Corporate and commercial: Essex in South East

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP is widely hailed for its strengths in strategically significant, high-value corporate transactions that often have a cross-border dimension. Led by Rafael Ruiz, the team in Chelmsford is seen as a first port of call for advice on acquisitions and disposals, as well as commercial contracts, particularly among clients in the IT and financial services sectors. It is increasingly prominent in private equity-backed transactions and also excels in handling sales of companies to employee ownership trusts (EOTs). In 2020, highlights included Ruiz, senior associate Heidi Jones and others acting for X-tention on its acquisition of Cloud 21 Limited from CTOi Group Limited. Adam JonesNigel Thompson and senior associate Caroline Nicholls are names to note. Also recommended is senior associate Alex Forwood, who has played an important role in growing the firm's portfolio of work in the food sector. Nick Burnett has retired from private practice.

Practice head(s):

Rafael Ruiz

Other key lawyers:

Adam Jones; Nigel Thompson; Alex Forwood; Heidi Jones; Caroline Nicholls

Testimonials

‘Very good knowledge of M&A business. The M&A team not only has an in-depth knowledge of M&A but also from the financial and environmental aspects of a deal.’

‘We worked intensively with Alex Forwood. He was always up to date on the file, easily reachable, short reaction time and had an excellent knowledge of the M&A business. Is really an excellent balance between fee and delivered service. The service delivered by Alex was certainly of equal quality which in my experience we receive from bigger law firms.’

I found Heidi Jones professional, extremely prompt, always available and thoughtful. She uses words with care and accuracy, recognises priorities and acts on them. I found her meticulous, diligent, knowledgeable, experienced, with good contacts both internal and external, knowledgeable beyond her years, and very able to discuss fine points of legal documents with an enthusiastic layman.’

‘Caroline Nicholls was very efficient and assisted greatly in the negotiations for our recent MBO.’

‘Good all round commercially minded lawyers.’

‘A highly efficient and professional company that retains all in house legal disciplines, team members always on hand to provide the necessary advise and guidance. The use of a data room for uploading documentation was a fantastic innovation making the sharing information much easier for the members of the group.’

There is a detailed breakdown of budgeted costs at the outset with regular tracking of actuals against it.’

Key clients

Atalian Servest

Investec Investments (UK) Limited

Investec Bank plc

Excess Baggage Group

Seetec Business Technology Centre

The Reddington Group

Hydro International Limited

Sharksfin Holdings

Airtask Group/Directflight

Merryck & Co

Granarolo SpA & Group

Autoprotect

Ventrica Limited

Gates Group Limited

Commodity Centre Group

Ordinary Members of Partners Wealth Management LLP

Manchester Underwriting Management Limited

Foresight Group LLP

Palatine Private Equity LLP

YFM Private Equity Limited

Jablite Limited

CPL Aromas Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised private equity investor Foresight Group on its acquisition of Plantexpand Limited.
  • Advised AOC on the sale of its UK subsidiary to a large German purchaser, BUFA Composites.
  • Advised Elemental Microanalysis on its debt funding and acquisition of a 50% interest in a target bolt-on business.

Birkett Long LLP

Birkett Long LLP is a major player in the Essex market, as is evidenced by its work for local names such as Wilkin & Sons Limited and Fläkt Woods, among various others. In addition, it also generates mandates nationally and internationally. Tracey Dickens heads up the team, which is spread across the Colchester, Chelmsford and Basildon offices. Its areas of sector expertise include banking, manufacturing, technology and construction. Recently promoted senior associate Tim Field leads a group that focuses on the health and social care sector, and is highly active in transactions involving care homes. Another key figure is associate solicitor Thomas Emmett, who is the head of education. David Wisbey is also recommended. In 2020, the team handled various matters for Project Etopia Group Limited, including an equity investment by a third party.

Practice head(s):

Tracey Dickens

Other key lawyers:

David Wisbey; Tim Field; Thomas Emmett

Testimonials

‘The lead solicitor, Thomas Emmett, is quick to respond and give his or a colleague’s opinion. He doesn’t waste any unnecessary time and ensures that, if it is a simple enquiry, it gets resolved with the hour.’

‘Each individual I have worked with communicates well and explains legal matters in a clear, comprehensive and understandable manner. In particular, they set out an estimate of costs at the very start of any instruction and rarely exceed that amount. I would give particular mention to Thomas Emmett and David Wisbey both of whom have been excellent in providing professional services in the corporate field.’

‘The team collaborate to ensure the best outcomes. Billing for our organisation ensures a number of policies are scrutinised. Superb support and advise provided in regards to legal claims.’

‘We work with Thomas Emmett at Birkett Long in Colchester. He has been efficient, turning around policies and advice quickly. The attention to detail is superb and communication is always highly considered. He works exceptionally well within his team to ensure the right advice is provided.’

‘Thomas Emmett. Always professional, knowledge of the subject matter, attention to detail and working through the unsociable hours to complete the task before a deadline.’

‘The team at Birkett Long are very accessible and easy to talk to. My associate has been a real asset to our business. I can rely on them to answer the phone and give advice all the time. When one individual is not available they are quick to message and set up a suitable time for a call back. Billing is transparent and we certainly feel that we receive good value.’

‘Birkett Long have a team of talented and knowledgeable solicitors who are always able to assist with my firm’s legal requirements. They are very quick at responding to urgent matters which makes issues easier to deal with.’

Key clients

Healthcare Homes Group Limited

Healthcare Homes (2020) Limited

Project Etopia Group Limited

Flakt Woods Limited

St Mary’s School Colchester Ltd

Navigator Terminals Limited

Red7 Inshore Diving Limited

Navigator Terminals North Tees Limited

Navigator Terminals Seal Sands Limited

Project Etopia Limited

Project Etopia UK Limited

Simarco International Limited

Backline Safety Europe Ltd

Valeo

Wilkin & Sons Limited

Blackline Safety Corp.

Thermotraffic UK Ltd

Praxis42 Limited

Stockplace Investments Limited

Panfoods Co Limited

Navigator Terminals Thames BV Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Healthcare Homes on the acquisition of the operating business of six care homes from Four Seasons Health Care Group, including agreements to operate the homes between exchange and completion.
  • Advising Thermotraffic B.V. (via its UK subsidiary, Thermotraffic (UK) Limited) on the acquisition of a 50% interest in Kevin Hancock Limited.
  • Advising the shareholders of Coast Digital Limited on the sale of 100% of the shares in the company to Elixirr International plc.

Tees Law

At Tees Law, the team in Brentwood is led by Lucy Folley, and is sought after to advise on M&A, internal reorganisations, joint ventures (and other strategic collaborations), outsourcing projects and governance-related issues. Folley, has over 20 years of experience in this space, and was formerly managing partner of Wortley Byers, which Tees merged with in 2019. She works with senior associate Baljeet Kaur, as well as associates Charles Kirk and Elizabeth de Cruz. Former practice head Sue Dowman left for Aston Park Law Limited in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Folley

Other key lawyers:

Baljeet Kaur; Charles Kirk; Elizabeth de Cruz

Testimonials

‘Lucy Folley has extensive experience in company sales and acquisitions, and her knowledge on the legal and financial process involved and her judgement in handling the personalities involved proved invaluable.’

‘The personal approach and genuine interest in clients’ needs is always apparent. All staff are swift to respond. The collaboration between differing teams and the ability to use other teams to support where required gives me comfort. ’

‘The individuals we work with show professionalism at all times and are genuinely committed to my needs.’

‘The team were always there for us throughout the whole process of the sale of our business, their commitment to what they do was more than we ever expected. Their knowledge and professionalism was second to none.’

‘Baljeet Kaur was very efficient and effective in the work she completed for me.’

‘In our opinion, the corporate and commercial team at Tees Law have always provided a knowledgeable and responsive service. ’

‘The difference I find when dealing with team at Tees is that they offer clear and helpful advice without ‘sitting on the fence’. I am always left feeling both assured and confident after consulting with them and I never feel lost in legal jargon.’

‘Lucy Folley worked with me on my first company acquisition. This was a daunting undertaking but Lucy made the task both simple and understandable as she took me through the process in manageable steps. I was never overloaded with information but Lucy always advised me of the key issues and concerns and advised me where to focus on large documents. The ultimate accolade was the fact the acquisition was very successful.’

Key clients

Stort Chemicals Limited

The Sellers of Rebura Limited

Brett Essex Golf Club Limited

Ashberry Holdings Ltd/Ashberry Healthcare Ltd

Dunmow Skips Ltd

Brentwood School

Grove & Dean Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Stort Chemicals Limited on an international transaction involving the purchase of shares of three companies Zanos Ltd, Agnichem Limited (both UK entities) and Zanos Europe B.V. (a company registered in the Netherlands).
  • Advising the sellers on a complex international transaction involving the sale of the entire issued share capital of Rebura Ltd to Frank Recruitment Group Limited, a US private equity backed company.
  • Advising Ashberry Holdings Limited on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Ashberry Healthcare Limited from a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands; including a pre-acquisition reconstruction and post-acquisition refinancing of all operations.

Thompson Smith and Puxon

Led by senior partner Mary Anne FedeykoThompson Smith and Puxon's team undertakes the entire ambit of corporate and commercial work for local and national clients. It also has a strong profile among overseas-based entities, particularly those located in the US and Canada. Fedeyko has almost 25 years of experience advising clients on complex section 110 reorganisations and demergers. Elsewhere, other drivers of work include M&A, MBOs/MBIs, joint ventures, partnerships and shareholder agreements. The firm generates mandates from clients across a broad range of industries, with particular strengths in areas such as agriculture and healthcare (including matters relating to dental practices, GP practices and NHS contracts). Nick MaylesClaire Powell and Nicola Rout are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Mary Anne Fedeyko

Other key lawyers:

Nick Mayles; Claire Powell; Nicola Rout

Testimonials

‘Nick Mayles – Absolutely excellent. Client focused and got to the nub of our challenge.’

‘Always enthusiastic and knowledgeable.’

‘Fantastic, knowledgeable and always understanding. Very efficient and professional in all manners.’

‘Mary Anne Fedeyko always goes above and beyond in a very professional whilst considered and caring manner.’

‘The team go to great length to get to know our specific business and what is important to us. Throughout all of their they continuously refer back to our priorities to ensue we are aligned to that.’

‘Definitely the personal touch. Easily accessible at all times if we have small questions. You don’t have to go through a switchboard or a PA all the time.’

‘Flexible and willing to listen.’

‘I find the practice personal and responsive to my needs.’

Ellisons Solicitors

Ellisons Solicitors' corporate practice is led from the Chelmsford and Colchester offices by Paul Forsyth, whose wide-ranging experience includes group reorganisations, acquisitions and sales of private companies, insolvency-related transactions and commercial contracts. His excellent reputation is reflected by the fact that he attracts referrals from banks, accountants and corporate finance advisers. Forsyth works with David Heller, who was recently promoted to associate solicitor. In 2020, the team acted for clients from industries such as manufacturing, retail, construction and farming, among others.

Practice head(s):

Paul Forsyth

Other key lawyers:

David Heller

Testimonials

‘Professional, reliable and proactive. Communication is of a very high level when working together.’

‘Attention to detail and ability to react to requirements quickly, efficiently with no issues.’

I work mostly with Paul Forsyth who is my first call for any of our legal requirements as I know he will find the correct member of the team for me very speedily. Responses to enquiries always fast and professional.

‘The team was clearly very skilled, driven by a partner who once we had a discussion on my requirements and what we needed to achieve, a team was put together. They all worked closely with each other and offered advice and direction in a well constructed way, it was not left to one person but shared amongst those with a specialist interest in each area that needed to be addressed. The whole team were approachable, professional, contactable and very effective, even going the extra mile when asked to and working on a Saturday and Sunday to complete a very in-depth contract. ’

‘The team is ambitious and hungry to keep growing whilst at the same time having deep experience in its core competencies.’

‘Paul Forsyth is hands-on, reliable and is always prepared to go the extra mile for his clients.’

‘The corporate team are highly responsive and gauge the input required to the complexity of the transaction and don’t try a one size fits all policy with regard to documentation and take a practical approach to resolving difficulties arising in transactions.’

‘Paul Forsyth is an excellent communicator. He re-assures clients where necessary and his pragmatic approach to transactions is appreciated.’

Work highlights

  • Advised S. Thorogood & Sons (Covent Garden) Limited as the buyer on the acquisition of the share capital in Rushtons The Chef’s Greengrocers Limited, which added to the client’s existing supplier business, Classic Fresh Foods.
  • Advised the lead shareholder on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Aspect Plus Limited, as well as the sale of Aspect Plus to Quantuma.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP has a specialist healthcare department, which is led by Leah Groves, and assists clients with matters such as sales and acquisitions of dental practices, CQC registrations, partnership and expense sharing agreements, and asset and share transactions. Elsewhere, the firm generates mandates from clients in sectors such as IT, charities and education. Senior partner Tony Fisher is experienced in corporate, commercial and partnership work. Ashton Carter is another key figure in the group.

Practice head(s):

Tony Fisher

Other key lawyers:

Leah Groves; Ashton Carter

Testimonials

‘Always able to respond at short notice with well-considered practical advice and notably comprehensive drafting of legal documentation to put ideas into operation.’

‘Ashton Carter and Tony Fisher are both highly engaged and proactive and have an impressive grasp of detail and history over time.’

‘I very much like the interest and dedication of partners on projects and the sense they want to make a difference rather than the project being one of many they are managing. I appreciated the willingness to have Teams and Zoom calls to discuss matters and the use of technology to facilitate the closing of the project – electronic signatures and disclosure letters on thumb drives. Normally it is nice to meet in person but it has not been necessary or mattered for the project we worked together.’

‘Tony Fisher is very hands-on and calm. He understands and can succinctly communicate a wide range of corporate, HR and property law and this was valuable for simplifying issues and finding solutions. Ashton Carter is wonderful on project management and working issues and paperwork logically. He is very proactive and reactive depending on the situation and his communication manner is very clear.’

Pinney Talfourd LLP

Edward Garston is the main contact at Pinney Talfourd LLP, which generates instructions from commercial clients (many of which are long-established), as well as a significant number of referring accountants. The roster of clients includes owner-managed businesses, local authorities and listed companies. The department handles corporate and commercial matters connected with areas such as property, healthcare, aerospace and IT, among others.

Practice head(s):

Edward Garston

Testimonials

‘We have always found Pinney Talfourd to provide an excellent service to our clients which is why we refer them over other practices.’

‘We work with Edward Garston, his knowledge, advice and practical solutions to the clients issues are why we work with him.’

Billing is clear, transparent and upfront before engagement of services.’

‘The team are very professional but more than that, they make you feel that you are there only client and give you the respect and attention you deserve. Always friendly and polite. I have used them in both a business and personal capacity.’

‘Ed Garston is a professional, respectful and friendly approachable person to deal with. He always has time and is very knowledgeable within his job. He has worked and represented some of my clients and they have given him an excellent review and would use him again. I would recommend him without a doubt to both business clients and personal contacts.’

‘Good, regular, easy face to face (or screen to screen) contact. Fair billings, excellent market knowledge. A pleasure to deal with.’

‘I found the team to be very professional in their approach and the way they conducted themselves throughout. All team members were helpful with my queries and prompt to reply to questions I raised. I was kept informed throughout my dealings with them by regular updates. All team members were very knowledgeable and able to express a difficult legal matter in a way that I could understand.’

‘I found Edward Garston to be very eloquent, explaining complex legal matters in a simplified way to me. He gave clear advice, which gave me confidence in the legal route we were taking. He was sincere and honest in his approach, providing an insight on how this matter was going to be resolved.’

Key clients

DMS Furniture Limited

SWEP Group Limited

Brents of Brentwood Limited

DMC Investments Limited

Kelvedon Hatch Parish Council

Neon Healthcare Limited

Wilson & Nicol Properties Limited

Simply Glass Limited

KMG Travel Management Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised DMC Investments Limited on the reorganisation of its group structure to facilitate the exit of a minority shareholder, which was funded by drawing down a new secured external finance facility.
  • Advised the continuing shareholders of Brents of Brentwood Limited on their acquisition of share capital from an outgoing shareholder using a new holding company, finance structure, and operational control arrangements.
  • Structured an innovative solution to a proposed minority share sale and purchase which required an extremely fast completion, and which might otherwise have failed if the shareholders had followed a more traditional transactional approach.

BTMK Solicitors

BTMK Solicitors generates a strong flow of work from clients located across the South East of England, including SMEs and high-net-worth individuals. The majority of matters handled by the corporate and commercial department are led by Rayleigh-based partner Lee Emptage, who has a wealth of experience of company takeovers and mergers, acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures and restructurings. Ian Powell is a key contact in Southend.

Practice head(s):

Lee Emptage; Ian Powell

Testimonials

‘Quick turnaround times when needed, clear communication and team are knowledgeable and experienced.’

‘Lee Emptage communicates in business language rather than legal language. Lack of waffle and direct, always efficient use of time.’

‘All of my dealings with BTMK have been second to none. I have found them to be on the ball and proactive to my varied needs across departments. ’

‘Lee Emptage has been advising me since the beginning of my career and I can always count on him. He is always at the end of a phone for me to rely on for the right advice and his attention to detail has paid dividends over the years.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client on its acquisition of a competitor in the drinks sector.
  • Advised a client on terminating his relationship with a sportswear brand and establishing a new endorsement agreement with another sportswear brand.
  • Advised a client on a joint venture agreement with a US-based company.

Jefferies Essex LLP

Jefferies Essex LLP has a strong market presence in Essex, and it also attracts mandates from clients based elsewhere in the UK. Katrina Holland heads up the team, whose recent work included company buybacks/MBOs, joint ventures and demergers. Clients of the firm include SMEs, trade businesses, charitable organisations and investment companies. Amelia Hayes is knowledgeable about the property-related aspects of commercial transactions.

Practice head(s):

Katrina Holland

Other key lawyers:

Amelia Hayes; Duncan Bennington; Dennis Travell

Testimonials

‘The partner that I worked with, who was highly recommended, was knowledgeable, efficient and extremely helpful in resolving a stressful transaction, and that I would not hesitate to employ her were I ever conducting a similar transaction.’

‘Katrina Holland was courteous, efficient and clear in her advice. She was always available to explain complex issues of law and to advise upon the most efficient and commercial routes forward.’

‘Professional yet approachable with everything well explained.’

‘Dealing with Katrina Holland was so much better than previous experiences with other firms of solicitors. Her knowledge and input in to what was a challenging MBO was invaluable and her ability to explain options and keep us fully updated throughout the process was exceptional.’

‘The team from reception to assistants to solicitors are always efficient and polite and are a pleasure to deal with.’

‘I have known Katrina Holland for over 15 years, and with any work she has undertaken for us, she has shown commitment and understanding.’

Work highlights

  • Assisting a client with varying the earn-out provisions in an SPA to meet both parties’ revised needs in view of the pandemic.
  • Advising members of a professional practice on a management buyout of their outgoing partners via a newly-formed holding company.
  • Assisting a property development company with preparing and negotiating a shareholders agreement for a SPV company to govern the joint venture arrangements agreed with an investor for funding a development project.

Palmers

Palmers' workload includes advice to clients on MBOs and MBIs, M&A, joint ventures, equity finance, shareholders' agreements and joint ventures. BJ Chong and Luke Morgan co-head the team, which includes associate solicitor Matthew Johnson.

Practice head(s):

BJ Chong; Luke Morgan

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Johnson

Testimonials

‘The team members are very approachable and always available to speak on their direct dial telephone numbers.’

‘Matt Johnson is a delight to work with. He explains matters with exceptional clarity and nothing is too much trouble for him as he works to get matters done.’

‘Despite the problems of the pandemic, Palmers’ team remains open, transparent and effective in embracing technology and changing practices.’

‘Mathew Johnson is exceptional. Not only does he understand our needs, he understands the changing business profile we have, our expectation and values. This is reflected in his advice and work.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a management team on an internal management buy out for circa £8m.
  • Advised the shareholders on the sale of an adult care home provider for circa £3m.
  • Advised the remaining shareholders on the exit of a founder shareholder with an overall transaction value of circa £2m.

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP

At Paul Robinson Solicitors LLPMark Deans in Billericay has over 20 years of experience advising clients on a wide range of corporate and commercial matters; his expertise includes company formations, M&A, group reorganisations, partnership agreements and commercial contracts. Deans co-heads the practice with Fiona Colwell, who is based in Westcliff-on-Sea. The firm's recent work spanned sectors such as energy, gaming, technology, retail and hospitality.

Practice head(s):

Mark Deans; Fiona Colwell