Event Report

More than 150 of the City’s leading M&A partners, in-house counsel and representatives from corporates and financial institutions came together last week (14 March) to discuss the latest trends in M&A at the 2024 Legal Business Corporate and M&A Summit.

The event, held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster and sponsored by Gibson Dunn, Datasite, Gate One, Jones Day, Moneypenny, Shieldpay, Stevens & Bolton LLP and Slaughter and May , saw delegates talk through the life cycle of an M&A deal over the course of a single day.

Gibson Dunn English and New York qualified corporate partner Nick Tomlinson kicked off the event with the keynote speech, with his opening remarks followed by a panel led by Stevens & Bolton M&A partnerJenny Robertson on crafting and executing a programmatic M&A strategy and buy-and-build program.

Robertson was joined by Iain Jamieson, board investor and advisor at Pep Talks, Gemma Legg, partner at RSM UK Corporate Finance LLP, and Emma Leahey, senior group legal counsel at The Ardonagh Group. Key themes throughout the discussion included the need to evaluate how resource-intensive deals are going to be – particularly for smaller transactions, which may not be worth it if the workload is too high – and the critical role of cultural alignment, scalability and long-term growth plans for potential acquisitions.

The next panel, moderated by Babur Mirza from Datasite, explored due diligence (DD) in the digital age, featuring panelists Jenny Luckham from Ascential; Tom Rose, a partner at Macfarlanes; Edward Waldron, head of private equity at Taylor Wessing; and Ashley Boonin, financial director of GoHenry. 

Mirza initiated the discussion by highlighting the increasing time spent on due diligence since 2021. The panel concluded with discussions about how AI could transform due diligence and the skills that future lawyers will need in order to be successful.

Following a brief networking session and a coffee break, the next panel session, led by Slaughter and May’s co-head of corporate and M&ARichard Smith, delved into the intricacies of deal structuring and valuation. 

The discussion included insights from Greg Neilson, M&A director at Aviva; Claire Jackson, corporate partner at Slaughters; and Ameya Velhankar, executive director for EMEA consumer & retail at JP Morgan. The panel explored valuation methodologies, cross-jurisdictional factors, and practical approaches to evaluating synergies. They also examined the significance of vendor financing and highlighted the role of emotional intelligence in negotiations, emphasizing the importance of maintaining composure and understanding red lines during deal discussions.

Next up, Gibson Dunn partners Alice Brogi and Federico Fruhbeck explored the evolving discussions surrounding joint ventures & minority investments, emphasizing the need to consider all of the regulations and governance requirements across Europe. 

First up after lunch, Legal 500’s head of research & reporting, Georgina Stanley, moderated a panel looking at how to navigate regulatory challenges in M&A. The panel comprised Jones Day London of counsel Jason Beer; Calum Warren, a partner at Matheson in Ireland; and Philippe Laconte, of counsel at Jones Day in Brussels. The discussion centred on the increasing regulatory obstacles in M&A transactions, propelled by heightened intervention from merger control authorities and the rise of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regimes globally. Beer and Laconte highlighted the rise in transactions undergoing regulatory review, with Warren adding insight into the incoming FDI regime in Ireland. 

Next came a panel session focused on finalizing deals, addressing the intricacies of navigating complex deal terms and fund flow for transactions. Moderated by Chris Lyes, CCO at Shieldplay, the panel included Nick Atkins, partner at Stevens & Bolton; Karri Vuori, managing partner at IMAP; and Giles Chesher, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs. The panelists shared personal experiences of issues with deal closings and delved into the issue of whether payment agents would become the norm .

Drawing towards the end of the day came a fireside chat delving into the importance of culture in M&A integrations. Hosted by Jon Breger at Gate One and Henryk Feszczur, former GSK MA&D deal lead, the discussion shed light on the significance of culture, often overlooked and undermanaged, in maximizing deal value. The panel highlighted how neglecting cultural alignment can result in employee resistance, decreased productivity, and diminished value. They explored key cultural challenges organisations encounter throughout the deal lifecycle and discussed actionable solutions to enhance integration success.

Closing a busy day, Hannah Williams-Skinner, working life manager at Moneypenny, and Nisha Morjaria, director & head of business innovation at Talbots Law, presented the final panel, sharing insights on how to nurture a culture that can attract and retain talent. They emphasised the need to ensure the workplace is inclusive and taking steps to boost the happiness of staff, promoting an open-door policy to drive internal culture. 

Thanks to all of the attendees, sponsors and panelists for a fantastic day filled with invaluable, real -world insight into the M&A market. 


In association with...