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Whatever the market conditions, employers need to attract and retain the right individuals to ensure their businesses succeed. We assist our clients in the UK and overseas with structuring and implementing remuneration solutions to achieve that aim.

We advise on the design, implementation, maintenance, and winding-up of equity-based incentive plans, at all times ensuring that we offer highly focused and commercial advice based on our clients' needs.

Plans range from bespoke solutions for executives and management teams to cross-border, all-employee award programmes. Our advice covers:

  • Transactions – involving the most effective and tax-efficient ways to deal with existing share based awards on M&A transactions, IPOs and management and all employee buyouts.

  • New share plans - including the full range of approved plans in the UK, as well as more bespoke arrangements such as long term incentive plans and performance share plans, deferred bonus and matching share plans, joint share ownership or "split interest" plans, awards of restricted stock units and stock appreciation rights, together with hurdle share plans for venture capital or private equity backed private companies.

  • Employee benefit trusts – including their establishment either onshore or offshore (where we liaise with local advisers) as appropriate, and acting for trustees on their trustee obligations in relation to takeovers, the winding up of trusts, and the distribution of residuary assets to beneficiaries.

  • International share plans – on the roll-out of share plans globally using lawyers in our European offices and across our network of established contacts worldwide. We have particular expertise establishing UK sub-plans for US emerging growth corporations, and we cover plan design, regulatory and securities issues, tax, corporate governance compliance, employment and data protection.

  • Share valuations – negotiating and agreeing valuations with HMRC's valuation team as part of the process of implementing tax efficient share plans such as EMI and CSOP. Mark Gearing currently sits on HMRC's valuation subgroup committee.

  • Advice to individuals – working closely with our employment team advising senior executives and other key employees on entry and exit situations, ensuring equity awards are structured in the most tax efficient manner given the local jurisdiction.

We have been ranked in Legal 500 UK 2014 for Employee Share Schemes and our team has been described as 'excellent in every respect', with ‘an ability to get things right first time'.


Notable deals / highlights

  • Advised oil exploration company Trap Oil Group on the grant of pre-IPO options to management and a suite of new option plans adopted in relation to its listing on AIM.

  • Advised Versarien on the implementation of an enterprise management incentive option plan as part of its admission to trading on AIM.

  • Advised the majority sellers on the auction sale of the entire issued share capital of Xbridge, trading as Simply Business, on a management buyout supported by AnaCap Financial Partners, including advising the managers on their reinvestment into the holding company of the buyer.

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