The Legal 500 Highlights: Shoosmiths LLP – ‘Provides a great service, knows the industry well’

    Corporate & commercial

    The members of the ‘open and approachable‘ team at Shoosmiths ‘provides a great service, knows the industry well and knows what is important to their clients’. Sanjeev Sharma and Simon Edwards head the Thames Valley corporate and commercial teams, respectively.

    The corporate team is strong in the technology, healthcare and education sectors, while the commercial practice regularly handles considerations in the food and drink and retail sectors. Clients include large corporates, public companies and private equity houses, such as Pizza Hut Restaurants, the RAC, Business Growth Fund and NVM Private Equity.

    Highlights in 2017 included Edwards assisting Smiths News Trading with the preparation and complex negotiation of website design, hosting and maintenance contracts; Sean Wright handling LDC’s £16 million investment into national hair salon Rush; and various corporate team members advising the founders of SecurEnvoy on the £20m sale and reverse takeover into Shearwater Group. Senior associate Nina Smith and solicitor Mike Patterson are noted for ‘working excellently as a team, balancing corporate and business viewpoints with alacrity’. Senior associate Kiran Dhesi is also noted as a rising star. 

    Corporate tax

    Shoosmiths fields a tax team from its Reading office that is praised for its ‘excellent response times and commercial knowledge‘, with practice head Tom Wilde singled out for his ‘pragmatic and commercial approach, without compromising on the legals and technicalities‘.

    The team advises investors and investee companies on enterprise investment schemes and venture capital trust (VCT) compliant investments. On the transactional front, Wilde advised Octopus Investments on its venture capital investment into US cybersecurity firm, Digital Shadows, which involved structuring the investment to ensure it was VCT compliant, as well as obtaining advance assurance from HMRC.

    The firm also has a dedicated real estate tax practice headed by Daniel Kennedy (who ‘delivers complex advice in a pragmatic and understandable way’ and whose ‘knowledge of the commercial angles enables him to tailor advice accordingly‘). Kennedy acted alongside associate Sara Mardell for Allied London on its sale to Schroders of units in the vehicle which owns the No.1 Spinningfields development in Manchester; this involved advising on the tax implication of the pre-transaction reorganisation to enable the property to be sold out of the wider development, and the subsequent tax aspects of the unit sale transaction.

    Banking and finance

    Shoosmiths’ banking team ‘always responds swiftly throughout a transaction, and its ability to deliver commercial solutions during tough negotiations is highly commendable; the team offers City-quality work at regional prices which greatly benefits clients‘.

    Rebecca Mauleverer heads the team and is ‘a very intelligent and articulate lawyer who can execute the most complex of transactions; her knowledge of the market combined with her reliability makes her highly valuable‘. Other key figures in the team include Sean Wright, who has particular expertise in private equity-backed acquisition finance, and Linda Williams, who specialises in acquisition financings and corporate refinancings.

    On the acquisition financing front, Mauleverer led the team advising CSL Communications Group on a £53m multi-facility arrangement with a club of lenders for its acquisition of Emizon Group. Other highlights included acting for the asset finance arm of a major bank on a £6.4m loan to finance four wind farms in Scotland,  and acting for Pro-Vets Group on a loan from AIB Group to fund the acquisition of a number of veterinary practices.

    Commercial property     

    Shoosmiths specialises in handling high-value, complex real estate transactions, with a focus in recent times on telecoms, development and corporate occupancy instructions. Clients of note include McKay Securities, Calor Gas and Allegro MicroSystems.

    Alan Corcoran, the head of the firm’s southern real estate offering, led a team advising Mattel group companies as tenant and guarantor in respect of the relocation of its main UK distribution hub to a new facility in Leicester.

    Head of the Reading real estate team Nathan Rees acts for major property investors on large-scale acquisitions and disposals, as well as asset management for property owners and occupiers. Rees recently advised Mabey Hire on the relocation of one of its key southern distribution depots to a larger site, with support from associate Nick Dalgleish and tax partner Daniel Kennedy. Senior associate Marcus Devanny has extensive experience of acting for institutional investors, property funds and corporate entities in the acquisition and disposal of freehold and leasehold properties and large portfolios.

    Property litigation

    Shoosmiths provides ‘excellent overall service, is attentive to clients’ needs, and is always striving to add value‘. The property litigation practice’s expertise spans the full spectrum of disputes, with particular strength in waterways-based property litigations, agricultural law issues, leasehold enfranchisement, and disputes on behalf of landlords and developers. It is also noted for its expertise in the retail, telecoms and travel and leisure sectors.

    On the retail front, the practice acted for IKEA Properties Investments in a high-profile trespass incident of more than 10 caravans of travellers on the client’s car park at its store in Tottenham. Other recent work includes acting for Nissan Motor Manufacturing on an authorised guarantee agreement, which the client entered into following the assignment of a lease in 2015 due to the failure of the assignee to pay rent, which involved negotiating an agreement with the landlord to reduce the impact on the client; acting for a social housing provider on the termination of a telecoms lease; and acting for the Canal & River Trust in a Court of Appeal concerning injunctive relief entitling the trust to remove a boat from its inland waterway, which the boat owner argued breached Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

    The practice is headed by ‘experienced litigator‘ Zoe Wright, who is recommended alongside Simon Pestell, for his specialist expertise in rights of light matters, and Lucy Barry, ‘an excellent senior advocate who is very good in court‘.