Legal 500’s overview of the West Midlands
The West Midlands includes Birmingham and a number of surrounding cities, some of which politically included in a West Midlands Combined Authority and others outside, geographically running from Hereford and Shrewsbury near the Welsh border at the West, Stoke on Trent in the North, and Worcester and Stratford-upon-Avon to the South.
The region is well-known for its manufacturing industry, with Jaguar Land Rover in Coventry arguably the jewel in the crown. Brexit-related damage to manufacturing continues to be a future prospect rather than a current reality, with no discernable drop-off in investment as yet and devaluation of the pound making exports more competitive in an international market place.
Perhaps as a result of industry culture, much M&A activity is driven by management buy-outs, frequently but not exclusively backed by private equity. flagship project in the region is the HS2 rail link, connecting London Euston to a new Birmingham Curzon Street station, necessitating much construction work in Birmingham and compulsory purchases of land to build the infrastructure.
Also visible, but with less construction work, the Commonwealth Games in 2022 (which will primarily use existing venues) and plans to hold a round of the FIA Formula E Championship on the city’s streets will showcase England’s second city to the world.
Birmingham’s strong and close-knit professional services community is growing, with a number of new construction developments including Paradise Circus creating new office space, with no shortage of big names to fill it: HMRC is moving a number of employees, and in the finance sector HSBC’s ring-fenced retail bank and large proportions of Deutsche Bank’s UK operations, plus a increased commitment to the city from PwC. This feeds in to a steady real estate market, with investment flowing in, but not at rates leading to fears of a bubble.
Clients looking for legal advice in the regions have a wide choice of firms. While no global elite deal firms are present in the market, several international firms such as Squire Patton Boggs, DLA Piper UK LLP, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP and Pinsent Masons LLP are present in Birmingham.
Other law firms are present around Solihull and the Black Country (the origin of a number of firms with strong practices handling management buy-outs of owner-managed businesses) in the West Midlands conurbation, as well as Royal Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. Worcester is also a location of note close to the South West, with Shrewsbury siphoning much work from mid-Wales.