The corporate team has a key strategic focus on the technology, real estate, private wealth and retail sectors. Clients include high net worth individuals, owner-managed businesses and corporate investors; mandates typically involve fundraising, divestment and restructuring. With a presence in San Francisco, the team is able to coordinate transatlantic work in-house, including foreign direct investment into the UK. The recent hire of Sebastian Orton has strengthened the team's capabilities in public market work, particularly in flotations and secondary fundraisings.
Key partner Helen Drayton in Cambridge plays a pivotal role in some of the firm's largest transactions. The practice acts for technology, biotech and pharmaceutical clients, as well as academic institutions and non-profit research organisations. Associate Katharine Robinson is a rising star in technology, real estate, food and agriculture M&A deals. Ross McNaughton is predominantly based in San Francisco, but still leads deals through the Cambridge office.
The [Guildford] team at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is highly rated by the market. National corporate head Simon Bickerdike, the 'commercially-minded' David Kendall and associate Hannah McIlwraith assist regional and international clients on high-value acquisitions, MBOs and joint ventures. They handle private equity-funded transactions and the firm also offers multi-discipline expertise, especially in IP.
Oxford-based partners Will Axtell and James Went specialise in M&A, fundraisings and AIM capital markets. In Reading, Rob Hayes acts on behalf of investors and investee companies in mid-market M&A and venture capital transactions.
The Legal 500 - 2020 edition
Strong corporate practice acting for clients from a range of sectors such as technology, life sciences and retail. Offers an impressive national and international network to clients, including a wide range of early-stage and start-up companies, along with significant expertise in venture capital and private equity investment matters. Substantial experience in cross-border matters with the USA, aided by the firm's San Francisco presence.
Strengths: One source says: ‘The discussions and solutions are very business-driven. Penningtons Manches ensure that they fully understand the business to ensure the advice delivered produces the best business outcome.’
‘I was very pleased and impressed with the quality of their services and responsiveness’, enthuses one client.
A source praises the firm's ability to ‘take complex issues and provide counsel in a concise, easy-to-understand way.’
‘What I like is that they're technically strong on the legal aspects, as you would expect, but what you also get is insight, recommendation and problem-solving. They give you commercial answers to legal questions and look at alternative solutions,’ remarks a client.
‘The whole team is excellent,’ declares an interviewee, explaining: ‘The whole team is available whenever we need them, including weekends and all night.’
William Axtell is a recognised practitioner.
Simon Bickerdike is head of the firm's corporate team and advises on significant transactions, both domestic and cross-border. He has particular expertise in complex multiparty transactions. Sources say: ‘His strengths are his personality and communication skills,’ with one client highlighting that ‘Simon truly understands our business and what drives it.’
Helen Drayton focuses her practice on corporate work, specialising in M&A and MBOs. She also handles corporate restructurings for clients.
The ‘excellent’ Rob Hayes handles private equity, venture capital and M&A transactions, and advises clients on corporate governance. He wins praise for his commercial attitude and problem-solving approach as well as his client service.
David Kendall advises on a wide range of corporate transactions, with particular experience concerning joint venture acquisitions. Clients say: ‘David gives very sensible, pragmatic advice and is also very responsive.’
Nicola McConville handles a range of corporate matters for clients and specialises in working with companies in the technology sector.
Ross McNaughton deals with a range of corporate work, with a particular focus on cross-border transactions with the USA and Asia.
Justin Starling advises clients on a wide range of corporate matters, including buyouts, demergers, acquisitions and disposals. He is praised for his high level of technical skill.
David Tighe specialises in assisting clients in the technology, media and publishing sectors with a broad range of corporate transactions. A source reports that ‘he fought our corner on issues that needed fighting but did not raise issues that were minor or just to make a point. When he does raise an issue he has the experience and gravitas needed to carry it through and reach sensible conclusions.’
Chambers UK - 2019 edition
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
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