Belfast law firms maintain top rankings in mergers table

CALENDARS OF SUCCESS: Celebrating the Tughans' five in a row accolade are (from left) John McGuckian (partner, corporate), David Jones (partner, head of real estate), Patrick Brown (managing partner), Rebecca Moffett (partner, real estate), and James Donnelly (partner, head of corporate). Photo: Darren Kidd/PressEye

CORPORATE law firm A&L Goodbody (ALG) has for the sixth consecutive year been ranked as the leading legal adviser by value of total merger and acquisition deals transacted in Northern Ireland in 2019 after its Belfast office advised on deals totalling more than £6 billion from 2014-2019.

In a report published by global information services company Experian, its Belfast office is listed as having advised on the most significant deals by value in the north, having acted on over 45 transactions across 2019 with a combined deal value of £1.1 billion.

And in the same table Belfast-based Tughans was named as the north's busiest corporate law firm for the fifth year running after it advised on 53 deals during 2019, with the total value of transactions amounting to £164 million.

Alastair Keith, head of corporate at ALG in Belfast, said: “We were struck by the variety of transactions on which we advised in 2019 which included a large number of intra-group reorganisations and energy focussed transactions.

“We also saw an increase in small and mid-market transactions, such as East #1's investment in Glentoran Football Club.

"Encouragingly, we also saw continued provision of significant growth capital into the market, including significant investments in BrainWaveBank and Neurovalens.”

He said 2019 was “an outstanding year” for ALG's 23-strong corporate practice in Belfast, which saw the promotion of two new partners and four new solicitors.

“This accolade is testament to the expertise and commercial focus of our industry-leading team of corporate lawyers – led by partners Peter Stafford, Mark Thompson, David Rowan, Mark Stockdale and myself, and supported by our wider team of over 120 people in our Belfast office.”

Commenting on the market outlook for 2020, he added: “Whilst it is difficult to accurately predict corporate activity for the year ahead, the restoration of the Assembly has been a welcome development.

“Having come into 2020 with a strong pipeline of local and international deal activity, we remain cautiously optimistic about the M&A landscape for Northern Ireland over the next 12 months.”

Meanwhile among the major deals Tughans were involved in were acting for Deloitte on the sale of Wrightbus; for the Foresight Group in respect of its investment in the 352 Medical Group; and for Invest NI on the establishment of new £65m and £30m equity funds.

The firm's head of corporate, James Donnelly, said “The profile and complexity of our work really stands out in the market and we are proud to have played a role in a significant share of the transactions making the headlines over the last year.

“Underpinning those headlines is the ambition of our clients backed up by the outstanding dedication of our teams and this ranking is once again welcome recognition of that effort.

“Our deals involved businesses and assets of all sizes across many different sectors and to be the busiest legal advisers across a period of time that straddles the very obvious political challenges faced by businesses shows strong consistency in the context of a turbulent and changing market.”

Tughans' managing partner Patrick Brown added: “This success reflects the talent within our corporate team under the leadership of James and his fellow corporate partner John McGuckian, as well our trio of real estate partners of David Jones, Rebecca Moffett, and Joe Moore. But it is also driven by the strength in depth of other departments such as employment, banking & finance, restructuring and contracts & technology.”

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