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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South West > Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: The West Country > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: The West Country
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • David Gebbie - OTB Eveling

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

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Ashfords LLP is widely recognised for its presence in the European venture capital space and, in terms of deal volume, has been identified as one of the most active corporate teams in the UK. The firm’s ‘top-class’ lawyers have experience in a wide variety of corporate matters and are especially well known in the region for their capital markets and private equity work. Louise Workman assisted a UK-based specialist equipment manufacturer with the establishment of a multimillion-pound joint venture in an Asian jurisdiction. Workman was also involved in the complex restructuring of a listed company’s subsidiaries, which included a capital reduction, asset transfers and a winding up exercise. The ‘very professional’ Stuart Mathews advised the shareholders of W.C. Rowe (Falmouth) on the sale of the company’s entire issued share capital to Iberia Industry Capital Group. Specialising in corporate finance, Rebecca Dury is instructed by high-street lenders and corporate borrowers and regularly handles the financing aspects of the group’s corporate transactional mandates. Further, the team advised Rawle Gammon & Baker Holdings on its purchase of Tec Build Services’ infrastructure, business and other assets. C&C Group plc is another of the department’s key clients.

Foot Anstey ’s corporate group is regularly involved in sizeable corporate transactions and is rated for its ‘commercial savviness and legal expertise’ in addition to its emphasis on ‘helping clients develop their business’. Duncan Sykes ‘typifies the group with his responsiveness and high-quality advice’; Sykes has been especially active in energy-sector transactions and advised EW Solar on three concurrent transactions with Next Energy Capital, in which EW Solar sold its stake in three solar farms. Matthew Stoate is another of the team’s ‘pragmatic and entrepreneurial’ partners; Stoate assisted Charlie Parsons, Sir Bob Geldof and Lord Waheed Alli with the high-value sale of the entire issued share capital of Castaway Television Productions. Stoate also handled a number of strategic acquisitions for private equity-backed The Parts Alliance, which included its multimillion-pound acquisition of SAS Autoparts. Ken Lewins leads the West Country private companies and entrepreneurial practice and advised Marbel on its sale to Swiss-incorporated Hape Holding, as part of the buyer’s strategic global expansion. Chris Worrell heads the corporate and business groups and divides his time among the firm’s various regional offices.

Michelmores LLP has extensive experience in domestic and cross-border corporate transactions and complex commercial agreements. Corporate department head Richard Cobb, who divides his time between Exeter and London, advised the shareholders of Cobell, a regional food and drink company, on the sale of its business to Germany-based Symrise. Additionally, Cobb acted for Haynes Publishing Group plc in its acquisition of certain business operations from CarweB, a subsidiary of US-owned Solera; a transaction which was triggered by a CMA investigation into a previous acquisition by Solera. Samantha Billingham acted for Kew Green Hotels on the disposals of two separate Holiday Inn hotels: one involving an Indian buyer, and the other involving a Thai buyer. In the energy space, Alexandra Watson acted for Downing in relation to its £15.3m sale of anaerobic digestion plant Vulcan Renewables to John Laing Environmental Assets Group. Watson also assisted a fund manager with its multimillion-pound investment into a large community energy project. Further, a team including Henry Taylor counselled Succession Group on 16 acquisitions in the 12 months leading up to December 2017. Other key clients include Girlings Retirement Rentals, Credit Reporting Agency and Zoeftig Group.

In addition to acting for a large number of local and regional SMEs, OTB Eveling is regularly instructed by multinational corporates and London-based investment syndicates on complex cross-border corporate transactions and commercial agreements. Clients rate the team for ‘successfully closing deals in the face of demanding timescales, difficult personalities and unfamiliar foreign business practices’. In a standout matter which has received international media coverage, David Gebbie acted for Monaco-based ES-KO International in relation to a €48m joint venture project with Trevi to repair the Mosul Dam in Iraq. On the local transactional front, the team assisted Rew Hotels with the multimillion-pound sale of the business and assets of the Corbyn Head Hotel in Torquay. Leveraging a wealth of international and general corporate experience, James Eveling has experience assisting target companies and investors with strategic equity investment transactions. Indeed, Eveling acted for a digital healthcare provider in relation to a multimillion-pound investment from a large venture capital fund, and, separately, advised Van Ameyde UK Holding on an equity investment into Advent Insurance Management. The firm has also been investing in its corporate support practices, such as employment.

Stephens Scown LLP is ‘a strong regional player providing an extensive range of services’ to a client base primarily composed of local and regional SMEs and owner-managed businesses in the food and drink, healthcare, caravan park and energy and natural resources sectors. Having acted in a number of refinancing transactions in 2017, department head David Culshaw advised Phoenix Learning and Care Holdings on the refinancing of its existing senior debt and the parallel restructuring of investor and management loan notes. Culshaw also assisted Wookey Hole with the £2m acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Bucklegrove Camping and Caravans, as part of the client’s strategic diversification strategy. ‘A tough, results-driven negotiator’, Christian Wilson has spearheaded the department’s burgeoning employee ownership practice. Additionally, Wilson advised Hengar Manor on a multimillion-pound sale of one of the largest holiday parks in the region. Further, Giles Dunning acted for WTW Cinemas in its merger with Scott Cinemas, and Simon Morris advised a renewable energy plant operator on the refinancing of a limited recourse finance facility. Sally Norcross-Webb specialises in the mining and mineral sector.

Murrell Associates is ‘a niche corporate and commercial firm that stands out among its local peers’ and ‘punches well above its weight, largely due to the tremendous leadership’ of name partner, Hugh Murrell. The department has historically been focused on the renewable energy sector, but has diversified its sector approach and is increasingly active in areas such as hospitality. Indeed, its notable work included a multi-disciplinary team advising Gara Rock Resort on the multimillion-pound sale of a luxury resort and related development opportunity to a fund managed by Angelo Gordon & Co. In the energy space, the firm is acting for German solar energy contractor ib vogt in connection with its joint venture with a Spanish company for the development and sale of several solar photovoltaic projects in Spain. Displaying ‘a calm and considered approach that belies his age’, senior associate Henry Maples is considered by some clients as ‘more of a business partner than just a legal service provider’. Maples acted for Hub Box in multiple rounds of debt and equity investments, and assisted London-based fintech start-up Jigsaw XYZ with various corporate matters, including group structure arrangements and strategic investment advice. Chris Wills joined Willans LLP.

Acting primarily for local and regional SME clients, GA Solicitors has ‘a very strong reputation in Plymouth’, developed through ‘clearly demonstrated technical knowledge’ and ‘an attentive and responsive’ client-facing attitude. Newly promoted partner James Peterson heads the corporate department; Peterson provided comprehensive support to a digital business regarding the set-up of the company, which included advising on issues such as ownership and shareholder agreements, IP rights and supplier agreements. The department head also advised a nationally operating UK business on a corporate restructuring matter, which sought to order a group of companies so as to enable tax-efficient asset transfers within the owners’ family. Tony Cusack assisted PTG Precision Engineers with the £2m sale of its main engineering business. Additionally, the team handled share transactions for a number of veterinary businesses and is also instructed by local lenders and high-street banks.

Kitsons LLP ‘compares favourably’ to its regional competitors and is noted for approaching transactions with a ‘professional and proactive attitude’. The department is headed by Dominic Hollingsworth, a ‘good communicator and someone who can be relied upon to get the deal done’. Hollingsworth advised the shareholders of a UK software company on the multimillion-pound sale of its entire share capital to a US buyer. Additionally, the team has acted for a number of clients in the hotel and leisure sector in relation to various hotel sales involving purchasers in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017, Corri Pedrick was promoted to partner and the team also took on a number of new junior-level practitioners.

‘Responsive, proactive and extremely capable’, the corporate lawyers at Nash & Co provide ‘excellent commercial advice in language that is easy for clients to understand’. The firm significantly enhanced its corporate capabilities in 2017 with the hires Tim Jackman (‘a driven and passionate deal-maker’) and associate Duncan White, both of whom joined from the legal team at media company Twofour Group, and had previously worked together at Bond Pearce. Given the pair’s pedigree, the team has unique experience of commercial matters in the media and telecoms sectors. Acting across from two multinational law firms, Jackman and White assisted Patrick Corporate Investment with its sale of Quickstore Storage to Big Yellow, in a transaction that required a complex pre-sale restructuring. The ‘responsive and relatable’ Austin Blackburn has been involved in a number of corporate restructurings and has particular expertise in IP law.

Porter Dodson LLP attracts praise for its ‘impressive response times and willingness to turn around complex work quickly and efficiently’. Headed by the highly recommended Evelyn Adfield, the team is regularly instructed in relation to multimillion-pound share transactions. Adfield advised the selling shareholders of 20:20 Retail Data Insight on the sale of their holding to US-based StayinFront. Adfield also assisted a longstanding client with a corporate regorganisation and related financing arrangements. The team, including associate Sarah Young, has also developed a niche expertise in integrating GP partnerships with NHS trusts. Further, the group advises on a host of commercial contract matters and employment law. Brian Maxwell retired in 2017.

The corporate team at Tozers Solicitors LLP provides ‘timely and competent service at a competitive price’. James Orpin heads the practice group and has experience in a wide range of corporate work, including general share transactions, joint venture agreements, MBOs and corporate restructurings. On the buy side, Orpin has handled strategic acquisitions for clients such as Auto-Sleepers Group. Conversely, the practice head advised an individual on the sale of a large holiday caravan park. James Evans and Richard King handle ongoing corporate governance work for clients in the charities sector. Additional clients include Haulfryn Group and Blacker Sheep.

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