Profile: Bust or Boom, Fortune Smiles on the MBO Solicitor

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 11, 2003 | Go to article overview

Profile: Bust or Boom, Fortune Smiles on the MBO Solicitor


Byline: Robert Jones

RACHELLE Sellek is a partner at Cardiff solicitors M and A, specialising in corporate law and those intricacies surrounding the management buyout, better known by its initials MBO. Recently she led the team that acted in the pounds 20m management buyout of Community Homes of Intensive Care and Education (CHOICE), a company providing care and support for adults with severe learning disabilities, personality and emotional problems. She is by no means unique, but one of a growing number of female lawyers who are finding themselves attracted towards the corporate sector and the practise of commercial l aw. "We acted for management and dealt with the documentation, including the equity investment shareholders' agreement and Articles of Association," she explained. She could have gone on, but realised that such mysteries merely make the layman's mind seize up. Management buyouts it seems, like the poor, are always with us. Whether the economy is in a state of boom or bust, the potential for a management buyout remains. The alchemy that makes this possible is the presence of private companies and managers who, when they reach a certain age, are looking to retire or retreat and let the next generation take over - and an obvious route will be the MBO. One interesting observation Ms Sellek makes is not in management buyouts, but the slowdown in corporate activity, particularly in the public sector. This, she said, is due to the fact that fewer companies seek a stock exchange listing, or try to raise money on the stock market, a pursuit that is now not as easy as it once was. As far as her own practice is concerned, whatever trials beset the economy in general, there has been no falling off of work. M and A has been in existence for three years, with turnover growing significantly year on year. She said, "So it would be difficult to point to that and say we have seen a falling away of work. What we have seen is transactions becoming more difficult to complete, having taken longer from start to finish, and investors having spent more time scrutinising them and making sure they are exactly right before they proceed." There are, it seems, always issues over pricing but, generally, the whole procedure seems to take longer than it would have three or four years ago. What then was it about this tortuous subject that captured her interest in this particular aspect of law? The answer is variety - stemming from her introduction to the law of contract, which took precedence over criminal, property and family law. "In my first two years as a trainee, moving around different departments, the corporate and commercial departments were the ones that interested me most. Another factor was that of client contact and working closely with them. "It often tends to be something that will be time-consuming to the client, who has to allocate it and devote himself, and a lawyer has to do the same." To illustrate her point, she cites the buying of a company and the procedure involved. The company will differ, the issues that arise differ, the negotiations with lawyers on the other side are different. So, in practice, each deal is a separate world - while not perhaps new, constantly changing. She said, "The breadth of work I have been involved in has varied so much. I have done everything from setting up small companies for single sole traders, to buying and selling companies for clients with totally different agendas that range from buying a company as a strategic move for its group through to public company work and commercial contracts." These have involved computer contracts, software and licensing agreements and the black arts surrounding intellectual property. …

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