Firms To Watch: Corporate and M&A

DWF, which launched in Northern Ireland via a merger with C&H Jefferson in 2016, is building up its corporate offering in Belfast.

Corporate and M&A in Northern Ireland

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody‘s corporate department is recognised for both its transactional and advisory work, complemented by a ‘strong commitment to its clients‘. In addition to its portfolio of local matters, the team is active across European and US jurisdictions, and advised Euro Auctions on its proposed £775m sale to Ritchie Brothers. Team leader Alastair Keith specialises in complex corporate transactions, particularly all-Ireland and international deals. Peter Stafford, head of the Belfast office, is regarded as ‘very knowledgable and supportive’, and works on a range of corporate finance work. Also to note are Mark Thompson, who has particular experience in the energy, healthcare and media sectors, and David Rowan, who works across agri-food, technology, and leisure.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Keith

Other key lawyers:

Peter Stafford; Mark Thompson; David Rowan

Testimonials

‘Excellent communication of the actions that were undertaken and going to be undertaken.’

‘Ability to gain access outside normal working hours due to the business being operated in different time zones.’

‘A&L Goodbody is a client led firm; they have a strong commitment to each of their clients and ensure that each client is provided with the highest level of commitment for the deal team.’

‘I have been impressed by their commitment to supporting their clients and dealing with issues quickly and efficiently when they arise.’

‘Professional, experienced, reliable and can ramp up to service any specific needs’

‘Thorough and have their clients’ interests foremost.’

‘Very knowledgable and supportive.

‘Peter Stafford has great ability to negotiate and protect his clients. Very reassuring to have on our side.’

Key clients

SHV Energy N.V.

Mzuri Holdings Limited

Euro Auctions UK Limited

MJM IOM Holdings Limited

Energia Group

Neurovalens Limited

Irish Football Association

Haldane Fisher Limited

Devenish (NI) Limited

Axial 3d

Cumulus NeuroScience Limited (formerly BrainwaveBank)

Selazar Limited

Etex NV, and

Battersea Group/Taggart Homes

MPS Data Ltd

Gibson Bros

Work highlights

    Arthur Cox Belfast

    Arthur Cox Belfast fields a team experienced in novel corporate and commercial matters, active across agri-food, technology, and manufacturing. Clients remark that ‘service is delivered in a coordinated, timely and professional manner‘, significant as the firm is frequently active in transactions involving numerous jurisdictions and timezones. Team head Lynsey Mallon is particulary active on high value sales and acquisitions, including the €571m acquisition of Brookfield Renewable Ireland by Orsted A/S. Alan Taylor is Northern Ireland chair, but continues to also handle complex M&A matters. David White was promoted to partner in 2021 and specialises in energy and natural resources.

    Practice head(s):

    Lynsey Mallon

    Other key lawyers:

    Alan Taylor; David White

    Testimonials

    ‘There is always a partner in control of any project we are involved with.’

    ‘Alan Taylor is always available for emergencies.’

    ‘Lynsey Mallon has supported and challenged us on various transactions over the past while, bringing with her an immense level of knowledge and experience.’

    ‘The corporate team is drawn from a number of able individuals, however the service is delivered in a coordinated, timely and professional manner.’

    ‘The people are great at helping the client understand the commercial impact of the legal.’

    ‘They have really taken the time to fully understand our business so that they can provide good service.’

    ‘Obvious their widespread knowledge, and ability to use past experiences and apply to specific transaction scenarios is a key feature of success.’

    Key clients

    Orsted A/S

    Hastings Group

    Deli-Lites Ireland Limited

    Tiger Global Internet Fund VII Pte Ltd

    Leggett & Platt, Inc.

    Eliassen Group, LLC

    Peleton Interactive, Inc.

    Pioneer Power Partners LLP

    Flutter Entertainment plc

    Arena Capital Partners Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised Orsted A/S, a multi-national energy company based in Denmark, on the Northern Irish law aspects of its circa €571m acquisition of the Brookfield Renewable Group.
    • Acted for the Hastings Hotels Group in the sale of the historic Slieve Donard Hotel Resort and Spa to an international US based purchaser.
    • Acted for the existing shareholders of Natural World Products Limited in respect of a £20million investment from MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland and 57 Stars.

    Carson McDowell

    Carson McDowell are active across the full spectrum of corporate transactions and continue to build a strong reputation in Northern Ireland’s technology sector. Notably, the team advised London's Lewis Silkin LLP on its acquisition of domestic NI firm Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors. Richard Gray heads the department and specialises in both M&A and finance work, while senior partner Neasa Quigley has particular expertise in energy and the knowledge economy. They were joined early in 2022 by Hilary Griffith, who was previously head of corporate for Cleaver Fulton Rankin.

    Practice head(s):

    Richard Gray

    Other key lawyers:

    Neasa Quigley; Hilary Griffith; Gerard Armstrong; Rosie Timoney

    Testimonials

    ‘You just know that they do not accept ‘second best’’

    ‘This practice is unique in the fact that they have the ability to undertake work and offer the same services that the magic circle practices would offer, however, they make it accessible to SMEs such as ours.’

    ‘Even though Neasa Quigley is a senior partner, her dedication to projects and guidance during them is much greater than any other senior partner that I have come across.’

    ‘The client service we receive is exemplary across all the departments.’

    ‘Level of service and attention to detail is outstanding.’

    ‘Gerard Armstrong works with an almost unique level of speed and intensity, relentless, but at the same time is always highly personable and a pleasure to collaborate with.’

    ‘Rosie Timoney is a first class associate. She is highly professional, calm under pressure, applies a high level of attention to detail and is very commercial. A star.’

    I was always sure I was getting sound and advice with creativity where needed. The rest of the team were both culturally easy to work with and efficient in all of the tasks and activities needed.’

    Key clients

    Neueda Limited

    SHS GroupLimited

    AquaQ Analytics Ltd

    Eakin Healthcare Group Limited

    Lowe Group

    Vinci Energy Holdings Limited

    STATSport Group Limited

    Lagan Investments Limited

    SHS Group Limited

    Riverridge Recycling Limited

    Radius Payment Solutions Limited

    Fibrus Limited

    CDE Global Limited

    Glenmore Generation Limited

    Mediahuis UK Ltd

    Aircore EV Ltd

    Aiguille Investments Limited

    Ubloquity Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised the shareholders of Neueda Limited on the sale of the company to Version 1 Software Limited.
    • Advised the shareholders of Acqua Q Analytics on the sale of the company to Sovereign Capital Partners.
    • Advised the shareholders of Resptor Limited to US company Integration Appliance Inc (known as Intapp).

    Tughans

    Tughans boasts long-term client relationships with many major domestic clients, as well as a strong reputation in the start-up space, working with high-profile investment funds to encourage technology and innovation in Northern Ireland. James Donnelly leads the department, and acts across the engineering, technology, and construction sectors. John McGuckian is highly active as a transactional lawyer, and has particular experience in advising private equity firms and investee companies. Paul O’Brien was promoted to partner in 2020, and has since been building a reputation as an advisor for venture capital transactions. Former senior partner John-George Willis continues to work as a consultant to the firm.

    Practice head(s):

    James Donnelly

    Other key lawyers:

    John McGuckian; Paul O’Brien

    Testimonials

    ‘Tughans were absolutely superb in the way they managed our sale. They were particularly good at adapting to the Covid situation and facilitating remote ways of doing the transaction.’

    ‘James Donnelly was there to advise us at every step of the process, he is superbly professional and was very helpful during the process.’

    Key clients

    Foresight Group

    MML Growth Capital

    Business Growth Fund

    Mattioli Woods Plc

    B-Secur

    Re: Sure Intelligence

    Bloc Blinds

    FURTHER.SPACE

    Metacompliance

    Rainbow Communications

    Tenants Fine Chemicals

    Work highlights

    • Advised Foresight in connection with its investment into Hospital Services Limited.
    • Acted for B-Secur in respect of two funding rounds by a series of institutional investors (Kernel Capital, ADV, Wharton Asset Management, Invest Northern Ireland and First Capital Ventures (a US-based fund)), numerous private individuals and the Future Fund.
    • Advised Re:Sure Intelligence in relation to the sale of its entire issued share capital to Fortus Group.

    Cleaver Fulton Rankin

    Cleaver Fulton Rankin is active across a range of corporate transactions and restructurings, and recently moved to bolster its team with the hire of experienced practitioner Paul McBride , who joined as director and head of corporate from Arthur Cox Belfast in early 2022. McBride has a track record of work covering all aspects of corporate and commercial law, with particular experience in the energy and renewables sector. This is also an area of expertise for Stephen Cross, who is active advising companies, financial institutions and high net individuals.

    Practice head(s):

    Paul McBride

    Other key lawyers:

    Stephen Cross

    Key clients

    Vox Financial Partners Limited

    Phion Therapeutics Limited

    Ulster Carpet Mills (Holdings) Limited

    Lakeland Dairies

    Grays Clip Limited

    Regen Waste

    Artemis Technologies Limited

    Klas PDT Limited

    The Momentum Group

    Campstead Limited

    Work highlights

    • Acted for financial technology consultancy, Vox Financial Partners Limited, on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Delv Global Holdings Limited.
    • Acted for FRSNI Limited, a company specialising in fire risk consultancy work, in relation to the acquisition of Quam Consulting Limited.
    • Acted for the shareholders of Bartholomew & James (Financial Services) Limited in the disposal of its entire issued share capital to Spring Meadow Investment Limited.

    Millar McCall Wylie LLP

    Millar McCall Wylie LLP is well known for its work with domestic owner managed businesses, with matters covering real estate, technology, and construction. The department has worked on sales, acquisitions, and equity funding, and has been increasingly active on high value matters involving multiple jurisdictions. Department head Damian McParland contributes experience in high value corporate deals, with major clients including Learning Pool Limited and Cookstown Cement. The team also benefits from the work of John Finnegan, who focuses on corporate governance and commercial contracts.

    Practice head(s):

    Damian McParland

    Other key lawyers:

    John Finnegan

    Testimonials

    ‘Excellent level of service. Very responsive and represent extremely good value for money – priced far more competitively than some of the biggest names in the Belfast legal market but provide service and insight on par with the best.’

    ‘MMW are far more proactive than a lot of firms out there, and proactively find solutions rather than problems, which is something that is really just something that other firms say, but MMW actually do.’

    ‘John Finnegan – strong all-rounder with good experience across a range of corporate transactions, but particularly robust on property finance transactions.’

    ‘Damian McParland – excellent lawyer with arguably the broadest skills base of any corporate lawyer in Belfast, with very strong commercial acumen. Has an excellent ability to surmise complex concepts into simple statements and documents, benefiting his clients and facilitating smooth transactions.’

    Key clients

    Learning Pool Limited

    Cirdan Imaging Limited

    Traction Finance

    McAleer & Rushe Group

    Whiterock Capital Partners

    Cordovan Capital

    Keystone Group

    Garvan O’Doherty Group

    MJM Group

    Cookstown Cement

    Work highlights

    • Acted for Learning Pool and its management team in one of the largest ever US investments in a Northern Ireland business which saw US based private equity firm Marlin Equity Partners buy out Carlyle Cardinal Ireland.
    • Advised Cirdan Imaging Limited in all aspects of the conversion to equity shares of a convertible loan from the British Governments Future Fund (through UK FF Nominees) and existing shareholders, following a ‘Non-Qualified Fundraising’ equity fundraising round.
    • Acted for Cookstown Cement in the acquisition of LaFarge Ireland Limited.

    Mills Selig

    Mills Selig has seen increases in both deal volume and values over recent years, and now act for a number of global clients on transactions with Northern Irish elements. Clients remark on the firm’s ‘willingness to find solutions to allow transactions to reach successful conclusions‘, which has contributed to high profile deals across the technology, energy, and real estate industries. Managing partner Chris Guy leads the department, and has substantial experience in MBOs, investments, corporate restructuring and shareholder arrangements. He is supported by Glenn Watterson, who also works on the firm’s energy team, and Darren Marley, who was promoted to partner in 2021. Solicitor Emma McCloskey is a name to note.

    Practice head(s):

    Chris Guy

    Other key lawyers:

    Glenn Watterson; Darren Marley; Emma McCloskey

    Testimonials

    ‘Great team – willingness to find solutions to allow transactions to reach successful conclusions.’

    ‘Chris Guy – hugely experienced and measured in his approach. Nothing seems to rattle him. Darren Marley – pragmatic and tenacious to deliver transactions in tight timeframes.’

    ‘The team’s strength is its ability to communicate effective and regularly. They always make you feel that you are the most important client and keep you up to date with information and make time to explain or guide as necessary.’

    ‘Glenn Watterson has been with us since our inception. He has guided, supported encouraged. We totally trust his advice and he is always calm and precise in his communication.’

    Key clients

    Version 1 Software UK Limited

    Natural World Products

    FD Technologies plc

    Endzone Investments Limited

    Valsoft

    Galgorm Collection

    Power-On Technologies Limited

    NiSoft

    Cyphra Limited

    Blue Clarity Design Services Limited

    Work highlights

    • Acted for Version 1 Software UK Limited on the purchase of the entire issued share capital of Neueda Limited.
    • Acted for the shareholders of B9 Developments Limited, the holding company of Natural World Products Limited, on the sale of the entire issued share capital of B9 Developments Limited to Harvest Bidco Limited.
    • Advised global software provider First Derivatives in relation to its sale of its stake in RX Data Science, Inc. to Syneoas Health.

    Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

    Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP  is active on a range of transactions with multi-jurisdictional elements. The department makes use of the firm’s international reach by working closely with its other offices, particularly the firm’s base in Dublin. The Belfast team is co-led by legal directors Lisa Early and Michael Hamill. Early specialises in private equity transactions, and has experience on both the buyside and sellside, while Hamill is gaining a reputation for his work in the energy sector.

    Practice head(s):

    Lisa Early; Michael Hamill

    Other key lawyers:

    Sarah-Louise Baird

    Key clients

    TotalMobile

    Synova Capital

    Fortescue Future Industries

    Texthelp

    Niche Drinks

    Capital Dynamics Limited

    Beauparc Utilities Group

    Belfast city airport

    CGI Victoria Square Partnership

    Encirc Limited

    UBS

    Bluefield Capital Partners LLP

    Resonance Asset Management

    ScottishPower Renewables (UK) Limited

    SUSI Partners

    NTR plc

    East Anglia One Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised Synova Capital on the acquisition of Irish financial services business Doran & Minehane.
    • Advised Briggs Equipment UK Limited on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of J.B. Plant Hire (Dungannon) Limited and J.B. Plant Hire Limited.
    • Advised Offsite Archive Storage and Integrated Services (OASIS) on the acquisition of the European business and assets of CGG Services (US listed company).

    Shoosmiths LLP

    Shoosmiths LLP continues to grow its corporate offering in Northern Ireland, and is developing a ‘strong and capable team with a positive attitude and good market awareness‘. Team co-head Mark Davis joined from the London office of McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP in 2020, and has a background in advising international companies on investments, acquisitions and disposals. He was joined in 2021 by new co-heads Andrew Jennings and Grant Edwards, both from TLT. Jennings established and led the corporate team at his previous firm, and specialises in private equity and M&A transactions.

    Practice head(s):

    Mark Davis; Andrew Jennings; Grant Edwards

    Other key lawyers:

    Rebecca Laverty

    Testimonials

    ‘Knowledgable, reliable.’

    ‘Strong and capable team with a positive attitude and good market awareness.’

    ‘Mark Davis is highly expert at handling private wealth – he has incredibly commercial knowledge because he ran his own business and he comes from the corporate finance world as well as law.’

    ‘I found the Shoosmiths team are easy to work with, with excellent communication and professionalism.’

    ‘Andrew Jennings is pragmatic with a high degree of common sense and professionalism. His down to earth approach enables a good working relationship.’

    ‘I have worked with many law firms over the years but can easily say the service we received was second to none.’

    ‘On a personal level Grant Edwards has a very professional reassuring demeanour. His obvious knowledge of the sector was evident and this further served to enhance the confidence that the senior management team placed in him.’

    Key clients

    Elvstone Holdings Limited

    Policy Platforms Limited

    Regtick Ltd

    Kraydel Ltd

    Fosroc International

    B&J Sharman

    JMH Group

    Countryside Services Limited

    MPG Wind Ltd

    ABO Wind Gmbh

    Work highlights

      Davidson McDonnell Solicitors

      Davidson McDonnell Solicitors focuses primarily on transactional work, for both domestic Northern Irish and international clients. The practice is recognised for providing ‘concise, professional, practical advice‘, across industries as diverse as plumbing, veterinary, insurance, and technology. Vicky Dummigan leads the team, and has experience with management buyouts, restructurings and commercial agreements. Raymond Duddy acts for local businesses and high net worth individuals.

      Practice head(s):

      Vicky Dummigan; Raymond Duddy

      Testimonials

      ‘Outstanding, concise, professional, practical advice provided by a professional, courteous and friendly team.’

      ‘Raymond Duddy is a shining example of what a solicitor should and can be. His attention to detail, comittment to obtaining the best outcome for the client and his friendly, welcoming- yet highly professional expertise provides great comfort and reassurance as you navigate through the legal waters.’

      ‘Vicky Dummigan is one of the most commercial and practical lawyers I have met.’

      ‘I could not rate Vicky Dummigan any higher. An outstanding asset in any transaction.’

      Key clients

      Aqualla Brassware Ltd

      Wirefox

      Fscom Limited

      KES Group

      Kainos Group Plc

      WF Risk Group

      Fleming Agri

      FAST Technologies

      IconicRF Limited

      Xperience Group Management Limited

      Work highlights

      • Advising the shareholders of Aqualla Brassware Ltd on the sale of their shares to FM Mattsson Mora Group.
      • Advising Kainos Group on multiple acquisitions across Europe and the Americas.
      • Advising The New Mutual Holding Company on its sale of Ovolo Limited, the holding vehicle for the Park Inn Hotel, Belfast.

      Elliott Duffy Garrett

      Elliott Duffy Garrett‘s key industry sectors include agri-food, construction, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing. Practice head Kevin McVeigh ‘has a cool head and is unflappable in negotiations‘, and specialises in the sale and purchase of businesses. Cathy Murphy has been working as a partner since 2019, and is developing experience in corporate governance, commercial agreements and charity mergers.

      Practice head(s):

      Kevin McVeigh

      Other key lawyers:

      Cathy Murphy

      Testimonials

      ‘Easy to deal with – laid back approach to delivering transactions.’

      ‘Cathy Murphy – great understanding of technical accounting & tax issues and able to frame words to ensure the key aspects are captured within the transaction documents’

      ‘The corporate team at Elliot Duffy Garrett is large enough to handle a large corporate transaction but is small enough to do so effectively and efficiently.

      ‘Kevin McVeigh has a cool head and is unflappable in negotiations on behalf of his clients.’

      ‘In all instances I found them very professional, very thorough in their work, and most of all very knowledgeable in their field of expertise.’

      ‘The individuals I have worked with have all been very professional in their attitude to their job, but more importantly very approachable and down-to-earth.’

      Work highlights

      • Advised sellers in the disposal of large transport safety company to international buyer.
      • Advised large NI food group in the sale of its 50% stake in a cross-border joint venture

      MKB Law

      Belfast’s MKB Law provides corporate and commercial services to a client base including many owner-managed, medium-sized enterprises based in Northern Ireland. The firm also has a strong relationship with Elgin Energy Holdings, with which they work across the UK. Department head Gordon McElroy has particular experience in fundraising, and is additonally qualified to practice in the Republic of Ireland. Maria Conway is another key name, and has a practice in the hospitality, licensing and pharmaceutical sectors.

      Practice head(s):

      Gordon McElroy

      Other key lawyers:

      Maria Conway; Lynsey Henderson

      Testimonials

      ‘Personal service and willingness to research detailed points of law especially in complex areas’

      ‘Friendliness, competence and promptness of response.’

      Key clients

      Elgin Energy Holdings Limited

      Beannchor Group

      Gaffer Group

      Balloo Hire Centres

      Larne Chemists Limited

      Triquetra Hospitality Limited

      Finn Therapeutics Limited

      Walker Communications Limited

      Cracker Utilities Limited

      Lagan Homes Limited and associated companies

      Knighton Leisure Limited

      Glenkrag Limited

      Eamonn McCann

      Noel Eakin and Son Limited

      Work highlights

      • Advised Elgin Energy Holdings Limited as the lead legal advisor for the onboarding of circa 70 solar projects across the UK and Ireland.
      • Advised ASM Financial Planning Limited in relation to the sale of entire shareholding of their financial investment and services firm by way of a Downstream Buy Out Agreement.
      • Advised Elgin Energy Holdings Limited in the disposal of solar farms to Scottish Power Renewables, the largest transaction of its kind in the UK to date.