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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > London > Corporate and commercial > M&A: smaller deals, up to Β£50m > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. M&A: smaller deals, up to Β£50m
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Boodle Hatfield LLP’s β€˜very strong’ practice is headed by Nigel Stone, who has experience in cross-border M&A. The team mostly handles private M&A, and is noted for its strength in acting for family offices, entrepreneurs, and hotels and leisure companies such as Marriott International, London Clubhouse and Berry Bros. & Rudd. Real estate is a sector strength; the practice’s clients include numerous real estate investors, including IGB, Fletcher King and Flemyn. Richard Beaven and Rahul Thakrar, who has experience in financing as well as M&A, are also recommended, as is associate Sophie Hawkins.

Commended for its β€˜excellent service’ and β€˜good value for money’, Bristows LLP’s department is strong in the TMT and life sciences sectors; it also has notable experience in the consumer goods space. Life sciences expert Mark Hawes, who heads the group, acted for Albireo on its NASDAQ listing and its $200m reverse merger with Biodel. The β€˜highly responsive, commercial’ Marek Petecki is a β€˜standout partner’ who β€˜finds and communicates practicable solutions to issues, and tailors his work carefully’; he is noted for his strength in M&A involving IP and technology. Petecki’s highlights included advising AstraZeneca on the Β£135m sale of its pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Avonmouth to Avara, and assisted Diageo with its acquisition of a stake in a joint venture established by Piers Adam to develop a new whisky brand. The β€˜very commercial’ Iain Redford is an β€˜excellent business strategist’; he advised WPP on its purchase of System Analytic and of Exchange Lab. Louise Eldridge acted for on its investment in Midoki, while Matt Dennis assisted Blackboard with its purchase of Fronteer. Other clients of the practice include UCL Business, Freeview, Capgemini and Time Out. β€˜Efficient, communicative’ associate Charles Willison is a β€˜very good operator’.

Brown Rudnick LLP’s practice is β€˜always available and approachable’, and provides β€˜very good service’ in M&A across a wide range of sectors. Department head Mark Dorff advised LJ GP Partnership on its purchase of Guggenheim Investment Advisors from Guggenheim Partners. Lena Hodge advised Iwan Simonis and Saluc on their purchase of WSG Textiles from Vespa Capital. Other clients include RELX (UK), Midatech Pharma, Microgen, Science Group and Victoria plc. The β€˜sensible, pragmatic’ Sophie McGrath, who has particular experience in the life sciences and technology sectors, is β€˜very easy to work with’; Tim Matthews is also recommended. Nicholas Vasquez made partner in February 2016.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s β€˜excellent’ department is led by Chris Putt and exhibits β€˜professionalism, clarity of purpose and a personal approach’. Commended for handling β€˜very complex situations including complicated companies and international deals’, the team is especially strong in TMT, healthcare, real estate and financial services. In the real estate space, Martin Wright advised Bellway Homes on the sale of its interest in Barking Riverside to L&Q New Homes, Michael Lingens acted for Country Court Care on its acquisition of a portfolio of seven assets, and Andrew Clarke assisted Ekistics Real Estate Partners I on its sale of the Mowbray Court Hotel to a Middle Eastern hospitality group. The β€˜exceptional’ Mark Howard acted for Michael Cooke, founder and chairman of Currency Exchange Corporation, on the company’s sale to FEXCO. Financial services and asset management M&A expert David Hicks assisted Crown Agents with its sale of Crown Agents Bank and Crown Agents Investment Management to Helios Investment Partners. The practice’s other clients include Age UK, Advanced Energy Industries, TCC Global, ITV and Everton Football Club.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s β€˜excellent’, β€˜very responsive’ team has β€˜good knowledge’ and handles a high volume of matters, completing Β£500m-worth of M&A in 2016. It handles public as well as private M&A: group head Nick Gibbon advised Tower Gate Group on its recommended Β£4.5m takeover by MJH Group Holdings. Financial services (especially in the insurance space), technology and corporate real estate are sector strengths: Matthew Darling advised the shareholders of Tax Computer Systems on its Β£73m sale to Eco City Vehicles, and acted for Castle Street Investments (now CoreTX Holdings) on its Β£39m purchase of Selection Services Investments. He also assisted Pinnacle Technology Group with its acquisitions of Weston Communications, Ancar-B Technologies and Adept4, and its sale of the Pinnacle CDT business to Chess ICT. In the insurance space, Jonathan Deverill advised Arthur J. Gallagher on its purchase of Orb Financial Services. On the cross-border side, Gibbon acted for a Dutch subsidiary of ABEO Group on its purchase of a controlling stake in Sportsafe UK. Other clients include Crest Nicholson, Linden Homes, Castleton Technology and Keller Group. β€˜Tenacious’ associate Jenny Goodrich is β€˜committed to completing deals’; senior associate Holly Buckley is also recommended. Energy and infrastructure expert Nick Fothergill arrived in March 2017 from Watson Farley & Williams LLP.

The β€˜very strong practice’ at Farrer & Co counts financial services, technology, media and sport as core sector strengths; it also performs strongly in education, healthcare and retail. Practice head Richard Lane advised the founders of iCheque Network on its sale to Pollen Street Capital, and on its merger with Cashflows Group, one of Pollen’s subsidiaries. He also acted for Alcuin Capital Partners on its investment in Dovetail Games, and assisted Sage Publications with its $4m purchase of a prominent journal from Hindawi Publishing. In the financial services space, Jonathan Haley advised the shareholders of Asset Value Investors on their sale of a stake in the company to a third-party investor, and Anthony Turner assisted Arbuthnot Latham & Co on its purchase of Renaissance Asset Finance. Ping Pong Group International, Serabi Gold and Bauer Digital Radio are longstanding clients. David Fletcher β€˜combines technical excellence with a realistic and commercial approach’, while Simon Ward, who is increasingly active in private equity, has β€˜a very good eye for detail’, and β€˜can be relied on in the most complex, difficult transactions’. Recently promoted partner Marie Bates and senior associate Tom Bruce are also recommended.

Fladgate LLP’s β€˜very good’ department provides β€˜first-rate service’. Practice head Grant Gordon advised the shareholders of Swansea City FC on their sale of a majority stake in the club to Swansea Football. Amy Collins is strong in corporate real estate: she acted for Aldgate Tower Investments on its Β£346m sale to a joint venture between China Life and Brookfield Property Partners, and assisted Sun Capital Assets with its joint venture with Scarborough Group International to purchase a 50% stake in the Sheffield Digital Campus development. Alex Kaufmann, who is fluent in French, German and Romanian as well as English, advised dbg on its sale to Merkle, and assisted Newson Gale with its sale to Hoerbiger. The β€˜very smart, efficient’ Graham Spitz advised Privet Capital on its purchase of Cash Processing Solutions, while hotels and leisure expert Julian Lewis, who is β€˜very knowledgeable, efficient and client-focused’, acted for HachΓ© on its acquisition by Hush. The β€˜strong, bright, very experienced’ Ian Brent β€˜fights his clients’ corner well’ and is β€˜very knowledgeable’, particularly in the recruitment sector; energy and mining expert Nigel Gordon is β€˜exceedingly diligent’. β€˜Very knowledgeable, client-focused’ associate David Baverstock shows β€˜good attention to detail’.

The team at Forsters LLP is particularly active in advising family offices, entrepreneurs, high-net-worth individuals and start-ups. Department head Craigie Pearson, who has extensive experience in the hotels and leisure, charity and art sectors, advised a client on its Β£60m purchase of two Luxembourg companies that held a Jersey property unit trust. Craig Thompson is noted for his experience in media and corporate real estate M&A, though he also acted for Greybull Capital on its purchase of the Longs Products steel business from Tata Steel UK. Christine Dubignon assisted The Related Companies with its acquisition of a 50% stake in Pocket Living. Other clients include Ardstone Capital, Savills Investment Management and British Airways Pension Trustees.

Fox Williams LLP’s β€˜responsive, client-oriented’ team is β€˜practical’ and β€˜good value for money’. It also β€˜works well with in-house teams’, and has a β€˜hugely helpful understanding of early-stage businesses’. β€˜Practical, responsive’ practice head Richie Clark has strong experience in the natural resources, financial services and technology sectors: he acted for Constellation Software on its takeover of Bond International, and assisted Volaris Software with its purchase of Results Group’s business and assets. He also advised MIP on its acquisition of Cromptons Healthcare. Andrew Woolf acted for Cymba Technologies on its sale to Factset Research Systems, Paul Osborne advised Start Ventures on its sale of a 75% stake in StartJG Hong Kong, and Peter Faber assisted Antithesis Consulting Group with its purchase of Sustain. Directa Plus and Stifel Financial are recent client wins; more longstanding clients include SuperGroup, IFG Group, Charles Taylor plc and Plexus Holdings. Nick Sayers’s departure for Payne Hicks Beach in June 2016 was offset by the arrival of Guy Morgan from Stephenson Harwood in March 2017; Morgan is strong in public takeovers and equity capital markets.

Technology and digital business are sector strengths for Kemp Little LLP’s β€˜very responsive, pragmatic’ team. It is especially strong in private M&A, is commended for its β€˜great service’, and β€˜punches above its weight’. Practice head and β€˜standout performer’ Charles Claisse is β€˜technically and commercially great’, and β€˜goes the extra mile for clients’; he acted for Arrow Mobile Communications on its acquisition by a company backed by Growth Capital Partners. Claisse and Andy Moseby advised Anthony Ganjou on the Β£25m sale of stakes in Curb Media, Visualise and to the Chime/CSM group. Moseby also acted for MSCI on the sale of its global corporate occupiers benchmarking business – a business providing performance analytics of commercial buildings – to JLL, and assisted Technicolor with its acquisition of numerous assets from Munky. Glafkos Tombolis, who is noted for his strength in TMT and healthcare, is β€˜very knowledgeable and very down to earth’. Senior associate Deborah Angel has β€˜an excellent eye for detail’ and is β€˜focused on the right ideas’; associate Patrick Roux β€˜makes large workloads and long hours seem easy, and is always there when clients need him’. Senior associate Adam Kuan is also recommended.

Marriott Harrison LLP’s β€˜very reliable, practical and supportive’ department provides β€˜very good service’. Department head Jon Sweet assisted Kaplan International Holdings with its purchase of MPW TopCo, and advised the shareholders of Pocket Living on their sale of a 50% stake in the company to The Related Companies. The β€˜very straightforward, sensible’ Jonathan Leigh-Hunt is singled out for β€˜guiding clients through the minefield of due diligence’; he assisted International Schools Partnership with its purchase of Marlborough Group, and advised Audiotonix on its Β£5m purchase of Group One. Ben Devons and Jonathan Pearce provide β€˜very valuable advice’; Devons acted for Easypack on its sale to Pregis, while Pearce advised New Pictures on its sale to All3Media. The β€˜diligent, thoughtful, extremely helpful’ Daniel Jacob assisted MARC with its purchase of Dailyrare; Bruce Jones advised Amaury Sport Organisation on its Β£8m purchase of Human Race Group. Recent client wins include WashStation, Devono Property, Ethico Healthcare, IB Hotels and Emerson Mills; Cello Group, Nasstar, Procam and Amplience are more longstanding clients.

Counting real estate, food and beverages, manufacturing, retail and leisure among its key sector strengths, McGuireWoods London LLP’s practice is headed by Mehboob Dossa and Patrick De Ridder. Dossa has been busy in the care homes space, assisting one care provider for seniors with establishing two joint ventures to acquire and develop care homes; De Ridder acted for the Dallas-based Highlander Partners, a recently won client, on its purchase of Fuerst Day Lawson Holdings. Hed Amitai acted for Arlington Investors on its Β£124m purchase of two student accommodation portfolios, and Jura Junnila assisted Tantalus Rare Earths with the sale of its subsidiary Tantalum Holding (Mauritius) to the Singapore-based Apphia Minerals. Other clients include Sloane Investments, Corporate Finance House, Capital Trust, Highgate Hotels and new client Segulah Advisor. Philip Newhouse, emerging markets expert Walter White Jr and counsel Robert Rakison are also recommended. Jeremy Davis joined from K&L Gates LLP in June 2017.

Key sector strengths for Penningtons Manches LLP’s department include real estate, technology, life sciences and retail; it is also noted for its experience in venture capital. The team handles public as well as private M&A: David Tighe, Melvin Pedro and practice head Matthew Martin advised Evotec on its Β£42m takeover of Cyprotex. Pedro and Martin also acted for MRH on its sale to Lone Star. Christopher Owen assisted Domestic Group with its Β£17m purchase of Oceanair Marine, and advised Vostok Emerging Finance on its €3m investment in TransferGo Holdings. All Saints Retail, Verisk Analytics, Newsquest Media Group, Sugarman Group and Sellar Property Group are representative clients of the department. Digital business expert James Klein is also recommended. Senior associate Gemma Davis, who is especially strong in corporate finance, is β€˜impressive and trustworthy’.

Commended for its β€˜short response times’, β€˜very broad international network’ and β€˜good support throughout deals’, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP’s department is led by Mark Crofskey; it is noted for its strength in due diligence, which complements its transactional offering. It handles public and private M&A as well as disposals, demergers and joint ventures, and counts real estate as a sector strength. Stuart Hatcher advised Alan and Susan Burke on their sale of Universal Meats (UK) to Brazilian food company BRF, and acted for CRP Hotels on its sale of Bow Street Hotel Ltd to the Doha-based Business Trading Company group. Crofskey assisted Eurazeo with the due diligence aspects of its acquisition of several UK nursery groups. Recent client wins include Cable & Wireless Communications, Weetabix and eBECS; Iron Mountain, Tullett Prebon, Selwood and HTG Ventures are more longstanding clients. β€˜Responsible’ associate Tim Sydor is β€˜great at guiding clients through transactions’, has β€˜comprehensive knowledge’ and provides β€˜timely, useful advice’. Peter Workman, Thomas Colmer, Oliver Williams, Cynthia Chan and due diligence expert Richard Wood are also recommended. Alistair Hogarth left to join DWF in December 2016.

The β€˜pragmatic, technically excellent’ team at Bates Wells Braithwaite handles β€˜a great variety of good-quality work’ and provides β€˜thorough, detailed, accurate and prompt advice’. Private M&A in the technology, financial services and non-profit sectors is the department’s core strength. β€˜Very commercial’ practice head Mark Tasker is β€˜calm under pressure’; he advised Eos Wealth Management on its sale to Close Brothers Asset Management, and acted for Schleuniger Holdings on its purchase of a 20% stake in Laser Wire Solutions. David Davies, who handles β€˜very complex matters’ and β€˜really knows his stuff’, assisted NCFE with its acquisition of For Skills, and advised P2i on a Β£13m equity issuance and sale. He also acted for Chatham Capital Management on its $2m investment in Scuf Gaming. Technology and natural resources expert Stephen Callender, who made partner in April 2016, is β€˜very competent, diligent and efficient, with a good eye for business realities’. In an example of the practice’s increasing presence in the infrastructure space, he advised FM Conway on its purchase of United Construction Materials, and acted for Perkbox on a Β£4.5m fundraising equity sale. Other recent client wins include Blenheim Natural Resources, Prospect Publishing, HW Fisher and Orbital Express Launch.

The β€˜very good’ team at Bircham Dyson Bell provides β€˜high-level partner involvement, quick turnaround of matters and a solution-oriented approach’, with a β€˜depth of team that has improved in recent years’. Nick McCarthy had a very busy year: he advised Jaguar Holdings on its Β£28m takeover offer for the AIM-listed Journey Group (a matter that ultimately fell through), and acted for Indoor Bowling Equity on its purchase of six bowling sites from Original Bowling Company. Department head Philip Lamb advised Claranet on its purchases of Bashton, Ardenta and a cybersecurity company, and acted for the shareholders of Seven Seconds on their sale of a majority stake in the company to Publicis Groupe. The practice is increasingly involved in the food sector; the team has been assisting investors with investing in emerging restaurants, and Nick McCarthy advised the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Famous Brands on its Β£120m purchase of Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Senior associate Andrew McGlashan is also recommended.

Technology, real estate, leisure and travel are core sector strengths for Blake Morgan LLP’s team, whose M&A capabilities are bolstered by the firm’s equity capital markets offering. Group head Martin Kay advised Osirium Technologies on its purchase of Osirium as well as on the former’s associated Β£9m fundraise. Forbidden Technologies is another of Kay’s clients. Robert Lyons assisted KLM and Air France with the sale of Cobalt Ground Solutions to Groupe Crit, while Lawrence Phillips advised T&N Global International on its sale of ExMed UK to Iqarus. Recent client wins for the practice include mGage Europe, Foster Devono, The Swatch Group and AlixPartners. Stojan Essex, an expert in advising entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals, is recommended, as is senior associate Michelle Davenport, who is noted for her experience in property and retail M&A.

Toby Stroh leads the team at Druces LLP, which counts real estate as a key sector strength and has particular experience in the care homes space. Stroh and David Bennett assisted Glenstone Property with its Β£49m purchase of London & Surrey Property Holdings, Amdale Securities and Deemark. Christopher Axford advised Pickstock Group on its Β£7m sale of St Martin’s Grange Care Home to Blackrock, and acted for Exclusive Care Group on its purchase of four care-home businesses throughout 2016. David Bennett and David Smith have strong knowledge of equity capital markets as well as M&A; Smith counts life sciences, natural resources and solar energy as particular sectors of expertise. Recent client wins include Summit Therapeutics, Oxstem, Presteigne Broadcast Hire and Legendary Investments. The team is also noted for its experience in shari’ah-compliant transactions.

TMT is the key sector strength of Harbottle & Lewis LLP’s β€˜responsive, problem-solving and very well-rounded’ team, which β€˜thinks outside the box’. The β€˜clever, commercial’ Colin Howes β€˜identifies the important points, never makes mountains out of molehills’, and is β€˜very well connected’; he acted for the founders of Blink Entertainment on the sale of a majority stake in the company to Tin Roof Media. He also advised Caravan Media on All3Media’s acquisition of a 25% stake in the company. Mark Phillips advised ChemD Holdings on its merger with Pharmacy2U, and on the subsequent Β£10m investment in the company by Business Growth Fund. Chemist Direct, Smart Pension and Bounce Ping Pong are recent clients of the practice; Atomico Investments, Forward Internet Group, Virgin Atlantic and Skype founder Niklas ZennstrΓΆm. Tim Parker, who has particular experience in the music, publishing and technology sectors, heads the group. Charles LΓ©vΓͺque, Rhys Llewellyn and Tony Littner are also recommended.

Howard Kennedy LLP’s β€˜efficient’, β€˜responsive, commercially focused’ and β€˜cost-effective’ department counts real estate, especially in retail, hotels and leisure, as its core strength in M&A; it also has strong experience in the media sector, and handles public as well as private M&A. Clients commend it for handling β€˜a wide range of high-value, highly complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions’. Ashley Reeback and the β€˜diligent, commercial, pragmatic and extremely responsive’ Anthony Hunt, who is β€˜a pleasure to deal with’, head the practice; Hunt advised Pandora Jewellery UK on its purchase of the business and assets of nine concept stores in North West England. Michael Harris, who is singled out for the β€˜speed and quality of his advice’, advised Impresario Festivals on its sale of the Rewind, Boardmasters, Field Day and South West Four festivals to Global. Gillian White, Jonathan Metliss, Paul Glassberg and Keith Lassman are also recommended.

The β€˜very good’ three-partner team at Ince & Co is particularly strong in the energy, insurance and shipping sectors; joint ventures is a speciality. Alongside practice head Stephen Jarvis, Mona Patel, who made partner in May 2016, advised new client China Merchant Holdings on its formation of a joint venture with the Netherlands-based Overdulve Offshore Services International Group to handle the engineering and construction of two semi-submersibles. She also acted for new client Advent International on the maritime aspects of its acquisition of V.Ships, and advised GasLog, also a new client, on its $400m joint venture with a Greek entity to operate several floating storage regasification units. Matthew Stratton acted for Global Reach Partners on its Β£35m acquisition by Inflexion, and assisted the Oslo-listed Subsea 7 with its $279m purchase of a 50% stake in Seaway Heavy Lifting. Danaos, Inviqa, Newpark Resources, Ocean Yield and PVM Oil Associates are also representative clients.

Particularly active in advising family-owned businesses, Kerman & Co LLP’s six-partner department also acts for AIM-listed companies and clients backed by private equity or venture capital. It has strong cross-border capabilities: Yvonne Costello advised the shareholders of Ronacrete (Far East) on their sale of the company to Sika. Una Deretic acted for UK Oil & Gas Investments on its Β£3.5m purchase of the Weald Basin licence PEDL234, doubling the company’s net acreage holdings in the Kimmeridge Limestone Oil province. Peter Kohl, who arrived from Hogan Lovells International LLP in October 2016, advised Baltisches Haus on its €213m sale of UAB Palink to ICA Gruppen. The β€˜extremely experienced’ Paul Gilks provides β€˜well-considered’ advice. In late 2016, Martin O’Donoghue and Simon Holden joined from in-house at Enodare and Iofina, respectively.

Technology, media, hospitality and leisure were M&A sectors of particular activity for Maclay Murray & Spens LLP in 2016. Practice head Guy Norfolk is supported by Wayne O’Neil, who is noted for his private equity experience. The team advised Aberdeen Asset Management on two acquisitions of fintech companies, and assisted McWane with its purchase of several UK assets. Other clients of the practice include Swegon, The Restaurant Group, Lloyds Banking Group, Pewdie Productions and Motorsport Network. Director Mark Stewart and associate Adam Lynch are also recommended.

Memery Crystal LLP’s β€˜very strong team’ is β€˜responsive and efficient’. Rumit Nanji and Nick AlfillΓ© acted for Bond International Software on its Β£11m sale of Strictly Education to Education Services Solutions, and the Β£26m sale of its recruitment software subsidiaries and a related property to Symphony Technology Group. Lesley Gregory and Kieran Stone are β€˜practical and reasonable’; Gregory advised Medaphor Group on its Β£3m purchase of Inventive Medical. Practice head Michael Dawes assisted The Resource Group International on two take-private transactions: Digital Globe Solutions, which it acquired for Β£18m, and IBEX Global for Β£44m. Greg Scott acted for Jeremy Peace on his sale of the entire share capital of West Bromwich Albion Holdings to a group of Chinese investors. Andrew Titmas’s clients include Walstead Group, Electric Word and STM Group.

Counting energy, natural resources and technology as key areas of expertise, Shepherd and Wedderburn’s β€˜practical, efficient and effective’ department is headed by Walter Blake, who advised PCI-PAL on its Β£7m sale of IPPlus (UK) and Callscripter to Direct Response Contact Centres Group. He also acted for The Surgical Company Holding on its Β£1m purchase of Sensium Healthcare. Andrew Blain, who is based across Edinburgh and London, advised Royal & Ancient Group on its merger with the Ladies’ Golf Union. Other clients of the team include Hill International (UK), Safestay, Sheffield United and Ellandi. Philip Knowles and the β€˜extremely attentive’ Carl Powlson are also recommended.

The six-partner practice at Sheridans is especially strong in media, leisure, entertainment and technology. Practice head Rex Nwakodo is noted for his experience in African markets and is dual qualified in the UK and Nigeria. Jolita Kajtazi, Mark Hodac and Andrew Tzialli are also recommended, as are music expert Charlotte Fox and Sara Wax, who has particular experience in hospitality, retail, media and leisure.

Wallace LLP’s practice, which largely handles private M&A, is especially strong in IT, financial services, hotels and pharmaceuticals. Managing partner Rex Newman advised Martin’s Properties on a large corporate reorganisation with numerous M&A aspects, while John Woodhouse acted for Acutest on its sale to Capita. Woodhouse also advised the founders of Harlex Consulting on their sale of a majority stake in the group’s holding company to SNP Schneider-Neureither & Partner, and acted for the shareholders of Suiko on the sale of their stake in the company to Turner & Townsend. Charlotte Wheeldon assisted the administrators of The Hospital Group on their sale of its business and assets to companies controlled by European asset manager Aurelius. Other representative clients include Arrow Electronics, Henry Schein, ENIC Group and new client Warwick Hotels & Resorts.

The β€˜outstanding’ team at Wedlake Bell LLP is β€˜very experienced’ and has β€˜great business acumen’. β€˜Commercial’ practice head Janice Wall β€˜explains things in simple terms, is very responsive and always provides valuable advice’; she advised Reed Exhibitions on its purchase of Imbibe Media, and acted for Residential Land on its establishment of two joint ventures with Ivanhoe Cambridge to invest Β£180m in prime London real estate. The β€˜very good’ Edward Craft assisted BAITONE with its €138m sale of a 90% stake in Best Gaming Technology to Playtech, advised William Pears Group on its Β£2m investment in JenningsBet’s holding company Betting Shops Services, and acted for Blue Touch Investments (Malta) on its placement of Β£28m-worth of shares in Secure Income REIT. Julian Mathews acted for Computer Systems Integration Group on its Β£10m purchase of APSU Capital. Richmond Golf Club and Hydrotec are recently won clients.

Commended for its β€˜excellent service’, β€˜good response times’ and β€˜value for money’, Wiggin LLP’s practice β€˜always meets deadlines’. Noted for its β€˜strong knowledge’ of the media and entertainment sectors, the team counts Sony, Love Productions, Endemol Shine and Manchester United FC among its clients. Michael Brader and Adrian Jones head the group; Brader, who is especially strong in TV and sport, advised Primal Media on an investment from Lionsgate, while Jones assisted the shareholders of Achica on their sale of the company to Worldstores. The β€˜friendly, helpful’ Ben Whitelock is β€˜pragmatic, commercial and highly competent’; he assisted Reed Exhibitions with its acquisition of Legend Exhibitions. David McLeish, who along with Whitelock is a gambling M&A expert, acted for William Hill on its Β£14m purchase of Grand Parade. He also advised Playtech on its €50m purchase of Quickspin. β€˜Strong negotiator’ and technology expert Ciaran Hickey is β€˜commercially excellent’.

Sovereign wealth funds, family offices and founder-controlled companies feature prominently on Withers LLP’s client roster. Luxury retail is a core sector focus: Soho House, Max Mara and Renault Sport are representative clients. The team acts for corporates in other sectors too: Ben Simpson, who heads the group jointly with Anthony Indaimo, advised DeAngelo Brothers UK on its purchase of Ainsty Timber Marketing from ATM Capital. Azlinda Ariffin-Boromand and energy expert Oleg Shvander joined in 2016 from Olswang and Clyde & Co LLP, respectively. Tim Taylor and family-owned-business expert Paul McGrath are also recommended.

Ashfords LLP frequently handles cross-border private M&A, and is very active in the technology space. Giles Hawkins joined from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP in March 2016; he advised VMS Investment Group (HK) on its Β£8m co-investment in PQ Solutions (trading as Post-Quantum). Additional technology clients include Gemalto and Sprue Aegis. Energy and natural resources, where Schlumberger, Pennon Group and Centrax are representative clients, is another area of expertise. Andrew Betteridge heads the group; Simon Rous and Stuart Fleet are also recommended. In August 2016, James Lyons left for Devonshires Solicitors LLP, while Jane Ireland joined Boodle Hatfield LLP in February 2017.

Best known for advising SMEs, and often acting for the sellers of owner-managed businesses, Collyer Bristow LLP’s department is β€˜sensible and responsive’. Practice head Paul Sillis advised Molinare TV and Film on its purchase of various assets owned by Video Engineering Training. Senior associate Ragavan Arunachalam assisted HM Holdings with its acquisition of He-Man Equipment. Other clients include Medical Services, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, Manolete Partners and Leyland SDM.

Duane Morris’s practice expanded in autumn 2016, with the arrival of Paul Finlan and Linda Crow from Faegre Baker Daniels; the β€˜open-minded, flexible, very pleasant’ Finlan is β€˜honest, goal-oriented and efficient’. Noted for its strength in the automotive, IT, financial services and metals and commodities sectors, the β€˜practical’ department counts General Motors UK and Jaguar Land Rover as clients. Group head Susan Laws advised OLS Holdings on its purchase of the Omnis software business from Tigerlogic, and Jeffrey Rodwell acted for a major immigration law and visa processing company on four acquisitions, totalling Β£60m. Ute Mueller is also recommended.

Edwin Coe LLP’s β€˜excellent’ practice is β€˜good value for money’ and β€˜gets the deals done correctly’. Department head Russel Shear, who is β€˜quick to identify, understand and remove roadblocks to deals’, advised Security Monitoring Centres on its purchase of Visual Verification. He also assisted Chubb Fire & Security with its acquisition of Alarmfast Supervision Security Systems. David Kinch acted for Mesquita on its sale to a Chinese buyer, and advised Cove Program Managers on its buyout of Aquila Underwriting’s 10% stake in the business. The β€˜practical, very commercial’ Victor Hawrych β€˜drafts concisely, gets to the heart of the issues, and doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae’. Alexandre Terrasse, who is dual qualified in England and France, is also recommended.

Active across a range of sectors, with a particularly strong track record in aviation, manufacturing, technology and care homes, the team at Freeths LLP saw β€˜thorough, quick, experienced, user-friendly’ insurance expert Peter Hill join from RPC, and senior associate Francis Dalton arrive from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. Hill advised LONMAR Global Risks on its sale to Global Risk Partners. The β€˜knowledgeable, flexible’ Andrew Bretherton acted for Polestar Applied Solutions on its purchase of the Applied Solutions print and packaging business from PricewaterhouseCoopers, and assisted Polestar Print Holdings with its sale of Polestar Applied Solutions to Adare Communications. β€˜Calm, assertive, knowledgeable’ group head Tom Rowley advised shareholders of Cuts Ice on their Β£35m sale of a minority stake in the company to Lloyds Development Capital.

The seven-partner team at Goodman Derrick LLP is led by Tanya Shillingford, who along with Jessica Nugent advised the shareholders of Four Eyes Insight on an investment in the company by Livingbridge. Nugent also acted for CSM Sport & Entertainment on its purchase of Curb Media, and advised Havas Media Group on its acquisition of Target Media Group. Edward Hoare acted for Neon X and managing director Chris Ratcliff on their buyout of Portland Television from Northern & Shell. Paul Webb assisted OMG with the spin-off of its incipient AI image-recognition technology business into a new company named Pimloc. Joanna Higton and Simon McLeod are also recommended.

SMEs, family-owned businesses, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals feature prominently on Gordon Dadds LLP’ client roster, though the team also acts for large corporates. Rebecca Ferguson advised Warner Music Group on the high-value sale of various recorded music assets – largely comprising artists’ contracts and back catalogues – to the independent music community. She also acted for the shareholders of Brook Street Holdings on the sale of their interests in the company to Culver Holdings. Stephen Fuller assisted a high-net-worth individual with the sale of Professional Life Assurance to Prudential. Alon Domb, who has particular experience in corporate real estate, heads the group. Jan Hoppe, who is dual qualified in England and Germany, is also recommended.

The β€˜supportive, responsive and commercial’ team at Hamlins LLP delivers β€˜quick, accurate draftsmanship’. Commended for being β€˜knowledgeable, friendly and excellent value for money’, the department counts real estate, leisure, technology and media as key sector strengths. β€˜Analytical’, β€˜generous and very approachable’ practice head Daniel Bellau is β€˜extremely service-oriented, very commercial and excellent at identifying the key areas of negotiation and risk’; he advised Palace Capital on its purchase of Broad Street Plaza, and assisted R2G with its sale to Altus Group (UK). He also acted for PCO 199 on its Β£7m acquisition of Scopus Properties, and advised new client PDT on its purchase of Tech-Note International.

Irwin Mitchell’s β€˜excellent’ department is led by the β€˜pragmatic, responsive and service-oriented’ Bryan Bletso; it is active in private M&A across a wide range of sectors. Simon Griffiths, who has strong experience in equity capital markets and public and private M&A, is the other key partner. β€˜Responsive, accessible, client-focused’ senior associate James Paton-Philip is β€˜friendly, upfront and honest’; he acted for Next Fifteen Communications Group on its Β£1m purchase of a minority stake in artificial intelligence software company Phrasee. He is also strong in equity capital markets. Other clients of the practice include Bought By Many, finnCap, dormakaba International Holding, Petroleum Pipe Group and EDM London. Jon Snade left to join Browne Jacobson LLP in March 2017.

Joelson’s β€˜absolutely superb’ practice is especially active in the leisure and food and beverages sectors, though it also handles matters in other areas: the β€˜approachable, forthcoming and reliable’ Sheldon Cordell, who is β€˜invariably correct’, advised Ferrum Crescent on its purchase of Goldquest Iberica. He also acted for Clarion Events on its Β£19m purchase of a subsidiary of an AIM-listed company. Paul Chiappe and Philippa Sturt assisted Catapult Enterprises (Propercorn) with an investment in the company by Piper Private Equity and JamJar Investments; Chiappe heads the department jointly with Phil Hails-Smith. Other clients of the team include Itsu, Addison lee, Lyric Hotels and new client Playtech.

Keystone Law’s β€˜personable, effective and widely, deeply knowledgeable’ department comprises a revolving roster of highly experienced partners. It is best known for acting for SMEs and entrepreneurs, and is active in a range of sectors, including TMT, healthcare and real estate. β€˜Exceptional negotiator’ Nadim Zaman advised Network Locum on its purchase of rLocums, Jaan Larner assisted Priory Solutions with its $8m sale to Roberts Group, and Andrew Stilton acted for GRS (Bagging) on its acquisition of various businesses. Other clients in 2016 included FW Thorpe, Peter Savage, HealthHarmonie and Muller Holdings.

The creative industries, especially TV, film and music, are the core sector strength of Lee & Thompson LLP’s β€˜very responsive, knowledgeable’ private M&A-focused department. β€˜Experienced’ group head Malcolm Murray, who provides β€˜robust, considered advice’ and is β€˜a pleasure to deal with’, advised BMG Rights Management on its purchase of RAM Records and of Pete Waterman’s publishing and recording catalogue. Oliver Shipton assisted Sony Music with its acquisition of Essential Music & Marketing. On the film and TV side, Murray advised Lionsgate UK on its purchase of a 51% stake in Primal Media, and of a 25% stake in Potboiler Television. Other clients include SunnyMarch TV, Premiership Rugby, Legend Exhibitions and Iconic Images.

Locke Lord LLP’s team is β€˜flexible, responsive and experienced’. Commended for its β€˜high level of service and client commitment’, the practice is especially experienced in energy, financial services and retail. Group head James Channo, who has an β€˜amazing work ethic and excellent technical skills’, is an expert in African and Latin American transactions. He is supported by energy expert Kevin Atkins, who joined from Chadbourne & Parke (London) LLP in September 2016; Sean Page, who joined in January 2017 from Pinsent Masons LLP; and senior associate Sharon O’Donnell. Clients include Liberty Leasing, National Oilwell Varco, SolGold, Dover and Butterfield.

The β€˜friendly, accessible’ practice at Michelmores LLP is β€˜very commercial, hands-on and good value for money’, and has β€˜good knowledge of emerging markets’. The β€˜first-class’ Ian Binnie arrived in May 2016 from Hamlins LLP; he advised VSA Capital as financial advisor to Trillion Trophy Asia on the latter’s takeover offer for Birmingham City. Department head Roger Fink assisted three technology investors with their acquisition of A Frame and their establishment and financing of Excession Technologies. Alongside the Exeter-based Alexandra Watson, he also advised Baigrie Davies on its sale to 1825, Standard Life’s financial planning arm. Joe Whitfield, an emerging markets expert with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa, is also recommended.

Jonathan Gatward heads the team at Payne Hicks Beach, which saw Nick Sayers and senior associate Howard Taylor arrive from Fox Williams LLP in June 2016. Largely handling private M&A, often for family-owned companies, the practice is active across a wide range of sectors: Gatward, who is very active in the publishing and media space, advised Kings Road Publishing on its acquisition of John Blake Publishing, and assisted Legrand Electric with its purchase of Jontek. Max Baird-Smith acted for SIA Partners UK on its acquisition of Molten Holdings Group. Other clients include The Picture Library, Bonnier Publishing and Pineapple Holdings. Richard Cowan retired in May 2016.

Jon Lovitt is the key partner at Rosenblatt; he assisted Fabindia International with its sale of a majority stake in East Lifestyle to CC East Holding. He also acted for Compass Broker Holdings on its purchase of the Compass London Markets and Compass Broker Networks businesses from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co, and advised Northern & Shell Group on its sale of Portland TV to Chris Ratcliff, Portland TV’s manager. Gerard Dempsey and Martin Montgomery made partner in May 2016; Elizabeth Shaw is also recommended. Tom Ferns and Nick Foss-Pedersen departed for Haynes and Boone CDG, LLP in June 2017.

Banking and technology are core sector strengths for Royds Withy King’s β€˜effective, cohesively multi-departmental’ and β€˜very reliable’ practice, which is also very active in retail and manufacturing M&A. The β€˜reasonable, pragmatic’ John North heads the team, with strong support from Tony Roberts and commercial contracts expert Claus Andersen.

Russell-Cooke LLP’s β€˜pragmatic, commercial’ and β€˜attentive’ department counts real estate, travel and leisure, professional services, technology and media as areas of particular expertise; it is β€˜good value for money’, and is commended for its β€˜experience and expertise’. Practice head Jonathan Thornton, who β€˜always has an excellent grasp of the situation’ and has β€˜a sharp sense of humour’, β€˜thinks on his feet and articulates clear arguments’. He advised G Adventures (UK) on its purchase of Travelsphere and Just You from All Leisure Group, and acted for Tideway Restaurants on its sale to Stein’s Trading. Scott Leonard, David Webster and technology and media expert Guy Wilmot are also recommended.

Private M&A in the media, technology and publishing sectors is the core strength of Simons Muirhead & Burton’s department, which provides β€˜excellent support’ and leaves clients β€˜exceptionally happy’. The β€˜very quick’ Neal Hodges is commended for his β€˜full comprehension of the digital media landscape’; he acted for the co-founders of OnScroll on their sale of the company to Sovrn Holdings, and advised the owner-managers of Mercury Bearings on their sale of the company to Hayley Group. Peter Weiss and Simon Goldberg lead the department; Weiss advised the founders of Up Group on Livingbridge’s investment in the company, and Goldberg acted for Time Out Group on its Β£2m acquisition of YPlan. Goldberg and Natalie Wright advised Clarion Events on its purchase of January Furniture Show. Other clients include Dennis Publishing, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, Stagwell Group and The Pool (UK).

Active in a variety of sectors, with particular experience in technology and financial services, Stevens & Bolton LLP’s eight-partner practice is based in Guildford. Department head James Waddell advised Semantico on its sale to Highwire Press, and Richard Baxter acted for ITC Global Security on its sale to C5 Capital. On the buy side, Baxter advised Vestey Holdings on its acquisition of Cottage Delight, and Keith Syson assisted Volution Group with its purchase of NVA Services. Jenny Robertson acted for Rayner Surgical Group on a substantial investment by Phoenix Equity Partners. Nick Atkins made partner in May 2017. Joe Bedford and Ken Woffenden are also recommended.

The β€˜responsive, commercial’ and β€˜holistic’ team at Teacher Stern LLP provides β€˜quick advice with a great degree of knowledge’. TMT specialist Martine Nathan is β€˜always available and on top of things’; she heads the team jointly with sports expert David Salisbury. Dov Katz assisted the management of one recruitment company with its buyout by an undisclosed acquirer, and real estate expert Russell Raphael advised Viewcapital on its Β£4m purchase of the corporate vehicle owning a prime development site. Kelly Whitfield and Claire Rollo are also recommended.

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