Corporate and commercial: Newcastle in North

Muckle LLP

With ‘the best blend of sector specialism, technical aptitude and personal approach available in the North East’, Muckle LLP’s corporate department advises on the region's notable transactions; it recently advised Kitwave Group on its admission to the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange. The firm also fields distinct commercial and corporate finance teams, and the practice is a go-to name in the region for private equity houses. Andrew Davison and Alex Craig lead the corporate and commercial teams respectively, and clients single out the ‘very calm and pragmaticAdam Rayner and ‘go-to individualMatthew Walsh for praise. Other key names include Philip Clare, corporate finance specialist Anthony Evans and public company expert Sarah Forster.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Davison; Alex Craig

Other key lawyers:

Adam Rayner; Matthew Walsh; Philip Clare; Anthony Evans; Sarah Forster; Stuart Grieve; Stephanie Brown

Testimonials

‘We work with the corporate team. The firm is responsive. Advice is straightforward, understandable and offers solutions.’

‘We have worked mainly with Adam Rayner. He picks the transaction up and runs with it. I know he’s a safe pair of hands and will reach a sensible position while keeping us informed. He is responsive and understands our needs well (having done a few transactions for us).’

‘The seamless interaction of the various teams at Muckle was a key strength. The corporate team led the project, bringing in various other departments at relevant times. Each person within the corporate team and other departments seemed to be well briefed on the wider context to the project and how their input fit within that, which meant that we didn’t need to repeat information to anyone.’

‘Adam Raynor as partner adopted a very calm and pragmatic approach to the project, focusing on key issues at all times and coordinating his team well. His negotiation with counterparties was productive and solution-orientated, which meant that all key points were addressed efficiently. His style often meant that he took the lead by default in key meetings, even if that hadn’t been assigned to him, but this was done in an unassuming and collaborative way.’

‘A long-standing relationship that has evolved and deepened as our businesses and requirements have grown more complex. Key individuals that can be relied upon to be responsive and commercial. An extension to our internal team who truly understand our business and how we work – in our experience the best blend of sector specialism, technical aptitude and personable approach available in the North East.’

‘Matthew Walsh – Partner. Our go-to individual for structural and transactional advice. His ability to work with our wider team and deliver successful outcomes gives us a stand-out competitive edge that we can rely on. Able to go toe-to-toe with National firms and consistently identify solutions to complex challenges.’

‘The team is very efficient and also has a very personal touch. The team are always on hand to deal with any issues and do so in a very personal manner.’

‘Philip Clare – Excellent knowledge and commercial approach, very friendly and personable.’

Key clients

Kitwave Group plc

Mandata Group

Stellantis N.V. (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.)

3T Energy Group Limited

Vertu Motors Plc

Avid Technology Group

Simpsons Malt Limited

England Athletics Limited

Parkrun Limited

Thomas Swan & Co Limited

The Algorithm People Limited

Mercia Asset Management PLC

Thunderful Group AB

Crossflight Group Holdings Limited

John Nixon Limited

Fairstone Group Limited

Tees Valley Combined Authority

Caribbean Premier League

CAV Advanced Technologies Limited

Meiyume (UK) Limited

University of Newcastle

LDC Private Equity

The Lakes Distillery plc

Trivselhus UK Limited

PX Group

HC One Limited

Tekmar Group plc

Newcells Biotech Limited

Houghton International Electrical Services Limited

Samuel Knight International

The Port of Tyne

NG Bailey Limited

Sofina Foods Group

Work highlights

  • Advising Kitwave Group on its successful admission to the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.
  • Acting for the shareholders of Mandata (including LDC private equity) on its secondary buyout by Tenzing private equity.
  • Advising Peugeot S.A. (now renamed Stellantis) on the acquisition by a member of its group, Aramis Group, of a controlling interest in Motor Depot Limited.

Ward Hadaway LLP

Ward Hadaway LLP’s ‘dynamic, professional, helpful and solution-oriented‘ team is ‘extremely collaborative and acts as an extension of the in-house team’ when handling the full range of corporate and commercial mandates; Robert Thompson and Damien Charlton lead the corporate and commercial teams respectively. From a corporate perspective, the team is active across M&A transactions, restructurings, employee share incentives and shareholder agreements, while the commercial team is active in highly regulated sectors including the healthcare and transport industries. Former commercial group head Colin Hewitt also contributes to the practice, alongside funding expert Richard Butts, the ‘outstandingTom Pollard and managing associate Clare French.

Practice head(s):

Robert Thompson; Damien Charlton

Other key lawyers:

Colin Hewitt; Richard Butts; Tom Pollard; Clare French; Steven Roper; Matthew Cormack; James Nightingale

Testimonials

‘The business has taken a lot of time to understand all of the requirements of the projects we undertake and the different parts of our business that could require assistance.’

‘It is the people and their commitment which make this law firm what it is. They approach pricing any job in a very pragmatic way and personalise the service to fit us as a client and the job we are working on. The whole team are extremely collaborative and act as an extension of our team.’

‘Tom Pollard has been outstanding for us. He has taken the time to understand our business and the sector we work in and tailor all support and advice accordingly. Tom is committed to delivering an extremely high quality of work in extremely tight timescales. Whenever you need to speak to him he will make himself available in a timely manner. Tom has a great ability to be a specialist in corporate Law whilst keeping a firm grip on commercial reality of the business and manages to tailor his advice accordingly.’

‘The key individuals we deal with at senior level are through James Nightingale. I find James hugely accessible and he provides professional advice alongside an approach which feels supportive and comfortable. In a challenging period for all industries, the firm has maintained good contact throughout where possible, which leaves them best placed as people who understand our business.’

‘The entire team at Ward Hadaway is dynamic, professional, helpful and solution-oriented. It is a pleasure to work with all of them, their level of engagement and their hands-on approach is very satisfying. They get deals done, provide solutions and care. A joy for every client.’

‘In particular, I would like to underline the partner and head of the corporate department Rob Thompson. I have limitless professional and personal esteem for him, but also for his entire team. It is very comforting to work with partners like Rob Thompson, who manage to keep control in all situations, who genuinely care and who combine professionalism with fast, solid and tangible results, always remaining extremely competitive. It is also personally a rewarding experience to work with Rob Thompson. For me, he is simply one of the best commercial / M&A lawyers in the United Kingdom.’

Key clients

Enerpac Tool Group

Nissan

Reheat Renewable Technologies

Communisis

Newcastle International Airport

Sage Group

Ensus

North East Finance

Port of Tyne

Total Capital Partners LLP

The Bannatyne Group

Northumberland Estates

Lookers Plc

EQS Group

Conviction Investment Partners

BGF Investments LP

Pacifica Group Limited

ScS Group Plc

Mercia Asset Management Plc

Inn Collection Group

Walwick Estate Group

Work highlights

    Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

    Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP stands out in the market for its ability to utilise the firm’s international network on cross-border mandates; the team also counts some of the region’s key businesses on its client roster, including Grainger, alongside entrepreneurs, investors, private equity houses and financial institutions. The practice also excels in a broad range of sectors including the retail, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and technology industries. Ben Butler heads up the corporate department, which also fields corporate finance specialist Robert Phillips, US desk head Simon Watts, newly promoted partner Stacey Hall and legal director Iain Pritty. Key names at associate level include Oliver Rickett, who focuses on the technology sector, and David Ridley, who regularly works with energy sector clients.

    Practice head(s):

    Ben Butler

    Other key lawyers:

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

    Testimonials

    ‘Very strong practice, with a great team of Simon Watts, assisted by Stacey Hall.’

    ‘Very friendly, personable and able team. Easy to get along with. Open to challenge.’

    Key clients

    Grainger PLC

    Nimbus Investments CXXXIX Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised Grainger Plc on its acquisition of the Forge premises via an acquisition of the entire issued share capital of a Luxembourg property investment company.
    • Advised on the sale of the entire issued share capital of Ashworth and Parker Limited (END.) to Lobster Bidco Limited – funded by equity funds managed by The Carlyle Group, and a proportion of proceeds reinvested by the Founders.
    • Advised Nestware, the holding company of the UK’s largest retailer of carpets, flooring and beds, Carpetright, on its acquisition of Carpet & Flooring (Trading) Limited, one of the UK’s largest distributors of floor covering products and accessories.

    Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

    Praised by clients for ‘the commerciality of the team’, Mincoffs Solicitors LLP excels in a broad range of sectors encompassing the leisure and hospitality, construction, manufacturing, healthcare and technology industries. The practice also recently expanded its private equity and venture capital offering through the recruitment of Luke Philpott from Square One Law in late 2021. Other noteworthy individuals include practice head Paul Hughes, corporate finance expert John Nicholson, commercial group head Antony Hall and the ‘always available’ recently promoted partner Chris Hughes.

    Practice head(s):

    Paul Hughes

    Other key lawyers:

    Luke Philpott; John Nicholson; Antony Hall; Chris Hughes

    Testimonials

    ‘I particularly like the commerciality of the team. Often, you have the strict legal view and you are left to decipher commercially what options you have. Mincoffs help you to weigh up your options practically speaking so that you can make an informed recommendation to the board.’

    ‘Chris Hughes is always available for us. When we need help he is there. It feels like he is very much part of our team and we love that.’

    Key clients

    LB Foster

    Sudhir Power

    Northern Bear PLC

    Ladhar Group

    Pure Pet Food

    Art Health

    Cairn Hotel Group

    FICO

    Amplyfi

    Lugano

    Northumbria University

    University of Sunderland

    Durham University

    Goodboy Digital Ltd

    Big Thursday Creative Limited

    Coatsink Software Limited

    IT Professional Services Limited

    Modern Milkman

    Work highlights

    • Advised Fico Corporation on its £13.8m disposal of shares in Jupiter Hotels portfolio.
    • Advised the sellers of HistoCyte Laboratories on the multi-million pound cross-border disposal of the group to Swedish Atlas Antibodies.
    • Advised Art Health Solutions and its management team on its £800,000 seed round investment from North East Venture Fund managed by Enterprise Ventures Limited (Mercia Asset Management).

    Sintons LLP

    At Sintons LLP, the ‘tremendously helpful, efficient and effective’ practice recently separated its corporate and commercial offerings into distinct teams, with Adrian Dye and Karen Simms leading respectively. On the corporate side, the group handles M&A work, private equity issues, reorganisations and finance transactions with particular knowledge of the manufacturing, renewables, technology and leisure sectors. The commercial team excels in collaboration agreements, data sharing issues, licenses and regulatory and compliance work, among others. Managing partner Christopher Welch, Matt Collen and newly promoted partner Emma Pern are also key names to note.

    Practice head(s):

    Adrian Dye; Karen Simms

    Other key lawyers:

    Christopher Welch; Matt Collen; Emma Pern

    Testimonials

    ‘Approachable, pragmatic, happy to re-go over ground where complex scenarios needed understanding.’

    ‘Chris Welch Managing Partner – an ability to clearly set out his thought processes with a refreshing corporate insight.’

    ‘Matt Collen is an exceptional, pragmatic and experienced corporate lawyer.’

    ‘In all of our work with Sintons they have been tremendously helpful, efficient, and effective. Work is done in a timely manner, to a high standard, and within the time frame expected. I have no qualms in recommending them highly.’

    ‘Very timely responses. Friendly and approachable. Translate complex legal language into easy to understand concepts.’

    Key clients

    UTS Group

    Advanced Electric Machines Group Ltd

    Ascot Care North East Ltd

    Cheaperwaste Limited

    Barker & Stonehouse Limited

    Agricore Limited

    North Tees Group

    Ritchie Bland Energy Limited

    Ladhar Group

    Gisela Graham Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advising the selling shareholders on the disposal of Intumescent Protective Coatings Limited to Fieldway Group.
    • Acting for the two major sellers and 24 minority sellers on the disposal of the entire issued share capital of The Hansen Partnership Limited.
    • Advising Ritchie Bland Energy Limited on its equity and debt investment in Gap Group North East Limited, a electrical waste recycling business with its head office in Gateshead.

    Weightmans

    Under the leadership of Duncan Reid, who ‘offers a very client centric service’, Weightmans’ corporate practice in Newcastle takes a sector-focused approach to its transactional work, excelling in the technology, finance, private equity and franchise arenas. Marc Allison is the key contact for corporate finance work and joint venture transactions, while Paul Wigham focuses on private equity investments, particularly those involving early-stage companies, and principal associate Kirsty Adamson is active in the financial services space.

    Practice head(s):

    Duncan Reid

    Other key lawyers:

    Marc Allison; Paul Wigham; Kirsty Adamson

    Testimonials

    ‘Duncan Reid offers a very client centric service and is well supported by his team. Confident, commercial advice without any unnecessary defensive lawyering!’

    Key clients

    Business Growth Fund (BGF)

    Bluetree Design & Print Limited

    Perwyn Advisors UK Limited

    HiComply Limited

    Crafter’s Companion Limited/Sara Davies

    Camerons Brewery Limited

    Northstar Ventures

    Explore Wealth Limited

    Maven Capital Partners

    Building Design Partnership Limited

    Total Recycling Services

    J & B Recycling

    Energize Recruitment

    Redu Group

    Zerolight

    Datum360

    Palringo

    Broadband Satellite Services

    N21 t/a Silverbean

    Oak Engage

    Work highlights

    • Acted for the Business Growth Fund on the sale of its investment in Arc Trinova Limited to Permira Private Equity backed Quotient.
    • Advised Perwyn on its investment into LRG Online, trading as Secret Sales.
    • Acted for the shareholders of J & B Recycling Limited, including BGF, on the sale to Spanish company, Urbaser.

    Clarke Mairs LLP

    Clarke Mairs LLP attracts praise as ‘the market expert in pharmacy sales’ and the firm specialises in the various requirements of pharmacy transactions at a regional and national level including sales, acquisitions and asset purchases. Managing partner Tim Clarke heads up the group, which also fields associate Alex Robson, who is ‘a true professional and always contactable’. Beyond the pharmacy space, the group has also handled children's nursery, accounting and retail transactions.

    Practice head(s):

    Tim Clarke

    Other key lawyers:

    Alex Robson

    Testimonials

    ‘They are very responsive and keep you in the loop at very stage of the process. Their advice was very reassuring and helped to smoothen the process.’

    ‘Personal touch of dealing with the same person through out the transaction and in subsequent transactions.’

    ‘Alex Robson and his team are unbelievable. They are a true asset to any solicitor firm. They are always happy to talk to clients and will push to get things done. I have even spoke to Alex in the evenings and weekends. This is just not the Norm with any other firm so they really do go the extra mile. It never feels rushed with Alex and he always makes sure we understand everything clearly before we sign any document. If its quality you are after Alex Robson and his team are top of our list every time.’

    ‘Market experts in pharmacy sales, easily contactable and professional.’

    ‘Experienced, professional and keep you in the loop at all times.’

    ‘A very professional and well run company, very knowledgeable in their respective fields.’

    ‘Alex Robson – a true professional and always contactable.’

    Key clients

    B & T Prescriptions Limited

    N E Health Ltd

    Medsfirst Ltd

    Nurserytime Ltd

    Diamond Accounts Limited

    Hathaway Roofing Holdings Limited

    LNS Healthcare Limited

    V C K P Limited

    Clarity Stores Ltd

    Burley Louth Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised B & T Prescriptions Limited on the simultaneous purchase of two geographically close pharmacy businesses from two well known national retailers.
    • Advised NE Health Ltd on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Elmfield Trading Limited.
    • Advised Medsfirst Limited on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Station Road Pharmacy Limited, a company operating a sizeable retail pharmacy in Kent.

    Hay & Kilner

    Hay & Kilner’s ‘technically good’ team is jointly led by Mark Adams and Jonathan Waters; Adams acts for pharmacy, automotive and veterinary clients, while Waters specialises in the care home sector. Other key sector specialisms span the insurance, leisure, financial services and technology industries. At associate level, Ben Jackson focuses on handling corporate mergers and acquisitions for national corporates and owner-managed businesses.

    Practice head(s):

    Mark Adams; Jonathan Waters

    Other key lawyers:

    Ben Jackson

    Testimonials

    ‘Friendly and approachable, very experienced and good value for money.’

    ‘Mark Adams and Ben Jackson have been fantastic over the last two years, we have completed a number of key transactions. Their knowledge and attention to detail as well as taking time to explain all relevant documents in layman’s terms has been of real value to the Company.’

    ‘Mark Adams and Jonathan Waters – very good corporate partners. Ben Jackson – very good and upcoming lawyer in Newcastle.’

    ‘The team is technically good and great to work with.’

    ‘Mark Adams and Ben Jackson are very competent corporate lawyers.’

    ‘The collaborative approach of the Hay & Kilner makes this firm stand out from the majority of its competitors. In that, I mean they work closely with the client and also accounting partners to ensure a consistent and unified team approach.’

    ‘The individuals are technically very competent and individually very personable, whilst having a positive driven approach to ensure that the work and transactions progress in a timely and orderly fashion.’

    ‘The team at Hay & Kilner LLP are highly experienced, professional, and deliver a personal service that is competitively placed in the market place.’

    Key clients

    Indigo Software Group

    Novares Group

    Barrier Group

    Stessa Group

    Hyperdrive Innovation Ltd (now part of Turntide Technology Group)

    R. Lord & Co. (Newcastle) Ltd

    Centre for Life

    A&J Henfrey Ltd

    ATM Security Ltd & Centralock Ltd

    Wingrove Motor Group

    Monument Real Estate Management Ltd

    PLHC Group

    VH Bio Ltd

    Town Centre Automobiles Ltd

    Medical Architecture and Art Projects Ltd

    55 Fisheries Ltd

    Work highlights

    • Advised Town Centre Garage (Sunderland) Limited on the sale of its “Town Centre Automobiles” business to Sherwoods Motor Group Ltd.
    • Advised the shareholders of R. Lord & Co. (Newcastle) Ltd, one of the largest independent tool hire and sales companies in the UK, on the sale of their shares to national operator One Stop Hire.
    • Advised The PLHC Group Limited on the refinancing of its entire care home portfolio with Oak North Bank and also advised on a connected development facility for the creation of a new care village.