The team at Penningtons Manches LLP specialises in the technology, real estate, life sciences, and fashion and luxury goods sectors, regularly acting for high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs, owner-managed companies, investors and plcs. Among other highlights, practice head Matthew Martin advised the shareholders of Oscar Mayer Group on its sale to a new vehicle set up by a German private equity fund; Ross McNaughton acted for Klareco Communications on its separation from Bell Pottinger out of administration; and Christopher Owen advised NewsQuest Media Group on the acquisitions of news publishers in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight and Berkshire. Stephen Goldstraw, Melvin Pedro, James Klein (who practises in London and San Francisco) and consultant Teja Picton-Howell are also noted.
The firm is praised for its ‘excellent and prompt advice’. The Cambridge office handles a growing number of high-value deals, especially those with an international element, thanks in part to a close relationship with the firm's office in San Francisco. Helen Drayton is the key partner in Cambridge and clients remark that she ‘has excellent all round depth of knowledge, responds fast and is determined to get the best for her clients‘. ‘Her advice is the best available‘, says one. Partner Ross McNaughton specialises in corporate transactions in the technology and life sciences sectors. Senior associate Rachel Bradley, who handles IP, IT and commercial matters, is also recommended.
Penningtons Manches LLP fields a team of 'excellent all-round deal lawyers' [in Guildford]. The national head of corporate, Simon Bickerdike, 'is a standout individual - a true trusted adviser', who advises on both domestic and cross-border acquisitions, management buyouts and share sales. David Kendall, who handles the gamut of corporate transactions, especially those involving technology and IP, 'could confidently take the lead in any negotiation'. The 'calm, collected, intelligent, experienced and commercially astute' Philip Walton is highlighted for his experience in the venture capital and private equity spheres; senior associate Liz Gillingham is also noted as is associate Hannah McIIwraith, who 'is always up to speed with transactions, very knowledgeable and approachable'.
The ‘excellent and commercial’ [Oxford] team is recommended as being ‘unfailingly prompt and thorough in their responses, giving clear and actionable advice’ and ‘good at understanding business context’.
The practice is also noted for its work on high-profile venture capital and spin-out transactions; recent highlights include Rob Hayes advising Veryan Holdings on its equity investment from a syndicate of institutional investors and debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank and David Tighe acting for equity crowd-funding platform Seedrs on its new funding round with a follow-on investment by Woodford Investment Management.
The Legal 500 - 2019 edition
National firm able to draw on an increasing global presence when acting for a domestic and international client base on the full range of corporate matters. Notable expertise in acting for local high-growth and technology companies in overseas investment matters, as well as for clients in the healthcare sector. Draws on support from the firm's real estate and private wealth teams to provide clients with a full transactional service.
Strengths: ‘Fantastic – they're timely, knowledgeable and keep things simple. I would recommend them to every startup out there,’ says a source.
Sources say the firm has a ‘good-quality team with broad knowledge and experience.’
Clients say: ‘We find them straightforward to deal with and they offer clear advice.’
Another source notes: ‘The firm is excellent. I would recommend it to anyone seeking to complete a highly complex M&A transaction.’
Clients describe Simon Bickerdike as ‘very sharp, very intelligent and a good communicator.’ He handles both domestic and international transactions, with particular expertise in matters involving the technology and education sectors.
Helen Drayton has a strong focus on MBOs as part of a broad corporate transactional practice. Sources say of her: ‘She's capable, well liked locally, and she can run a good M&A deal.’ She also handles reorganisations and demergers.
Liz Gillingham advises clients of all sizes on M&A and corporate finance transactions. She has a strong focus on the education sector and has also handled matters arising in the technology sphere.
Rob Hayes acts for both investors and investee companies on sophisticated venture capital matters alongside his mid-market M&A practice. Interviewees say: ‘He's very commercial and very relaxed,’ adding: ‘He knows what matters and what doesn't, and has a good overview of the transactions and what drives them.'
David Kendall advises private and public limited companies, partnerships and entrepreneurs on corporate governance and a broad range of transactional matters. One client says he is ‘intensely commercial,’ adding: ‘He has an unusual mix of creative yet insightful advice.’
Nicola McConville is ‘user-friendly and knowledgeable,’ according to a source, who adds: ‘She always takes a solutions-based approach.’ Her corporate practice places a strong emphasis on the technology sector, in particular start-up and growth stage companies.
Justin Starling advises a series of clients from the life sciences and tech sectors on venture capital and M&A transactions. Commentators describe him as ‘a good commercial lawyer with a thorough understanding of corporate finance matters.’
David Tighe's practice spans the full range of corporate work, including buyouts, joint ventures and reorganisations as well as M&A. A source notes: ‘He's very responsive and knows our business. He tailors his advice knowing what we need and what our business needs.’
Chambers UK - 2018 edition
Key sector strengths for Penningtons Manches LLP’s department include real estate, technology, life sciences and retail; it is also noted for its experience in venture capital. The team handles public as well as private M&A: David Tighe, Melvin Pedro and practice head Matthew Martin advised Evotec on its £42m takeover of Cyprotex. Pedro and Martin also acted for MRH on its sale to Lone Star. Christopher Owen assisted Domestic Group with its £17m purchase of Oceanair Marine, and advised Vostok Emerging Finance on its €3m investment in TransferGo Holdings. All Saints Retail, Verisk Analytics, Newsquest Media Group, Sugarman Group and Sellar Property Group are representative clients of the department. Digital business expert James Klein is also recommended. Gemma Davis, who is especially strong in corporate finance, is ‘impressive and trustworthy’.
At Penningtons Manches LLP ‘the overall level of service is excellent, response times are fast and the advice is first rate’. The firm’s ‘always prompt and professional’ corporate team [in Cambridge] includes Helen Drayton, who has ‘a commercial attitude and the ability to offer clear, concise and pragmatic solutions’ and corporate finance and capital markets specialist Ross McNaughton, who is ‘excellent and highly supportive’.
The practice [in Guildford] advised The Hub Pharmacy on its acquisition of six pharmacies from Living Care Pharmacy, and assisted a private investor with its participation in a £2m funding round for Bolney Wine Estate, which involved a crowdfunding element. In another highlight, it advised two shareholders on the sale of The Brand Architekts to Swallowfield for £11m. Rayner Surgical Group, BluePoint London and Tata Advanced Systems are also on the client roster. National corporate practice head Simon Bickerdike ‘always gives good advice’ and specialises in M&A. Other key figures include David Kendall, who ‘has a rare mix of the technical and commercial, which is vital to any M&A deal’, and private equity expert Philip Walton.
Technology and life sciences expert Will Axtell assisted Evox Therapeutics and Vaccitech with their spin-outs from the University of Oxford. Other work highlights saw David Tighe assist with Evotec’s £55.7m acquisition of Cyprotex and Justin Starling advise King’s College London on an investment from Abingworth in GammaDelta Therapeutics. Rob Hayes ‘provides excellent and timely advice’ and James Went ‘understands the practical implications of transactions’. Nicola McConville is noted.
The Legal 500 - 2017 edition
National firm able to draw on an increasing global presence when acting for a national and international client base in the full range of corporate matters. Notable expertise in acting for local high-growth and technology companies in overseas investment matters. Solid capabilities on venture capital work in the technology and life sciences sectors. Strong track record in advising investees, with a growing investor-side practice.
Strengths: ‘They're committed to the client, balanced, professional and technically the equal of any.’
‘A very good firm with an excellent understanding of the various facets of the deal we were constructing. They were also able to bring in other parts of the business for general advice on other areas at short notice - as there were timescales we were trying to achieve this was invaluable.’
‘They are able to provide strong and convincing support in dealing with large corporations in support of their clients. They command respect in our industry.’
‘They are the best that I have come across and I would certainly recommend them again.’
Simon Bickerdike is lauded by one client as ‘a true trusted adviser of business and someone I trust to the highest level.’ He is experienced in cross-border transactions, acting for and providing strategic advice to a number of clients in the technology sector.
Helen Drayton is praised for her ‘practical, easy-to-understand style’ and is described as an ‘intelligent and personable partner.’ She is known for her broad corporate practice, with experience in M&A and management buyouts, among other corporate matters.
Associate to watch Liz Gillingham focuses her practice on M&A transactions, with recognised experience acting for individual sellers. Sources say: ‘She is responsive, very entrepreneurial and well versed in law. A rare combination.’
Rob Hayes acts for regional businesses on M&A transactions in addition to having expertise acting for larger national and international clients on venture capital transactions. Clients say: ‘Rob has a manner where he takes control and leads a situation. This creates trust and confidence for a client. He is easy to relate to and works in a pragmatic and useful way for the benefit of the client.’
David Kendall ‘has an excellent all-round understanding of complex corporate legal issues,’ according to one interviewee. He gains market recognition for his complex transactional practice.
Nicola McConville has a broad corporate practice, with notable expertise in acting for companies in the technology and social enterprise industries.
Justin Starling focuses his practice on M&A and venture capital transactions involving the technology sector. He is known for his strong cross-border transactional practice, and is lauded by a client as ‘hard-working and diligent, with an eye for detail.’
David Tighe is known for his practice providing strong sector specialised corporate advice to several national and local clients from the publishing, media and technology sectors. His clients praise him as ‘very responsive, with great attention to detail but also very pragmatic.’
Chambers UK - 2017 edition
XL Marketing Corp, a leading US based digital marketing business expanding into the UK and EU, has sought advice from the firm on a range of corporate matters including UK acquisitions and acquisition structuring matters. Our experience is that the team…have been accessible, responsive, commercial and solutions-focused.
Dan Berger, General counsel, XL Marketing Corp
A refreshing, innovative and supportive approach to working with clients. We found our Penningtons Manches experience extremely positive as we were guided through the legal mysteries with direction and understanding. Everything was explained to our full understanding in a very friendly and clear manner. We would certainly use them again.
Ian Morris, Sales director, ATM Cashpoint Spares
As ever, [their] proactive, professional and commercial advice ensured that this transaction ran smoothly from start to finish. We were very impressed with the service provided.
Martin Edwards, Finance director, Haulotte Group
Having worked with [the firm] since 2004 our relationship has grown significantly. We have a broad relationship with the team there and have engaged across all the services they provide. The benefits are huge when you have a strong history with your lawyers. [They] always deliver and knowing our business inside out as they do just makes things easy - without them we would be lost.
Huw Owen, Managing director, Gordon Murray Design