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Burges Salmon LLP provides comprehensive advice on merger control issues, regulatory investigations and competition litigation, and is especially active in the food and drink sector, as well as highly regulated industries such as rail transportation. The department was significantly strengthened in 2017 by the arrival of Chris Worall from Clifford Chance. Since joining, Worrall has taken on a number of high-profile instructions, which has included advising Abellio, as member of a tripartite joint venture, on the merger control aspects of the joint venture’s acquisition of the West Midlands rail franchise. Additionally, Worrall and Laura Claydon represented The Co-operative Group in pre-notification negotiations with the CMA in connection with the client’s proposed £143m acquisition of Nisa Retail. Further, Claydon is acting for The Co-operative Group and Somerfield Stores in a multimillion-pound claim against the CMA regarding an historical fine concerning the retail pricing of tobacco products. John Houlden specialises in state aid and procurement law and Noel Beale has ‘particular expertise in competition issues facing the water industry’.

Osborne Clarke is ‘a go-to law firm’ for non-contentious merger control, state aid and regulatory compliance advice in the technology, telecoms and media, transport and retail sectors. The firm also has perhaps the region’s most prolific antitrust litigation practice. Indeed, Andrew Bartlett is advising the liquidators of Granville Technology Group on two separate follow-on damages claims arising from the EC’s highly publicised decisions concerning the operation of cartels in the DRAM memory and LCD screen industries. ‘A collaborative and calm commercial adviser’, Simon Neill is assisting Fexco Merchant Services with its complaint to the EC concerning its ongoing investigation into dynamic currency conversion. Neill was also instructed by White & Black Limited to advise on the merger control aspects of the sale of a majority stake to Apax Partners. Marc Shrimpling has a wide-ranging practice covering market investigations, merger control and state aid. Shrimpling, who made partner in 2017, is acting for EE in connection with the Home Office’s procurement for the emergency services mobile communications programme. Other recommended contacts include senior associate Zoe Hodgins and Catherine Wolfenden, the latter of whom specialises in public procurement.

Headed by the highly regarded Julian Maitland-Walker, Maitland Walker LLP has ‘a high-quality competition practice’ that is regularly involved in high-profile competition litigation. Maitland-Walker is instructed by international and domestic corporates, joint ventures and law firms in relation to complex transactional and regulatory compliance matters. On the contentious side, the team is representing groups of claimants in various follow-on claims concerning the well-known air cargo and LCD panel cartels. The group also has expertise in IP disputes in connection with freedom of movement in the pharmaceuticals industry and often appears before the CJEU in that context. A consultant in the department, Susannah Sheppard is a solicitor advocate with considerable experience working at major public sector bodies and City firms.

The team at TLT has expertise in merger control and competition regulatory compliance and is regularly instructed by corporates involved in CMA investigations. Department head Miles Trower provides ongoing competition assistance to the National Franchised Dealers Association, which has included advising on trade advocacy and potential compliance issues following Brexit. Further, Trower acted for BGL Group in connection with the CMA’s digital comparison tools market study, and represented West Coast Property Services in the CMA’s real estate agency services cartel investigation. The team also assisted Conviviality with the merger control aspects of its £25m acquisition of certain business operations from WS Retail. Bill Hull advised Mineral Products Association on compliance with CMA-mandated remedies following the well-known investigation of the aggregates market. Imperial Brands, C&J Clark and WHSmith are among the department’s major clients.

Acting primarily for local authorities and public sector companies, Ashfords LLP’s dedicated state aid practice has expertise in state aid funding structures for significant local infrastructure and services projects. Department head Elizabeth Gibson provides ongoing state aid advice to clients such as North Yorkshire County Council. Additionally, Gibson is advising Herefordshire Council and Gloucestershire County Council on the state aid aspects of a £67m project to provide enhanced broadband services to rural areas. The department head has also provided state aid advice to the Council of the Isles of Scilly in relation to various energy projects. Lucy Woods is an active senior associate in the department, with experience in state aid and public procurement.

Michelmores LLP assists its corporate clients with regulatory compliance and CMA investigations, and is often instructed by local authorities and public sector organisations in state aid and public procurement mandates. Senior associate Michail Papadakis advised HaynesPro on its participation in a CMA investigation concerning a completed acquisition in relation to which the client was a third party; following applications to the regulator, the acquirer submitted undertakings-in-lieu to the CMA, which comprised certain business operations that were subsequently purchased by HaynesPro. Carol McCormack has acted for project bidders and tenderers in relation to construction projects and services contracts tendered by various NHS trusts. Further, Andrew Oldland represented a participant in a price-fixing cartel in a settlement negotiation with the CMA; Oldland splits his time between the firm’s London and Exeter offices.

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