Pannone Corporate has advised APRIL Group, the leading wholesale insurance broker in France and Europe, on the cross-border acquisition of Lexham Insurance, a specialist two-wheeler insurance broker.

Lexham was established in 1999 and has since become a leading provider of moped, scooter and motorcycle insurance in the UK.

The acquisition reinforces APRIL’s ambition to expand its international footprint in specialist personal property and casualty (P&C) niche insurance, such as two-wheeler insurance, building on its presence in France and Spain. As part of the deal, Lexham CEO, James Miller, will continue to lead the business with his team.

Pannone’s corporate team included partner Tom Hall who co-led the deal with director Andrew Walsh, with further support from Belinda Cheung and Georgina Bligh-Smith.

Hall said: “This is a fantastic deal to kick the year off with – one that demonstrates the continued appetite of overseas investors and trade buyers, seeking to scale their operations internationally through strategic buy and build opportunities.

“APRIL has built up an excellent reputation in the European two-wheeler insurance sector and the acquisition of Lexham Insurance marks an important step in expanding its presence in the UK market.”

APRIL has a network of over 15,000 partner brokers internationally. With 2,400 employees, the company provides health and personal protection insurance, loan insurance, international health insurance (iPMI), property and casualty niche insurance and savings in investment products.

Marc-André Dupont, Head of APRIL Group property and casualty division, said: “We share Lexham’s passion for customer service and its recognised expertise in network management. With James Miller, who will continue to lead Lexham, we have begun to identify synergies that will enable us to create value across Europe.

Lexham Insurance offers in excess of 20 different insurance products, including quad insurance, car insurance for motorcyclists, motorhome and camper, as well as motor trade and commercial insurance. It employs 200 employees across three UK offices.

Other advisors on the deal were:

Photo credit: Milos Muller

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the sale of Eco-Readymix Ltd, a leading producer of mortar and concrete in the North West.

The company, which was established in 2004 and has sites in Wrexham and Ellesmere Port, was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Aggregate Industries, a member of the Holcim Group. The acquisition will reinforce Aggregate Industries’ position in the North West market and also help establish its place in the UK mortar market.

Pannone’s corporate team advised the shareholders of Eco-Readymix. The team included corporate partner, Tom Hall, Bez Borang and Sam Roberts. They were supported by James Harris, partner in the real estate team.

Hall said: “This is a fantastic deal. A regional business that is anchored in a traditional sector, but is forward-looking in its approach, particularly around sustainability and the environment.

“We’re delighted to see the business attracting the attention of a heavyweight, such as Aggregate Industries, and we will watch with great interest as the combined businesses make an even greater mark on the North West market.”

Eco-Readymix produces Ready to Use mortar and Dry Silo Mortar and serves national house builders, groundworkers and civil engineering firms alongside the domestic market.

It also produces ready mix concrete, liquid and traditional screed, concrete masonry blocks and aggregates. The company has strong sustainable credentials. Its Wrexham site is almost entirely powered via a biomass system alongside both wind and solar power. It employs 52 people across its sites.

Dragan Maksimovic, Chief Executive Officer of Aggregate Industries UK, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the acquisition of Eco Readymix and welcome them to Aggregate Industries.

“As a business, it has clear sustainable values very much in line with our own and will strategically add to our strong footprint in the North West.

“This also marks our entry into the UK mortar market with a knowledgeable and ambitious management that has multiple synergies with our own. The acquisition supports our long-term strategy to continue to grow our business in order to become the UK’s leading supplier of sustainable construction materials and solutions.”

Picture credit: Iryna Melnyk

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Pannone Corporate has been recommended as top tier in two practice areas and also recommended in a further ten practice areas in The Legal 500 2024 edition released yesterday.

Here are some highlights from what our clients had to say:

 

Commercial litigation 

“Direct partner contact, in-depth subject expertise and competitive rates due to its size and structure which makes it stand out in the Manchester and national market.

“Pragmatic yet thoroughly detailed advice together with responsiveness and quick turn-around times – an invaluable resource for a busy in-house team.”

“Collaborative, responsive, thoughtful and with a deep knowledge and understanding of our business.”

 

Commercial property

“The team is very experienced and offers a personalised service. They are highly knowledgeable and able to represent the core interests of their clients without prompting.”

A smaller team that offers a big company service and an ethos personalised to the needs of the client.”

“Valued members of their team and ours. They are always available and ready to answer quick questions and give advice.”

 

Contentious trusts & probate

“Sound, intelligent advice and support.”

“Exceptional advice and persuaded me to agree to mediation. This proved to be excellent advice and helped achieve a fantastic result, avoiding court costs.”

“Client-focused and provide realistic straight-talking advice in a manner clients can easily understand. They are very experienced around the legal issues but also have their eye on costs.”

 

Corporate & commercial

“Able to manage demanding and challenging stakeholders – always with a smile on their faces.”

“Highlights risks in a commercial manner. Doesn’t labour incidental points, a characteristic that helps keep processes moving and on track.”

“Always has a solution when required to get through a log-jam and able to manage diverse stakeholders to ensure a consensus solution is found.”

 

Debt recovery

“Pannone are very good at replying and explaining their process. We can call them anytime and they pick up – not the case with other firms.”

“The personal touch and the relationships with people at Pannone. They have held inhouse training at their Manchester office to help myself and my staff understand the legal process.”

  

Employment

Supported several very complex cases and always quick to respond, giving excellent and considered advice. They understand our business and some of the difficulties we face and apply this when giving advice.”

“‘We have built a strong relationship with the whole team and no matter what the issue, any of them can be approached and you can trust that if it is not their area of expertise they will liaise with the subject expert within the team before providing advice.”

“Their employment law knowledge is fantastic, and they present this in a simple yet effective way.”

 

Health & safety

“An outstanding partner to myself and the whole business. Nothing is too much trouble.”

Undoubtedly the firm to watch in the North West, buckets of experience mixed with in-depth knowledge of the regulatory landscape means the firm is going from strength-to-strength.’

“The class act of the North’

  

Insolvency & corporate recovery

“A very commercially sound and technically gifted team who provide an excellent service.”

“Excellent technically and commercially, and fun to work with.”

“Strong technically, very commercial, results-orientated and well-respected in the market.”

“A good communicator and always willing to take a commercial view.”

 

Intellectual property

“Pannone have kept up with us every step of the changes in our organisation, and their diligent handling of our cases has played a significant part in our organisation’s success post-pandemic. They are consistently a pleasure to deal with – no matter the query or the request, the team work tirelessly to meet our expectations.”

 

IT & telecoms

“Adept at providing commercial and pragmatic advice which comes from being experts in the sector.” 

“Manages to provide the right level of advice for our business without over-engineering it.”

  

Media & entertainment 

“Highly professional, supportive and excellent advice”

“An ability to see around corners…always my first choice.”

 

Property litigation

“A very cohesive and proactive team, which is essential to support our sometimes urgent and time-critical requirements.”

  

Notable individuals

Hall of Fame

Melanie McGuirk – Intellectual Property

Tim Hamilton – Corporate and Commercial

 

Leading Individuals

Amy Chandler – Intellectual Property

Amy Chandler – IT and Telecoms

Nicola Marchant – Contentious Trusts and Probate

Paul Jonson – Commercial Litigation

David Brown – Property Litigation

Melanie McGuirk – Media and Entertainment

Jack Harrington – Employment

David Walton – Health and Safety

Next Generation Partners

Gemma Staples – Property Litigation

Jonny Scholes – Contentious Trusts and Probate

Rising Stars

Sarah Bazaraa – Intellectual Property and Media & Entertainment

Arshnoor Amershi – Corporate and Commercial

Andrew Walsh – Corporate and Commercial

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Natasha Mafunga joined Pannone Corporate at the start of the year as a solicitor in the dispute resolution team. In the latest in our blog series, My Life in Law, Natasha reflects on the first nine months of her at career at the firm, her love of people and problem solving, what she would do if she was managing partner for the day and the Broadway career that never was!

Tell us a little bit about your role at Pannone?

I work in the dispute resolution team and, since I joined in January, I’ve developed a mixed caseload consisting of commercial litigation work on the one hand and contentious probate and trusts work on the other.

That’s what really appealed to me about the job – I liked the idea of doing commercial litigation work alongside contentious probate and trusts. What’s more, the firm has a clear progression route and invests in the development of its people – people who, I might add, are absolutely lovely to work with, which applies across all teams!

What route did you go down, in terms of training and qualifications?

After completing my A-levels in Law, Psychology and Sociology, I went down the ‘traditional’ route of getting my LLB undergraduate law degree at the University of Chester, before getting a training contract and qualifying. I was able to do my training contract alongside my LPC MSC in Law, Business and Management, which I did part time. It was tough at times juggling work and doing my LPC, but I managed to get through it fairly unscathed!

Why did you choose this route?

I didn’t really consider any other route at the time. I was lucky enough to be able to get a postgraduate loan for my LPC, as I was doing it alongside my masters. This meant that I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to fund my course.

Tell us what does a typical day look like?

No day is ever really the same. It usually starts of with me updating my to-do list from the previous day, checking my calendar for upcoming meetings and deadlines and trying to get my head down with the hopes of crossing a task off the list. My tasks can range from having phone calls with clients, opponents and third parties, responding to emails and drafting letters and court documents, all the way through to attending conferences with counsel or even court hearings. It’s always important to keep an eye on upcoming deadlines and have the Civil Procedure Rules to hand at all times.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

I enjoy working with people and problem solving. The work I do as part of the contentious probate and trusts team especially allows me to see how much of a real difference my colleagues and I can make to people’s lives, often in very sensitive and stressful circumstances.

Looking ahead, what are your career ambitions?

Simply put, I want to be the best solicitor I can be in my areas of specialism and provide a great service to my clients. In doing that, I trust that I will always be rewarded with progression. Who knows, it might lead me to joining the partnership one day.

Talking of being a partner, if you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do? 

I like the idea of a 30-minute wellness session where employees can do some simple yoga, meditation or breathing techniques to clear the 1,000 tabs that are always open in our minds at any one time.

Keeping your managing partner hat on, what can lawyers / the legal profession do to better support clients?

Its important to always be clear on costs from the outset and not be afraid to continue raising the subject with clients throughout. De-mystifying the process and the costs likely to be involved will ensure that clients keep coming to you for advice.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

From about 2020, I got into walking and hiking, as you couldn’t really do much else at the time due to Covid. Now it’s one of my favourite things to do.

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law? 

Apparently I can be quite dramatic, so I imagine I would’ve been a world famous Broadway actress by now. If only the law hadn’t got to me first!

On that note, it shouldn’t surprise colleagues about your previous skills and talent!

No! I played a lead role in an adaptation of We Will Rock You the musical in high school. The talent being I can memorise a script fairly quickly. Hopefully that footage never sees the light of day!

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Pannone Corporate has revealed its role on the sale of a Lancashire-based environmental and engineering company to Adler and Allan.

Detectronic, based in Colne, helps customers prevent flooding and reduce pollution. The company designs and manufactures a range of flow and level monitors for wastewater monitoring, including its LIDoTT range of sewer level monitoring devices.

Harrogate-based environmental services company Adler and Allan snapped up the business to further enhance its wastewater telemetry and monitoring capability.

Pannone’s corporate team advised the shareholders of Detectronic on the deal, with a team including corporate partner Tom Hall and senior associate Andrew Walsh, alongside Renee Neophytou and Lizzie O’Leary.

Hall said: “Since we first started working with the team at Detectronic more than a decade ago, the company has built up an unrivalled reputation for its innovative and creative approach to environmental services, with extensive experience in sewer and wastewater management.

“The business has achieved enormous success in recent years and the sale to a company of the ambition of Adler and Allan marks an important chapter in Detectronic’s growth journey. As a long-standing and trusted client, we look forward to seeing how the company flourishes under the expert stewardship of Adler and Allan.”

Phillips said: “PM+M has seen a real surge in transactions over the last few months, with Detectronic being the latest. We are delighted to have advised on this deal; Detectronic is a great Lancashire business and the synergies created as part of the acquisition will allow Adler and Allan to expand its market reach.

“It will add huge leverage and will enable the company to go from strength to strength. We wish them all the best for the future.”

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the share sale of Detectronic– a specialist in sewer and wastewater network monitoring and management.

The Lancashire-based company was acquired for an undisclosed sum by environmental services business Adler and Allan Limited. This is A&A’s fourth acquisition in the utilities sector, and sixth overall in the last 18 months. The deal will further enhance its capabilities in wastewater telemetry and monitoring.

Pannone’s corporate team advised the shareholders of Detectronic, a long-standing client of the North West law firm. The team included corporate partner, Tom Hall, and Andrew Walsh, senior associate. They were supported by Renee Neophytou and Lizzie O’Leary.

Hall said: “Since we first started working with the team at Detectronic more than a decade ago, the company has built up an unrivalled reputation for its innovative and creative approach to environmental services, with extensive experience in sewer and wastewater management.

“The business has achieved enormous success in recent years and the sale to a company of the ambition of Adler and Allan marks an important chapter in Detectronic’s growth journey. As a long-standing and trusted client, we look forward to seeing how the company flourishes under the expert stewardship of Adler and Allan.”

Detectronic is an environmental and engineering company with a proven track record of helping customers prevent flooding and reduce pollution. It designs and manufactures a range of flow and level monitors for wastewater monitoring including LIDoTT, a market-leading range of sewer level monitoring devices.

Steve Woods, Executive Chairman at Detectronic, said: “We are delighted to be joining the Adler and Allan Group. The services it offers, combined with its established position in the utilities market, allows us to extend our expert monitoring and management solutions to more companies.”

Adler and Allan provides environmental services across utilities, energy, and industrial infrastructure, to reduce risk to the environment, people, and organisations.

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North West law firm, Pannone Corporate, has advised on transactions with an aggregate deal value of over £550 million in the first half of 2022.

The corporate team, led by partners Mark Winthorpe, Tom Hall and Tim Hamilton, has continued where it left off in Q4 of 2021, by completing 19 transactions, with an average deal value of £29 million. These were completed between January and June 2022 across M&A, IPO and private equity.

High-profile deals include: the cross-border sale of leading producer and supplier of premium organic superfood products, Go Superfoods Limited, to Swedish food-tech and FMCG listed company, Humble Group; the UK aspects of the IPO of TVS Supply Chain Solutions; NVM-backed nZero Group’s acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems; and the acquisition of UK-based eProcurement software company Market Dojo by global cloud platform Esker.

Mark Winthorpe said: “Despite obvious macroeconomic headwinds, the appetite for M&A – both nationally and internationally – has been very resilient during the first half of 2022.

“We have seen a number of instructions acting for private equity-backed groups looking for bolt on acquisitions to maintain their growth curve and, in certain instances, transform underperforming assets. The appetite for new investments also remains strong as private equity bidders become even more competitive in deal processes, as the valuations attributed to corporate bidders has, in our view, softened to a degree.”

He added: “Other stand out themes include truncated deal processes, with average deal periods being closer to two months (and sometimes much shorter than that) than over three months pre-pandemic. This is in part driven by the irreversible move towards technology in the deal process and the desire of sellers to de-risk with supply chain pressures and inflation having an impact on trading outlooks.”

Recent deals which Pannone has also acted on include: the cross-border sale of a controlling stake in Walker Sime by US-based Otak, part of Hanmi Global Group; Procuritas-backed Polarn O. Pyret’s acquisition of Odin Retail; and Maven Capital’s £4.25 million VCT round into baby care brand, Pura.

Tom Hall commented: “Our international M&A practice has had an incredibly strong first two quarters, with high quality instructions for UK assets from French, Spanish, US, Dutch and Swedish clients, amongst others.

“Technology is definitely ‘one to watch’ as US and European buyers show an unabated appetite for high quality targets, especially when coupled with the depreciation in the value of sterling against the Euro and the Dollar. When you combine that level of interest with strong performances across other key markets, such as financial services, online retail and food production businesses, we are confident for the remainder of 2022, with deals we are aiming to complete by the end of the Summer being circa £250 million in value.”

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the cross-border strategic investment in risk-led intelligent security solutions provider, Amberstone Security.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to Argenbright Group, a leading provider of human capital services headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Through the transaction, the US company will re-establish its UK presence and plans to expand into Europe with Amberstone as its platform company.

The Pannone team was led by Tim Hamilton and included Ashi Amershi, Andy Walsh, Belinda Cheung and Humera Patel.

Tim Hamilton said: “We’re delighted to have acted for Argenbright on this deal and look forward to working with them on the exciting journey that will see them develop as a significant player in the UK and European security sector.

“Argenbright has extensive experience and a strong reputation in the international security market, stretching over four decades. This strategic transaction will extend its global reach and capitalise on the rapid growth Amberstone has experienced in a short space of time.”

Amberstone services key customers in the retail, warehousing, and logistics sectors.

Frank A. Argenbright Jr., Executive Chairman of Argenbright, said: “We are excited to be back in the security business in the UK and I personally look forward to sharing my experiences of providing legendary service and technology-driven solutions to valued clients with the leadership team to help Amberstone take the business to the next level.”

Argenbright intends to invest in growing Amberstone, by adding significant capabilities in account management and sales, as well as selective strategic acquisitions.

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Venture Capital is set to underpin the North West deals market in 2023, following a record year of fundraising, as uncertainty and high interest rates in the debt market continue to dampen the volume of leveraged buyouts.

After Venture Capital Trust (VCT) fundraising reached a record high of £1.13 billion in the 2021/22 tax year, VCTs are expected to continue to deploy capital in 2023, which includes investment in small and innovative North West companies. This is aided by the Government’s decision to extend the tax relief scheme beyond its original 2025 sunset clause, which will help maintain the positive momentum achieved over the past few years.

In the final quarter of 2022, a number of standout deals demonstrated the appetite of VCTs to invest in the regional North West market, contrary to what is perceived to be a London-centric investment approach. This included Manchester-based Summize – a contract lifecycle management disruptor – which secured £5 million Series A VCT funding from YFM Equity Partners and Maven Capital. The investment duo also led a £6.5 million Series A round into biomedical data specialist, Biorelate.

According to law firm, Pannone Corporate, which acted on both deals, VCT fundraising could reach new record levels in the tax year 2022/23, particularly given the sector’s ability to offset subscriptions against income tax – an ability to pay tax free dividends, at a time when Government fiscal policy tightens, especially in relation to income tax thresholds.

Mark Winthorpe, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “As the deals in 2022 demonstrate, venture capital investment is becoming an ever increasing element of the investment landscape, following a record year of fundraising.

“In many cases, VCTs are looking at a longer time horizon of five to seven years and investment rounds are increasingly done on a syndicated basis to increase the level of investment in the round and diversify a VCT’s portfolio. As such, this patient approach is making funds less susceptible to shorter-term economic and political impacts, with deal volumes also potentially benefiting from any softening of valuations.”

In 2022, Pannone acted on 12 VCT-backed deals, a 50% increase on the previous year. Overall, deal volume increased by 24%, with cross-border transactions continuing to feature strongly.

Other publishable high-profile deals in Q4 2022 included, acting for the management team of training and apprenticeships provider Babington on its tertiary buyout, backed by Unigestion; advising digitisation and data storage business, Storetec, on its MBO, backed by Bridges Fund Management; acting for Maven Capital on its investment through the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund into British tech-for-good company GWD; advising the shareholders of Inprova Procurement on its MBO backed by NVM Private Equity; as well as acting on the cross-border acquisition of Easyairconditioning.com, advising Beijer Ref AB – a Swedish listed business, which specialises in the wholesale of cooling technology and HVAC.

Tim Hamilton, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “While uncertainty in the UK economy is putting off some overseas buyers, who have choices about where to invest their funds, there are still those who see a weak pound as an opportunity to acquire businesses in a well regulated market and a mature economy at good value. As such, we expect cross-border deals to remain resilient in the next 12 months.

“In terms of sectors to watch in 2023, big data and data security remain attractive areas for investment, as evidenced by the Biorelate and Storetec deals in Q4. Data security is an area that firms will need to maintain investment in over the course of the next 12 months, given the wider geopolitical landscape, whether that’s in Ukraine, or the growing tension between China and the United States over Taiwan.”

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For those working in the legal profession, the Legal 500 rankings are an annual fixture in a firm’s calendar. The rankings are based on client feedback about what it’s like to work with lawyers, and which firms excel in particular areas.

As a firm, we rank favourably across the practice areas in which we operate and this is testament to our belief that our talented team is even greater than the sum of its parts.

We also believe in celebrating recognition for an outstanding performance, which is why it’s fantastic to see some of our team named in the Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards shortlist. This shortlist has just been announced to recognise the lawyers, law firms and in-house legal departments setting the pace in the region, providing a platform to celebrate their achievements over the last 18 months.

The shortlists and winners were based on the Legal 500’s independent research for their annual UK Solicitors guide and winners will be selected by a judging panel.

We would like to congratulate our colleagues below on being shortlisted by the Legal 500 and look forward to the awards in March.

 

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In the latest in our My Life in Law series, we speak to Paralegal, Humera Patel. Humera joined the firm in September 2021 having cut her teeth in the legal industry at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Forbes Solicitors, where she assisted on a variety of corporate matters.

We hear all about her typical day, career goals and balancing a love of keeping fit with a love of eating out!

Tell us a little about your role at Pannone?

I work as part of the Corporate Services team and assist by drafting, negotiating and reviewing legal documents during corporate transactions.

I have been lucky enough to get involved with a wide range of work – from mergers and acquisitions to company re-organisations, investments and company secretarial work. The list just keeps getting longer, but it’s brilliant to get an insight into the full spectrum of services we offer.

Why did you join Pannone?

Pannone is one the best known innovative and collaborative law firms in the North. I was initially attracted to the firm due to its high calibre of clients, but from my first interview I knew Pannone was the right place for me.

The people and the culture of the firm really enhanced my belief that it would be a positive and inspirational place to work and, having now worked here for over a year, I can confirm my assumptions were correct!

The approachability of the senior members of the firm fosters a collaborative and supportive environment which makes a huge difference.

What route did you go down, in terms of training and qualifications?

I went down the traditional route: I studied law at the University of Central Lancashire, before undertaking the Legal Practice Course at University of Law.

My aspiration of pursuing a career in commercial law stems from my interest in both business and law – the synergies between these two fields are constantly growing and encompasses various aspects. I was always intrigued with the complexities of the legal system and how legislation constantly evolves, knowing that my job would never be a boring one!

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Completing a transaction and meeting the clients expectations – definitely. After all the hard work, it’s exciting to get a deal over the line.

What does a typical day look like?

Very busy! I start my day with checking my emails and going through the day’s tasks. I then attend the corporate team catchup meeting where we discuss our workload and capacity.

I always try to deal with the smaller tasks first thing so that I can focus on the larger tasks throughout the day. The smaller jobs usually involve drafting ancillary documentation, data room management, and responding to internal and external emails.

The larger tasks comprise drafting key legal documents such as SPAs, Disclosure letters and Shareholders Agreements.  In between drafting and responding to emails, I normally attend calls with clients and/or other side solicitors to negotiate and discuss legal documents.

Although the processes remain generally the same, the breadth of clients means that each day is very different and things can often crop up unexpectedly, so it pays to be prepared!

What are your career ambitions?

My immediate goals are to work hard and continue to grow my skillset and knowledge of corporate law. In the future, I aspire to train as a solicitor, build an impressive client portfolio and follow in the footsteps of the partners in the corporate team.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do? 

Give everyone a day off! On a serious note, I would organise a firm-wide social to get to know everyone in the firm better – the power of strong colleague relationships can’t be underestimated.

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law? 

I would have become a primary school teacher; I really enjoy spending time with kids and seeing them develop. Not to mention the holiday perks!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

In my spare time, I enjoy going on long walks and to the gym to keep fit and healthy, this helps me to maintain a healthy work life balance.

I also enjoy socialising with my friends and eating together. I’m a total a foodie; I love trying a variety of different foods from different cuisines. I’d say my favourite is Italian –  I could eat pizza and pasta all day, every day!

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the cross-border acquisition of Easyairconditioning.com.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to Beijer Ref AB – a Swedish listed business, which specialises in the wholesale of refrigeration and air conditioning products. Through the transaction Beijer Ref will expand its international footprint, strengthening its UK presence through the acquisition of the Midlands-based company.

The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall and included Arshnoor Amershi and Bez Borang.

Tom Hall said: “This is a fantastic acquisition for Beijer Ref, and cements its commitment to the UK market, as the company looks to grow its presence through a proven and highly successful network of 70-plus subsidiaries across Europe, Asia, Pacific and Africa. Easyairconditioning.com is a perfect fit for the business and complements its existing network in the UK.

“This cross-border transaction is yet another demonstration of the increasing appetite of large international businesses that have a strategic focus on the UK, using buy and build as an effective way to enter or expand into an overseas market. This has been a popular theme throughout 2022, with Pannone supporting large international clients on a number of significant cross border acquisitions this year, including acting for global cloud platform Esker on its acquisition of a controlling stake in Market Dojo, advising Dutch flower distributor van Duyvenvoorde on a significant UK acquisition and advising Argenbright on its strategic investment in Amberstone Security.

Easyairconditioning.com was established in 2001 and delivers a range of AC and heat recovery system solutions to business and domestic markets.

Christopher Norbye, CEO Beijer Ref, said: “With over two decades of experience, Easy Air Conditioning has accumulated a well-established customer base. They have a dedicated and committed team and we are pleased to welcome Easy Air Conditioning to the Beijer Ref group.”

Shakespeare Martineau (Michael Stace and Matthew Shephard) advised Easyairconditioning.com on the transaction.

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the cross-border sale of a controlling stake in North West company, Walker Sime.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to the shareholders of Walker Sime, of which shares were acquired by Oregon-based Otak, part of the HanmiGlobal Group. The US company has taken a majority stake in Walker Sime, as part of the deal.

The Pannone team was led by Tim Hamilton (corporate Partner), Miranda Foy and Behzad Borang.

Walker Sime is a multi-disciplinary construction consultancy, which specialises in quantity surveying and project management. It has worked on a number of high-profile projects, including Network Space’s 200,000 sq ft industrial scheme in Altrincham and the £54 million Glass Futures in St Helens.

Tim Hamilton said: “We have worked with Walker Sime for a number of years and have followed the company’s impressive expansion, establishing itself as a leading player in the North West construction market.

“The sale to Otak is a perfect culmination of years of hard work and dedication by the team and a significant milestone in its ongoing growth journey. We were delighted to have acted for the company on this transaction and look forward to watching the next phase of its development, in particular in advanced manufacturing and the low carbon economy.”

The Walker Sime deal comes three years after Otak, a design and project management firm, acquired a majority stake in London-based consultancy K2. As part of the deal, Walker Sime and K2 will merge operations under the Walker Sime name, creating a team of around 130 with a national focus.

The financial advisors to the shareholders of Walker Sime were James Jennings and Chris Bentley of the Strategy Exchange.

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PLG International Lawyers firms, Lamy Lexel and Pannone Corporate, have advised on the cross-border acquisition of UK-based eProcurement software company, Market Dojo.

The two firms were legal advisers to global cloud platform Esker, which has acquired a majority stake in Market Dojo. Esker, which is listed on the Euronext Growth market in Paris, has purchased 50.1% of the shares and voting rights in Market Dojo, with an option to acquire the remainder of the shares after a period of four years.

The Pannone team, led by Tom Hall (corporate Partner), Andrew Walsh and Behzad Borang, worked alongside Lamy Lexel, its PLG partner in Lyon, who provided French law support to Esker on the transaction. Frédéric Dupont (corporate Partner), Typhanie Le Gall and Pauline Philippon led the corporate team at Lamy Lexel.

Esker, which is headquartered in Lyon, France, is a global cloud platform and leader in AI-driven process automation solutions for finance and customer service functions.

Tom Hall said: “Esker is a world leader in cloud and AI-driven technology, with a significant footprint across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

“This strategic acquisition will undoubtedly strengthen Esker’s presence in the UK, while offering significant international development opportunities. It will also build on the company’s capabilities in traditional markets by enabling Esker to bring eSourcing into its platform proposition. It is, as ever, a pleasure to work alongside Lamy Lexel on another successful transaction.

Frédéric Dupont said: ”Lamy Lexel is delighted to be able to support Esker and its teams, for which we handle the day-to-day market regulation aspects, in a strategic international acquisition. It is a renewed pleasure to collaborate with the Pannone team on sensitive operations in a friendly environment.”

Market Dojo’s eSourcing cloud solution was created to address the need for structured and digitised processes in procurement. Designed by procurement professionals, Market Dojo’s unique on-demand solution enables users to centralise information, negotiate the best value for goods and services, and select the right suppliers.

Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO at Esker, said: “We are pleased to welcome Market Dojo to the Esker family. This acquisition provides new growth opportunities in a developing market and strengthens Esker’s positioning in the global Procure-to-Pay (P2P) arena. Additionally, Market Dojo is an excellent illustration of Esker’s strategy to invest in organic growth combined with targeted acquisitions that offer a high potential for growth.”

Mazars provided financial due diligence and tax support to Esker. Advisors to the shareholders of Market Dojo were: Ryecroft Glenton (corporate finance and tax) and Simon Muirhead Burton (legal).

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Pannone Corporate and Carbon Corporate Finance have advised on the cross-border sale of leading producer and supplier of premium organic superfood products, Go Superfoods Limited.

The Manchester firms acted as legal and financial advisers respectively to the shareholders of Go Superfoods, which was acquired by Swedish food-tech and FMCG listed company, Humble Group. The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall (corporate Partner), Arshnoor Amershi and Humera Patel. The Carbon team was led by partners Tom Johnson and David Kandola.

Go Superfoods, which was founded by CEO Harry Singh in 2008, offers a wide range of superfoods to retail customers and distributors under its own brands Green Origins, Rainforest Foods, and Piura.

Tom Johnson said: “We’re delighted to have advised the shareholders of Go Superfoods on this transaction. Harry and his team have built a leading superfoods business, which will flourish as part of the Humble Group.

“Achieving results such as this for Harry demonstrates Carbon’s commitment to helping business owners realise significant value through strategic sales.”

Tom Hall said: “Go Superfoods is an exciting business that’s really made its mark in the rapidly-growing organic superfoods sector – building strong brand loyalty amongst both consumers and distributors.

“With the vast potential that exists in the marketplace, combined with an ambitious and profitable business in Go Superfoods, this cross-border deal made perfect sense for Humble Group. It allows the business to enter a new niche market segment, while using its own scale and purchasing power to enhance the offering and reach of the multi-channel supplier. We’re delighted for Harry and the team and wish them every success as they embark on the next phase of their growth journey.”

Go Superfoods has established itself as a competitive superfoods supplier with a broad customer base, including specialist and nutrition retailers, distributors, food manufacturers and consumers.

Singh commented: “At Go Superfoods we’ve always strived to be a bridge connecting growers of superfoods in the developing world with European consumers looking to improve their health and wellbeing. Humble is the perfect partner for us to continue our journey with and we look forward to working with Simon Petrén and his team at Humble to accomplish our shared vision.” 

Advisors to Humble were Knight Transaction Services (UK Financial DD), Shoosmiths (UK legal) and Rämsell Advokatbyrå AB (Swedish legal).

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Pannone Corporate has advised nZero Group on the multi-million pound acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems to create an industry leader in the UK’s low carbon industry.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to nZero Group, which acquired Orbital Gas Systems from its NYSE-listed parent company, Orbital Energy Group (OEG) for an undisclosed sum. The deal was backed by NVM Private Equity, nZero Group’s institutional backer.

Cheshire-based nZero Group aims to become the UK’s leading measurement and control partner across the natural gas, petrochemical, biomethane and decarbonisation sectors. It said the acquisition would ensure the necessary skills and capacity are ready and aligned to help the country’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Tim Hamilton, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, led the deal alongside Andy Walsh, Rosie Korcz and Amy Chandler. He said: “nZero Group is an innovative and exciting business, which has perfectly positioned itself in a fast-growth sector driven by the UK’s net zero ambitions. The acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems perfectly complements nZero Group’s strategic aims and bolsters its position, not only in the domestic market, but also internationally.

“We’re delighted to have supported the team in achieving this exciting milestone and look forward to working alongside the company during the next stage of its growth journey.”

The deal will see the enlarged group employ over 150 people with combined turnover in the region of £16million. Over the next three to five years, the company expects to create more than 50 highly-skilled jobs, whilst investing in creating its own engineers for the future through apprenticeship and graduate programmes to address the skills shortage in the UK.

Both companies, which will retain their existing names as part of the deal, will be led by nZero Group managing director, Matt Allen.

Allen commented: “This deal represents a significant step forward in our strategy to become a key contributor in the UK net zero energy transition by bringing under common ownership two of the UK’s leading measurement and control partners across the natural gas, low carbon hydrogen, petrochemical, and waste to energy sectors.

“The UK and many other countries are making significant commitments to tackle the climate crisis. This is creating a growing demand for companies, like Orbital and Thyson Technology – a subsidiary of nZero Group – to provide a blend of existing technologies and innovative solutions to decarbonise, while supporting customers’ commercial and technological challenges to meet the targets they have set themselves or have been set by government.”

Located in Stone, Staffordshire, Orbital Gas Systems specialises in the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial gas sampling, measurement, and delivery systems. It has nearly 40 years’ expertise in the manufacture of a broad range of innovative technologies for the energy, power, and processing markets.

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the USD $8 million investment into games studio and developer of virtual worlds, Dubit. The multi-million dollar deal will fund the world’s first live esports league in the metaverse, starting in Roblox.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to Metaventures founder and French investor Jean-Charles Capelli, who led the funding round. The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall (Corporate Partner), Andrew Walsh and Behzad Borang.

The capital funding values Dubit at USD $55 million and will enable the Yorkshire-based company to expand its existing metaverse activity, with the launch of the inaugural Metaverse Gaming League (MGL) – branded gaming events and esports tournaments. Following its launch on Roblox, the company intends to expand into other leading metaverse gaming platforms, such as Minecraft and Core.

Tom Hall commented: “We’re delighted to have worked alongside Metaventures and Jean-Charles in what is a hugely exciting deal in a rapidly growing technology space.

“The metaverse is grabbing both headlines and people’s imaginations, as major players commit to the virtual world. With a strong reputation amongst global brands for its development capabilities, the multi-million investment will undoubtedly provide Dubit with further momentum as it continues to expand its presence in the virtual world.”

Established in 1999, Dubit works with companies such as Disney, Facebook and Lego, and is already taking brands into Roblox. As part of its ambitious growth strategy, Metaventures and Dubit also plan to create consumer lifestyle experiences such as concerts and fashion shows for the metaverse.

Jean-Charles Capelli said: “Dubit is in the perfect position to take advantage of the new opportunities in the metaverse. No other company has 20 years’ experience in developing and launching virtual worlds, combined with a great network of brands and organisations that it works with around the world. As an entrepreneur and musician, I’m proud to invest in Dubit, and I’m excited to help scale up the incredible experiences it creates for users of Roblox and other metaverses.”

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Pannone Corporate has advised the founder of streetwear brand, HERA London, on the sale to Gymshark director and former chairman, Paul Richardson.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to Ashley White, founder of the fashion company, which aims to grow into a £100 million label over the next three to five years. The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall (Corporate Partner), Andrew Walsh and Behzad Borang.

Launched in 2015 by Ashley White, HERA London has become known for its iconic skinny jeans, oversized sweatshirts and loungewear, with the brand attracting celebrities including Hailey Bieber, Brooklyn Beckham and Sofia Richie.

Tom Hall said: “We’ve worked alongside the founder of HERA London for the last few years, during which time the company has achieved exponential growth, established a loyal customer base, and built an impressive reputation amongst brand ambassadors.

“We’re delighted to have advised Ashley on a significant deal, which marks an exciting new chapter for the fashion brand as it looks to scale up and build on its success to date.”

Richardson, who was previously joint owner and director of All Saints, has purchased a majority stake in HERA London and will become executive chairman at the online retailer. He will oversee company strategy, create significant growth and improve brand equity.

Ashley White commented: “I would like to thank Tom, Andrew, Behzad and the whole Pannone Corporate team for their hard work and commercial advice. Their expertise is second-to-none and they made the process an enjoyable one.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Pannone Corporate has advised Europe’s leading call tracking provider, ResponseTap, on the sale to Infinity in an undisclosed deal.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to Salford-based ResponseTap, which was acquired by call intelligence provider, Infinity, from the company’s management and venture capital investors. The team was led by Tom Hall (Corporate Partner) and Arshnoor Amershi (Senior Associate), with support from Behzad Borang.

ResponseTap has built up a strong reputation for the development of highly innovative customer experience software to predict caller intent and personalise the call experience. This will combine with Infinity’s leading conversation analytics suite, which enhances its core call tracking services. It will allow the enlarged SaaS group – which has annual recurring revenues of £15 million, employing 135 staff – to better serve its 350 enterprise and over 1,000 SMB clients.

Tom Hall said: “We have worked alongside the founders of ResponseTap for the last 10 years, following the company on an impressive growth journey that has attracted significant interest from across the market.

“ResponseTap has developed and launched pioneering speech analytics technology, expanded beyond its North West roots to international territories, and built up an enviable client portfolio, including Virgin Money and luxury travel group, EFR Travel. It’s a real success story for the region and a significant deal within the marketplace.”

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Pannone Corporate has advised North West-based medical communications agency, Spirit, on the sale to OPEN Health Group.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to the shareholders of Spirit, which has been acquired by the global medical affairs specialist. OPEN Health Group is a portfolio company of Amulet Capital Partners LP, a US-based private equity firm focused exclusively on the healthcare sector. The team was led by Tom Hall, Corporate partner, with support from senior associate, Arshnoor Amershi and corporate paralegal, Behzad Borang.

Founded in 2006 by Asif Zaman, and based at premises in Didsbury and Alderley Park, Spirit offers full-service medical communications throughout the product lifecycle, with deep expertise across a range of therapy areas. Services include publication planning, medical strategy, medical education, scientific meetings, training and digital solutions.

As part of the undisclosed deal, Spirit will benefit from OPEN Health Group’s global network, with more than 850 people based in 15 locations across six different countries, including the USA, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, India and China.

Tom Hall said: “Over the last 15 years, Spirit has built an enviable reputation as a leading medical communications agency – not just in the North West, but across the globe.

“We’re delighted that a company of OPEN Health’s stature has recognised the exciting potential that Spirit possesses through its unique approach to scientific communications and its unwavering commitment to exceptional client experience. Having worked alongside Asif and the team for more than 10 years, as a long-standing client of Pannone Corporate, we have no doubt that the deal – one of a number in the sector over the last 12 months – will undoubtedly help to expand Spirit’s global reach and the range of innovative services it offers to clients worldwide.”

Asif Zaman, founder and chairman of Spirit, added: “I am delighted to see the business I started in 2006 move to the next level with OPEN Health. This transaction has exceeded my expectations, and not just in terms of my own personal outcome, but more importantly in finding the right home and cultural fit for Spirit and its fantastic team of medcomms professionals.

“Tom and the team at Pannone Corporate have been outstanding in terms of providing service excellence, adding value throughout the process and quite simply being a great team of people to work with and rely on.”

Spirit was also advised by corporate finance advisors, BCMS and accountants/tax specialists Mitchell Charlesworth LLP

 

 

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Pannone Corporate has acted for the management team, Maven Capital Partners, and Mercia Fund Managers, on the proposed sale of Macclesfield-based fintech start-up, Mojo Mortgages, to RVU – the owner of multiple digital brands, including Uswitch, Confused.com and Money.co.uk.

The transaction remains subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

Mark Winthorpe, corporate partner, who lead on the deal, commented: “Mojo is fantastic North West success story, demonstrating the significant potential that exists in the regional’s fintech community when you cleverly combine smart technology with market and consumer insight. This deal is testament to the considerable investment and ambition that the team has made in the last few years and is an exciting milestone in the growth journey of the tech start-up.”

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Pannone Corporate has advised online fashion giant, Boohoo, on the acquisition of a new £72 million London headquarters.

The Real Estate and Corporate teams acted as legal advisers to Boohoo, which has purchased the high-profile offices previously occupied by Microsoft and Nokia. The team was led by Tim Hamilton, Corporate partner and Gareth Birch, Real Estate associate partner, with support from Barbara Wang, Danielle Amor and Helen Jadhav. Nick Davies, partner at Axis Property Consultancy LLP, acted as property consultant for Boohoo.

The six-story office building located at 10 Great Pulteney Street will become home to all London-based product, marketing, technology and central support teams – approximately 600 staff – as well as offering flexible working for Boohoo staff.

Gareth Birch said: “As a longstanding client, we’re absolutely delighted to have advised Boohoo on the acquisition of such a prestigious building in London’s West End.

“Boohoo is a real success story for Manchester and the North West and this latest move, which bolsters its expanding property portfolio and cements its presence in the capital, is testament to its exceptional growth in recent years and the boom in online retail, particularly over the last 12 months.”

The purchase of the 43,963 sq. ft. building, follows Boohoo’s acquisition of Debenhams out of administration and several Arcadia brands, including Oasis, Warehouse, Dorothy Perkins, Burton and Wallis, which significantly grow its presence in London.

Nick Davies added: “We were delighted to assist Boohoo in securing the premises, given the interest from other high-profile global brands. The premises is in the heart of Soho, providing a vibrant London West End headquarters building and a strong commitment to the city.”

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The Wateredge Inn on Ambleside has been sold to The Inn Collection Group for an undisclosed sum.

The Wateredge Inn dates back to the late 17th century and is located in Ambleside on the banks of Lake Windermere in the Lake District. The hotel is well known for its spectacular location and attracts guests from all over the world due to its landmark site. It has been owned by the Cowap family for almost 40 years.

The Inn Collection Group is a rapidly expanding, award winning, Northumberland based pubco who has expanded its presence outside its North East heartland with sites in Lancashire, Cumbria, Yorkshire and County Durham.

The Cowap family, former owners of Wateredge said:

“For 38 years we have been supported by a loyal and dedicated team. We feel the Inn Collection Group will sustain the Wateredge legacy and maintain the uniqueness of the place. We are leaving the business in great hands and would like to thank our fantastic team, customers and suppliers for their support over the years.

“We have received terrific support from the teams at Azets and Pannone Corporate, who helped us navigate and negotiate the transaction. We appreciate the dedication of the team in managing a smooth process throughout and delivering a successful transaction.”

Rob Richardson, Corporate Finance Partner at Azets in Manchester led the deal and provided corporate finance advice while Jenny Pape, tax partner, provided tax advice to the family. Tom Hall, Andrew Walsh and Miranda Foy at Pannone Corporate provided legal advice to the vendor. Julian Troup at Colliers advised the Cowap family.

Rob Richardson, Corporate Finance Partner at Azets, in the North West said:

“We were delighted to advise the Cowap family on their sale to The Inn Collection Group and it’s great to see the success of their business being recognised. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and the uncertain economic outlook for hospitality and leisure businesses, this deal proves that attractive, well managed businesses will always be in demand.  It’s credit to the resilience and enterprise of the North West business community that our teams remain so active.”

Tom Hall, partner at Pannone Corporate said: “This is a fantastic deal for everyone involved and it’s always rewarding to see a strong family business secure its legacy having sold to an ambitious, well-backed buyer like The Inn Collection Group. As the UK’s staycation market looks set to continue to grow, we’d expect an uplift in positive M&A activity across the region’s leisure and hospitality sector.”

 

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Pannone Corporate has advised Place Capital Group on the acquisition of Fourth Street Place Consultants.

The corporate team, led by partner Tim Hamilton, advised the housing estate regeneration specialist on its first acquisition as part of an ambitious buy and build strategy.

Fourth Street Place Consultants is a specialist place making consultancy which works with public and private sector clients involved in place making and destination-led developments. As part of the transaction, Fourth Street will retain its own brand and management structure and will continue to serve existing clients, while launching a new expansion plans with the support of Place Capital Group.

Commenting on the acquisition, Tim Hamilton said: “Place Capital Group is an exciting and highly motivated business that is well placed to achieve rapid growth in a vital regeneration sector that is underpinned by a comprehensive national strategy – one that is intended to improve and accelerate estate regeneration schemes to deliver more and better quality housing, drive local growth and improve outcomes for residents.

“Fourth Street lays the perfect foundations for growth and will undoubtedly help to unlock increased market potential, as their complementary expertise are combined to fulfil a growing portfolio of partnering contracts with local authorities and housing associations.”

Place Capital Group, which was formed by David Smith-Milne and Peter Martin in early 2021, works with large public organisations such as local authorities and housing associations through Strategic Development Partnering contracts, applying its expertise and capital solutions to the regeneration of housing estates to create much needed additional affordable and mixed tenure housing.

David Smith-Milne, Place Capital Group Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to be bringing Fourth Street into the Place Capital Group. The acquisition made perfect sense as the Fourth Street team is totally aligned to our vision to bring excellence and creativity to the regeneration of the UK’s forgotten housing estates.”

Dan Anderson, who formed Fourth Street alongside Jim Roberts in 2012, added: “We were immediately drawn to the Place Capital Group concept – both its commercial structure and its ambitious and transformative vision to bring much needed, imaginative place-making to housing estates across the UK. Through the deal, we retain all that is special and unique about Fourth Street but get the added benefit of being part of an ambitious, challenging and mission-led group structure that will introduce much needed new thinking to the UK’s housing problems.”

Pannone Corporate’s corporate team works with a wide range of clients, including private equity houses and businesses large and small across multiple sectors.

 

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