Help at hand for access to £185m fund | 11 February 11

LAW firm Ward Hadaway is looking to use its inside expertise on public venture capital funds to help businesses in the North West access investment from a £185m fund.

The Top 100 UK firm, which has an office in Manchester, says it is ideally placed to offer assistance to companies aiming to get backing from the £185m North West Fund.

This scheme offers debt and equity finance from £50,000 to £2m to small and medium sized businesses based in, or relocating to, the North West to start, develop and grow.

Ward Hadaway, which also has offices in Leeds and Newcastle, is experienced in dealing with this kind of fund, having played a key role in helping to establish the £125m Finance for Business North East Fund, which invests in companies in the North East of England via six individual funds covering a range of sectors and business requirements.

Experts in the firm’s commercial and corporate finance teams provided legal advice on the operational set-up of the company which holds the £125m fund and oversaw the final stages of the appointment of the six individual fund managers.

Ward Hadaway corporate finance lawyers have also advised on 17 investments which have already been made from the Finance for Business North East Fund, working at different times for companies receiving investment funding and for fund managers.

Martin Hulls, partner and head of corporate finance at Ward Hadaway, said: “We think our range of experience advising on these public venture capital funds puts us in an ideal position to help companies in the North West to make sense of what is on offer for them and to guide them through the process successfully.

“Investment funding can make a huge difference to any business, but it needs to be carefully managed to make sure it makes the right kind of difference.”

During 2010, Ward Hadaway advised on 17 investments from the Finance for Business North East Fund with a total value of £6.9m.

Martin Hulls said: “The North West Fund is similarly split into six individual funds with similar kinds of criteria to those in the North East.

“We feel that our experience in advising on investments from the Finance for Business North East Fund for both companies and for investors themselves puts us in a great position to help businesses in the North West who may be looking for finance from what is a significant source of capital.”

Melanie GavinWard Hadaway recently strengthened its corporate finance team in the North West with the recruitment of corporate lawyer Melanie Gavin (pictured).

Melanie has a wide range of experience, having worked both in-house and within the corporate finance team at law firm Hill Dickinson in Manchester.

Her areas of expertise include private equity investments and she has advised on mergers and acquisitions for both sellers and purchasers.

Melanie said: “I am really excited to be joining Ward Hadaway. It is a firm with an excellent reputation which also has a real entrepreneurial side in its desire to expand its services in different areas.

“I enjoy working alongside clients, understanding their businesses in depth and targeting legal support to suit their needs and I feel that Ward Hadaway is the ideal place in the North West to continue and develop this.

“The North West Fund offers a real opportunity to businesses in the region to realise their full potential and I hope we can play a part in that process.”

Martin Hulls said: “Melanie combines in-depth knowledge with the ability to apply that knowledge to clients’ businesses on a very practical, commercial level so it is great to have her on board.”

Ward Hadaway offers a full range of legal services to a raft of companies, organisations and individuals across the North and UK-wide.

Specialisms include employment, property, construction, corporate finance, commercial law, intellectual property and litigation.

The firm employs many nationally recognised experts amongst its 400-strong workforce and is recognised by industry publication The Lawyer as one of the Top 100 law firms in the UK.

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