HHMC closes with Aspect Legal

As a principal of HHMC, guiding both public and private recruitment agencies through acquisition and exit assignments, Richard Hayward has worked extensively with his fair share of legal representatives. He continues to be drawn to Aspect Legal not only to represent his own business, but to offer and recommend its counsel to his clients as they progress through equity transactions.

“Given the commercial arrangements I am involved in, my work often ends up in contract somewhere. So I tend to interact with a range of lawyers – from large legal firms to independent lawyers.”

According to Richard, being the lawyer involved in Merger and Acquisitions (M&A), whether representing the buyer or seller, requires a particular approach.

“Firstly, no-one is being sued. M&A transactions are something that both parties want to do. We already have a common outcome. Price is usually already structured.”

Richard was impressed when he was introduced to Aspect Legal, for its down to earth and pragmatic approach.

“Aspect Legal takes a very ‘commercial’ approach. They are not unnecessarily adversarial, and focussed on finding outcomes that make sense for both parties, and as soon as possible.”

Richard has learnt from experience that this approach is not something that should taken for granted.

“I’ve seen deals, some of which i’ve been involved in, where the legal representation has taken such an adversarial approach, that the lawyers could no longer deal with each other, and put deal with each other, and put deals at risk.”

Richard was impressed when he was introduced to Aspect Legal, for its down to earth and pragmatic approach.

Aspect Legal came in as the new legal counsel, and their approach was to focus on closing the deal in a way that worked for both parties.

About 80% of recruitment companies have less than 30 people, which in considered a small business. Hence in most M&As in the field, at least one party is a small business. Based on Richard’s extensive experience in representing both the potential buyer and seller in M&A transactions, Aspect Legal’s understanding and empathy towards small business has also been hugely valuable, regardless of whether his client was a small or a large business.

Aspect Legal gives good honest commercially focussed advice. They focus addressing all the potential questions within the contracts, but help clients to put them into perspective.

“Small business mentality is important. There is absolutely a different way of seeing the world when you are small business. Some lawyers come out of big firms with big clients and don’t understand the world of a small business.”

“On top of that, there is often at least one company involved that is new to the M&A trade. Most people don’t sell their companies more that once, so they are not sophisticated sellers, and don’t have much experience in M&A and what’s involved.”

One of the common traps that companies fall in to during the negotiations is the amount of time arguing over minor clauses that are out of proportion to its importance in the overall contact.

“Often a contract negotiation can drag on over long periods of time, sometimes very very minor things are blown out of proportion,” said Richard. “Then things have to be escalated.”

“Stress builds when contracts are prolonged, and we don’t want it to fall over. Aspect Legal gives good honest commercially focussed advice. They focus on addressing all the potential questions within the contracts, but help clients to put them into perceptive.”

“They understands it’s important to get an outcome everyone’s happy with, without dragging it out and losing momentum.”

Aspect has also build their understanding of the recruitment industry, to be able to support HHMC’s industry focus.

Recruitment can be an unusual industry. Because you are selling a service, not selling a product, the understanding of costs and terms can be somewhat blurred to someone who does not know it.” said Richard.

Whilst Aspect Legal did not start as an specialist in this area, they have taken time to better understand it in order to provide strong advice.

Joanna Oakey, Director at Aspect Legal, approaches her M&A assignments differently, and agrees that M&As require a particular style.

“Our role as legal counsel is to minimise the stress, and capitalise on the fact that everyone actually wants the same thing, the deal to close”

Aspect Legal are professional and provide good honest advice, a “down to earth” pragmatic approach with a nice personality to boot. I can’t ask for more than that.

“There’s a lot a stake with an M&A, and it’s not just financial,” says Joanna. “By the time, legal counsel gets involved, the people involved in the M&A have already invested a significant amount of time, energy and emotion into the deal.

“Our role as legal counsel is to minimise the stress, and capitalise on the fact that everyone actually wants the same thing, the deal to close.”

Richard believes that having great legal counsel ready helps to his clients at ease early in the deal.

“At the end of the day, in my world, both parties want the deal to finish well. We want positive outcomes. We don’t want it to fall over. Aspect Legal are professional and provide good honest advice, a “down to earth” pragmatic approach with a nice personality to boot, I can’t ask for more than that”