Corporate and commercial: Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire in South West

BPE Solicitors LLP

In Cheltenham, BPE Solicitors LLP has strength across its corporate and commercial offering, noted for its team's 'excellent responsiveness, breadth of experience and knowledge, and fantastic customer service'. The firm advises a number of alternative investment market (AIM) companies and has a dedicated PLC team that assists with secondary placings, takeovers and public M&A. The commercial contracts team is also commended; in 2020, it advised UCAS on data sharing agreements to facilitate the new A-Level  marking system introduced in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Louise Grzasko leads the corporate piece, with a strong track record of advising listed companies. Iain Garfield is the main contact for commercial contracts, particularly in relation to cross-border deals. Corporate transactional lawyer Dale Williams has a specialism in the renewable energy sector and has experience negotiating funding and financing options.

Practice head(s):

Louise Grzasko; Iain Garfield

Other key lawyers:

John Workman; Anthony Rudge; Dale Williams; Adam Kean; Matt Jackson; Kathryn King

Testimonials

‘The corporate team are very commercial and have a good reputation in the sector.’

‘Dale Williams is pragmatic and approachable, and says it how it is.’

‘Sensible advice that gets right down to the point.’

‘Louise Grzasko and Adam Kean stand out: you get clear advice and solutions that are timely and accurate, and they have good knowledge of the charitable sector.’

‘The team has been very pragmatic in finding solutions to our issues, particularly as we are a small business but with the compliance issues of AIM. It is refreshing to have a solution that we can see through the layers of a larger business.’

‘Excellent responsiveness, breadth of experience and knowledge, and fantastic customer service.’

‘Iain Garfield is excellence incarnate. A fantastic solicitor and a genuine nice guy.’

Key clients

Partners&. Limited

Midshires Care

UCAS

DeepVerge plc

Sosandar plc

MyHealthChecked plc

The shareholders of PSU ICT Limited

Versarien plc

Tricorn Group plc

REACT Group PLC

Erris Gold Resources Limited

The shareholders of Craft Consulting Limited

Mears Group

Open Data Institute

The Galebreaker Goup

Ultima Displays

The Smallpeice Trust

Dentsply Sirona / Wellspect Healthcare

Gloucester Rugby

Weird Fish

Green Gourmet

Cheltenham Festivals

Work highlights

  • Acted for insurance advisory business Partners&. Limited on a significant initial investment from US private equity firm Capital Z Partners and the subsequent acquisition of five insurance advisory businesses.
  • Acted for longstanding client DeepVerge plc (formerly known as Integumen plc) on its all-equity takeover offer for Modern Water plc, valued at £16m.
  • Acted for charity client Cheltenham Festivals to renegotiate and draw up amendments to key sponsorship agreements with national household names after the Covid restrictions of 2020 meant the Jazz, Science and Literature Festivals could not go ahead in their usual manner.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP's Cheltenham offices house 'collaborative, commercial and responsive' lawyers with substantial expertise in capital markets transactions, as well as high-value M&A. The team advises an impressive UK and multinational client base on deals locally and abroad. The department is led by Richard Norton, who has a strong track record in listings and take-overs, as well as leading on matters involving the Middle East. Adrian Mayer is an M&A specialist, frequently instructed to advise private equity funds that focus on Africa; he is often supported by legal director Edward RobinsonJonathan Morley is another accomplished corporate transactional lawyer, whom clients rate as 'outstanding'.

Practice head(s):

Richard Norton

Other key lawyers:

Adrian Mayer; Jonathan Morley; Edward Robinson; Matthew Hobbs

Testimonials

‘CRS provides well-qualified counsel with relevant experience and expertise without charging exorbitant fees or overcomplicating matters. We have worked with several other firms in the UK, including Magic Circle firms, and continue coming back to CRS.’

‘Their expanding European footprint has allowed us to leverage resources in Luxembourg, France and other countries, even though we already had relationships in those geographies. Collaborative, commercial and responsive – we value our partnership with CRS.’

‘Jonathan Morley is outstanding. We never feel outsourced to juniors or to other partners. He stays involved and provides practical and timely advice.’

Key clients

Trifast Plc

Pennant International Group Plc

A Tsokkos Public Limited

Gulf Air

Actis LLP

Argo Group

Bank of Cyprus

Battery Ventures

Robert Hitchins Group Limited

Growthpoint Investec Africa Properties Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Battery Ventures on the sale of the Process Sensing Technologies Group of Europe-wide companies.
  • Advised Trifast Plc on a share placing on the London Stock Exchange using a Jersey cash box structure.
  • Advised the shareholders of UK and French medical group Medpass International on the sale of the group to ICON Plc.

Gardner Leader LLP

The Swindon-based team at Gardner Leader LLP, which merged with Clark Holt in June 2021, advises a broad mix of UK and international clients on their transactions across the South West and nationally. In the 'client-focused' team, the corporate lawyers have expertise in M&A, management buyouts and reorganisations, while the commercial practice is adept at handling commercial contracts, particularly in relation to outsourcing, IP, employment and data protection. Transactional specialist Philip Humphreys leads on corporate issues, while the commercial piece is led by Peter James, who is valued for his 'sound advice', following the retirement of Jeremy Holt in April 2020. Jeff Jenkins is a core member of the corporate group, with substantial experience in incorporations, raising investment, joint ventures and M&A.

Practice head(s):

Philip Humphreys; Peter James

Other key lawyers:

Jeff Jenkins

Testimonials

‘The team has a wide range of skills and competences which can be deployed on any client problems. They demonstrate adaptability and flexibility, and focus on successful delivery.’

‘The individual lawyers within Clarke Holt are very client focused: they know my business better than I know it myself, they demonstrate great insight and competence, and they help me make better decisions for the business.’

I have relied on Jeff Jenkins for many strategic corporate insights. He has an unmatched depth of knowledge, skills and competence.’

‘Clark Holt’s specialist knowledge and specific support in our particular operational sphere is very apparent and much valued.’

‘The services and advice are delivered very professionally, with just the right level of the personal touch. I work closely with Peter James and his sound advice is of particular value.’

Key clients

Jonas Computing (UK) Limited

Management team of Improve International Limited

Shareholders of Absolute Antibody Limited

Shareholders of Sundog Media Toolkit Limited

Wheelsure PLC

Sheep Included Limited

Genmed.me Limited

Active Building Centre Limited

KAM Project Consultants

Alternate Investments Limited

Amberjack Global Limited

Argentum Apothecary

Alert Systems Limited

Censornet

Cordell Health Limited

Clearwater Hampers Limited

Pirum Systems Limited

Kallidus Limited

Solverboard

Gurr Johns Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the shareholders of Absolute Antibody Limited on its sale to private equity firm Thompson Street Capital Partners.
  • Advising Active Building Centre Limited, a government-funded research organisation, on public procurement, general business and corporate law.
  • Providing general commercial advice to longstanding client Kallidus Limited, which is involved in the SaaS provision of learning and development tools and content.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Harrison Clark Rickerbys' 'proactive and thoughtful' team in Cheltenham specialises in management buyouts, M&A for private and public companies, joint ventures and collaboration agreements, as well as the full spectrum of commercial issues. The corporate group is led by Tim Ward, who regularly handles mid-market transactions. Steve Thomas heads the commercial group, drawing on his expertise in outsourcing contracts. Splitting his time between London and Cheltenham, Richard Wilkey specialises in private equity transactions and works closely with 'common-sense lawyerRachael Reeves on share transactions. Senior partner Richard Knight is also noted for his expertise in M&A.

Practice head(s):

Tim Ward; Steve Thomas

Other key lawyers:

Richard Wilkey; Rachael Reeves; Derek Callanan; Louisa Leach

Testimonials

‘For me it is simple, everyone I have worked with has been responsive and has delivered the best service for the client and the transaction.’

‘Rachael Reeves continually delivers a high-quality service. What makes her stand out is her responsiveness to key issues.

‘The HCR team is proactive, thoughtful and efficient; they are very good at managing relationships, negotiating effectively and getting deals done.’

‘Rachael Reeves is a common-sense lawyer who has a ready appreciation of the commercial aspects which are important to us as the client.’

‘HCR’s unique attribute is the ability to offer honest, practical advice on risk assessment against contracts – they advise on what the scale of the risks could be, and what mitigations may be possible or what risks may be reasonable. Importantly, though, they can do this whilst offering the resources and experience to negotiate with the larger City law firms.’

‘Richard Knight and Tim Ward’s advice is practicable and actionable for individuals. The advice goes beyond “this is what the contract says” to how it may impact individuals and how the business may operate in the longer term, and what risks may be presented.’

‘With all the various legal issues raised within our numerous businesses, HCR always have a specialist solicitor available to deal with our issues. There are so proactive, rather than reactive, which is a real plus.’

‘A group of the hardest working and nicest individuals you can meet professionally.’

Key clients

Ethos Capital

KW Wealth Group Ltd

Miro Forestry Developments Limited

Cotteswold Dairy Limited

Horizon Capital

National Care Group

Mitsubishi Motors UK

Strategic Information Group

Kason Industries Inc.

CEPS PLC

BGF and other shareholders of Direct Online Services Holdings Ltd

Wireless Innovation Group

Alexander Mann Solutions Limited

Lead365 Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Full Fibre on its recent acquisition by Basalt, which completes a move to reach providing broadband to 500,000 premises by 2050.
  • Advised the shareholders of Direct Online Services Holdings, including BGF, a multi-channel e-commerce retailer specialising in direct kitchen components, on the sale of DOS to Broadview Industries BV, a Dutch investment firm.
  • Advised the sole shareholder of Complete Price Eyewear and The Outside Clinic, one of the UK’s largest providers of home eye care and hearing services, on the sale of CPE and TOC to Optimism Health Group.

Royds Withy King

In Bath, Royds Withy King's corporate team is well integrated into the firm's national office network, advising on mid-market M&A across the South West, and assisting with private equity and venture capital investments. The team is led by the 'exceptionalKatharine Mortimer, whose practice is geared to advising care sector clients. James Worrall is an M&A specialist, with clients in the technology and financial services industries. Associate Janetta Barrett has a growing practice that involves M&A and corporate restructurings.

Practice head(s):

Katharine Mortimer

Other key lawyers:

James Worrall; Janetta Barrett

Testimonials

‘RWK always take the time to fully understand our requirements before undertaking any work. This means that work is always in line with or in excess of expectations.

‘RWK are always happy to pick up the phone and go through any issues or queries we have. It feels like they value long-term relationships with clients.’

James Worrall has been very supportive in guiding my business, making complex arrangements seem very simple.’

‘The team at Royds Withy King is established and secure. The partners are pragmatic, experienced and more than capable. They are also supported by a team of excellent junior staff.’

‘The key qualities I see and respect in the individuals I work with at RWK are: expertise, clear communication, diligence and proactivity.

‘From our initial introduction to the RWK team, everyone has been a pleasure to work with, knowledgeable and responsive. The firm has a great reputation in Bath and we are happy to have them as our counsel in the UK.’

‘Katharine Mortimer’s legal work, negotiating skills, advice and responsiveness were exceptional.

Key clients

Designworks Collective LLC

WRc plc

MJ Church

Fidelius Financial Holdings

Orega

HSBC Bank plc

Rygor

One77 Mortgages

The Jolly Hog Group

Shakeup Cosmetics

Work highlights

  • Advised Fidelius Financial Holdings on the simultaneous disposal of discretionary fund management subsidiary Parallel Investment Management to, and acquisition of financial planning firm Chartered Financial Management (UK) from, Pacific Asset Management.
  • Advised WRc plc on its strategically key sale of its trading subsidiaries Water Research Centre and Cognica to RSK Group.
  • Advised Nashville-based Designworks Collective LLC on its acquisition of Gentlemen’s Hardware.

Mogers Drewett LLP

The lawyers in Mogers Drewett LLP's Bath offices specialise in M&A, with particular expertise in the hospitality, creative and technology sectors. The department is led by transactional expert Tom Webb, who has experience advising investors and investees on investment transactions. Associate Emily Eccles is another M&A expert, while Victoria Lewis' practice involves advising on company incorporations, constitutional work and shareholders' agreements.

Practice head(s):

Tom Webb

Other key lawyers:

Emily Eccles; Victoria Lewis

Key clients

Lloyd & Group Limited

The Kaleidoscope Collection Limited

Coombe Castle International Limited

A H Warren Trust

Ascend Learning UK Limited

Opium Power Limited

Lucid Products Limited

Amulet Capital Holdings Limited

Secoti Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Lloyd & Whyte Group on its purchase of Stride Holdings (Chichester) Limited and subsidiary.
  • Advised SSDC Opium Power on its joint venture company with South Somerset District Counsel, and its purchase of an SPV company, Fareham Energy Reserve, from Balanced Grid Works.
  • Advised FLG Holdings on its sale of FLG Business Technology Limited to Clearcourse Partnership Acquireco Limited, a group company of Clear Course.

Parker Bullen LLP

Based in Salisbury, Parker Bullen LLP's 'collaborative' team is focused on advising clients in the technology, healthcare and professional services spaces, working closely with the firm's IP and dispute resolution teams to provide a full service to SMEs and owner-managed businesses. The group was joined by Jenny Legg from Farnfields LLP in October 2020, adding vast experience in M&A. The 'responsiveMark Lello heads the team.

Practice head(s):

Mark Lello

Other key lawyers:

Jenny Legg

Testimonials

‘We found that the whole team worked well together, and communication between all involved was exceptional. We always knew that whoever we spoke to was up to speed on all aspects of the process. They were also very good at liaising with other professionals and responded quickly to our emails.’

‘Mark Lello was always readily available and we were impressed that even when on leave he was monitoring his emails and responded to them if necessary. As the partner, he was the lead in the collaborative working within his team which so impressed us. We feel that he always gave us good advice whilst being responsive to our queries and wishes.’

‘What stands out is the clarity of advice and responsiveness of the practice.’

‘A collaborative approach whereby teamwork is promoted.’

Work highlights

  • Advised and acted for two shareholders in the various post-completion matters relating to the sale of their entire shareholding of two pharmacies.
  • Advising a media company on the sale of business and assets to a listed Swedish company.
  • Advising a client on the proposed purchase of the entire issued share capital of an audio-visual conferencing company.

Solicitors Title LLP

Solicitors Title LLP in Exeter is noted for its technology sector work, advising on corporate restructurings and M&A transactions. On the commercial side, practice head Richard James, who is highlighted as 'clearly a technically skilled solicitor', is an expert in the exploitation of intellectual property and franchising.

Practice head(s):

Richard James

Testimonials

Richard James’ communication is exemplary – he is clearly a technically skilled solicitor, but following analysis of my case, his explanation left me with a complete understanding of the options available to me.’

Key clients

Adition UK Ltd

Adopstar Ltd

At the Chapel

BCL Groundworks Limited

C2 Business Solutions Ltd t/a C2 Safety

Elementa Support Services Limited

G2 Digital Video Limited

IT Champion Limited

Roly’s Fudge Franchising Ltd

PPC Protect Ltd

Situ UK Ltd

The Don Solutions Ltd

The Organic Plantmilk Company Ltd

With Benefits Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Elementa Support Services on negotiating a share reorganisation and arrangements between founders and investors to allow for further growth.
  • Advised BCL Groundworks on structuring a group reorganisation via a share-for-share exchange, facilitating a new owner and securing exit arrangements for one of the original founders on favourable terms.
  • Advised With Benefits Ltd on negotiating and structuring a cross-border joint venture with a US partner, to include exclusive distributions rights for the client throughout Europe.

Thrings LLP

Thrings LLP's team in Swindon centres its practice around M&A transactions. The team is led by John Davies, a veteran transactional lawyer, and includes Simon Hore, a corporate finance specialist.

Practice head(s):

John Davies

Other key lawyers:

Simon Hore

Willans LLP

Based in Cheltenham, the team at Willans LLP provides corporate and transactional advice to owner-managed businesses and professional services firms, as well as national and international corporates. The group is particularly known for its expertise in the technology, telecoms and manufacturing sectors, where it has a strong presence for commercial work. The professional practices group is also active, and lawyers advise on matters including LLP conversions and M&A activities. Charities are another key area for the firm, which advises on constitutional and corporate issues. The 'flexible and smartChris Wills leads the team and has a significant transactional practice as well as experience in partnership issues. Paul Symes-Thompson is a corporate transactional lawyer. Kym Fletcher leads on sports and media sector issues.

Practice head(s):

Chris Wills

Other key lawyers:

Paul Symes-Thompson; Kym Fletcher

Testimonials

‘Chris Wills handled a delicate and very important negotiation on our behalf. He understood immediately what we wanted to achieve and was flexible, smart and always one step ahead. We would strongly recommend him.’

‘I believe Chris Wills was probably one of the best people I could have spoken to about my issue.

Chris Wills was at all times professional, helpful, polite and understanding. If all the team members are as good as he is, then they must have a fantastic firm and workplace.

‘I worked with multiple members of the team and regardless of what needed to be discussed I was always put onto the best possible partner within the team to answer my queries based on the specific area of law needed. More importantly, when I was passed onto someone else they were quick to respond and nothing got lost in the mix.’

‘I found Chris Wills very patient and accommodating to the level of detail that my organisation wanted to go into when constructing its articles and shareholders’ agreement. It was never a case of “it just has to be this way”, but of well-constructed discussion.’

Key clients

Sanderson Solutions Group plc

MA020 Limited

Philip Dennis Foodservice Limited

Excelerate Technology Limited

HAE Investments Limited

Isles of Scilly Steamship Company Limited

Stephen Betts & Sons Limited

Mosaique Creative & Marketing Limited

CKF Management Company Limited

Ron Dadge Limited

Randall & Payne

Work highlights

  • Advised Sanderson Solutions Group plc on its acquisition of four divisions of AIM-listed Nakama Group plc (comprising the acquisition of three subsidiaries and the business and assets of a third).
  • Advised CKF Management Company Limited on its acquisition of CKF Holdings Limited, the holding company for CKF Systems Limited.
  • Advised Ron Dadge Limited on restructuring its group in readiness for the end of the Brexit transition period.

Wilsons

At Salisbury-based Wilsons, the team advises a mixture of corporates, professional practices, charities and high-net-worth individuals on corporate transactions and commercial issues. On the transactional front, the group has experience in M&A, as well as joint ventures and investment. It is also experienced in restructurings, often supported by the firm's private client and tax teams. The department is led by James Johnson and includes the 'highly capableMark Cook, who was promoted to partner in May 2020 and has a practice spanning M&A and private company investment.

Practice head(s):

James Johnson

Other key lawyers:

Mark Cook

Testimonials

‘Dedicated, thoughtful and highly capable, Mark Cook and colleagues have delivered on a diverse range of work.’

‘Mark Cook has proven highly capable at managing workflow and delegating across jurisdictions, while providing the client with a seamless process and excellent outcomes.

Key clients

Moore Kingston Smith

Foris Outdoor Limited

M9 Holdings Limited

Wallgate Limited

Noverum Investments Limited

Robert Brett & Sons Limited

Tab Media Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the major shareholders of Tab Media Limited on its sale to an AIM-listed public company.
  • Advised Moore Kingston Smith on the acquisition of the audit and accounting practice from tax specialist Frank Hirth PLC.
  • Advised Noverum Investments Limited on the terms of its investment in LKS Health & Wellness Technologies Limited.