City lawyer’s key role in major deals

DLA Piper: Richard May, head of the corporate team at DLA Piper, Sheffield.
DLA Piper: Richard May, head of the corporate team at DLA Piper, Sheffield.
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Lawyers from the Sheffield office of DLA Piper have played a key role in two major acquisitions.

Corporate lawyers from the office advised UK-based ALcontrol on the sale of its on-site services division to Shield Group, part of the Dutch ACTA corporation.

Meanwhile, property, construction, banking and tax specialists were involved in the £23 million acquisition of new student housing scheme in London.

ALcontrol’s on-site services division provides safety, environmental monitoring and consultancy services covering asbestos, air emissions and occupational hygiene and had several operations, including one based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park Technology Centre in South Yorkshire.

The sale was for an undisclosed sum.

Richard May, head of the corporate team at DLA Piper in Sheffield, led the transaction on behalf of ALcontrol, supported by Anna Grunwell.

Mr May said: “This was a significant deal for both businesses, allowing ALcontrol to concentrate on building its core laboratory network, whilst providing ACTA with the ideal opportunity to expand its presence in the UK and develop market share. We are pleased to have been able to get this transaction across the line successfully.”

Frank Maarten Gribnau, director of the Shield Group, which has operations in the Netherlands, Belgium, UK and Spain, added that the deal opened a door to a new market, through a stable high quality platform.

DLA Piper acted on behalf of Knightsbridge Student Housing in the acquisition of a 187-bed student housing scheme in Whitechapel.

The deal is one of a number of acquisitions which DLA Piper has advised Knightsbridge on, during the last year, which has added almost 2040 student rooms to its portfolio.

Since its launch just over a year ago Knightsbridge, acting as advisor for a private fund, has rapidly put together a student accommodation portfolio consisting of over 3,500 student beds. Last year, DLA Piper acted on behalf of the fund to acquire sites which have added 2038 student rooms to the fund’s portfolio. These included residences in Bangor and Birmingham and the exchange of contracts for new build sites in Bournemouth and at the former BBC Costume Store in West London.

Ian Doig, legal director at DLA Piper in Sheffield, said £850 million had been invested in the student housing market last year and DLA Piper had acted on a sizeable proportion of that.

“Despite a difficult market, the Knightsbridge has expanded over the last year to become one of the top 10 student housing providers in the UK. The deals we have acted on over the course of 2011 have been particularly challenging given economic conditions, but it is testament to Knightsbridge’s commitment to this sector that we’ve been able to get them all over the line,” said Mr Doig.

Knightsbridge development director, Simon Pollitt, said: “The DLA Piper team has provided us with invaluable advice on several projects and their hard work on the Whitechapel scheme was a steadying force throughout the acquisition process.

“The team has worked closely with us to achieve stringent deadlines, proactively managing the acquisition process to ensure we were able to deliver against our objectives. We are looking forward to building on our relationship as we move into the future.”