Corporate and commercial
Blake Morgan has ‘an excellent range and depth of team knowledge and good commercial understanding‘ according to clients. One of the largest teams in the South East, it is equipped to handle the full range of corporate and commercial work and private equity investments. It can also draw on its specialist expertise in areas including franchising, restructurings, acquisition finance and capital markets.
It attracts clients ranging from SMEs to AIM and publicly listed companies in diverse sectors such as healthcare, education, technology and retail. James Hawkeswood heads an ‘outstanding‘ team that includes ‘outstanding negotiator‘ Mark Hepworth, who is ‘diligent , knowledgeable and professional with great pragmatism‘. Stephen Archibald and Simon Treherne are other core team members together with ‘experienced and trusted adviser‘ Gemma Spiceley and Jasmin Eames, who is ‘excellent on detail and holding people to account‘.
The corporate tax practice at Blake Morgan provides ‘100% commitment to clients – the team is always available and completely “on it”, ensuring all the small print is read, understood and challenged where necessary‘. Headed by Simon Court, the practice’s ‘deep sectoral knowledge‘ extends to recruitment, education, healthcare, medical devices, charities and retail. It regularly handles equity fundraising matters for venture capitalists; management incentive agreements; tax structures for investment funds; corporate reorganisations, including stamp duty issues; and commercial property projects for developers, farmers, local borough councils and social housing landlords. It has been highly active in transactional tax matters; Mark Hepworth (‘an outstanding negotiator – diligent, knowledgeable, pragmatic and negotiator‘) acted for the founders of TTC Group, a provider of road user and cycling education courses, on its sale to a management team backed by Palatine Private Equity. In another highlight, James Hawkeswood acted for Ground Control Holdings on the acquisition of the Litterboss Group.
The team at the ‘very reputable‘ Blake Morgan handles complex and high-value commercial disputes for international and national corporations, with a broad range of specialisms including fraud and asset tracing, asset finance disputes and warranty claims. Practice head Chris Potts continues to defend Transworld Payment Solutions UK and its liquidator in proceedings filed in Curaçao by its former parent company First Curaçao International Bank (FCIB), assisting with securing evidence relating to fraud, corresponding with authorities in the UK, France and Holland, and co-ordinating litigation in two jurisdictions. Construction partner James Bessey has been advising Haribo on a series of disputes arising from the construction of a £92 million factory facility, with mediation on the matters anticipated. Senior associate Nicola Diggle has been acting for a shareholder in a nationwide coffee bar chain in relation to an unfair prejudice claim being brought by another shareholder of the company. Clients include Investec Asset Finance, Miele and Grant Thornton. Also recommended are Stephanie Walls and senior associate Stephen Schneider.
Blake Morgan is outstanding for debt recovery and related litigation. Although it acts for clients in a wide range of industries, it is particularly well known for handling high-value work in the automotive sector and undertakes a considerable volume of litigation for insurance companies.
The highly regarded Sadak Miah has considerable expertise in the area and ‘a high degree of integrity while dealing with potentially very difficult situations‘. Elizabeth Bowden is another key team member and has ‘good technical capabilities‘ and ‘will go the extra mile‘ for clients. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, British Credit Trust and Toyota Financial Services are some of its key clients.
Banking and finance
Headed by Kath Shimmin, Blake Morgan‘s practice has the critical mass across the South East to provide clients, which include institutional lenders and major corporates, on a wide range of financing transactions.
Particular areas of strength include providing asset finance advice to car finance companies, leasing companies and aircraft manufacturers; advising on loan funds, including handling regulatory issues; and real estate finance. Recent highlights include advising HSBC on an $18.5m term loan facility for the management buyout of car parts manufacturer China Tools, which was secured across subsidiaries in the UK, Hong Kong, China, Turkey and the USA. Steve Cole led on that matter and is singled out for his track record in shari’ah-compliant financings; he recently acted for the borrower on a commodity murabaha facility arranged with Bank of London and the Middle East to finance the development of retirement accommodation in London. Guy Constant is also recommended.
Ruth Leadbitter heads the team at Blake Morgan, which is recommended for ‘a great overall level of service and knowledge’ and providing advice ‘with a commercial view in mind’. The healthcare, science and technology, energy, central and local government, and development sectors are particularly important for the practice. Leadbitter is particularly experienced in the public sector and acts for clients from the healthcare and local, central and devolved government sectors, with one ongoing matter seeing her advise Harwell Innovation Centre on the continuing development of its science park.
Andrew Miscampbell is known for his experience in the healthcare and renewable energy sectors, with key clients including Barclays Bank and MedicX/Octopus. Michael Ward advises numerous medical practices on all aspects of surgery development and assists healthcare developers with the provision of care home facilities, while senior associate Deryn Bassett is well regarded for her expertise in the energy sector, particularly with respect to coal and gas power projects.
Blake Morgan, Southampton, acts for housebuilders and asset managers and acts for an impressive number of clients in the retail, public and charities sectors. Regional regeneration programmes, landlord and tenant issues, and property finance are other areas of expertise. The team is acting for Metro Bank on a range of freehold and leasehold acquisitions and counts Berkeley Homes, Bellway Homes, Costa Coffee and Premier Inns among its clients. Sean Palka leads the team; Christopher Dolan focuses on residential developments; and Oliver Sowton‘s expertise spans commercial developments and landlord and tenant matters, particularly in the retail and leisure sectors. Dan Curtis and Alan Harlow are other key practitioners.