Corporate team at Bristol law firm Burges Salmon hail bumper year

Rupert Weston

Bristol law firm Burges Salmon has published its Corporate Deals Review for 2021, highlighting the success of the firm’s corporate team advising a range of clients over the past year despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

During 2021, the firm’s corporate team advised on deals totalling in excess of £2.5 billion.

Rupert Weston (pictured) a partner in the firm’s corporate finance team, said: “We are delighted to have had a busy year, advising our clients – both domestic and international – on a wide range of transactions across a variety of sectors.”

Highlights include:

Q1 Deals

Many of the 27 deals that the team completed in Q1 were in two sectors that fared well throughout the pandemic – energy and technology.

In the energy sector, which continues to grow in importance with Net Zero, COP26 and the green recovery remaining so high up the agenda, the firm’s corporate team completed seven deals in Q1 including advising LSE-listed Bluefield Solar Income Fund on its acquisition of Bradenstoke Solar Park in Wiltshire, an operational ground-mounted solar photovoltaic plant.

Neil Wood, partner at Bluefield Partners LLP, investment adviser to Bluefield Solar, said: “The purchase of Bradenstoke is further evidence of Bluefield Solar’s ability to source attractive assets with high levels of regulated revenues. We’re delighted to have worked with the Burges Salmon team once again to bring this transaction to a successful conclusion.”

Also in the energy sector, the firm’s corporate energy team advised JLEN, an environmental infrastructure fund, on its acquisition of Gigabox South Road in Dundee, providing the client with “invaluable legal support throughout the transaction, which has resulted in a very smooth process overall.”

Stand-out technology deals in Q1 included IT consultancy Keep IT Simple being acquired by The Panoply and the sale of cloud-based customer data platform BlueVenn to NASDAQ listed Upland Software Inc.

At the same time the team was also developing BScale – an innovative new technology platform which, now launched, is helping Burges Salmon support fast-growth tech companies from start-up to scale-up and beyond.

Q2 Deals

Throughout Q2, technology continued to be a key theme and one of the corporate team’s deals straddled technology and financial services M&A – another key sector for the firm. There was a significant amount of platform consolidation in the sector over the course of the year and the team acted for AIM-listed Nucleus Financial Group plc on its much-publicised takeover by James Hay.

A cross-firm team led by corporate partner Camilla Usher-Clark advised leading specialty chemicals company Element Solutions on the $60 million acquisition of H.K. Wentworth Group while the team also advised legaltech company Legatics on its £3 million growth financing round from Mobeus.

Anthony Seale, Legatics CEO, commented: “This funding and partnership from Mobeus validates the significant opportunity to scale up the team as well as really accelerate product development… We have had an excellent experience working with the Burges Salmon team.”

Another highlight for the corporate team was advising the Darwin Alternatives’ Bereavement Services Fund on its acquisition of Memoria’s nationwide portfolio of crematoria and memorial parks and Low Cost Funeral Ltd.

James Penney, chairman of Darwin Alternatives, commented: “The team at Burges Salmon could not have worked harder on our behalf to achieve a successful outcome.”

Q3 Deals

Q3 didn’t see the usual summer slowing in deal flow for Burges Salmon’s corporate team. Instead, the market remained strong, competitive and busy throughout. By the end of Q3, a greater value of deals had been completed than in the entirety of 2020. This was fuelled in part by ‘dry powder’ on corporate balance sheets, as well as levels of private equity activity not seen since 2017.

Burges Salmon remained particularly active in the clean energy sector, driven by the UK’s continued push towards Net Zero – both across traditional infrastructure such as wind, solar and battery storage, together with newer developing technologies such as hydrogen.

The firm also saw a remarkable level of consolidation among financial services platform providers, together with those looking to break into the sector through acquisition.

Moreover, technology-focused transactions remained prevalent throughout Q3 with the firm’s corporate team acting on transactions across sectors ranging from life sciences through to user experience and data analytics providers.

The firm’s energy team advised Macquarie’s Green Investment Group on the acquisition of a battery storage portfolio from developer Capbal and advised long-standing client Embark Group on its £390 million sale to Lloyds Banking Group.

Embark Group’s CEO, Phil Smith, commented: “This is a hugely significant transaction for us and it provides the perfect opportunity to create a market-leading proposition for consumers, intermediaries, and strategic partners. We are hugely grateful to the team at Burges Salmon for their excellent service.”

The firm’s corporate finance team also advised Genus plc on its initial acquisition of the share capital of Xelect as well as advising the founder of Hotjar on the sale of HJ Holdings Limited to Contentsquare SAS.

Q4 Deals

Activity remained high in the final quarter of 2021 with a number of the transactions and processes that the corporate team had been working on through the year coming to a close.

Technology continued to be an area of focus for Burges Salmon, with a number of transactions in that sector. However, Q4 wasn’t just about technology. Burges Salmon’s corporate team saw transactional activity remain strong across a number of sectors, including in the hospitality and retail and consumer sectors.

A cross-firm team led by corporate finance partner Richard Spink advised on the investment in Lightfoot Innovations by Volpi Capital.

Ru Lyon Taylor, CEO Lightfoot commented: “The team provided great support to the shareholders throughout the process. They’re clearly highly experienced and were commercial and responsive, helping us to complete the deal in a short timeframe.”

The firm also acted for Zetland Capital Partners LLP to acquire a portfolio of 12 pubs across London from Downing as well as helping them with the acquisition of the Manchester and Holyrood Macdonald Hotels.

Ahmed Hamdani, managing partner at Zetland Capital Partners LLP, said: “This acquisition aligns with our investment strategy to purchase and invest in well-located hotels across the UK, where we can materially enhance the product offering and benefit from the recovery of demand in the UK’s key cities.”

The corporate team advised online retailers and design-led pet accessories brand Omlet on their investment by private equity firm Piper.

Founder James Tuthill said: “They are a formidable team whose attention to detail, thoughtfulness and unerring focus on the end result impressed us from start to finish.”

The Burges Salmon corporate team says it has started 2022 with optimism, a healthy pipeline of transactions, and in anticipation that many of the key trends seen over the last year are likely to continue throughout this year.