LAW firm Ward Hadaway says it advised on 114 deals worth a total of £1bn last year despite a tough corporate finance market.
And the 18-strong corporate finance team at the Newcastle firm, which also has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, said a high level of activity has continued into 2012 with the firm advising on deals this year for manufacturer Tanfield Group and business software giant Sage.
Martin Hulls, partner and head of corporate finance at Ward Hadaway, said: “This is an exceptional performance from everyone in the team, particularly when you take into account the challenging nature of the economy at the moment.
“To have advised on over £1bn worth of transactions during 2011 is a real achievement and a testament to the experience, expertise and abilities of the team.
“However, such an achievement has only been possible because of the continued endeavour and enterprise of our clients.
“While it is naturally very pleasing to have been involved in so many deals, it is even more rewarding to consider how such transactions can help to transform businesses and boost the wider economy.”
Highlights during the year included the firm advising fast-growing Newcastle-based pharmaceutical company Aesica on two important deals: the purchase of three European manufacturing sites from Belgium pharmaceutical group UCB in February 2011 and a major investment in the business by European private equity firm Silverfleet Capital in October 2011.
The law firm also advised the trustees of the employee partnership trust of energy services company Eaga plc on all aspects of the company’s takeover by Carillion plc, which involved takeover code advice, financial services advice, trust advice and court applications.
The firm continued to play a major part in venture capital investments in the North East involving the £125m Finance for Business North East Fund.
Members of its corporate finance team advised on more than 30 investments from the fund during the course of 2011, working at various times for companies receiving funds and for the individual fund managers investing in businesses.
Ward Hadaway advised lenders including high-street banks and venture capital firms and acted for businesses across the North accessing additional finance, as well as advising a growing number of borrowers on their funding documentation.
Ward Hadaway continued to invest in building up its corporate finance team during the course of 2011, recruiting associate Charlie Fielding and solicitor Sam Davies in its Newcastle office and partners Gavin Maddison and Melanie Yeomans for Leeds and Manchester respectively.
The team’s contribution to the success of the firm as a whole was also recognised with associate Imogen Holland from the banking and finance unit being promoted to partner and solicitor Joanne Briggs being promoted to the position of associate.
Hulls added: “Our continued investment in the corporate finance team during what has been a tough time over the past few years has really paid off and I think we are seeing the effects of that in these encouraging figures.
“Because we have such a varied and extensive team, we are able to advise on everything from smaller investments in start-up businesses to multi-million-pound deals and refinancings and everything in between.
“While there are still some serious challenges out there in terms of hazards to economic growth, we have enjoyed a busy start to 2012 and are looking forward to the year ahead.”