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International M&A and more led from Midlands.

Byline: Keri Rees; Antony Walsh

Careful planning and a robust, client-centred, project management approach is fundamental to multiple-jurisdiction transactions and relationships. Through the increasingly sophisticated approach being taken to global M&A advised from here in the Midlands, we are finding ourselves at the centre of international deals and accounts irrespective of whether or not they have a UK element.

Much has been said, and rightly so, about the key role that our export-driven Midlands manufacturing sector can play in local economic recovery. The likes of Jaguar Land Rover and J C Bamford are examples which easily spring to mind.

What should perhaps equally be heralded is the export-driven nature of our professional services sector. Whilst Midlands professional services businesses continue to strive to meet the needs of local corporates many of whom are themselves needing support in penetrating overseas markets, such firms are increasingly looking to sell their capabilities to a wider audience. In doing so, these advisors continue to be well represented in the Midlands and, in some cases, have even managed to achieve growth in revenue, profit and employment during these last few harsh economic years.

History of exporting professional services Eversheds is perhaps the most pertinent example of this phenomena. As a business, we were born and bred in the Midlands (from the days of Eversheds & Tomkinson in the late 1980s). Today we have grown to become one of the largest full service law firms in the world with over 2,500 legal advisers in 45 offices across 28 jurisdictions. Whilst our thriving City of London office is our global head-office and is the vanguard for our growth, the Midlands remains a fundamental part of our DNA and platform for delivering world class service to support our Midlands based clients. Our counterparts at DLA can no doubt tell an equally successful story in terms of their global business. The same is true of other professional services sub-sectors.

Creating the need Clients understand the added value that having a truly specialist crossborder advisor can bring and are increasingly prepared to recognise that value through appointments on non-UK matters on a "trusted advisor" basis. Indeed, trust is the key element here. Feedback suggests that certain organisations do one of two things when acting for a client internationally; either (i) refer the client to their local office with no regard to cultural differences or maintenance of service standards or (ii) seek to charge a fee simply to have a UK partner involved.

Unfortunately, neither approach is likely to secure a "trusted advisor" mandate.

Relationships need to be grown over time, working alongside corporates on a series of transactions. Once, as an advisor, you really understand key diligence issues, particular positions on transaction documents or specific requirements for post-transaction integration, clients see the value you can bring in facilitating their transactions and short-cutting to the successful conclusion of an otherwise potentially laborious process. Only then are trusted advisor mandates forthcoming.

What this means for the Midlands We have certainly benefited from a full spectrum of such opportunities, with the likes of Rolls-Royce, Hampson and Metalrax through to entrepreneurial largely owner-managed businesses such as Geothermal International. Based in Coventry, Geothermal International operates in the renewable energy arena, a sector which requires them to deliver great service irrespective of geography.

Last year our Midlands team advised Assa Abloy Entrance Systems (a Dutch company) on their acquisition of Flexi-Force Group, a manufacturer of garage doors based in eight countries across three continents.

The deal had no English law element but the client had identified a global project management approach as instrumental to the successful conclusion of the transaction.

Growth in delivering international services Where this gets even more interesting as an advisor is when your, say, US client has seen first hand your ability to deliver M&A globally and is keen to apply the same robustness of approach to management of its global legal (or advisory) panel.

Eversheds has in place global relationships with many such corporates including Tyco, DuPont, Brady, FMC Technologies, Boeing, SPX, Heinz and more. Many of these relationships are account managed wholly or partly from our Midlands offices. We know from our relationships around town that many other professional service firms are equally benefiting and "importing" this work into the Midlands.

Brady Corp is an example of this evolution.

Brady is an international manufacturer and marketer of identification and protection solutions with operations throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Brady employs approximately 6,500 people with fiscal 2011 sales of $1.34 billion.

In a collaborative partnership, Brady required global service-delivery solutions and cost efficiencies to ensure control over all non-US legal spend in some 28 jurisdictions by focusing all new instructions through a bespoke IT driven engagement platform. This is combined with consistency of quality and approach, blending the need for local business unit and legal team relationships to flourish whilst maintaining central control and a need to report management information back to the US, and central project-management with a single external point of contact in relation to all jurisdictions.

This is a relationship that works.

Brady derives transparency and efficiency benefits and Eversheds gains a premium multinational client with high quality strategic projects as well as ongoing routine work.

This is an expanding model and the Midlands economy is poised to continue to benefit from such appointments. As global issues such as anti-bribery/corruption, anti-trust, M&A, IP protection and agency, distribution and manufacturing arrangements continue to be a key driver of our local economy, we in the Midlands are well placed to offer the benefits of best in class international relationships.


Keri Rees (left) and Antony Walsh, both partners at Eversheds specialising in international M&A
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 29, 2012
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