Big deals boost law firm further | 24 October 07

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has been involved in everything from gold mines to garden centres after working on some of the biggest recent deals in the region.

The Newcastle-based firm has advised on almost £100m worth of deals in the past month in a variety of transactions and across a range of different market sectors.

Highlights included Ward Hadaway’s plc team advising China Goldmines on its recent £30m share placing on the AIM market after having advised on a £1m AIM placing for the company in August.

The law firm’s corporate finance team also led three deals which saw high-profile North-East companies change hands.

The team advised Billingham-based Imperial Tankers on its £7m sale to Hargreaves Services, Peter Barratt’s Garden Centres on its sale to Wyevale Garden Centres and Henderson Pharmacy on its sale to Alliance Boots.

Martin Hulls, head of corporate finance at Ward Hadaway, said: “This has been an extremely busy but rewarding time for the firm.

“Our experience across a range of sectors and our ability to bring in dedicated expertise from other departments within the firm to work on transactions has enabled us to help make these deals happen.

“They are all significant transactions and we are pleased to have helped our clients to bring their plans to fruition.”

China Goldmines is looking to use the £30m from its AIM share placing to develop eight mines it acquired in August in China.

David Crone, head of plc at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team on the placing with associate Richard Butts.

Ward Hadaway also recently advised medical equipment company IDS on a simultaneous £12m AIM placing and 23m euro acquisition and advised China Goldmines when it floated on AIM in 2006.

Duncan Reid, corporate finance partner at Ward Hadaway, led the team which advised shareholders of Imperial Tankers on the company’s sale to County Durham haulage-to-coal importer Hargreaves Services.

The deal, for an initial £5m with up to £2m more depending on performance, made Hargreaves Services one of the top five players in the chemical road tanker sector.

Former Imperial Tankers managing director Martin Smith will now head up Hargreaves’ liquid transport division.

Katherine Hay-Heddle led the Ward Hadaway team on the sale of Henderson Pharmacy’s chain of outlets to Alliance Boots, advising founder Phil Henderson on the deal.

Ward Hadaway has acted for Phil Henderson and Henderson Pharmacy Limited for many years, helping it to grow to its current 14 branches.

Robert Thompson led a ten-strong Ward Hadaway team advising Peter Barratt’s Garden Centre founders Peter and Angela Barratt on the sale of the North-East chain to Wyevale Garden Centres, owned by Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter.

Ward Hadaway’s corporate finance team was singled out for praise by independent legal directory the Legal 500 in its recently published 2007 edition.

The directory said: “According to both clients and peers, the firm is starting to edge ahead of its rivals because of the quality of its advice and levels of client care: it is only a matter of time before it clearly moves ahead of the chasing pack.”