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05 February 2019

Malcolm MacDougall scoops top place in MergerMarket ranking for most active deal lawyer by volume 2018

Corporate Partner Malcolm MacDougall has topped the UK's rankings for the most active deal lawyer by volume for 2018 (following his top position in H1 2018), according to leading M&A data and intelligence provider, MergerMarket.

The Mergermarket league tables are accumulated by deals announced in the first and second half of 2018 and which are available on Mergermarket's deals database.

Malcolm MacDougall commented: "I'm thrilled to have received this top ranking, which reflects the hard graft of the firm's corporate team as a whole over a very busy 2018. Despite the headwinds of Brexit uncertainty,  lower mid-market UK-centric deal volume has continued undiminished and has kept us busy! We look forward to continuing to work with our clients in the year ahead."

To accompany Mergermarket's league table, Malcolm also provided the below commentary on the UK opportunities he expects to see over the coming months.

What are your practice expansion plans for the next 12 months?

The Corporate team are looking to continue to expand the overall size of our corporate team at associate level. Our large team, covering Private Equity/Venture Capital, M&A, and Equity Capital Markets, over our  three  UK offices in London, Guildford and Cheltenham, are looking to expand the number of associates to cover our increased deal flow in all three of those workstreams, with a particular focus in terms of sectors on, TMT, Healthcare, Corporate/Private Wealth, Corporate/Real Estate, Sports and two geographical focuses (outside UK M&A/PE), US and Africa. We continue to see significant deal flow in all of those areas, and the pipeline looks strong, notwithstanding Brexit uncertainties.

What was the most complex deal you worked on in 2018? Why?

We acted for Elysian Capital on the acquisition of Key Travel from Livingbridge.  The deal was complex given the cross-border nature of the business and that it operates in a regulated sector (Key Travel provides travel and risk management services to clients in the not-for-profit humanitarian, faith and academic sectors).  We brought significant value to the deal by handling the complexities of the transaction, working closely with American and Dutch lawyers on the deal, Pepper Hamilton and Fruytier.  The deal also needed to be completed within an expedited timetable – from kick-off to completion in  five weeks. Edward Brett of Elysian Capital commented, "Charles Russell Speechlys did an excellent job of navigating through the complexity of acquiring a US and UK regulated business in an accelerated five-week timeframe. They delivered a real teamwork driven performance through a challenging but enjoyable transaction." We have since completed an add-on acquisition for Key Travel, the acquisition of international humanitarian/faith focused travel management company, Raptim.

What regulatory changes/issues do you consider as the most significant in the UK or in your sector for 2019?

Clearly one of the biggest issues is what happens with Brexit and how that then impacts on the economy and M&A/PE activity. So far M&A/PE activity in the lower mid-market seems to have continued unabated. While some larger deals may have been put on hold until it is clearer what is going to happen at the end of March, smaller transactions seem to be carrying on in any event.  Hopefully a solution will be found that keeps disruption to a minimum in which event we foresee UK lower mid-market M&A/PE continuing to power ahead.  If a reasonable solution is found then there may even be a Brexit-bounce as there is a degree of pessimism as to how this will end up already built in to people's plans.  Should there be a change in leadership, there could be profound effects on the M&A/PE market, with (for example) tax breaks like Entrepreneur's Relief put into question. Regardless of the political outcome over the next few months, it is going to be an interesting time!    

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