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Thames Valley: Deals Awards 2020 winners revealed

The Business Magazine article image for: Thames Valley: Deals Awards 2020 winners revealed
10 September 2020

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Thames Valley Deals Awards – the south’s biggest corporate finance recognition programme.

The winners were chosen from hundreds of nominations to the awards, which recognised deal activity in 2019, pre-COVID pandemic.

The awards were sponsored by BDO, Crowe, HSBC, IBB Solicitors, Gateley Legal, PwC, Shoosmiths, ThinCats, Quercus and Quantuma.

The winners are:

Private Equity Firm of the Year sponsored by Quantuma


NVM Private Equity – worked on four MBOs valued in excess of £50m


  • Apiary Capital – a growing firm that’s expanding its coverage in the region
  • BGF – invested over £50m across four deals, including donor liver device manufacturer OrganOx
  • Inflexion – particularly active this year in the Thames Valley
  • LDC – involved with a number of Deal of the Year finalists, including Amberjack

Which PE houses have done the deals; either a specific deal or a raft of transactions? The PE firm can be Thames Valley or even London based, providing the deal was ‘on patch’.

Law Firm of the Year sponsored by Quercus Corporate Finance


Gateley Legal – supported several Deal of the Year finalists, including the sale of Audio Group/Martin Audio and the MBO of GBA Group


  • Harrison Clark Rickerbys – impressive deal count and growth in its Reading team
  • IBB Solicitors – very active during the year, particularly advising HTC Group shareholders on the sale of the business
  • Osborne Clarke LLP – last year’s winner was again prominent, notably on Davies Group’s acquisition of law firm Keoghs
  • Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP – advised on a lot of interesting deals, including the sale of Process Systems Enterprise to Siemens
  • Shoosmiths LLP – another strong year on the deal front, headed by the sale of Phabrix to a Japanese electronics company

Awarded to the stand-out law firm for deals in the region. Which law firm has had the best year?

Non-Bank Lender of the Year


ThinCats – lent over £21m on three deals, including funding to help the Academy of Contemporary Music expand its services


  • Bibby Financial Services – well-established alternative funding provider that has seen a significant increase in some strong funding transactions
  • Leumi ABL – a busy year with MBOs and refinancing deals, including funding for Ercol’s international expansion
  • SME Capital – strong local relationships supporting SME growth across the region

Who stands out for asset-based funding, or is there a crowdfunder who is helping to support deals in the region? Any non-bank funder is eligible in this category.

Lawyer of the Year sponsored by BDO


Rachel Turner, Harrison Clark Rickerbys – advised on Deal of the Year finalists, including the sale of Raymond Brown Waste Solutions to Collard Group, as well as two significant equity funding transactions by Ethos Partners



  • Will Axtell, Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP– worked on an impressive range of small and large deals, mainly in the tech sector, including Process Systems Enterprise’s sale to Siemens
  • Adam Dowdney, IBB Solicitors – heads up the Reading office, advised Complete IT shareholders on sale to Sharp Electronics
  • Greg Leyshon, Osborne Clarke LLP – worked on a number of complex transactions, including advising G3 Communications shareholders on the Connect Managed Services merger
  • Andrew Peddie, Gateley Legal – acted for Audio Group/Martin Audio backers and management on the sale to Focusrite
  • Nina Smith, Shoosmiths LLP – high deal count this year, including as lead adviser on CIPHR’s acquisition of Payroll Business Solutions

Awarded to the top deals lawyer in the region – the go-to lawyer who stands out, for one specific deal, or for their entire portfolio through the year.

Management Team of the Year sponsored by PwC


WSH – the team achieved a big increase in turnover competing against larger players in the tough contract catering market


  • BCA Marketplace – a team driven by its desire to break into and dominate new channels, especially selling to women drivers
  • CIPHR – a strong performance boosted by its acquisition of Payroll Business Solutions
  • Martin Audio – the team maintained the company’s successful growth and played its part in the acquisition by Focusrite

This award is for the management team that has taken its company through an acquisition, management buyout or other transaction and has proved post-deal that it is now scaling new heights.

Due Diligence Team sponsored by IBB Law


BDO – a strong year serving both the local market and international deals


  • HMT LLP – worked on a number of Deal of the Year contenders
  • PwC – involved in several complex, high value deals in the region
  • RSM – last year’s winner maintains its ability to deliver high volume, high quality work
  • Wilson Partners – very active relatively smaller firm involved in some interesting work

The DD team which has done the best work in the qualifying year.

Corporate Finance Team of the Year sponsored by HSBC UK


Spectrum Corporate Finance – supported some of the region’s most significant deals, topped by advising shareholders on MBO of Amberjack


  • BDO – a strong lead adviser team, typified by its work on the MBO of GBA Group
  • Grant Thornton – a good year for the team with great work on local deals, particularly the sale of Complete IT to Sharp Electronics
  • HMT LLP – worked on many of the region’s top deals, including the Connect Managed Services and G3 Comms merger
  • James Cowper Kreston – relatively small team involved in some impressive deals and committed to the Thames Valley market
  • Quercus Corporate Finance – an impressive number of deals undertaken by this fairly small team

The top deals firm. Which firm has advised on the headline deals of the year? 

Corporate Finance Adviser of the Year sponsored by Gateley Legal


Wendy Hart, Grant Thornton – another busy year for this previous winner, who led her team on the sale of Complete IT to Sharp Electronics


  • Sami Fairris, KPMG – leads the Thames Valley team and involved in several key deals, notably the sale of MCSA to Park Place Technologies
  • Duncan Lamb, BDO – consistent performance from last year’s winner who was a lead adviser on the MBO of GBA Group
  • James Mines, Spectrum Corporate Finance – promoted to the firm’s head of technology and advised on sale of Tectrade to Computer Systems Integration
  • Andrew Thomson, HMT LLP – some impressive deals on his list, including merger of Connect Managed Services and G3 Comms
  • Stuart Williams, James Cowper Kreston – has stepped up to handling more advisory work on private equity deals, including the MBO of Amberjack

Awarded to the key dealmaker of the year. Based on a portfolio of deals or even one specific deal that took skill and perseverance to get across the line.

Bank of the Year sponsored by Crowe


HSBC UK – a high profile year, including financing Deal of the Year contenders BCA Marketplace and WSH


  • Lloyds Bank – a busy year supporting a range of businesses and deal sizes, including an invoice discounting facility for Westcoast
  • NatWest – an impressive range of good quality deals, including funding the MBO of Ultima Business Solutions and a credit facility for Focusrite
  • Santander – another solid year for 2018’s winner centred on four key deals, including a credit facility for AIM-listed BigBlu

Which bank is the go-to funder of deals? Has one bank shone through in 2019, doing deals where others fear to tread? 

Young Dealmaker (under 35) sponsored by IBB Law


Adam Leszczynski, Shoosmiths LLP – has moved up to regularly being the go-to person advising on deals like the sale of Phabrix


  • James Buckingham, BDO – taking on a more senior role in deals like the MBO of Ridgewall
  • Martin King, Lloyds Bank – involved in key core funding work with a number of the region’s biggest companies, including Westcoast
  • Gemma Legg, KPMG – plays an increasingly pivotal role in the Reading team on deals like the sale of MCSA to Park Place Technologies
  • Chris Morris, LDC – playing an increasing role in deal activity for LDC, notably its investment in Amberjack in support of its MBO
  • Max Whitehead, BDO – has acted as lead contact on a number of complicated deals, notably CBPE’s minority investment in ETL Systems

The up-and-coming dealmaker who is making their mark. This award can go to a corporate finance adviser, a banker, lawyer or a PE funder.

Small Deal of the Year – under £10m sponsored by Shoosmiths


BGF investment in OrganOx


  • Chemigraphic MBO supported by NVM Private Equity
  • CIPHR Group acquisition, backed by LDC, of Payroll Business Solutions
  • OrganOx investment by BGF
  • PHABRIX sale to Leader Electronics Corporation
  • Protech Machinery MBI
  • Purepoint sale to Ascent Software
  • Raymond Brown Waste Solutions division sale to R Collard Group

The small deal of the year.

Mid-range Deal of the Year – £10m to £50m sponsored by Quantuma


Amberjack Global MBO – supported by LDC


  • Amberjack Global MBO – supported by LDC
  • Complete IT sale to Sharp
  • Connect Managed Services merger with G3 Comms
  • Focusrite plc acquisition of LDC-backed Martin Audio
  • Fortress Operations acquisition of McDonalds restaurants
  • Invenio Business Solutions – investment by BGF
  • MCSA sale to Park Place Technologies LLC
  • Ridgewall MBO – and simultaneous acquisition of Qdos, backed by Inflexion
  • SWRnewstar sale to Biffa plc
  • Ultima Business Solutions MBO – supported by Apse Capital
  • VNA Trucks MBO

The mid-range stand-out deal.

Large Deal of the Year – over £50m – sponsored by ThinCats


WSH acquisition by Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R)


  • BCA Marketplace – public to private
  • GBA Group MBO – supported by TowerBrook Capital Partners
  • Microgen Financial Systems acquisition by Silverfleet Capital
  • Onecom MBO – supported by LDC
  • Micro Focus sale of Suse to private equity firm EQT Partners

The major transaction of the year.



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