Talking of Dealmakers…

by Simon Arkell

9 November 2023

November 2023

In the first nine months of 2023, EMW’s Corporate team acted on 48 deals with a total value in excess of £420 million, a 60% increase on the same position last year.

Simon Arkell, Head of Corporate, commented:

I think our growth can be attributed to two factors. Firstly, the majority of our transactional work involves owner managed SMEs. The resilience consistently demonstrated by this sector never ceases to amaze me. Navigating stagnant macro-economic growth, inflationary pressures, rising interest rates and tight labour markets, they are adept at finding ways to adapt and evolve. I love the work that they come to us with and the passion they bring with it.

The second factor is our people. I’m incredibly proud of the work our team has done and the quality of service it continues to deliver. The legal recruitment market is pretty volatile at the moment and we have achieved all this with 20% less headcount than this time last year. In no small part this is down to our team being based pretty much entirely in our Milton Keynes office. The team win together, lose together, roll up their sleeves together and generally just want to help each other out – which only really works because we spend time together.

Our pipeline is strong too. We will comfortably exceed £600 million by the end of the year.

The core fundamentals of our business haven’t changed. What set us apart 20 years ago still sets us apart:

  • clients see in us a little bit of themselves. We attract dynamic, owner managed businesses because we are one;
  • we focus negotiations on what is important to our clients and never waste their time or money on things that are not; and
  • our service comes with a healthy dose of personality. Down to earth and easy to talk to, we take what we do really seriously, ourselves less so.

We also have some market leading specialists, such as the work that Tracy Evans is doing in relation to employment ownership trusts.

We don’t shout much about what we do, we just get on with it. To be frank, we struggle to find the time. Perhaps that needs to change.


2023 highlights for the first three quarters include acting for:

  • the shareholders of JCA Engineering on its £41.5 million sale to Mitie plc;
  • the management of a subsidiary of a listed plc on the exit of senior management and the establishment of a new bonus scheme and LTIP for the junior management team stepping into their role;
  • Heaven Media Limited, a leading marketing and creative agency for gaming and technology, in relation to its acquisition of Ebuyer, a leading technology online retailer that turned over £241 million in 2021;
  • the shareholders of Fortus Holdings Limited on the disposal of its interest in the Midlands and East Fortus accounting practices to TC Group;
  • British Approvals Service for Cables Limited on the hive-down or its business and assets into a new subsidiary and the subsequent disposal of that subsidiary to Kiwa UK Group.


Finally, some of the things our clients have said:

Chris Timms, co-founder of Fortus and Stelaris:

”EMW has always been a mainstay of commercial (and legal!) advice for us over recent years, both pre and now post transaction in fact. The team were excellent in supporting the reported transaction and did so with the iron will of making it work for both sides – often counselling as well as advising. The project coverage touched Banking to Property, Commercial, GDPR, Company Secretarial and Employment and right across their support services the leaders and their respective teams were fantastic. We have retained EMW for the future of Stelaris Group as we work alongside EMW to support our other investments through their own next phases.”

Richard Marsden from Ebuyer:

“As the acquisition project comes to a close, we now embark on an exciting journey to help grow the eBuyer business across each of the markets it serves, and we will share more around our plans in the coming weeks. The EMW team have been exceptional throughout on this transaction. Understanding of our business and requirements from the start, they were responsive and certainly put the hours in to get the deal done. We have built some great relationships across EMW over the last few months and its testament to the culture that they have built at the business. We look forward to working with EMW moving forwards.”

Ian Hodges-Jackson, JCA Engineering:

“Having worked with EMW since the inception of JCA, they have provided advice and support on operational, legal and constitutional matters with the utmost professionalism, dedication and attention to detail. There was no other consideration other than to engage EMW to work with Tom and I to achieve the completion of JCA’s acquisition by Mitie. EMW’s experience and commitment ensured that we were able to work through the due diligence and sale process with confidence and maintain a high level of certainty of a successful outcome, of which we are extremely pleased to have achieved. EMW’s role in the process has been invaluable”.

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