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Corporate and commercial: Hampshire in South East

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP’s diverse client base regularly turns to the firm's corporate and commercial team for assistance on a range of major acquisitions, disposals, takeovers and restructurings. Practice head James Hawkeswood, a known figure in the SME space, is supported by Mark Hepworth, who chiefly handles corporate transactions for private equity houses, and Stephen Archibald, who is well-versed in institutional equity matters and general advisory mandates. Gemma Spiceley’s practice underpins the team’s reputation in the retail, health and social care sectors, while Mat Wilson is noted for venture capital deals and corporate group restructurings. All named lawyers are based in Southampton.

Practice head(s):

James Hawkeswood

Other key lawyers:

Mark Hepworth; Stephen Archibald; Gemma Spiceley; Mat Wilson

Testimonials

‘Mat Wilson has been fantastic.’

‘Blake Morgan are responsive and attentive. They collaborate internally to address my varied legal needs and take great care to understand my commercial requirements.’

‘A strong team that always delivers.’

‘James Hawkeswood is fabulous.’

Key clients

Utilita Group Limited

Harwood Wealth Management Group plc

Cubic Corporation

Gresham Technologies plc

Be Wiser Insurance Services Limited

Lucketts Holdings Limited

CVS Group plc

DEKRA UK

Hardide plc

Universe Group plc

Work highlights

  • Advising Harwood Wealth Management Group plc (Harwood) on its takeover by an entity controlled by Carlyle Global Financial Services Partners III LP.
  • Advising the shareholders of Lucketts Holdings Limited on the sale of their shares to National Express. The deal involved complicated earn-out provisions and an extraction of multiple properties to be leased back to the group.
  • Advising Gresham Technologies plc on its acquisition of fintech provider Inforalgo Information Technology Limited.

Moore Barlow

Continuing to reap the benefits of the 2020 merger between legacy Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins that created it, Moore Barlow’s sizeable Southampton practice acts for a range of SMEs, AIM-listed companies, private equity houses, and non-profits on numerous corporate transactions and commercial matters. Jointly led by Jeremy Over  in Southampton and John Warchus in London, the corporate and commercial team frequently advises on complex disposals, commercial agreements and management buyouts. Roger Bailey advises clients on M&A, capital markets and private market deals and has a particular niche advising on the takeover of private companies with multiple shareholders. Dorothy Agnew and Peter Jeffery are both key contacts for the firm’s technology sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Over (Corporate); John Warchus (Commercial)

Other key lawyers:

Roger Bailey; Dorothy Agnew; Peter Jeffery;

Testimonials

‘Very approachable team of people who help you put practical solutions in place.  Moore Barlow has become a one stop shop because they have a a very broad range of legal skills to accommodate all our business needs.’

‘Thoughtful and proactive. Everyone I have worked with has been impressive. ’

‘Jeremy Over always has my interests at heart. Very commercial.’

‘Friendly and personable, technically very good and nice people to work with.’

‘Peter Jeffery is an out-and-out star. Like his colleagues, he goes the extra mile and some. They are proactive, efficient and effective.’

‘Moore Barlow is a practice that focuses on providing a full service to their clients, led by partners that understand the need for legal practice to reflect and take into account the commercial drivers behind transactions. We have worked with Moore Barlow over multiple years because of their depth of knowledge, attention to detail, excellent project management and congeniality in front of clients. ’

‘We have been extremely impressed with their approach to summarising and walking through legal documents, and the ability to take complex legal issues and distill them down into easily understandable scenarios for clients to consider.’

‘Roger Bailey has provided excellent advice and have always made themselves available when needed to deal with urgent issues.’

Key clients

Transparity Solutions Limited

Serocor Holdings Limited

Exactive Limited

SKS Business Services Ltd

Aura Technology Limited

Bytes Technology Group Limited

Snowflake Software Limited

Symetrica Limited

Sabien Technology Group plc

Churchill Retirement plc

Wunelli Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised management of Bytes Technology Group Limited on their interest in the listing of the group.
  • Acted for the management team in the management buyout of a £100m turnover recruitment group.
  • Acted on the sale of the share capital of Snowflake Software Limited to Cirium, part of the RELX group.

Shoosmiths LLP

With a practice built around venture capital, private equity and mid-market M&A transactions, Shoosmiths LLP's Southampton team  is regularly instructed by regional players, national companies and international corporations alike. MBOs, reorganisations, and  liquidation demergers all fall under the team's remit. Nationally led by Southampton-based Stephen Porter ,  Mark Shepherd leads the Solent team on corporate and commercial matters, while Sean Wright helms the group’s private equity division. Emma LiveseyLaura Austin and Georgia Rowe, are noted for their comprehensive support on multiple transactions for many of the firm’s SME and education sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Porter; Mark Shepherd

Other key lawyers:

Sean Wright; Emma Livesey; Laura Austin; Georgia Rowe

Testimonials

‘The team know us so well, it’s like an extension of our in-house capabilities’

‘Emma Livesey is one to watch. A brilliant lawyer. Always available, goes the extra mile and advice is always first rate.’

‘Sean Wright is excellent on large deals.’

‘My main dealings have been with Mark Shepherd who has brought a huge element of class, humour, and dedication to deal with some very complex arrangements to help close down deals. He is always willing to answer the phone and chat through issues and ideas at any time – and shows genuine interest in our business.’

‘We have been extremely impressed by the depth and breadth of both legal and sector specific expertise within the organisation and the willingness to bring the right individuals to the table depending on the requirements of the client.’

‘We have been very impressed by Stephen Porter and Mark Shepherd who have both led deals with us during 2020, deftly dealing with the challenges created by the pandemic. Below partner level we have interacted heavily with Emma Livesey, who has been excellent in managing and guiding clients on a range of corporate transactions .’

 

Key clients

Onecom Group Limited

The shareholders of Chamonix Holdings Limited

The DB Food Group

Woven Group

ULS Technologies PLC

The shareholders of Blaze Signs Holdings

The Management team of Beechcroft

The Management team of PCML

Work highlights

  • Acting on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Nice Network Ltd by Onecom Group Limited in November 2020.
  • Acting on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company and its group to FirstPort Limited.

Trethowans LLP

Trethowans LLP’s sizeable team makes the firm a strong choice for major companies seeking assistance on corporate transactions and commercial contract matters. Practice head Mike Watson regularly acts both for buyers  and sellers of privately owned companies, as does seasoned corporate partner Lucy Gleisner. Nick Gent is noted for his fluency in private equity transactions and funding structures, while Julian Hamblin’s expertise in technology law makes him a key contact for clients seeking commercial solutions to IT matters, especially in the retail and financial services sectors. Jon Stickland plays a key role in the firm’s commercial offering, acting for a broad range of companies on supply chain matters. Jamie Earley is recommended for divestments and corporate finance work.

Practice head(s):

Mike Watson

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Gleisner; Nick Gent; Julian Hamblin; Jon Stickland; Jamie Earley

Testimonials

‘The commercial support they offer is invaluable. The team is excellent at managing the timing of our transactions, and is able to push and delay as appropriate.’

‘Lucy Gleisner is sharp and efficient, and an excellent sounding board for general legal and commercial issues.’

‘Trethowans commercial contracts support is excellent, with their team showing good attention to detail and providing timely responses. They have also taken time to get to know our business which adds to the value they can bring to contract negotiations and drafting.’

‘Jon Stickland is an excellent external resource for us, and feels like an extension of our in-house team. He is totally unflappable, and gets the job done to an excellent level with no fuss and total clarity.’

‘This practice is very much unique. The whole team cares about their clients and goes the extra mile to ensure clients’ objectives are met 100%. I have used other corporate lawyers in the past and they fall well behind Trethowans each time.’

‘ Great praise must go to Mike Watson and Jamie Earley in particular. I find it very difficult to any fault with Trethowans.’

‘Very refreshing blend of professional competence and pragmatism, which is quite unusual in my experience.’

 

Key clients

Riskstop Group Limited

Saint-Gobain / Jewson

The Property Franchise Group plc

Belport Investments LLP

Britvic plc

Bacardi-Martini

Kinetic Games Limited

The Army Museums Ogilby Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising Britvic on strategic procurement contracts with its main suppliers.
  • Acting for multiple shareholders in the sale of the entire issued share capital of South Milford (Holdings) Limited (aka Milford Building Supplies) to Huws Gray.
  • Advising on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of J. & D. Edgar Limited from family shareholders and trusts. The acquisition was undertaken through a newly formed SPV subsidiary of Belport Investments.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

With a broad roster of clients including blue-chip domestic clients and international entities, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP 's Southampton team is a major regional force, particularly in the energy, manufacturing, and construction sectors. The local practice is jointly led by Paula Bartlett and Ian Holden, who handle the firm’s commercial and corporate interests respectively.  Stephen Pierce is based in Southampton but leads the national corporate team. Bartlett is experienced in data protection and technology matters, while Holden – who also heads up the firm’s French desk – focuses on corporate finance, M&A, and joint venture agreements. Sebastian Briggs plays a key role in renewable energy transactions, in addition to working with various local companies in the marine and technology sectors. Recently promoted legal director Carly Holt is a key contact for the firm’s financial services clients.

Practice head(s):

Paula Bartlett; Ian Holden

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Pierce; Sebastian Briggs; Carly Holt

Testimonials

‘The team is responsible, pragmatic, and good value for money. We have a longstanding relationship with them.’

‘Sebastian Briggs is very easy to work with and understands our business well.’

‘Very strong commercial and regulatory practice.’

Across different offices and practice areas, there is some inconsistency in quality.’

‘Ian Holden was the perfect partner for our needs.’

BDB Pitmans

BDB Pitmans’ Southampton corporate practice is headed by Sean Kelly, a seasoned transactional and private equity lawyer, who fields a regular stream of instructions from clients across sectors including leisure, travel, TMT, marine and transport. In recent months, the firm has been engaged on mandates ranging from strategic acquisitions, to buyouts and demergers. Oliver Kelly is noted for his experience with venture capital trusts and corporate reorganisations, the latter of which has proved a key work stream since the outbreak of the pandemic. .

Practice head(s):

Sean Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Oliver Kelly

Testimonials

‘Collaborative and very good value for money.’

‘Oliver Kelly is always available and provides concise and practical advice ’

‘’Very efficient, prompt and very clear at explaining what was required.’

‘Always able to provide clear and commercially practical advice. Exceptional work, great working with them.’

 

Key clients

Gamma Communications Plc

Damira Dental Studios

Premier Marinas

ITS Technology Group

The Appointment Group

Ski Weekends

Independent Fleet Consultants

Alpine Elements

Cheesecake Energy

The Firebird Partnership Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Gamma on its strategic £8M acquisition of Scottish HQ’d Exactive, a leading provider of Microsoft-focused Unified Communications solutions.
  • Acting for vendors on the secondary buyout of ITS Technology Group by Aviva.
  • Advising on the acquisition of McCabe Travel Limited by Meaningful Travel Limited.

Clarke Willmott LLP

The team at Clarke Willmott LLP handles a complete range of corporate transactions and commercial matters for established companies, emerging startups, and investors across a range of sectors. Southampton-based practice head Kelvin Balmont is noted for his experience acting for technology businesses and manufacturers.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Balmont

Paris Smith LLP

Paris Smith LLP’s combined corporate, commercial and finance practice has been building on its sell-side transactional reputation with Hampshire SMEs by handling an increasing number of acquisitions, IPOs and management buyouts, often with an international aspect. The firm has also adivsed on a number of solvent restructurings over the course of the pandemic. Southampton-based Michael Moore manages the firm’s corporate and private equity teams, and in recent months has been a key figure for distressed M&A transactions. Crispin Dick heads up the commercial team from the Winchester office, while Jonathon Roy jointly runs the firm’s private equity practice alongside Moore. Richard Atcherley attracts substantial work in the SME space, increasingly from international companies. Arezou Rezai is recommended for her work on a broad range of key corporate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Michael Moore (Corporate); Crispin Dick (Commercial)

Other key lawyers:

Jonathon Roy; Richard Atcherley; Arezou Rezai

Testimonials

‘Good knowledge and ability to explain key issues succinctly.’

‘Calm, approachable manner and able to deal with matters in a timely fashion.’

‘Crispin Dick provides exemplary service and I would not hesitate to recommend his services.’

 

Key clients

Haskins Harden Centres Limited

Rick Stein Group Limited

Capstone Foster Care group

Totalmobile Holdings Limited

The Cooperative Group Limited

Pyxus International, Inc (US multinational)

Churches Fire Limited

Draper Tools Limited

Gozney Group Limited

Grandeco Walfasion Group (Belgium – multinational)

Work highlights

  • Advised Totalmobile Holdings Ltd, backed by Horizon Capital, on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Global Rosters Ltd, a technology company specialising in the provision of the logistical and safety management of remote workers.
  • Advised shareholders of Imperial Car Supermarkets, one of the largest independent used car retailers with 18 locations across the UK, on its sale to Cazoo, the UK’s leading online car retailer.
  • Advised Grandeco Wallfashion Group, a Gimv Private Equity-backed major pan European manufacturer and distributor of wallcoverings, on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Holden Decor Limitedfrom D&V Holden Limited.

Parker Bullen LLP

The team at Parker Bullen LLP specialises in the tech, healthcare, and professional services sectors, routinely working with regional SMEs and family-run businesses on various corporate and commercial matters. Seasoned practice head Mark Lello is recognised for his prolific practice and corporate finance expertise. Jenny Legg, who focuses on buy and and sell-side work across multiple industries, has joined from Farnfields LLP.

Practice head(s):

Mark Lello

Other key lawyers:

Jenny Legg

Phillips Solicitors

Basingstoke-based Phillips Solicitors handles a mix of corporate and commercial instructions from a diverse roster of regional SMEs. Succession planning for family-run businesses is a key strength for the full-service practice, which is jointly led by Jack Gardener and Jonathan Pender, who also focuses on commercial property work.

Practice head(s):

Jack Gardener; Jonathan Pender

Testimonials

‘The first word that comes to mind working with Phillips is smooth. From start to finish of every job they’ve been instructed for, no matter how niche or complex, the team has made our relationship with them smooth sailing. From last minute emergencies to late night calls, any team member you speak to is able to get things done. It’s clear that the team are exactly that – a team.’

‘There is a real sense of security with Phillips that is unlike any other practice. They have bridged the gap between daunting legal work and client relationships to relieve us of any stress or worry regarding legal matters.’

‘City expertise in a regional setting. Very capable with complex instructions. The people are friendly, professional and have an interest in the success of my business. Being a regional firm, their invoices and charge rates are a lot more reasonable than the London-based firms. A pleasure to deal with them.’

 

‘Jack Gardener has been beyond helpful in everything we do. He has a razor sharp legal mind and has the ability to make complex work easy to understand. He always goes the extra mile, and nothing is ever too much trouble; we feel in the safest hands working with him. His attention to detail is impeccable, spotting things we would never notice, and has pieced together many a puzzle for us. He deserved the utmost praise and more for his time management skills and delivery of work.’

‘Jonathan Pender and Jack Gardener are first rate corporate partners . Quick to respond and experienced with good commercial sense.’

Key clients

Supernatural Food Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Supernatural Food Ltd in relation to a significant fundraising round.