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Who Represents Who

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According to one client, what sets DLA Piper UK LLP’s Sheffield team apart is ‘its ability to see the bigger commercial picture and set its legal advice in that real-world context’ thanks to ‘an exceptionally strong team of highly responsive and skilled individuals’. Richard May and Roger Gough lead the corporate and commercial teams respectively; May handles national and international M&A and Gough focuses on IT contract work. Clients also single out capital markets and M&A specialist Rob McKie, who is ‘unflappable, helpful and commercial in every possible way’; Catherine Simister, who has notable strength in the manufacturing and healthcare sectors; and recently promoted partners David Beech and Amanda Pilkington, who specialise in cross-border work and outsourcing issues respectively. Recent highlights include advising Newell Brands on the UK aspects of the $2bn sale of its tool business to Stanley Black & Decker, assisting JustGiving with its sale to Blackbaud, and acting for Axalta Coating Systems on its cross-border acquisition of the Plascoat group of companies including operating sites in the UK and Netherlands and subsidiaries in the US. Yu Group, Maintel Holdings and Playtech are also clients.

CMS handles the full range of corporate mandates including acquisitions, disposals, investments, restructurings and joint ventures at a regional, national and international level. Recent work includes acting for TP Group on its acquisitions of ALS Technologies and Flexible Software Solutions, handling GRI Group’s acquisition of Zamya, and advising the management team of MFH Engineering on its MBO. Euromoney, Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, British Steel and Mercedes are also clients. Ben Hendry leads the department, which also includes infrastructure sector specialist Gareth Saynor, who also focuses on investment work in the tech sector, and senior associate Nick Hopper, who handles M&A, investments and group reorganisations.

At Freeths LLP, practice head Peter Crawford is ‘a great listener and invests time into knowing his clients to better understand the direction they want to take’ and ‘makes clients feel at ease with his approach and professionalism which helps matters get completed quicker’. Crawford’s recent work includes advising The Floow on a minority investment by Direct Line Group, Fosun and United Electronics totalling £13m, assisting Jordan with its sale of European Oat Millers to Richardson International, and acting for Freethsshef26 on the management buy-in of Alca Fasteners. SCX, InfoTrack Group and Carepoty Advisory Services are also clients. Senior associate Lisa Wallis is also a name to note.

Matt Ainsworth heads HLW Keeble Hawson’s group and is ‘technically brilliant with an extremely strong work ethic, responsive approach, easy going personality and a clear ability to stay calm under pressure that make him very popular with clients’. Other key figures include managing partner Paul Trudgill, who focuses on M&A and MBO work; Roger Dyson, who acts for SMEs and owner-managed businesses; and senior associate Michael Hall, who specialises in private equity transactions, M&A and public equity work. The practice acted for RCI Europe on its acquisition of The Social Travel Club and acted for the shareholders of Whirlowdale Trading Company on its sale to Scott Timber. Nick Goulding moved in-house at UK Steel Enterprise and Chris Wilson retired.

Lupton Fawcett is ‘a first port of call’ for some clients, who claim it is ‘one of the best mid-sized firms in the city with guidance that is always framed in a manner that is easily understandable and highlights the team’s professionalism and ability to build trust’. Team head Neil Large advises on national matters and the ‘extremely pragmatic’ office head Michele Phillips ‘stands out for finance work’ and ‘always looks for the unexpected and manages these issues easily’. Large’s recent work includes assisting 2400 Limited with its acquisitions of Nitec UK and Spire Laboratories, and acting for the shareholders of Majestic Polymers and DSA Chemicals on the companies’ sale; while Phillips advised Mondi on its acquisition of Excelsior Technologies Group from Endless. Santander, Dependable Cars and Joseph Care Homes Group are also clients.

Bell & Buxton ‘provides excellent advice that is communicated clearly in plain English’ and ‘does a fantastic job at hitting even the tightest of deadlines’. Highlights for the ‘highly competent’ group included acting for ECS Sheffield on its sale of shares and MBO, assisting Mcquinn Holdings with its acquisition of a majority stake in a business and advising R&R Yorkshire Properties on its MBO. Alex Ross leads the department and is singled out by clients as ‘a thorough and fair-minded lawyer who always has pragmatic solutions for complex problems’; other names to note include commercial lawyer Emma Digby and Matthew Rodgers. Richard Morton retired.

Laurence Gavin heads the practice at Irwin Mitchell and ‘has a good knowledge of complex issues paired with advice that is always well researched’; his recent work includes advising Westfield Health on its purchase of the Bolton and District Hospital Saturday Council, assisting Coaching Inn Group with its purchase of Castle Hotel Conwy, and acting for Telford College of Arts and Technology on its merger with New College Telford. Sheffield City Trust, Rocksure Systems, Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust and Awesome Merchandise are also clients.

Taylor & Emmet LLP handles the full range of corporate and commercial work from high-value M&A to commercial contract drafting; it also recently expanded its expertise to include mandates in the music, media and entertainment space. Department head Rob Moore primarily acts for SMEs in the Yorkshire region and is supported by solicitor Ryan Fitzpatrick; Moore recently advised the purchasers on the acquisition of Worksop Town FC.

Wake Smith Solicitors Limited’s ‘superb’ team is led by Duncan Shepherd, whose recent mandates include acting for the sellers on the sale of the entire issued share capital of The Crown Hotel (Bawtry) and assisting the sellers with the sale of the Rutland Hotel. John Baddeley is also a name to note and is experienced in mergers and restructurings; he acted for the sellers in their disposal of shares in Spencer Coatings Group, advised the management team on the MBO of TDR Transmissions and assisted Duro UK with its acquisition of Pegasus Diamond Blades. The team also regularly acts for clients in the banking and manufacturing sectors.

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