A team of professionals from Birmingham has advised on one of the biggest corporate finance deals of recent time.

Law firm Pinsent Masons and corporate finance advisers Catalyst Corporate Finance worked with the owners of IT training companies Zenos and Zenos Learning (Zenos Companies) on the sale of the companies to Alternative Investment Market-listed rival Melorio, for as much as £33?million.

The Zenos Companies have academies across the UK, including a major site in Birmingham, and have more than 1,000 trainees on their books. They are based in Oxfordshire, and are leading providers of government-funded vocational training to the ICT sector, running advanced apprenticeship courses to school leavers through their own academies and advanced apprenticeships and Level 3 NVQ qualifications to employees in the workplace.

Melorio funded the acquisition with a new debt facility of £23?million provided by Barclays Bank and Clydesdale Bank and the issue of 7,647,059 shares to George and Sandra Anderson, the owners of the Zenos Companies.

The use of debt to fund the purchase was unexpected, given the current state of the market, according to Catalyst.

The Pinsent Masons team advising Zenos was led by corporate partner Andrew Hornigold, assisted by James Willmott. The team from Catalyst Corporate Finance was led by Richard Sanders, assisted by Jeremy Harrison.

Mr Hornigold said: “We are delighted to have advised on a deal which will see Zenos vendors George and Sandra Anderson, become significant shareholders in Melorio.

“The combination of Zenos and Melorio will build a diversified group with multiple service offerings and revenue streams, add breadth to the qualifications offered by the group and increase their profile as a nationwide multidisciplinary vocational training provider.”

Mr Sanders added: “The successful sale of Zenos demonstrates that it is still possible to complete transactions in the current economic environment and is testimony to the quality of the Zenos business. It is clear that at a time when the UK Government is focusing on up skilling the UK workforce that Zenos will have an important part to play in this area.”

International law firm Pinsent Masons, which has its Birmingham office in the Wesleyan on Colmore Circus, was recently named the top firm in the country for managing clients on the AIM list. But it said the market was starting to dry up, with new firms wanting to float on the exchange proving difficult to find.

It kept its number one ranking in Hemscott’s latest quarterly table of law firms with clients on the London-based AIM.