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'A market leader' according to clients, Addleshaw Goddard delivers 'outstanding service' across public M&A, equity capital markets and private equity, as well as corporate real estate deals. Private equity specialist Andrew Green  led advice for Inflexion Private Equity Partners  on its £800m investment in Radius Payments Solutions and Sheelley McGivern  led WBHO on the acquisition of a significant minority stake in Byrne Group. Roger Hart represented Zeus Capital on the £130m accelerated bookbuild and private placement fundraising conducted by Boohoo.com and is leading advice for Sumo Group in relation to its proposed IPO on AIM.  Duncan Wilson advised the shareholders of Piriform Group on the sale of the company to Avast Software. Peel Group, Clinigen, Dixons Carphone and The Hut are also clients.  The 'brilliant' Richard Lee,  private equity team head Paul Medlicott  and legal director Jamie Partridge  are also recommended, as are managing associates Jemma Clarke  and George Danczak , and department head Michael Birchall, who specialises in M&A and corporate finance mandates. Adam Kaucher  recently joined Irwin Mitchell.

The six-partner team at DLA Piper UK LLP provides ‘speedy responses’, is commended for its ‘collaborative working style’ and benefits from its ‘good international network of offices’. The corporate team acts for local, national and international clients on high-value transactions often with a cross-border element. Corporate team head James Kerrigan and commercial team head Lee Brierley, who is ‘first class’, advised Gino D'Acampo Worldwide Restaurants on a joint venture agreement with fashion retailer Next regarding the development, operation, marketing and promotion of Italian restaurants. Conviviality, BASF, Hoist Finance, Lloyds Development Capital and The Hut Group are also clients. Among the corporate team Jonathan Watkins is ‘very commercial in his approach’, Elia Montorio is praised for her ‘responsiveness’ and Yunus Maka is ‘exceptional’. In the commercial team Stephen Wright and senior associate David Booth are also noted.

The ‘responsive’ and ‘hardworking’ 11-partner team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP regularly handles complex transactions, often with a cross-border element, across the healthcare, aerospace, defence, retail, real estate and chemicals sectors. Company and commercial team head Simon Masters  advised WestRock Company on its $2.28bn acquisition of Multi Packaging Solutions International, and on the $1bn disposal of its home, health and beauty division. Daniel Hall acted for Zeus Capital on the £190m IPO of Strix Group and Alistair Cree  advised Carlyle Group on the disposal of a Luxembourg-based company holding the freehold of the Soapworks development in Salford Quays, Manchester.  Partner Nicola Brookes  and senior associate Elizabeth Tindall, who ‘takes a commercial approach to issues’, are also noted. The ‘brilliant’ Tom Bridgford  leads the commercial team and advised CSC Computer Sciences on a five-year outsourcing deal with the London insurance market. Nick Stubbs, who splits his time between Leeds and Manchester, and senior associate Richard Hill are also recommended for commercial matters.  

The ‘first-rate’ team at Pinsent Masons LLP regularly handles private equity mandates for a range of private equity houses and is adept at handling strategic M&A deals. Corporate head and private equity specialist Gregg Davison advised Co-operative Group on its strategic acquisition of Nisa Retail for £143m and advised Livingbridge on the £40m secondary management buyout of Giacom Holdings. Manchester office head Helen Ridge  and Kieran Toal (who is ‘excellent on private equity matters’) are also key members of the ‘experienced’ team, which includes recently promoted partner  Amie Norris, who is experienced in private equity transactions, and senior associate Alasdair Weir, who is noted for corporate finance mandates. LDC, Sovereign Capital Partners and Linnaeus Group are also clients. National head of commercial Samantha Livesey  is active across IP, IT, digital and commercial contract matters and acts for clients such as WaterSmart.

DWF's eight-partner team is noted for its expertise in M&A, capital markets and private equity transactions, as well complex commercial mandates. National corporate head Frank Shephard  (‘very pragmatic, and able to find solutions to get the deal done’) acted alongside Alasdair Outhwaite  for Arlington Industries on its acquisition of Magal Engineering. Manchester corporate head Jonathan Robinson  advised NorthEdge Capital on its £100m exit and reinvestment in Utiligroup; and acted alongside Outhwaite for Palatine Private Equity on its investment in ZyroFisher. Recently promoted partner Lisa Stavropoulos  is a key member of the team, specialising in M&A and capital markets mandates. On the commercial side, national head of commercial, Craig Chaplin, acts for clients such as Serco and Morrisons, and James Lonsdale  advises Countrywide on a range of commercial matters.

Gateley Plc's ‘pragmatic and commercially aware’ team is praised for its ‘attention to detail’. It regularly advises private equity investors, large corporates and listed plcs, as well as high-net-worth individuals and investors, on corporate transactions. National head of corporate Charles Glaskie advised Timpson Group on its acquisition of the retail dry cleaning arm of Johnson Services Group for £8.25m. The ‘brilliant’ Mark Halliwell, who specialises in corporate finance, advised Competition Line (UK) on the £20.5m sale of 18 gyms to The Gym Group. Paul Jefferson, who heads the private equity group, advised Inspired Energy on its £44m acquisition of Horizon Energy Group, an energy procurement and consultancy business based in Cork, Ireland; and advised City Football Group (CFG), on its strategic joint venture with Goals Soccer Centres, an AIM-listed operator of outdoor soccer centres. Mark Halliwell is ‘very experienced and capable’ and advised the shareholders of Chase Templeton, a private medical insurance broker backed by Palatine Private Equity, on its sale to Nevada Investments. Other key figures include Nigel Brown, who is ‘very experienced’ and advises on inward and outward investment to and from China; Khurshid Valli; Chris Dunn; and recently promoted partner Stephen Roberts. Legal directors Chris Williams  and Kate Richards  are also noted for corporate matters. Jonathan Moakes  heads the commerce, technology and media practice, which includes Peter Budd and John Burns.

Hill Dickinson LLP ’s corporate team specialises in equity capital markets and M&A transactions, as well as private equity mandates. Ian Gillis, who heads the corporate team and is noted for equity capital markets and private company transactions, advised Ultimate Products on its £105m IPO on the main market of the LSE alongside Jonathan Gillow . Ian Riggs  advised the shareholders of Active Supply Holdings on its sale to IESA. The ‘highly recommended’ David Mkhitarian advised North Edge Capital on its £20m investment in Cubic Motion and advised Waterland Capital Private Equity on its £20m first direct UK investment in Gas Tag. Mark Fitzgibbon heads the commercial and IP team, which recently welcomed Tracey Sheehan  from Dentons as head of telecoms. Cenkos Securities, Foresight Group, Stobart Group and Kuehne + Nagel are also clients.

The ‘efficient’ team at Squire Patton Boggs is active across M&A, private equity and capital markets mandates, often advising on  cross-border transactions. The team is recognised for its expertise in the technology, manufacturing and chemicals sectors. Manchester corporate head Giles Chesher  advised GB Group plc on its acquisition of Postcode Anywhere (Holdings) and its placing of 17m new ordinary shares on AIM and advised Warrington Borough Council on its £210m acquisition of Aviemore Birchwood Park Unit Trust. Andrea Cropley, who recently joined from Irwin Mitchell, advised the shareholders of Rocksure Systems on its sale to the Send for Help Group; and James Fitzgibbon, who recently joined the team from PwC Legal LLP , advised BGF on its investment in European Braking Systems. Darren Warburton, who is noted for his chemicals sector expertise and European managing partner Jane Haxby are also key members of the team. Braemar Group, Midwest Prototyping, University Games Corporation and On The Beach are also clients.

Brabners LLP  acts for entrepreneurs, private companies, SMEs, OMBs, family businesses, small private equity houses and AIM listed companies on mid-market corporate transactions and is particularly active across the sports, technology, healthcare, automotive and housing sectors. Caroline Litchfield  advised the shareholders of Pentagon Motor Holdings on the £28m sale of its motor dealership business and Sam Mabon , who specialises in the sport and digital media sectors, advised a shareholder of Httpool Holdings on the sale of a majority stake in Httpool Holdings UK to IMS Internet Media Services. Mabon also worked alongside Richard Hepworth  in advising NF Football Investments on its acquisition of Nottingham Forest Football Club. In another highlight Tony Harper  advised the shareholders of Talk Internet on the disposal of Talk Internet to Wavenet. Simon Lewis  is also recommended. Former managing partner Mark Brandwood heads the team after the departure of -David Bowcock  to Fieldfisher. -Andrew Millar  joined Shoosmiths LLP  in 2017. Jon Close joined the team from the Manchester office of Knights Professional Services Limited.

The ‘brilliant’ team at CMS is noted for its ‘strong expertise’ in corporate real estate transactions, with a particular strength in the hospitality sector, and it is regularly instructed in cross-border transactions. Key highlights included advising RDI REIT on the €49m acquisition of a German shopping portfolio held through a corporate structure; advising Far East Consortium International on the creation and establishment of a joint venture vehicle between Hong Kong listed Far East Consortium and The Council of The City of Manchester; and advising Lyndene Hotel on its disposal, by way of a business and assets deal, of a 140 bed hotel. Select Property Group and Kish Property are also key clients. Manchester corporate head Howard Gill is ‘excellent’ on corporate real estate mandates.

JMW Solicitors LLP's ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘down-to-earth’ team has a ‘great reputation’ for local, national and international transactions. Department head Mike Blood  led advice for Boels-Gosink on the its expansion into the UK market with its £14m acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Supply UK. Blood is also leading advice for PSL (PTY) Ltd, the South African Premier League, on its £1bn tender process for the media rights for all PSL competitions for five seasons. Elsewhere, Damien Brown, who joined the team in 2017 from Shoosmiths LLP, advised Eurofins Scientific on the £6m acquisition of the entire issued share capital of York EMC Services from the University of York, and on the same client's £31m acquisition of the forensics and security division of LGC Limited. The ‘fantastic’ Mark Heppell  advised Universal Tanker Services Group on its £7m acquisition of Waters Waste Services and Richard Parkinson  advised Hurlingham Polo Association on its sponsorship and partnering agreement with Flannels. Vicky Protano joined Mills & Reeve LLP in 2018.

The ‘professional’ and ‘pragmatic’ team at Kuit Steinart Levy LLP  is adept at advising on large and complex transactions across the professional services, healthcare, food, beverage and technology sectors, while the commercial team regularly advises clients across the pharmaceutical, hotel, leisure and sports industries. ‘Incisive’ corporate and commercial team head Robert Buckley advises Salford City FC on a number of sponsorship and commercial deals; and is also advising the Class of ’92 on a new University Academy 92 project. The ‘practical’ Kirsti Pinnell advised SysGroup on the corporate aspects of its £3.9m acquisition of Telford-based Rockford IT; and also advised Ironveld, an AIM-traded mining company, on two separate placings of shares in 2017. Peter Allen advised Manor Service Stations on the sale of the entire issued share capital of Manor Services Stations to Motor Fuel; and also advised Fruitapeel on its sale to Belgium-based Puratos. Also noted are executive partner Robert Levy, who ‘delivers workable solutions’, associate Helen Mather , and James Wall , who handles commercial and non-contentious IP matters. Jan Winstanley  was recently promoted to partner, while Martin Lewis left the firm for an in-house role.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s clients value its ability to ‘balance hard legal facts, with commercial insight and reality’ and the corporate and commercial team is active across the media, entertainment, real estate, health, retail, technology, food and beverage sectors. Demonstrating its expertise in advising on transactions in the music festival sector; the team advised Broadwick Holdings on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Ground Control Productions; and advised Global Festivals on several acquisitions; including membership rights in Hideout Festival and on the related acquisition of 75% of the issued share capital of Moving Music. Marick Capital instructed the team on the £32m sale of a hotel development in London’s Royal Docks in another key highlight. Chris Ross, who is ‘calm under pressure’ and Chris Wilkinson, who is experienced in the pharmaceuticals sector, jointly lead the corporate team, which was recently bolstered by the arrival of principal associate Vicky Protano from JMW Solicitors LLP. Principal associate Paul Knight leads the commercial, IP and IT team and ‘brings significant intellect, legal expertise and a commonsense approach’.

The ‘responsive and commercial’ team at Pannone Corporate LLP regularly advises on M&A transactions and has a growing private equity practice. Tom Hall and Tim Hamilton advised the management shareholders of Bollington Insurance Brokers on its sale to a newco backed by Inflexion Private Equity, which also saw the exit of Groupama, via a separate sale and purchase arrangement. Hamilton also acted for Livingbridge on its acquisition of, and investment into, software company Mobysoft. The ‘commercial and pragmatic’ Mark Winthorpe advised the shareholders of Supply UK Hire Shops on its disposal to Dutch corporate Boels-Gosink. Bargain Booze, Maven Capital, Intechnica and NVM Private Equity are also clients. Its commercial team is regularly instructed on retail-sector mandates, where the ‘knowledgeable’ Amy Chandler is recommended. Victoria Dolan recently left the firm for an in-house role. Steven Grant leads the team.

Shoosmiths LLP delivers ‘quick and pragmatic advice’ and stands out for its ‘positive, can-do attitude’, handling high-profile M&A deals in addition to private equity and capital markets mandates. Headline transactions included advising the shareholders of Xtrac Transmissions on the sale of the entire share capital of Xtrac Transmissions to a Newco funded by Inflexion Private Equity Partners; advising YFM Equity Partners on its £9m investment in 4net Technologies; and advising Decision Technologies on the acquisition of the online mobile phone comparison site Mobilephonechecker.co.uk from Adsar. ‘Clear and concise’ corporate team head Karen Procter advises in a ‘commercial manner and does not get bogged down in legal technicalities’. In 2017, the team was bolstered by the arrival of former CEO of AIM-listed company Bglobal Tim Jackson-Smith; and Andrew Millar from Brabners LLP. Senior associates Anna Kerrane , who joined in 2017 from Weightmans LLP, and Benjamin Dredge  are also recommended. Richard Millington heads the commercial team which advises on commercial contracts across the food, drink, retail, automotive, technology, digital, sport and financial services sectors.

TLT's  ‘personable’ and ‘genuinely agile’ corporate and commercial team delivers ‘practical’ and ‘partner-led’ advice. Stephen Devlin advised Boohoo.com on its accelerated bookbuild to raise £50m, together with a sale by key founder members of shares raising £80m; advised K3 Capital Group on its admission to AIM; and also advised the shareholders of SuperBike Factory on its sale of the entire issued share capital to a new company funded by Livingbridge. Legal director Elizabeth Delaney advised Green Hedge International on the £30m sale of a majority share in Green Hedge Energy UK and an investment from a European investment fund managed by Zouk Capital. Andrew Needham and Ian Roberts are also key members of the corporate team. Susan Honeyands, David Gardner, who is praised for his ‘stellar attention to detail’, Pauline Cowie and Stuart Campbell are all recommended on the commercial side. Jon Close joined Knights Professional Services Limited.

The ‘commercially minded’ and ‘client-focused’ team at Turner Parkinson LLP  regularly acts for mid-market and high-growth emerging businesses on key transactions. Headline work for corporate head James Sheridan includes advising Medical Equipment Supplies and Management on its sale to NASDAQ listed global laboratory supplier and distributor VWR; advising Stirling Lloyd on its acquisition by GCP Applied Technologies; and advising Skinbiotherapeutics on its £8m IPO. Andrew Sturge advised Wilson Insurance Brokers on the buyout and merger of Bollington Insurance Brokers and Wilsons Insurance Brokers into Bollington Wilson Group, while the ‘superb’ and ‘pragmatic’ David Easdown advised the shareholders of Join the Dots (Research) on its MBO. Stephen Hadlow, Nick Davenport and Adrian Rogers,who joined from Brabners LLP in 2017, are also key members of the corporate department. The commercial team, headed by director Simon Weinberg, focuses on the life sciences, med-tech, logistics, healthcare and TMT sectors.

Weightmans LLP's 'efficient and highly commercial' department is active in transactions across the manufacturing, healthcare, higher education and public sectors, and has seen growth in activity in the IT, digital and creative sectors, with consultant Robert Turnbull advising online retailer In the Style (ITS) on its investment-backing from Livingbridge. Elsewhere, Paul Raftery advised Aspire IOM on the sale of its subsidiary Kreston IOM to listed acquirer The Financial Services Opportunities Investment Fund. Sarah Walton heads the corporate team and tax partner Haydn Rogan is also noted. Vincent King  and Martin Vincent are recommended among the commercial team, which advises on heavyweight commercial contracts for the firm’s private and public sector client base; King is leading advice for the British Transport Police on its procurement of managed network services under the Crown Commercial Service’s Managed Network Services framework.

The ‘responsive’ and ‘hardworking’ department at DAC Beachcroft LLP  is active across the financial services, healthcare, technology and renewable energy sectors. Highlights included advising the shareholders of Fastflow Group on a "cash out" and rollover of its shareholders into a new company, funded by Elysian Capital, Yorkshire Bank and Lloyds Bank; and advising the former shareholders of CJJ Investments on its sale to an entity owned by NASDAQ-listed Bottomline Technologies. Harald Loeffler , who heads the German desk, and senior associate William Pinnock are recommended, while Legal director Andrew Clare, who heads the firm’s Japan desk, recently joined the firm from his role as general counsel at Accenture Japan. Paul Ellaby heads the team.

Slater Heelis LLP  is highly regarded for its track record in advising on life sciences sector transactions, and is also active across the digital, telecoms and healthcare sectors. Key highlights included advising Deutsche Asset Management on the £10.5m sale of its caravan park business and assets, undertaken by Roydon Mills (Lodges), to DPK Leisure; and advising the seller, Ian Jones, on the sale of the whole of the issued share capital of Allied Infrastructure Management. The team also advised BGC Holdings on the demerger of Bolton Gate Services Ltd from BGC Holdings, and the subsequent sale of Bolton Gate Services to Novafirm.  Department head Simon Wallwork is ‘very experienced’, particularly in acquisitions and disposals; and Nicky Collins is active in the health and education sectors and is experienced in advising GP federations and other healthcare providers. Sunil Mohindra and associate solicitor Rhian Owen are also recommended.

Ward Hadaway regularly acts for SME clients and has a particular focus on the biomedical, recruitment and manufacturing sectors, and is active in private equity and venture capital-backed deals. Clients include Catapult Ventures, Anglia Ruskin University, Vodat Communications Group and Key Capital Partners. ‘Timely’ and ‘pragmatic’ team head Sean FitzGerald, the ‘excellent’ Melanie Yeomans , who is active on venture capital investments and has expertise in the biomedical sector, and ‘experienced’ executive partner Paul Johnson, are recommended. Associate solicitor Rachel Clarkson is also a key member of the team.

The ‘brilliant’ team at Bermans  has ‘robust knowledge and is praised for its ‘great depth of experience’ in advising privately owned companies, SMEs, family businesses, entrepreneurs, management teams, professional partnerships, institutional investors and venture capital clients, and has strengths in the TMT, ophthalmic and motor retail sectors. It regularly handles M&A and disposals for these clients and houses a growing private equity practice. Team head Jonathan Davage, who is praised for his ‘attention to detail’, advised the selling shareholders of Cake Holdings on its sale to Bamtech. Davage worked alongside senior associate Robin Hastings in advising 1PM plc on its £2.2m acquisition of Cardiff-based finance broker Intelligent Financing; and in advising Bradhsaw Farnham Lea on its disposal of BFL Property Management to Purplebricks Group. Stephen Jarman joined the team from Taylors LLP  in April 2018.

Clarke Willmott LLP is regularly instructed by SME clients on M&A deals, and also handles disposals for equity investors and management teams, and the team is noted for its financial services expertise, as well as its technology sector nous. The team was instructed by BOXT Limited, and its management team, on the acquisition of a minority stake in the company, by Robert Bosch UK Holdings; acted for the seller on the £4m share disposal of Ken Brown Motors to Now Investment Group; and advised Hopecrest Holdings on its disposal of Aztec Aerosols to Instarmac. Meetoo Limited, Dunlop Systems & Components and Aluminium Developments Group are also clients. Team head Ed Foulkes has ‘deep understanding and empathy of the positions of vendor and buyer’ and is experienced in transactions across the financial services, technology and renewable energy sectors, while Helen Tse is noted for cross-border China-UK mandates. Susan Hall handles ICT agreements and  commercial contract work, and heads the technology practice.

gunnercooke LLP regularly advises small start-ups, larger corporates and entrepreneurial businesses on M&A, private equity and transactional mandates. Redsky1, Purple Group Holdings, ImmunoBiology Limited and Paragon Group are clients of the ‘innovative’ practice; and Greg Sherr advised Leysman Group Holdings on its acquisition of Datify Limited. Department head Nick Ducker, Anna Beaumont and Darryl Cooke, who is noted for private equity work, are also key members of the team.

The ‘compact and agile’ team at HRC Law LLP  regularly advises clients in the retail, e-commerce, childcare, automotive and healthcare sectors. Team head Mark Traynor, who is noted for his experience in the childcare sector, advised the members of Bramleys Nurseries group on its sale to Busy Bees; advised Kids Planet Day Nurseries on its acquisition of the business and assets of Happy Days Nursery in Stockport; and advised the members of Little Rascals LLP on the sale of its nursery business to ICP Nurseries. Richard Life is ‘user-friendly’, has a ‘commercial approach’ and is ‘particularly strong in fashion and retail and is very well connected’; Life advised UK fashion brand NICCE on its first brand licence agreement and Bench is also a key client. Additional highlights for the team included advising the shareholders of ALM Garages on the sale of shares to Holdcroft Motor Group and advising four members of second tier management who, via JLES Group Holdings (completed a management buy-out of JLES Group Limited. Associate William Ngan , who is noted for his corporate tax expertise, joined in 2018 from Jolliffe & Co LLP.

Laytons  handles transactional and advisory mandates across the retail, utilities and facilities management sectors, and is particularly praised for its fund formation and investment expertise. Patrick Curtis is representing Building Energy Services on the acquisition of Building Management Services Integrators, the BEMS division of Centrica. Consultant David Sefton is representing Mercia Fund Managers as fund manager on the establishment and management of both the Debt and the Equity Northern Powerhouse Investment Funds; and advised Alliance Fund Managers, in combination with The British Business Bank, on the North-West Business Growth Fund.  Chairman John Gavan and Barney Leaf are also key contacts in the department.

Nexus Solicitors Limited handles a range of refinancing mandates, and regularly advises on bridging finance matters. On the M&A front, the team advised on a company share buy-back and management buy-in of Ikonic Technology; and advised on the sale of sale of 75% of the issued share capital of Continental Eyewear to Yakira Group. The team is also adept at commercial contracts and advises franchise and retail clients on a range of commercial matters. Jamie Lloyd is the department head.

With a sole focus on commercial law, niche firm Taylors LLP  is ‘committed to an excellent level of service’ and delivers ‘good turnaround times’ for SMES and owner-managed businesses across the manufacturing, engineering, textiles, home furnishings and software sectors. Medicina Holdings, Bellows Technologies, YR Free Labs, Acuity Fund and Lancashire Cleaning Services are clients. Recently promoted associate partner Matthew Catterall has a ‘real skill in striking up excellent relationships with clients’. -Stephen Jarman  joined Bermans  in April 2018.

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