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Corporate and M&A in Northern Ireland

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody is 'one of the strongest corporate law firms in Northern Ireland' and 'a veritable one-stop shop for corporate finance, M&A guidance and services, acquisitions and strategic advisory support'. Alastair Keith leads the team and has expertise in M&A, joint ventures and IPOs; he has recently been notably active in high-scale reorganisations. Peter Stafford has 'immense knowledge of buy-outs and disposals and strategic advisory work'. M&A expert Mark Thompson particularly stands out in the energy, healthcare and media sectors. David Rowan, who was promoted to partner in 2019, is also highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Keith

Testimonials

‘What sets A&L Goodbody apart, especially in Northern Ireland, is the range of expertise and experience readily available from the practice and its team of specialists. It really is a veritable one-stop-shop for corporate finance, M&A guidance and services, acquisitions and strategic advisory support.’

‘No other practice in Northern Ireland offers the same breadth or quality of expertise and experience. The team has never failed to respond quickly and effectively to my requests for assistance.’

‘The Belfast office can draw on advice and support from its UK and Ireland network. No other practice offers such a quality service. Goodbody really is an exceptional business service.’

‘Everyone in the Belfast office has vast knowledge of various aspects of business. They have a host of contacts in the profession and in business. I have been thoroughly impressed by the entire team and the ability of members to respond quickly and effectively with advice and expert services over many years.’

‘David Rowan brings tremendous expertise especially in corporate and commercial law.’

‘I’ve been able to call on Peter Stafford’s immense knowledge on buy-outs and disposals and strategic advisory work over many years. He has helped to steer me to complete a number of high-value projects successfully, avoiding pitfalls and other challenges. I’ve benefited enormously from being able to call on his knowledge and experience ‘round the clock’ before taking decisions, during the implementation of these and subsequent follow-up.’

‘The A&LG team are a full service firm with strong skill sets and experience. They are one of the strongest corporate law firms in Northern Ireland.’

‘A&L have a senior team with real strength and depth. They are able to lead on multiple complex transactions, delivering service excellence and always in a friendly manner. It’s always a pleasure working with the A&L team.’

‘Peter Stafford is a trusted adviser who provides sound commercial advice in an easy to understand way.’

Key clients

Bombardier Aerospace UK Limited

3fivetwo Group

Haldane Fisher

Business Growth Fund

Energia Group

Prestige Insurance

Irish Football Association

Davy Group

McCloskey International Limited

Devenish (NI) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Bombardier on the local law aspects of the sale of its Northern Ireland-based aerostructures and aftermarket services businesses in Belfast.
  • Advised Prestige Insurance Holdings Limited on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Insure NI Limited.
  • Advised long-term client 3fivetwo Group on a substantial equity investment into its hospital business.

Arthur Cox Belfast

As an established name for advising blue-chip clients on high-value deals, Arthur Cox Belfast works on cross-border M&A, private equity and venture capital transactions. Belfast office chair Alan Taylor has extensive experience in acquisitions, disposals and restructurings. The 'very engaging and accommodating' Paul McBride is another key name and is particularly active in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Recently promoted corporate and commercial head Lynsey Mallon, who is 'a veteran corporate lawyer with very strong M&A experience', is also highly regarded in the market, counting major private equity house Kohlberg & Co as a key client. She was

Practice head(s):

Lynsey Mallon

Other key lawyers:

Paul McBride; Alan Taylor

Testimonials

‘We had one of the best experiences with Arthur Cox. They are very responsive, very accommodating of the clients fee requirements, and we are also very impressed with their close connection with the banking and business communities in Northern Ireland, which was critical when we were dealing with a major business on the brink of insolvency. ‘

‘We have to deal with suppliers, clients, employees, lenders on regular basis and it would not have been possible without Arthur Cox’s guidance. Lyndsey Mallon was the lead partner on that transaction. She is apparently a veteran corporate lawyer with very strong M&A experience and also well-versed in the debt restructuring process (the target was in financial difficulties at the time of the transaction). ‘

‘Lynsey Mallon also receives very strong support from her colleagues in corporate, banking, real estate and labour practice groups, and we are very impressed of her skill set and coordination capabilities.’

‘Arthur Cox are our trusted advisers and we highly value their input on our private equity investments and property development projects. They are always responsive and provide timely, accurate advice and guidance based on our needs. ‘

‘They are unique in that they bring a rounded business perspective as well as sound legal and technical advice to our work. They have supported us to set up our family office structure and continue to provide sound advice regarding planning our family affairs. ‘

‘Lynsey Mallon is a shrewd and trusted adviser, who provides rounded advice and guidance in our commercial transactions. Her team’s attention to detail and technical knowledge is outstanding. ‘

‘I find that Arthur Cox is unique in that I have direct access to the senior team and they put me in touch with one of their team who can answer my questions quickly and with accuracy.’

‘Paul McBride is very engaging and accommodating and always solution focused. Paul always makes clients feel that Arthur Cox can help to resolve their issue.’

Key clients

Weichai Power Co

TRGRP Inc

Musgrave Retail Partners NI Limited

Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing

Kohlberg & Co

Musgrave Distribution Limited

McLanahan Corporation

WindNI Limited

Donegal Investment Group plc

Spirit Aerosystems, Inc

Work highlights

  • Advised Musgrave on its acquisition and sale of multiple retail businesses across Northern Ireland.
  • Acted for SAM on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of JW Kane Precision Engineering Limited.
  • Acted for Kohlberg & Co on the NI law aspects of the €347m acquisition of Bemis Elsham, Bemis Healthcare UK and Bemis Healthcare Ireland.

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell is a key name in the market for corporate deals involving the energy and agri-food industries, with a growing foothold in the private equity and venture capital arenas. The 'truly exceptional' Richard Gray leads the team and advises major domestic companies including SHS Group and Lagan Investments. Neasa Quigley is a key name for energy and private equity work and was made senior partner in 2019, while Gerard Armstrong stands out for his skills in the agri-food, waste and construction sectors. Former managing partner Michael Johnston is now a consultant.

Practice head(s):

Richard Gray

Testimonials

‘Richard Gray is a truly exceptional lawyer. Always patient; always takes time to explain; delivers his advice with total professionalism and, when the situation deserves, with appropriate humour.’

Key clients

SHS Group Limited

Lagan Investments Limited

Prestige Insurance Holdings Limited

Sisaf Ltd

Fane Valley Co-Operative Society Limited

Statsports Group Limited

Vinci Energies UK Holdings Limited

Options Technology Limited

Finnebrogue

Eakin Healthcare Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised STATSport Group Limited on a significant equity raised from a number of individual investors including Premier League footballers, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
  • Acted as lead legal advisers to the sole shareholder of Autoline Insurance Group on the sale of the group’s parent company, Insure NI Limited, to Prestige Insurance Holdings Limited.
  • Advised the management shareholders on the sale of a majority stake in Options Technology Limited to US private equity fund Abry and partners, and the related equity investment.

Tughans

Private equity and venture capital transactions are a hallmark of Tughans' corporate practice, which counts major investment houses including Techstart Ventures LLP and Kernel Capital on its client roster.  James Donnelly leads the practice and stands out for his expertise in the engineering, technology and construction sectors. John McGuckian is a key name for the firm's private equity work and has earned mandates from major institutional and private investors. Former senior partner John-George Willis is now a consultant and an independent non-executive director. Ciara Lagan departed to Allen & Overy LLP.

Practice head(s):

James Donnelly

Key clients

Techstart Ventures

Kernel Capital

Foresight Group LLP

Invest Northern Ireland

Plotbox Inc.

Tascomi Limited

Deloitte LLP

Mattioli Woods Plc

Invest Northern Ireland

Staffline plc

Work highlights

  • Advised Techstart Ventures LLP on its investments in seed and early-stage technology businesses and university spin-outs in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • Advised Kernel Capital, the fund manager of the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Venture Funds, on its investments in 2019.
  • Acted for Foresight Group LLP on a high-profile £5m growth capital investment into Northern Ireland’s largest private healthcare business, 352 Medical Group Limited.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin's practice is led by Hilary Griffith, who has 'considerable corporate and M&A experience within Northern Ireland and beyond'  and is 'clear-thinking', 'practical' and 'capable of tailoring advice to an individual situation and explaining clearly.' As well as M&A, Griffith is also experienced in  management buy-outs, fund raisings and private equity investments, with a particular focus on the life sciences, higher education and technology sectors. Kathryn Laverty, who has 'good communication skills' and 'a can-do approach' was recently promoted to senior associate.

Practice head(s):

Hilary Griffith

Other key lawyers:

Kathryn Laverty

Testimonials

‘Cleaver Fulton Rankin have been resourced with an experienced and respected leader in Hilary Griffith. She has considerable Corporate & M&A experience within Northern Ireland and beyond, and it shows. We had previously worked with her, and have found that Cleavers is the team that best fits us, balancing expertise with value for money and a helpful approach.’

‘We have found the communication skills, level heads and pragmatic approach to be particularly to our liking.’

‘Hilary Griffith who leads our account has a pragmatic, business-focused approach. She is clear-thinking and practical, and capable of tailoring advice to an individual situation, and explaining clearly.’

‘Kathryn Laverty, an Associate, reflects Hilary’s approach with a similar skillset. She has good communication skills and a can-do approach.’

Key clients

Microsoft

ESO Solutions Limited

Arena Capital Partners Ltd

Made to Engage Limited

Millicent Pharma

Ulster Carpet Mills

Lakeland Dairies

Catalyst Inc

JMW Farms

Dickson and Co

Bellamoon Limited

Phion Therapeutics

Momentum Group

Gray’s Clip Limited

3EN Cloud Limited

Truestock

Photonic Measurements Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Lakeland Diaries on its merger with Lacpatrick Dairies, to become the second largest dairy producer on the island of Ireland.
  • Advised infrastructure investor Equitix on its acquisition of Firmus Energy, one of the largest local natural gas suppliers in Northern Ireland.
  • Advised Millicent Pharma on its acquisition of the business and assets of Teva relating to the US pharmaceutical product Femring.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP

Providing 'an excellent all-round level of service', Millar McCall Wylie LLP is particularly active in the technology sector and advises on M&A, private equity and venture capital transactions. The 'exceptional' Damian McParland leads the team and recently advised on transactions concerning virtual reality, e-learning and medical software issues. Scott Kennedy also has a strong emphasis on the technology sector and is also very experienced in the manufacturing industry. Abbie Long is another key figure and regularly supports McParland on key mandates.

Practice head(s):

Damian McParland 

Other key lawyers:

Scott Kennedy; Abbie Long 

Testimonials

‘ Commercial, focused and personable. Grasps the key points to be covered off quickly.’

‘Damian McParland is an exceptional lawyer. He is very commercial, on the key points, but the detail gets done also.’

‘The firm provides an excellent all-round level of service. Partners/Staff are technically very good and work is done in a very timely and proactive manner. ‘

‘Partners and staff are easily accessible whenever you need to speak to them.’

‘Damian McParland was excellent. Damian was also exceptional on very quickly getting to grips with the commercial reality of the deal and he decided at a very early stage what was important and what was not so that the transaction progressed as quickly and efficiently as possible.’

‘Damian was always available to deal with issues personally himself in a very timely and proactive manner.’

‘Millar McCall Wylie are very pragmatic in their approach to transactions and look for solutions not problems when undertaking work.’

‘The firm, and Damian McParland in particular, are very approachable and have a real understanding of the issues at stake.’

‘Diverse firm with excellent lawyers and very commercial people within the firm. Damian McParland – always accessible for quick steers in the early stages and excellent on transactions.’

‘MMW have a broad range of expertise for a small business such as ourselves, along with a down to earth approach to getting things completed.’

‘Accessibility to the partners is key and they excel at this, again making their service very distinct to some of their competitors. Damian has to be one the best in the business in the area of M&A, having a great attitude to commerciality and progressing deals.’

Key clients

Learning Pool Limited

Cirdan Imaging Limited

Causeway Sensors Limited

McAleer & Rushe Group

Signature Living Hotel Group

WhiteRock Capital Partners

Keystone Group

Kernel Capital

MJM Group

MyCarNeedsA.com

Work highlights

  • Advised Kanisi Limited on a £3m funding round led by Edition Capital Investments Limited.
  • Advised Learning Pool Limited on the acquisition of HT2 Limited.
  • Advised Retinize Limited on the spin-out of IP from Wild Rover Productions and subsequent equity investment by Techstart Ventures.

Mills Selig

Mills Selig is a key name for high-value domestic deals, with a strong track record in M&A, private equity and venture capital transactions. Chris Guy leads the team and is notably active in high-profile mandates for Bamford Bus Company and Novosco. Managing director John Kearns is also an important figure and an expert in corporate and restructuring matters.

Practice head(s):

Chris Guy

Other key lawyers:

John Kearns

Testimonials

‘A genuine personal relationship with us as clients.’

‘Regular communication on all matters.’

‘Chris Guy was very responsive and provided an excellent service.’

Key clients

Bamford Bus Company Limited

First Derivatives plc

Quinn Industrial Limited

Novosco Limited

Devenish Nutrition Limited

McAuley Fabrication Limited

MAW Engineering Limited

Ampliphae Limited

SDC Trailers Limited

Savage & Whitten Wholesale Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the selling shareholders of the Novosco Group Limited group of companies on the sale of the entire issued share capital for £70m to Cancom Ltd.
  • Acted for Bamford Bus Company Limited on the purchase of the business and assets of the Wrightbus Group out of administration.
  • Advised LDC Limited, the investment arm of Lloyds Banking Group, on the Northern Ireland aspects of its acquisition of the MSQ Partners Group Limited.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is led by newly promoted directors Lisa Early and Michael Hamill, who are able to draw upon expertise from the firm's neighbouring offices in Great Britain and Dublin. Early has a growing reputation in the private equity space, while Hamill focuses on M&A work in the energy sector. Energy specialist Richard Murphy is also a key name for energy-related corporate deals. Former practice head Richard Masters no longer works in the legal profession.

Practice head(s):

Lisa Early; Michael Hamill 

Other key lawyers:

Richard Murphy

Testimonials

‘The Pinsents team were very willing to think their way through an untypical but intellectually challenging transaction.’

‘Senior Associate Michael Hamill has a friendly and pleasing manner which makes him easy to work with and to discuss interesting and challenging concepts.’

Key clients

TCI Renewables Limited

Foresight Group LLP

Linnaeus Veterinary Limited

Greencoat Capital LLP

Belfast City Airport

Total Mobile Limited

Aviva Investors

Resonance Asset Management LLP

Capital Dynamics Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised EPUK Investments Limited on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of AES Ballylumford Limited and AES Kilroot Limited from the AES Corporation.
  • Advised Capital Dynamics Limited on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of BRI Wind Farm 4 Limited and BRI Wind Farm 6 Limited including its portfolio of onshore wind turbines located throughout Northern Ireland.
  • Advised the shareholders of Texthelp on an investment into the company.

Davidson McDonnell Solicitors

Davidson McDonnell Solicitors is a relatively new name in the Belfast market, with particularly strong expertise in private equity and venture capital deals.  Vicky Dummigan leads the practice and is highly skilled in the group's areas of experience; she recently advised major local investment companies including Wirefox and Crescent Capital.

Practice head(s):

Vicky Dummigan

Key clients

Wirefox

Crescent Capital

Whiterock Capital Partners

Xperience Group

Automated Intelligence Limited

Analytics Engines Limited

Fscom

Willis Insurance & Risk Management

Dunluce Healthcare

Kane Group

Imperva

Budget Energy

Kainos Group plc

Pinnacle Response

Lagan Specialist Contracting Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Crescent Capital on the establishment of its new venture capital fund, Crescent Capital IV LP. The fund raised £26.5m at first close and is aiming to leverage that to £65m at second close.
  • Advised Kainos on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Formulate Limited.
  • Advised Jasmine Enterprises on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Sawtech Ireland Limited, a saw and tool retail and sharpening business in Belfast.

Elliott Duffy Garrett

Elliott Duffy Garrett's team assists major corporates, public bodies, SMEs and family-owned businesses with a range of corporate matters including M&A, MBOs, shareholder agreements, commercial contracts and joint ventures. Kevin McVeigh is at the helm of the group and is particularly active in M&A issues and commercial agreements.

Practice head(s):

Kevin McVeigh

Keystone Law

Keystone Law's practice is led by John McMahon, who is an expert in corporate and commercial matters with strong sector expertise in the property, energy and retail industries. McMahon is qualified in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as England and Wales.

Practice head(s):

John McMahon

TLT

TLT, which has offices across the UK, is a relatively recent entry to the Belfast market and has grown its reputation through its work in the private equity, renewable energy and technology spaces. The 'highly competent, pragmatic and client-focused' Andrew Jennings leads the team following his recruitment from Arthur Cox Belfast in 2018. Jenning's workload typically encompasses cross-border M&A and private equity and venture capital deals.  Associate Grant Edward, who is 'technically very strong' and 'a good negotiator', regularly supports Jennings on the group's mandates.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Jennings

Other key lawyers:

Grant Edward

Testimonials

‘Highly competent, pragmatic and client focused. Grant Edwards and Andrew Jennings are both highly competent, pragmatic and eager to deliver to client demands and time frames.’

‘Grant Edwards, to date has been extremely good. Grant is technically very strong and a good negotiator on our behalf. His advice is always calm and measured, proactive and has taken the time to understand our investment stance and perspective on deals so that they can tailor their advice accordingly.’

‘Proactive – planning well ahead to meet the necessary deadlines. Good communicators bringing the rest of the team along with them. Responded to all queries in a very efficient manner.’

Key clients

Par Equity

Blackfinch Ventures

WH Smith PLC

Savills PLC

Kraydel Limited

BSG Civil Engineering Limited

Nevisco Holding Limited

Lough Shore Road Limited

Tap SOS Limited

Bob & Berts Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Par Equity, a venture capital investment fund headquartered in Edinburgh, on three separate investments.
  • Advised BSG Civil Engineering on the full reorganisation of its wider group.
  • Advised Kraydel Limited on closing out a multi-million pound investment round by a syndicate of experienced investment funds, trade investors and high-net-worth individuals.