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Who Represents Who

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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.

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