trucks Stop Holdings, which involved leverage the firm’s local real estate expertise. John and Birmingham-based practitioner Tom Durrant jointly led a team assisting a newco buyer on its acquisition of Bridge Farm Nurseries via a management buyout, supported by NorthEdge Capital. The client base includes private equity houses including Connection Capital and Palatine Private Equity, as well as major corporates such as Aurum Group, Phoenix Parker Holdings and new client B M Fashions (Holdings).

In addition to handling acquisitions, disposals, complex demergers and reorganisations, Shakespeare Martineau LLP has experienced an increase in joint venture work following the arrival of healthcare specialist Lisa Botterill from Nelsons Solicitors Limited. Practice head Roy Botterill is especially active in the manufacturing sector and regularly acts for US-based and French clients. Other key figures include Martin Noble , who heads the commercial department in Leicester and has particular strength in contentious intellectual property work, especially in acting against online infringements. In a recent reorganisation highlight, the group assisted British engineering player Shield Group with its multimillion-pound reorganisation, involving the split of two companies into twelve new and separate entities. Other clients include Darlington Building Society, Crick-Smith and Bostik.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited handles a broad spread of corporate transactions, ranging from acquisitions, disposals and mergers to management buyouts, refinancing matters, corporate reorganisations and shareholder agreements. Joint venture instructions, especially from developers of local private rental and student developments, represent an increasing share of Leicester-based corporate head Davinder Jaspal's caseload. Newly promoted partner Harpreet Sandhu heads the commerce and technology team and is particularly adept at intellectual property licensing, franchising, and IT and outsourcing issues. Lisa Botterill joined Shakespeare Martineau LLP.

Roythornes Solicitors provides a ‘consistently high-quality service’ to a varied client base that includes start-ups, family-owned businesses and public companies, with a focus on the food manufacturing, agricultural, construction and real estate sectors. It also acts for charities and industrial and provident societies. The team handles mergers and acquisitions, management buyouts, joint venture agreements and shareholder and partnership agreements. On the commercial side, the department excels in agency and distribution agreements, data protection matters and intellectual property and IT issues. The ‘methodical’, ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘well-respected’ Martin Jinks leads the team, which includes Julia Seary and associate Lizzie Walters, who ‘is an absolute credit to her firm’. Recent highlights include advising the UK subsidiary of TGW Logistics Group on a framework agreement with a major international retailer, and assisting ParentMail with its sale of a software company to Iris Software Group. Point74, Miebach Consulting and MSF Technologies are also clients. Peter Seary joined Geldards LLP.

‘Very strong for corporate and commercial work in Lincolnshire’, Sills & Betteridge LLP acts for clients across a range of sectors, from agriculture and energy, to healthcare, gaming machines, printing and retail. The group's main focus is on small-to-mid-market transactions; recent highlights include advising Tradeglaze on its acquisition of double glazing supplier Allenby Glass and assisting Richard Dewey and Anna Clarke with the management buyout of animal health specialist Battles. The team strengthened its commercial offering with the addition of associate Andrew Kerrigan from rradar, who adds regulatory and compliance expertise to the practice's existing strengths in commercial contracts, data protection and intellectual property. Senior partner and practice head Andrew Payne ‘is an excellent corporate lawyer’ who ‘provides a good sounding board’. Ed Capes, James Conduit, Euan McLaughlin and Martin Walsh are also recommended. Other clients include Micronclean, Hemswell Estates and Reflex Gaming.

Noted for its ‘excellent and appropriate advice’, Wilkin Chapman LLP's team handles mergers and acquistions, reorganisations, refinancing transactions, and commercial contracts matters, with an emphasis on the energy, retail, financial services, insurance and manufacturing sectors. Intellectual property agreements, primarily software licensing agreements and trade mark and design right matters are other areas of strength. Senior solicitor Adam Aisthorpe recently advised Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on a £9m ten-year supply contract with digital healthcare player Agfa Healthcare UK. Other key figures include practice head Russell Eke, Ian Sherburn and Michael Squirrell. Tollbar Multi-Academy Trust and the shareholders of Carsley Group are also clients.

The ‘very good’ team at Wilson Browne Solicitors has wide-ranging corporate and commercial experience covering acquisitons and disposals, mergers, reorganisations, management buyouts and commercial agreements, among other matters. ‘Very practical’ and ‘well-connected’ practice head Andrew Kerr ‘works hard for his clients’. Highlights included acting for the National Education Union on its merger with the Association of Teachers and Lectures, and assisting Global Processing Services with a number of commercial contracts with suppliers and customers, including a card payment services agreement with a challenger bank.


Corporate and commercial: Nottingham and Derby

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Nottingham and Derby
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate and commercial: Nottingham and Derby clients in East 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 david.burgess@legal500.com.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WHO REPRESENTS WHO SITE

Regional heavyweight Browne Jacobson LLP has considerable strength in  in both corporate and commercial matters. On the corporate side, the practice's expertise covers international acquisitions and disposals, acting for management teams and private equity houses in private equity transactions, and assisting small to large local businesses with high-profile transactions. It also has a strong track record in corporate reorganisations. The intellectual property and IT sectors are core areas of focus of the commercial practice, with the recent arrival of Selina Hinchliffe from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP bolstering the group’s transactional intellectual property offering. While the team’s experience spans a wide range of sectors, it has especially strong expertise in the public and healthcare sectors. Gavin Cummings, head of business services, and corporate partner Richard Cox jointly head the practice. In a recent highlight, Cox led the team acting for the sellers on the secondary buyout of Addo Food Group, backed by LDC and Fullbrook Thorpe Investments. In another highlight, involving cross-border issues between England and Spain, a team under the leadership of Nigel Blackwell advised the members of Catalyst Corporate Finance Group on the sale of their interests in the group to Alantra Partners. On the commercial side, Paula Dumbill and Birmingham-based practitioner Richard Nicholas assisted Triumph Motorcycles with its worldwide dealer template agreement, which involved co-ordinating local law expertise in seventeen different jurisdictions. Health expert Oliver Pritchard, finance specialist Mark Hughes and data protection expert Helena Wootton are also noted. Other clients include The National Trust, Albumedix and Eurocell.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has a strong track record in mid-market mergers, acquisitions and private equity-backed transactions, with instructions often involving a cross-border component. The team also handles capital market transactions and is especially adept at advising on transactions from the financial services, energy and natural resources, industrials, real estate and TMT sectors. Jon Cox-Brown led the advice for Capita on the £888m sale of its asset services division to Link Group, which involved multiple jurisdictions. In a recent private equity highlight, Cox-Brown worked with Ian Moore to lead advice for the founders and selling shareholders of Sygnature Discovery on the company’s management buyout, backed by Phoenix Equity Partners. Other highlights for the group included advising Experian on its acquisition of a 25% stake in London & Country Mortgages, with the right to acquire the remaining share capital at a later point in the future. Other key advisers include principal associate Matthew Hussey. Timico Technology Group and H2 Equity Partners are also on the client roster.

The healthcare and food and drink sectors are core areas of strength for Freeths LLP's corporate team, which expanded its offering with the addition of director Adam Edwards , formerly at Browne Jacobson LLP, who has notable expertise in the financial services sector. The department handles a wide range of instructions and leverages the firm's multi-disciplinary capability to provide pensions, planning, environmental law, and also competition and tax law advice where necessary. Recent highlights include advising the shareholders of Omar Group on a significant investment from private equity firm Rutland Partners, acting for Travis Perkins on its acquisition of TSF Holdings, and assisting Neptune International with its acquisition of three financial services companies in Gibraltar. Other clients include Tarmac, ALDI and Motorpoint Group. Practice head John Heaphy and Karl Jansen are the key contacts.

The ‘fantastic’ and ‘always available’ team at Geldards LLP advises domestic and international clients on private equity and M&A transactions, as well as commercial agreements including consumer credit and supply arrangements, service level agreements, agency and distribution agreements, leasing agreements and joint venture and collaboration agreements. The group has strength in depth across a broad range of sectors, from motor retail, healthcare and food and drink to rail, intellectual property and IT and sports and media.  Debra Martin heads the corporate practice while Michelle Craven-Faulkner heads the commercial side. Recent highlights include advising the shareholders of Radleigh Homes on the high-profile sale of the company to Redrow Homes, and advising the shareholders of Wearwell Group on a buyout backed by Rockpool Investments. ‘Excellent’ food and drink expert Peter Seary joined from Roythornes Solicitors while sports expert Jamie Goldberg joined from Onside Law Limited. Also recommended are the ‘pragmatic and commercial’ Paul Feenan and David Tilly, who is now a consultant. Other clients include Pendragon, British Business Bank and Stadler Rail Services UK.

Shoosmiths LLP attracts praise for its ‘cutting-edge advice’, ‘fantastic client-focused service’, 'good commercial sense with a view to getting deals done quickly’, and ‘pragmatic approach to complex multi-party negotiations’. The team's expertise encompasses mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, capital fundraising and reductions, as well as restructuring and compliance matters, and has a strong track record in cross-jurisdictional transactions for public and private companies, many of which are international businesses seeking to invest in the UK. Practice head (and ‘strong negotiator’) Crispin Bridges Webb recently advised Autologic Diagnostics and its shareholders on the sale of the company to Swedish company Opus. Other highlights included assisting Norwegian incident and crisis management software company One Voice with the acquisition of AI Controlpoint from Access Intelligence, and advising South-African listed Atlantic Leaf Properties with its acquisition of office property in Peterborough. ‘Responsive’ senior associate Gareth Cook is noted for his ‘excellent advice’. Tandem Group, Coloplast and Oakfield Capital Partners are also clients.

Noted for its ‘commercial approach’, ‘exceptional service’ and ‘fast response times’, Flint Bishop LLP has strong expertise in corporate and commercial work, with the team’s corporate experience spanning sales, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, shareholders agreements and corporate governance matters. Key areas of expertise on the commercial side include data protection and intellectual property matters. The corporate practice is headed by the ‘efficient’ Martyn Brierley and includes Rachel Bennett, who has especially deep knowledge in IT sector transactions. Commercial contracts head David Miller is ably assisted by IT and intellectual property expert Claire Tonks, who has notable education-sector expertise. A recent corporate highlight saw the group advise the selling shareholders of sport nutrition specialist High 5 on its sale to Associated British Foods. Bell & Co, Banner Plant and GL Events are also clients.

Gateley Plc's broad transactional expertise encompasses mergers and demergers, acquisitions, private equity transactions, and management buyouts. On the commercial front, the practice handles franchising, supply chain management, payment services and outsourcing on top of a steady diet of IT and intellectual property work. Practice head Mark Rutherford is the key corporate practitioner, with consultant Jill Tomasin handling contentious and non-contentious intellectual property work. Recent highlights include advising the management team of Retail Assist on a multimillion-pound buyout and investment in the company by Foresight Nottingham Fund and RBS, and assisting Johnsons Aggregates & Recycling with a second investment round into the company by the Business Growth Fund. Digraph Transport Supplies, Castle Environmental and Equip Outdoor Technologies are also clients.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited’s expertise spans a broad spectrum of corporate finance work, with mergers, acquisitions and disposals all key areas of activity. It also handles a range of management buyouts, joint ventures and corporate reorganisations. Corporate practice head Duncan Taylor acted alongside banking and finance partner Michael Lodge to advise Prime Life on funding from Barclays for the acquisition of the entire share capital of Greenacres Nursing Homes. Taylor led advice for Gill Marine Holdings on the refinancing necessary for the acquisition of its North American distributor. On the commercial front, the practice handles an array of IT-related work, a key specialism of recently promoted partner Harpreet Sandhu who leads the commerce and technology team. David Kaplan is also noted. Other clients include PKF Cooper Parry, I C Electrical and Gee Tee Signs.

The ‘excellent’ and ‘very experienced’ team at Shakespeare Martineau LLP regularly handles mid-market transactions, but also has a proven track record in assisting with high-value sales, acquisitions and reorganisations with values of up to £100m. Consequently, the group’s client base consists of a mix of entrepreneurs and family businesses as well as large domestic and international businesses whom the team also assists with commercial matters, especially in the life sciences, healthcare and pharmaceutical, and sports sectors. Finance providers and TMT players, mainly with a regional base, also make up a significant portion of the client roster. The Nottingham team consists of Duncan James, who heads the corporate practice,  and Ed Wright, who is in charge of the commercial team, as well as Roger Harcourt and legal director Richard Vernon, both corporate specialists. Highlights included acting for the Pensions Portal on an equity investment, involving a performance ratchet mechanism, and assisting the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust with various commercial matters, including  contractual arrangements with a third party for a programme roll-out in Northern Ireland. The client list also features Europcar and Santander.

Actons' team of ‘experienced’ advisers provides ‘clear and concise advice’. The department primarily focuses on owner-managed businesses and small-to-medium-sized enterprises, but also regularly undertakes work for banks and other funding providers. The ‘very knowledgeable’ Simon Dakin is practice head and Peter Flowerday who impresses with ‘an abundance of common sense and good commercial instinct’, recently acted for the management team of Adamson Jones Holdings on a management buyout of a patent and trade mark attorney. A recent commercial highlight was the negotiation of a highly complex service level agreement involving multiple service lines and hundreds of sites across the UK. EIDO Healthcare and Rudi Jansen are also clients.

Specialising in small and mid-sized transactions, Austin Moore & Partners LLP's ‘knowledgeable’ team is praised for its ‘empathetic’ service. The team recently established its commercial and intellectual property offering with the arrival of Louise Taylor from Fishers Solicitors. Founding and name partner Austin Moore is the main adviser in the practice, with key support coming from associate Laura Goody. Recent highlights include advising Kennelpak and its shareholders on its sale to Enact, and assisting the shareholders of Mapmechanics with the sale of the business to CACI and with the agreements pertaining to the rights in the client’s proprietary software. Agritec Systems, AppInst and Advanced Therapeutic Materials are also clients.

Providing ‘excellent support’, Fraser Brown combines ‘solid corporate advice with a commercial view’. The group handles a broad spectrum of corporate transactions and boasts a standout commercial practice that specialises in franchise work. Head of corporate law Gavin White and ‘very personable’ head of franchising and commercial services Fiona Boswell are the key practitioners. The practice acted for 200 Degrees Holdings on a £3m investment by Foresight, and advised Puddle Ducks Franchising on GDPR compliance issues related to its new national IT database for customers and its franchise network. Other clients include Frank Key Group, Heavenly Desserts and Heritage Healthcare.

Smith Partnership specialises in mergers and acquisitions, management buyouts and restructurings, including multinational deconstructions and demergers. It is also building a significant client base for commercial work, mainly in the sports and technology sectors. Fraser Cunningham leads the team from the Derby office, while Dennis Thomas is the main contact in Leicester, and is noted for his expertise in matters at the intersection between corporate and commercial property work. Mark Wilcock was promoted to associate partner.


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