Corporate and commercial: Newcastle in North

Muckle LLP

Clients regard Muckle LLP’s sizeable team as ‘quick, competent and value-enhancing’. The group handles a full scope of corporate and commercial work, including significant transactions within the region, spanning sectors such as IT, manufacturing, transport, financial services, hospitality and education. The practice also collaborates with the firm’s banking, IP, real estate, dispute resolution and employment specialists. The team’s client portfolio includes large acquirer companies and private equity houses; it is also increasingly gaining instructions from overseas clients investing in the UK. Andrew Davison heads up the corporate and energy teams, while Alex Craig leads the commercial group. Anthony Evans stands out for his work in the IT sector. Adam Rayner is singled out for being ‘cool-headed and very calm in dealing with transactions’. Corporate finance expert Matthew Walsh and senior associate Amy Wanless are also highly recommended by clients.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Davison; Alex Craig

Other key lawyers:

Anthony Evans; Adam Rayner; Philip Clare; Matthew Walsh; Sarah Forster; Amy Wanless; Stuart Grieve

Testimonials

‘We are generally impressed by the responsive nature of the team and the ability to have one focal client partner who leads the delivery of advice by their team. We are also impressed generally by the quality of advice in complex unique situations. We were impressed by their seamless transition to efficient working practices and its lack of impact on us as a client.’

‘Forward-thinking lawyers. Very collaborative, contactable and transparent. The whole team is excellent. Andrew Davison, Phil Clare, Adam Rayner, Matthew Walsh all stand out. It is excellent working with them on all types of transactions.’

‘Adam Rayner is available and responsive; nothing is too much for him. Cool-headed and very calm in dealing with transactions and the parties on the other side of those transactions.’

‘Speed with which they can mobilise when situations demand or unexpected events occur. Dedicated team which gives the matter the urgency and attention it deserves when time is of the essence, especially regarding corporate matters relating to sales process. We have needed to lean on Muckle for a variety of matters over the past couple of years in particular; they are very much our trusted and valued adviser. They have strength at all levels of the hierarchy, so whoever you deal with is quick, competent and value-enhancing. They seem to invest well in young people coming through the organisation which I like to see. The team also provide excellent training courses which have been done via Zoom during the Covid era.’

‘They are truly our advocate and will help us work our way through an issue in a pragmatic way. They help us direct our focus to the important points and not waste time on the minor issues. I feel they do keep the company’s best interests at the heart of what they do. Standout partners and associates I have dealt with are Philip Clare, Adam Rayner, Stuart Grieve, Amy Wanless.’

‘Alex Craig is very friendly, very capable, great at putting a point across. Exceptionally good at gathering and consolidating a lot of information into a single, simple and clear message.’

‘Matthew Walsh is knowledgeable, committed and strong at building relationships. He has significant experience which he brings to bear on each engagement as necessary, and is a trusted advisor to the business on a range of issues. I would have no hesitation in recommending him to anyone.’

‘Anthony Evans and his team make the legal side of our business seem very straightforward with the clarity and simplicity of their advice. Their understanding of our business is excellent and approach very amiable, reducing formality where possible.’

Key clients

Kitwave Group

Fairstone Group

LDC Private Equity

University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Mandata Group

Newcells Biotech Limited

Thunderful AB

The Lakes Distillery Company plc

Simpsons Malt

Orchard Information Systems Limited

Meiyume (UK) Limited

Caribbean Premier League

Leo Vegas Gaming plc

CAV Advanced Technologies Limited

The Algorithm People Limited

Thomas Swan and Co Limited

City Football

Northern Gas & Power

Tea Venture Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised global gaming business Thunderful Group AB on its 100% acquisition of the development studio Coatsink Software.
  • Advised Mandata Group on two acquisitions: the acquisition of the business and assets of the online freight exchange, Return Loads; and the acquisition of Stirling Solutions and its two subsidiaries, Branall and Stirling Maintenance.
  • Advised the selling shareholders of Orchard Information Systems Limited on the sale to US private equity-backed consolidator, MRI Software.

Ward Hadaway LLP

Ward Hadaway’s corporate department is led by Robert Thompson and works seamlessly alongside the firm’s specialists in Leeds and Manchester. The full-service practice advises both public and private clients on M&A transactions and corporate reorganisations; it is a particularly suitable destination for instructions in the healthcare, waste and recruitment sectors. Katherine Hay-Heddle advises a mix of serial acquirers, large companies, start-ups and private equity houses. Further, Colin Hewitt heads up the firm’s dedicated commercial team, which specialises in the transport, energy and independent healthcare industries. The group has in-depth expertise in outsourcing agreements, with Damien Charlton being among the key contacts in this regard. Other key team members include M&A expert Tom Pollard and recently promoted managing associate Clare French.

Practice head(s):

Robert Thompson; Colin Hewitt

Other key lawyers:

Tom Pollard; Damien Charlton; Clare French; Matthew Cormack; Phil Tompkins; Steven Roper; Richard Butts; James Nightingale

Testimonials

‘Firstly, beyond the core legal experience and knowledge Ward Hadaway’s corporate and commercial team build a firm understanding of their client and their business, this is key to understand the risk and reward appetite in any transaction. Second is their strong partner-led focus, always on the end of phone or in person literally 24 hours a day. Finally, their breadth and depth in all legal matters makes them a standout group.’

‘Robert Thompson is a standout, highly regarded corporate partner with exceptional pedigree and experience within the international M&A market.’

‘Largest Northern practice with an invaluable team skill set. An approachable, trustworthy and well-respected corporate team which delivers for their clients time and time again.’

‘Clare French is an exceptional lawyer providing exceptional support and leadership during the hard yards of a deal.’

‘Katherine Hay-Heddle is a respected, established and client-centric partner keep point on the key aspects for the project.’

‘The commercial team at Ward Hadaway has a broad range of expertise, providing a one-stop-shop for large corporate clients, for everything from GDPR queries, pensions issues to consumer matters. Their responsiveness is what sets them apart. Ward Hadaway are always keen and willing to help.’

‘Matthew Cormack is an excellent all-round lawyer. He has a wealth of experience in a wide-range of matters from corporate transactions through to consumer law issues. He is extremely responsive and it is clear he cares about his clients’ issues and objectives. Phil Tompkins is a great advisor on all things data and GDPR-related. He cuts through the technical detail of data protection legislation and gives practical, commercially focussed advice on how to manage data protection and breaches.’

‘They are sensible, grounded, approachable, friendly, intelligent. Steven Roper’s knowledge of a few of our client contracts (and the behaviour of these clients) is excellent. The advice we receive takes into consideration the whole picture and any possible implications we may need to be aware of. We also engage Judy Baker regularly in relation to data privacy advice and she is extremely professional and has a wealth of knowledge.’

Key clients

Enerpac Tool Group

Nissan

Paragon Group

Communisis

Newcastle international Airport

Ensus

North East Finance

Northern Powergrid

PD Ports

Your Homes Newcastle

Newcastle City Council

Port of Tyne

Total Capital Partners LLP

The Bannatyne Group

Northumberland Estates

Conviction Investment Partners

BGF

Pacifica

ScS Group Plc

Mercia Asset Management Plc

Inn Collection Group

Walwick Estate Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for the private equity funder in the secondary buyout of PCML Holdings.
  • Advised Northumberland Estates on unsecured bilateral private note issue.
  • Acting for eQuality Solutions Group’s management on the buyout and simultaneous acquisition of Amano Technologies.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP houses a full-service team of ‘strong lawyers with a commercial attitude’. The practice is among the market leaders, partially thanks to the its enviable credentials in listed and public company issues, as evidenced in the expertise of department head Ben Butler . The highly regarded Robert Phillips has over two decades of M&A experience under his belt; he is also noted for his manufacturing industry specialism. The department also acts alongside other specialist teams on matters in the private equity, retail, construction and environmental law realm. Clients refer to WBD Accelerate, the firm’s newly introduced service assisting start-up businesses with navigating various legal requirements. Managing associate Stacey Hall, legal director Iain Pritty and associate Oliver Rickett are all rising stars in the team.

Practice head(s):

Ben Butler

Other key lawyers:

Robert Phillips; Iain Pritty; Stacey Hall; Oliver Rickett; David Ridley; Jessica Christy; Simon Watts

Testimonials

‘Our go-to firm for corporate work. They make an effort to understand our business and the challenges we face.’

‘Ben Butler is a partner with a client-focused approach. He has been assisting us since our very early days and is always on hand for support.’

‘Commercial, efficient, effective, and highly contactable. Additional support and guidance has been superb on a particularly challenging matter.’

‘David Ridley was excellent from start to finish. Sound, sensible, pragmatic commercial advice. The transaction was emotional, but was handled sensitively with a personal touch which was hugely appreciated.’

‘Robert Phillips is the key partner we work with. He combines commerciality with a pragmatic and logical approach to negotiations with counterparties. This ensures that deal issues are resolved in a timely manner so that principals can focus on the key aspects of the transaction. The wider team, including David Ridley, Oliver Rickett and Jessica Christy, share this pragmatic approach and combine this with a focus on project management and proactive engagement with the other side to bring transactions to resolution quickly.’

‘Robert Phillips and Oli Rickett are extremely reliable and expertly knowledgeable in their field. They are always reactive, agile, pragmatic and commercially-focused on all of our engagements. Both Robert and Oli have taken the time to really understand our business and ensure that their advice aligns with our ultimate strategic goals for the business.’

‘Strong lawyers with a commercial attitude. In particular, Stacey Hall has really developed into a very strong associate with exceptional client care.’

‘A well-rounded and resourced team, always very responsive and knows our business well. We have used the team in the formation of two businesses in the past two years through their Accelerate program for new SMEs.’

Key clients

Lloyds Development Capital

Newcastle City Council

Carpetright

NVM Private Equity LLP

Caspian Learning Limited

Gordon Brown Law Firm

Vertu Motors plc

Shareholders of BPE Design and Support Limited

Mediaworks UK Limited

Acland Homes

Tharsus

Psyche Holdings Limited

Augean Plc

Work highlights

  • Advised the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group on its significant minority investment in Connect Health.
  • Advised longstanding client Newcastle City Council on its joint venture with private sector developer PfP igloo.
  • Acted for NVM Private Equity LLP on the sale of NVM Private Equity LLP’s VCT management business to Mercia Asset Management by NVM Private Equity.

Clarke Mairs LLP

Clarke Mairs LLP principally focuses on M&A transactions in the pharmacy sector, where it maintains strong connections with all types of stakeholders, and benefits from significant flows of referral work. The department’s additional areas of expertise include general corporate law advice in the financial, manufacturing and leisure sectors. Tim Clarke heads up the department, where clients also single out solicitor Alex Robson.

Practice head(s):

Tim Clarke

Other key lawyers:

Alex Robson

Testimonials

‘Clarke Mairs LLP have been our legal representatives for the last four years and have been nothing short of excellent. Meetings, alongside any enquiries or concerns, are always handled in an exceptional manner. We find them to be very positive, pleasant and straight-talking.’

‘The team is extremely knowledgeable and was able to deliver a first-class service remotely during the pandemic. Communicating with the team via regular video appointments really helped us to feel at ease and build our trust.’

‘We are an accountancy practice and wanted to buy another practice to extend our growth quickly.  Having dealt with Clarke Mairs before, they immediately came to mind for our acquisition. Alex Robson dealt with everything for us from the heads of terms, queries, contracts and share purchase agreement. Overall great service, even better team, and if in doubt – Alex is the man to have on your side.’

‘I found the team at Clarke Mairs to be personable, knowledgeable and direct in both answering my queries and in assisting my understanding of any relevant legal matters. I was assisted wherever needed by either a partner or solicitor and somebody was always available who had knowledge of the case.’

‘Very helpful. Very polite. Tim Clarke and Alex Robson are both very nice people, along with their professional excellence. Excellent dedication and personal touch.’

‘Tim Clarke and Alex Robson have always had time to for me. Everything has always been done with a very proactive approach; I have never had to chase them for anything as they have always been on top of my work.’

Key clients

Rotamol Ltd

Hathaway Roofing Holdings Ltd

Bann’s Pharmacy Ltd

Diamond Accounts Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Rotamol on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Underack, a retail pharmacy company with two locations in South West London.
  • Advised the former shareholders of MBL Solutions on the disposal of their entire shareholding to Redu Group.
  • Advised Hathaway Roofing Holdings on a buyback of company shares.

Hay & Kilner

Hay & Kilner advises large regional companies and national businesses on a wide range of corporate matters, such as corporate refinancing mandates, acquisition and disposal transactions, reorganisations and share buybacks. Spearheaded by Mark Adams and Jonathan Waters, the department has a wealth of experience in sectors such as care homes, pharmaceuticals, financial services and agriculture, among others. It also bolstered its commercial contracts and technology sector offering with the hire of senior associate Paul Armstrong, who joined from a bank’s in-house department in early 2020.

Practice head(s):

Mark Adams; Jonathan Waters

Other key lawyers:

Ben Jackson; Neil Harrold; Paul Armstrong

Testimonials

‘Great team that adds value to our decision-making process.’

‘Responsive and quick to reply. Jonathan Waters and his team are excellent.’

‘Extremely professional team who conduct business while also focusing on the human side of things.’

‘Excellent partner involvement in all matters, no matter how big or small.’

‘Mark Adams is incredibly approachable and friendly, yet very professional.’

‘When working alongside the corporate team in M&A transactions, their collaborative approach alongside the client and other advisors is hugely beneficial, enabling the transaction to progress as smoothly as possible. Their open, honest, hardworking, diligent and thorough approach ensures that assignments are completed to a meticulous standard in an efficient manner. This particularly applies to Mark Adams and Ben Jackson.’

‘We have a longstanding relationship with Jonathan Waters, who is always genuinely engaged in the business and its progress; always interested in how he and his team can help.’

Key clients

Park Lane Healthcare Limited

Novares Group

Wingrove Motor Company Limited

Stessa Group

V H Bio Limited

Barrier Group

55 Fisheries

Indigo Group

Pajunk UK Medical Products Limited

Hodgson Newcastle Limited

Dolphin Stairlifts (North East) Ltd

Shape Adaptations Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for the shareholders of Hodgson Motor Group on the sale of its parent company to national operator Stoneacre Motor Group.
  • Acted for 55 Fisheries on its acquisition of a fishery and vessel management business from a well-known national operator.
  • Advised R Brewis & Partners on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Fordell Farms for a seven-figure sum.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s ‘knowledge is second to none’, especially in corporate transactions involving the firm’s core sectors of specialisms of technology, leisure, construction, manufacturing and healthcare. Corporate governance advice is also a forte of the group. Paul Hughes sits at the helm of the department, where corporate finance expert John Nicholson and recently promoted partner Chris Hughes are also key figures.

Practice head(s):

Paul Hughes

Other key lawyers:

John Nicholson; Chris Hughes; Peter Robinson

Testimonials

‘The practice is unique because of its people. They take the time to truly understand you and your business. They are the first legal team we have worked with that help you take pragmatic steps to get the job done in a way that is best for you as a business. The team take the time to learn about you to help you to protect your business as you grow.’

‘Their knowledge is second to none. We work closely with Christopher Hughes who draws upon great experience. His work to date has been of an excellent level and his advice throughout has been even better! We trust him and his firm too.’

‘Easy to deal with very fluid across different teams. Very commercial approach to dealing with clients and practical advice given.’

‘Very approachable, efficient, and partner-led means partner-led. Mincoffs understand our business and approach.’

‘Paul Hughes has an intimate knowledge of our business and so is more than just a lawyer for us.’

‘Peter Robinson has been extremely approachable. He has been fantastic in the speed of communication and responses and has made our interactions as straightforward and simple as possible.’

Key clients

High Street Group

Northern Bear plc

Sudhir Power Limited

Cairn Hotel Group

Metnor Group

Amplyfi Limited

FICO

Catenae Innovation PLC

IntraHealth

LB Foster

The University of Sunderland

Work highlights

  • Advised clients on the £66m sale of the entire issued share capital of Coatsink Software Limited to Thunderful Group.
  • Acted for new client Sudhir Power on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of UK-based access equipment specialist company Star Platforms.
  • Acted for LB Foster Rail Technologies (UK) Limited on various matters during 2020, including its restructuring, as well as supply and sub-contract agreements for infrastructure projects.

Sintons LLP

Sintons LLP maintains a focus on M&A transactions, buyouts, private equity deals and corporate restructuring. The practice is at the forefront of healthcare sector work, while also being widely recognised for its strength in the energy, oil and gas, and leisure industries. Karen Simms heads up the department. Other key figures in the team include Adrian Dye, recently appointed managing partner Christopher Welch and Matt Collen, all of whom are ably assisted by senior associate Emma Pern.

Practice head(s):

Karen Simms

Other key lawyers:

Adrian Dye; Christopher Welch; Matt Collen; Emma Pern

Testimonials

‘Friendly, very efficient speed of service, availability for discussions and advice. Emma Pern and Danielle Dale provide very good services.’

‘Every single team member and every brief Sintons undertake is of the highest quality. They are a unique practice which delivers above and beyond my expectations.’

‘Each individual partner I work with makes me feel like we are one team. The used language is “we” and “us”, never “I” or “you”. The confidence they give me to run my business is a rare value to find and one that I could not be without. Chris Welch has made both myself and my business the success it is today.’

‘We have used Sintons twice for what were two complex family business splits which as well business matters, but also had the very emotional element being close family members. We found them to be very professional and extremely proficient understanding the family interaction. This was the first time we had used Sintons and this was on a recommendation by an outside contact. We are very grateful for the recommendation as it proved to be exactly the right firm for the types of deals we were undertaking. Technology was first-class as was even admin support from secretaries.’

‘Graeme Ritzema and Chris Welch are both very personable and extremely efficient always being available. Chris knew exactly how to handle the family ethics which was very welcome and he always kept a cool professional head. It was apparent Chris worked over weekends when required to keep the deal moving which was really appreciated. We were happy with the final outcome of the split. We would have no hesitation in recommending the firm and the partners, particularly Chris Welch.’

‘Chris Welch has been excellent throughout my dealings with him in relation to a business matter. My experience was such that I have also recommended him to my other contacts.’

‘Chris has a great way of explaining complexities and making them easier to understand. He is patient and very approachable and has a knack of getting straight to the crux of the matter and seeing the issues. He was enormously helpful, giving not just legal advice but practical and common-sense advice.’

‘Emma Pern is simply brilliant.’

Key clients

MODS Management Limited

UTS Group Limited

The Auckland Project

Gainford Group

Ladhar Group

Malhotra Group PLC

Ascot Care Ltd

Advanced Electric Machines Group Ltd

John N Dunn Group Limited

Gisela Graham Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised shareholders on the disposal of 40% of the issued share capital of Mods Management Limited to a Japanese public limited company.
  • Advised Ladhar Group on the purchase of the entire issued share capital of Sir John Fitzgerald (Holdings) Limited.
  • Acted for Advanced Electric Machines Group on an investment made by the North East Innovation Fund Limited Partnership, Saker Capital and angel investors.

Weightmans

Praised for its ‘great breadth and depth of expertise’, Weightmans is also known for its astute handling of acquisitions, disposals and private equity investments.  Practice head Duncan Reid has broad-ranging experience in all these key areas and particularly stands out in sectors such as technology, waste and leisure. Paul Wigham is another key contact for technology-related mandates and also works with a number of venture capital funds. Marc Allison specialises in joint venture transactions with a property element. Principal associate Kirsty Adamson is a rising star in the team.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Reid

Other key lawyers:

Paul Wigham; Marc Allison; Kirsty Adamson

Testimonials

‘Great breadth and depth of expertise offered from the team. What makes this team unique is the sense of priority we feel is given, no matter what the theme or situation. We always receive immediate response, and turnaround no matter what. Great customer service!’

‘Again, second to none. Every interaction is professional, supportive, and proactive in terms of working with us to ensure the best solution. Standout individuals have been Duncan Reid, Marc Allison and Richard Vaughan, to name a few.’

Key clients

BGF

Caspian Learning Limited

Cracking Logistics Limited

Atlas Cloud

Northstar Ventures

QuantuMDx

The Morton Group

Datum360 Limited

The Shareholders of Refract Software Limited

Zerolight Limited

IT Professional Services

Palringo Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for the shareholders of a London-based technology company, Pixology, on the sale of their shares in the company to a US multinational software company.
  • Advised the shareholders of Refract Software on the company’s sale to Allego.
  • Advised the sellers on the sale of Cracking Logistics to Descartes Systems UK.