Sage acquisition brings annual total close to £250m | 30 December 07

ADVISING software giant Sage on a £20m acquisition has helped North law firm Ward Hadaway’s plc team clock up almost £250m worth of transactions in the last 12 months.

The Newcastle-based firm provided legal advice to Sage (UK) Ltd on its recent £20m acquisition of HR, payroll and time and attendance specialist KCS Global Holdings Limited.

A team led by senior associate Richard Butts worked on the transaction, which also involved North venture capital firm Northern Venture Managers.

Mr Butts said: "The transaction was done very quickly – within eight weeks – and it adds to Sage’s growing HR and payroll offering.
Northern Venture Managers invested in KCS Global after backing a management buy-out in 2005 so it was good to be involved in a transaction with two very well recognised names in the region’s business community."

The transaction was the third Sage (UK) acquisition which Ward Hadaway has advised on in the last 12 months.

The firm advised on the £18m acquisition of HR and payroll software and related services specialists Snowdrop Systems Ltd in May of this year and the £20m acquisition of UK merchant services provider Protx Group last November.

Ward Hadaway’s plc team – part of the firm’s corporate finance department – has now advised on almost £250m worth of deals in the last 12 months.

Highlights have included a £115m placing on AIM and related acquisition of US platform maker Snorkel for the Tanfield Group; a £12m placing on AIM and €23m related acquisition of Biocode Hycel S.A. for Immunodiagnostic Systems; two separate placings on AIM for China Goldmines totalling £31m; a £25m placing on AIM for Premium Bars and Restaurants (formerly Ultimate Leisure Group) and a £7m placing on AIM for Romag.

Ward Hadaway currently acts for around half of the North-East’s public companies.

David Crone, head of the plc team at Ward Hadaway, said: “It has been a busy year for the plc team.

“We have built up strong relationships with our clients over a number of years and we have benefited from a good year in the market over the past 12 months.

“We look forward to helping our clients continue to achieve their business ambitions in 2008.”