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Wrightbus and Novosco highlights in year of mega-deals for firm's corporate lawyers



From left: New Wrightbus CEO Buta Atwal; executive chair Jo Bamford; Jon Harman, head of fleet at First Group UK Bus; and John McLeister, Wrightbus

From left: New Wrightbus CEO Buta Atwal; executive chair Jo Bamford; Jon Harman, head of fleet at First Group UK Bus; and John McLeister, Wrightbus

Co-founders of Novosco, Patrick McAliskey and John Lennon

Co-founders of Novosco, Patrick McAliskey and John Lennon

Victoria House

Victoria House

From left: New Wrightbus CEO Buta Atwal; executive chair Jo Bamford; Jon Harman, head of fleet at First Group UK Bus; and John McLeister, Wrightbus

Navigating and delivering high value and complex deals is a fundamental part of my role as head of corporate at Mills Selig.

There are many challenges that come with the project management of significant corporate transactions.

More often than not we are presented with complexities and intricacies that are unique to a particular deal. However, with a team of experts across multiple disciplines, we are fast to find solutions, offer expert advice and lead clients to a successful outcome.

This is what we, in Mills Selig, are perhaps best known for. In 2019, we delivered over £450m worth of corporate transactions.

As well as corporate law, we specialise in property, construction, commercial litigation, licensing, insolvency, employment and private client law, and are proud to say that we also managed over £250m worth of property sales and purchases this year alone.

Having this breadth of specialism is what makes our service to clients seamless.

We operate as one team, without division or divide.

We are local, independent and we are driven by our mission statement: supporting business in Northern Ireland by striving for excellence through our people, advice and actions.

In recent months, we acted on the sale of Novosco to Cancom and the acquisition of the Wrightbus business by Bamford Bus Company Limited.

Not only are these notable transactions for the firm given their scale, complexity and public interest, but also personally, in my role as head of corporate, I was proud to act as lead legal advisor.

The acquisition of the Wrightbus business stirred up a media storm given its local history, number of employees and its contribution to the local economy.

The deal presented a number of complexities given the extent of the business, involvement of multiple parties and time pressures arising from the business being in administration.

However, we approached these hurdles constructively to ensure a successful outcome for our client and indeed the business itself, which has resulted in the retention of bus manufacturing in Ballymena.

The future looks promising for the firm and we look forward to being able to further support Jo Bamford and the new CEO, Buta Atwal, in their ongoing efforts to rebuild the business.

The sale of Novosco is also a stand-out deal. We are proud to be a small part of the journey that saw the business grow from a start-up into a world-class IT company employing more than 300 people.

We often consider ourselves to be part of our client's internal team; having their best interests at heart, tackling any issues with them, and this was certainly the case with Novosco.

The sale of the business was not without its own challenges and hurdles but we guided the Novosco shareholders through this process to ensure the smooth and successful completion of the deal.

We wish John Lennon, who is taking over as managing director from Patrick McAliskey, the very best of luck in the next chapter of the Novosco story. We will always remain an avid supporter of the business.

The successful completion of both the Wrightbus and Novosco deals, within just over one week of each other, was a highpoint in what has been a very busy year for our corporate team.

It demonstrated the strength and depth of our team being able to handle both deals independently at the same time, which involved strong input from property and employment teams.

Like all business transactions, it is always very rewarding to hear positive feedback from clients regarding the involvement of our corporate team and indeed my role as lead advisor.

Patrick McAliskey, former Novosco managing director, shared the following sentiment: "Mills Selig were great the whole way through and with Chris leading the charge I was always comfortable.

"The team really stepped up at short notice and in a compressed timescale and were a pleasure to work with, so thank you."

As we draw to a close on 2019, I believe it is important to take a minute and reflect on the achievements of our wider team throughout the past year.

In addition to both the Wrightbus and Novosco transactions, we advised First Derivatives on the $53m acquisition of Kx Systems.

Our property team recently acted in the purchase of Victoria House for local businessmen Wayne Sullivan and Neil McKibbin, and our banking team acted for McCausland Group in a landmark £20m investment in Belfast infrastructure.

Mills Selig also celebrated 60 years in business, a testament to our team, clients and the exceptional and uncompromising legal service we offer. Our team grew by 30% and we are committed to expand by a further 50% in the coming years.

Our vision for the future is clear. We want to be the go-to commercial law firm in Northern Ireland for high value and complex work.

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