Sharp upturn in deals market for independent North West law firm

Mark Rathbone

Independent North West law firm, Brabners, advised on £789m-worth of deals last year.

Its corporate team achieved a 50% increase in its annual dealmaking volumes.

Brabners’ 67-strong corporate team is one of the largest and most active in the North, contributing to the wider firm delivering a sixth consecutive year of profitable growth. Last year’s dealmaking activity, which covers more than 190 transactions, was driven by the purpose-led firm’s teams in Liverpool, Manchester, Lancashire and Leeds, supporting the M&A and exit strategies of clients in a number of the North’s strategic growth sectors including technology, healthcare, nurseries and manufacturing.

In a period of significant achievements, where the B Corp certified firm grew its revenues by 15% to £46.8m during the financial year ended April 30, 2023, Brabners acted on a broad range of national and international deals.

This included advising Liverpool-based software games developer Lucid Games on its acquisition by Lightspeed, part of one of the world’s largest multimedia companies Tencent, for an undisclosed amount.

The team also supported Happy Days Day Nurseries with its strategic growth plans, completing two acquisitions in a consolidating market. Its dealmakers also continued to support a number of private equity transactions including advising specialist bicycle and e-mobility insurer Bikmo on a £3.4m investment round, led by Puma Private Equity, and retail and hospitality sector digital solutions expert Evoke on a multimillion-pound investment from BGF.

Brabners also completed 18 deals enabling companies to become employee-owned, helping facilitate the growing trend for businesses to retain their culture and independence through the establishment of Employee Ownership Trusts (EOT).

Brabners’ client entrance

These included Rochdale sustainable furniture manufacturer and fellow B Corp, Crystal Doors, Manchester architects Jon Matthews Architects and national law costs firm, The John M Hayes Partnership. Analysis by Experian found Brabners to be the most active legal adviser in the EOT advisory market in 2023.

Mark Rathbone, partner and head of corporate at Brabners, said: “Many M&A strategies held firm in 2023 as businesses pushed forward with their plans for innovation, expansion and progression – despite facing high input costs, an uncertain political backdrop and increased interest rates.

“We’ve supported change-making organisations UK-wide and are pleased to have helped innovators in emerging industries to attract early stage, scale-up and growth funding and exits to multinational buyers – bringing in strategic investment that will accelerate the creation of skilled jobs.”

He added: “We’ve worked with owner-managed businesses on their exit strategies, with management teams on their management buyouts, with established businesses on growth by acquisition and with multi-national businesses on international acquisitions and joint ventures.

“With plenty of dry powder in the market and valuations re-aligning, we’re looking forward to a further uptick in activity in 2024 as we help clients to attract and deploy risk capital into entrepreneurial ideas, scalable ventures and innovative spin outs.”

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