Funding opportunities for growth businesses in the south have never been better, says the corporate team at Shoosmiths LLP.
“Brexit and the drop in sterling are making companies push ahead with their M&A plans and we have seen a surge of deal activity in the Thames Valley market so far in 2018,” said Nina Smith, senior corporate associate at Shoosmiths’ Reading office.
Shoosmiths’ corporate team – which was ranked number one in the South-East legal adviser rankings in Experian MarketIQ’s M&A Review 2107 – is active across the region, with more than 60 legal advisers (out of 106 nationally) working from its regional offices in Reading, Southampton, Milton Keynes and London.
Right now, the team’s message is clear. Funding and advice is available to help get the best businesses in the region to the next level – and Shoosmiths is right at the heart of the connections and expertise to help make these deals happen.
The firm has just advised on the sale of Thame, Oxfordshire-based Chevron Traffic Management to European private equity firm Triton. The company is the largest traffic management company in England and Wales and was previously owned by long-term investor Portchester Equity.
David Harbord, of Portchester Equity, said: “We always have confidence that Shoosmiths can deliver on transactions because of their strength, depth and knowledgeable lawyers, particularly in M&A. They provided exemplary advice for Portchester Equity, and the shareholders, on the sale of Chevron Traffic Management.”
Shoosmiths also acted in the £10 million investment by Business Growth Fund in Newbury-based Roc Technologies, one of the UK’s fastest growing companies for IT services, to support its longer-term growth strategy and its subsequent acquisition of City Change Management.
There is no shortage of talent in the VC space, according to Shoosmiths corporate partner, Sanjeev Sharma, who is a key member of the VC team. “We’ve seen a huge amount of activity, in particular in the tech sector. This has included spin-out work for universities, advice for our network of angels and investments for VC investors,” he said.
Shoosmiths advised on more than 100 VC-backed deals nationally last year – including advising NVM Private Equity and Downing Capital on numerous venture capital investments. The firm also provides specialist Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) advice from Reading, led by tax partner Tom Wilde, to support its VC work.
Previously seen as a relatively high-end funding option for a growth business, private equity is gaining ground with business owners who recognise that they need a hands-on approach and active involvement of investors to actively develop their business to the next ‘sky’s-the-limit’ level.
Shoosmiths’ national head of private equity is Sean Wright, and the team acts regularly for a number of PE firms on deals across the region, including acting for LDC on the exit of its investment in The Training Room, in a management buyout by a new holding group, Route2Work (having acted on the original £20m investment back in 2013) and advising the LDC south team in 2017 on its investments in Rush, Lucid Group and IP Solutions.
Other deals include supporting the shareholders of Thatcham-based Xtrac, a world leader in the design and manufacturer of high-performance transmissions for the motorsport and automotive industry, in the buyout deal with Inflexion Private Equity. The investment will help to fuel Xtrac’s future expansion.
“We are seeing signs that companies are more open to PE investment to help drive ambitious growth, both at home and abroad,” says Sean Wright.
“The directors I deal with seem very open and ready to translate their business models into global markets – from Asia to Africa as well as Europe and the States – and this can only be good news for the local economy and a strong post-Brexit outlook,” he adds.