Wragge & Co, Birmingham’s largest legal firm, has negotiated a deal worth nearly £13million for one of its West Midland clients.
The Colmore Row firm advised Hill & Smith Holdings on the sale of one of its subsidiaries, Express Reinforcements, for £12.8million to Welsh firm Celsa Steel Service.
Wragge has a long history with Hill & Smith, which is based in Solihull and works on listed infrastructure products and galvanising work, on corporate transactions.
Corporate partner Ed Dawes was the head of a cross-firm team which worked on the sale, including members of Wragge’s property, pensions, environment, tax, employment and regulatory litigation teams.
Mr Dawes said: “The complexities and timescales of this transaction, particularly on property, pensions and environmental aspects, called for smooth and efficient team working of the kind Wragge & Co is known for. We value our long-standing relationship with Hill & Smith and there is no better way to demonstrate this than by the commitment and determination displayed by everyone involved.”
Wragge had advised Hill & Smith when the group purchased Express Reinforcements in 2000 as part of the £70 million takeover of Ash & Lacy. In August, it also advised on the £20.2 million acquisition of a minority holding in German-based company Zinkinvent GmbH.
Express was a supplier of steel reinforcing bars and mesh to the construction industry, and was based in Glamorgan, although it had an office in Brownhills. Hill & Smith said it was not a core part of their business, and the sale would allow the company to focus its strategy on further expansion through product development and more acquisitions. Mark Pegler, the finance director at Hill & Smith, said: “The Wragge & Co team were responsive and commercially focused; they worked hard to understand the service we needed from our lawyers and how best to deliver it.”
Celsa is one of Europe’s leading steel producers and the largest producer of reinforcement steel products in the UK. It was advised in the deal by Geldards.
The completion of the Hill & Smith deal will be good news for a corporate finance sector that has been under pressure this year as deals dry up because of a lack of liquidity due to the credit crunch.
Wragge had to axe 30 fee earners in its real estate division earlier this year because of the financial downturn, and there were fears that corporate finance could come under similar pressure. The firm said it was expecting to have to downgrade its profit expectations at its half-year results this month.
But the 70-strong corporate finance team has continued to get deals through.
Recent highlights include advising process engineering provider Greenfinch Ltd on its merger with Biogen (UK) and acting for defence and security based technology company QinetiQ on its £9.85million acquisition of Commerce Decisions Limited.
Earlier this month, senior partner Quentin Poole said Wragge’s diversity would make it better-suited than many to weather the financial storm.
Speaking after the announcement of revised profits, he said: “My sense is that firms like us and other national firms which have diversified across a range of practice areas, have felt the downturn earlier than other City firms.
“It’s those law firms that are very orientated around international finance where it’s toughest. But now if you are in a whole range of areas, your diversification helps. Now is a good time to be diversified.”