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The Business Magazine May 2024
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Azets and Wilsons Solicitors LLP deliver major maritime sale

6 June 2023
The Business Magazine article image for: Azets and Wilsons Solicitors LLP deliver major maritime sale
James Johnson and Heather Williams

Professional services firms Azets and Wilsons Solicitors have been instrumental in the sale of a leading online ships valuation and market intelligence provider to the global leader of maritime freight management solutions.

Long-established law firm Wilsons Solicitors LLP and UK top 10 accountancy firm Azets were instructed by VesselsValue to advise on its sale to Veson Nautical for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 2011, VesselsValue provides a market-leading online platform for ship valuations, market analysis and insights utilising a dataset of more than 81,500 vessels.

Read more: Azets’ Poole office celebrates year of strong growth

Wilsons Solicitors LLP and Azets advised VesselsValue on the sale.

The multi-disciplinary team at Wilsons Solicitors LLP was led by James Johnson, Partner, and Head of Corporate, with support from specialists from across the firm's Corporate, Employment and Corporate Tax teams.

Azets’ team included Heather Williams, Tax Partner, based in Southampton, and Tina Harris, Director of Tax, and Mike Middleton, Tax Partner, both based in Portsmouth, with support from the Solent Corporate Finance team led by Rob Holmes, Partner.

VesselsValue employs 230 people, has 2,500 users and works with more than 600 global companies including major banks, leasing companies, shipowners, investment funds, hedge funds, lawyers, advisors and government regulators.

Wilsons Solicitors LLP worked alongside Azets on the sale and also advised on the demerger of AviationValues, the aviation valuation part of the VesselsValue business, which has been retained by the AviationValues management team.

VesselsValue stated: “The teams at Wilsons Solicitors LLP and Azets did a fantastic job for us on what is an incredibly important milestone in the VesselsValue story. The transaction was complex and a challenging process which they guided us through with great skill and dexterity.

“Through their hard work and diligence, we managed to meet a very demanding timetable and successfully closed the deal, and we are grateful to all the professionals who worked on the transaction for helping us achieve this.”

James Johnson, of Wilsons Solicitors LLP, said: "We are very proud to have worked alongside the team at VesselsValue. Larger transactions of this nature always bring challenges and it is fundamental to our role to guide our clients and overcome the obstacles that inevitably come up.

“Getting the deal done on the timeline, given all of its complexities, was potentially difficult but, thanks to the input of everyone involved, was one that was achieved on time and in a very collaborative spirit.

“We wish everyone at AviationValues and at VesselsValue well for the future and look forward to working with the team as they continue to build AviationValues’ offering."

Heather Williams, of Azets, the UK’s largest regional accountancy and specialist business advisor to SMEs, said: “This was a great opportunity to work with the team at Wilsons Solicitors LLP on this exceptional project.

“This was a real team effort by Azets and included transaction support, restructuring options, review of UK tax implications, business and company valuations, VAT advice, review of SPA and tax warranties, review of operation of EMI scheme, technical support and corporate finance support.

“It was a technically complex operation, especially with regard to matching UK and US taxes, the separation of businesses and rollover arrangements.

“We feel it demonstrates that we can advise on a transaction of this scale and complexity and that leading professional services firms are comfortable referring this type of work to us.”

Read more: Azets adding 900 new hires across the UK

VesselsValue, which has nine offices worldwide, including London, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Oslo and Ryde, Isle of Wight, specialises in daily updated ship values and data, based on the latest market insights.

It does so by providing objective and transparent market intelligence to customers by combining state-of-the-art statistical methods with in-house expertise and computer technologies.

Veson Nautical is a global market leader in developing, implementing, and supporting the solutions that propel maritime commerce.

The digital transformation company has 38,000-plus global users, a presence in more than 75 countries, six global centres of excellence and more than 200 maritime technologists and professionals.

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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