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Thames Valley: Finalists revealed for 2020 Deals Awards

The Business Magazine article image for: Thames Valley: Finalists revealed for 2020 Deals Awards
28 February 2020

A very strong line-up of finalists is in the running at the 2020 Thames Valley Deals Awards, which takes place on March 26 at Royal Berkshire Conference Centre, Madejski Stadium, Reading.

The Awards are the biggest deals event in the south, attracting entries from banks and private equity houses, business advisers, lawyers and other intermediaries. This year, over 184 nominations were received across 13 award categories.

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

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Over 350 dealmakers will attend the awards dinner and will be able to add their votes on the night to decide who wins the small, mid-range and large deals of the year categories. Popular TV presenter Mark Durden-Smith returns for a fifth year to host the event.

Peter Laurie, head of client relations at awards organiser The Business Magazine and chair of the judging panel, said: “With so many high calibre entries the competition this year is more intense than ever. I’d like to thank our four independent judges who ensured the selection process to choose our finalists was fair and transparent. We are very grateful for their input.”

Private Equity Firm of the Year sponsored by Quantuma


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

Law Firm of the Year sponsored by Quercus


  • Gateley plc – supported several Deal of the Year finalists, including the sale of Audio Group/Martin Audio and the MBO of GBA Group
  • HCR Law – 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

Non-Bank Lender of the Year


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

Lawyer of the Year sponsored by BDO


  • 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 – 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
  • Rachel Turner, HCR Law – 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

Management Team of the Year sponsored by PwC


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

Due Diligence Team sponsored by IBB Solicitors


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

Corporate Finance Team of the Year sponsored by HSBC


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

Corporate Finance Adviser of the Year sponsored by Gateley Legal


  • Sami Fairris, KPMG – leads the Thames Valley team and involved in several key deals, notably the sale of MCSA to Park Place Technologies
  • Wendy Hart, Grant Thornton – another busy year for this previous winner, who led her team on the sale of Complete IT to Sharp Electronics
  • 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

Bank of the Year sponsored by Crowe


  • HSBC UK Bank – 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

Young Dealmaker (under 35) sponsored by IBB Solicitors


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

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


  • 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

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


  • 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

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


  • BCA Marketplace – public to private
  • GBA Group MBO – supported by TowerBrook Capital Partners
  • Microgen Financial Systems acquisition by Silverfleet Capital
  • Micro Focus sale of Suse to private equity firm EQT Partners
  • Onecom MBO – supported by LDC
  • WSH acquisition by Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R)


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