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International Corporate / M&A - United Kingdom

posted 1 year ago

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Robin Johnson

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Robin Johnson
Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

We are very much a full-service law firm covering public M&A, private company M&A, private capital and international cross border M&A via our dedicated teams in 70 offices across 30 countries. On a daily basis, we are able to provide a truly one stop shop for cross border M&A of whatever type; meanwhile, we remain close to our clients and focused on delivering their strategic deals.

We rely on our status as a common law jurisdiction, both in relation to statutory law but also precedent. Key corporate legislation includes the Companies Act, the Financial Services and Markets Act and FCA regulations over publicly traded companies as well as the National Security and Investment Act.

We have the flexibility of working in both bear and bull markets. Currently we are seeing many carve outs and reorganisations as portfolios are rebalanced; significant private capital activity, both in relation to secondaries and sales to strategics; and a major increase in corporate venture capital. The current market is providing our clients with significant opportunities to make strategic investments, notwithstanding inflationary and geopolitical pressures. Our clients are taking a long term view in relation to the market. We remain extremely active across all our jurisdictions and continue to take market share.

We have been supporting Next Plc on its programme of total platform deals. These are highly strategic joint ventures and corporate agreements that see Next take strategic stakes in a range of household name brands in the UK, allowing Next to sell these products in-store and via its e- and m-commerce platforms – in some instances, developing and maintaining UK websites for those brands.

In the past 12 months, we have supported Next on agreements for GAP, Victoria’s Secret, Reiss, Childsplay and Aubin & Wills.

These agreements are highly complex and, in addition to corporate advice, we have also provided IP, data, commercial, finance and restructuring advice.

Inevitably there was an effect, but actually we saw continued activity at record levels. We moved from physical meetings to virtual meetings seamlessly. The immediate bounce of the end of COVID was significant for us, with a record number of transactions. The current market – which is pricing in inflationary pressures, supply chain concerns and geopolitical issues – means uncertainty, but also opportunities. We remain busy.

Inevitably pricing has been an issue, as well as more detailed due diligence in relation to such issues as supply chain and energy pricing. Therefore, we have developed detailed tools to deal with both supply chain issues and energy pricing issues and indeed other issues in the marketplace, which enables our clients to focus on the key value issues. We see any downturn as very temporary, and we anticipate remaining busy.

Technology remains important, whether it be in consumer, industrials or financial services. Supply chain consolidation is key. Moreover, we are seeing more joint ventures as well as corporate ventures. Each sector has its own opportunities, and our sector approach and matrix structure allows us to take full advantage of each opportunity.

We are increasingly working with what you would describe as large firms, but we also have a significant private capital business, acting for both management and institutions. In 2021, we represented 134 of the Fortune 200, 79 of the Fortune 100, 40 of the Fortune 50 and 65 of the FTSE 100.

We have a dedicated team to focus on opportunities in relation to “unicorn” opportunities and in relation to opportunities with private capital and larger firms. Furthermore, we have an integrated approach on compliance, such as antitrust, data protection and cyber, ESG, supply chain and commercial contracting.

By the very nature of our business, we have local connections in all jurisdictions and are able to work on a seamless basis. This is a key USP for our firm. Our client base is highly international in nature, and we are consequently seen as a go to firm for cross border and international work.

Compliance is a key issue, as is ESG reporting. We have a mature legal system, but there are always changes – for example – in relation to disclosure requirements or the takeover code, which we regularly report on to our clients. We spend a lot of time providing horizon scanning for our clients.

As one of the top ten global M&A law firms, we continue to talk to our clients and provide services to them that meet their needs. This includes technology improvements, identifying new expertise and working to ensure that both in-house counsel and business people are getting the right value and advice to ensure their businesses remain successful.

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