Dorset's deal leaders celebrate an evening of success at the Solent Deals Awards 2024

By Tim Wickham [email protected]

Published: March 22, 2024 | Updated: 22nd March 2024

The region’s leading deals professionals were unveiled at the Solent Deals Awards 2024 with winners and finalists in 13 categories celebrating their outstanding achievements.

The highly popular and lively event brings together corporate finance advisers, lawyers, bankers, private equity investors, accountants, funding specialists and the management teams that have led the deals themselves.

The view from Award winners was that the region’s deal activity was strong in a challenging year.

Richard Thompson, Managing Director of the awards organiser of The Business Magazine, thanked the independent judges for their “tireless efforts” supporting the judging panel and helping to whittle down the entries to a shortlist of finalists and winners.

For the Small, Mid-range and Large Deal of the Year awards, the judges’ votes counted for 70% and voting by the audience on the night for 30%.

The event sponsors were James Cowper KrestonEllis Jones SolicitorsParis SmithMeridian Corporate FinancePangea LifeCMA RecruitmentMoore BarlowNatWestSightlineHampshire BizNews and Deal Ticket.

Held at the Hilton at the Ageas Bowl and hosted by TV presenter Mark Durden-Smith, the Solent Deals Awards also provided an opportunity for networking and charity fundraising.

This year, the Awards’ charity was the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Guests raised £3,600 on the night to help people living with or affected by MND. Further contributions will come from a silent auction in aid of the charity

And the winners are…

Private Equity Firm of the Year – sponsored by Moore Barlow

Winner: LDC

“We invest in local, high-growth businesses and are keen to do more deals and invest more in the region. Message Direct in Bournemouth was a standout deal for us – it is an exciting and growing business. LDC has a strong commitment to the region – we have always covered the area and I moved here recently which is a big testament to that commitment. Last year was slower for new deals but this year looks more promising. There’s more appetite for deals and we are there to back local management teams.” Jacob Leone, Investment Director, LDC


• Beech Tree Private Equity


• Meridian Growth Capital

• YFM Equity Partners

Non-bank Lender of the Year – sponsored by BizNews

Winner: SME Capital

“We had a record year in 2023 despite the impact of deal volumes, interest rates and inflation. The core SME market where we invest remained buoyant. We were involved in areas like succession planning and management buyouts. It’s always great to be able to support management teams, lenders and owner-managers. Looking ahead, the stabilisation of interest rates should play well in the market and we are well positioned to benefit from that.” Chris Collings, Regional Director, SME Capital

Finalist: MSP Capital

Due Diligence Team of the Year – sponsored by Ellis Jones Solicitors

Winner: RSM UK

“We can offer clients a more hands-on service as the ratio of partners to staff in our teams is higher than many other firms. Clients look for that level of experience and the ability to get it right first time. Last year was a bit of a rollercoaster with the market not as strong as it has been. The CLC deal, which won Large Deal of the Year, was pleasing as it used a lot of local advisers. We also work internationally, with our Southampton office involved in a lot of overseas deals, for example, US private equity firms using us as springboard for European deals.” Peter Vandervelde and Nick Williams, Partners, RSM UK



• James Cowper Kreston

• PwC

Bank of the Year – sponsored by James Cowper Kreston

Winner: NatWest

“Although last year was difficult compared with the previous few years we saw a lot of growth by many companies in the region. NatWest is rarely the most aggressive lender in the market but we do try to be the most consistent. We try to support businesses through their cycle and we have seen our book perform really strongly despite a difficult economic climate. Our team is a massive part of that success. They bring multiple disciplines that enable us to support businesses. I think the economic outlook could be a little tougher this year than last but good business will still grow and the Solent is a really strong region.” Anthony Donahue, Head of Corporate Banking, Solent Region, NatWest



• NatWest

• Santander

Lawyer of the Year – sponsored by Pangea Life

Winner: Oliver Kelly – BDB Pitmans

“I was involved in the Premier Marinas and Red Funnel deals, which were both Deal of the Year finalists. They are both long-standing clients and we do everything we can for them. Overall, it was a good year for us and we undertook a wide variety of deals on the buy side, sell side, investments and overseas inbound transactions. I think the next 12 months will be better than the last.” Oliver Kelly, Partner, BDB Pitmans


• Lucy Gleisner – Trethowans

• Jeremy Over – Moore Barlow LLP

• Lisa Sigalet – Shoosmiths

Corporate Finance Team of the Year – sponsored by Sightline

Winner: Meridian Corporate Finance

“Our local presence based in Southampton has always been important to us – it’s why we have never opened another office. We want to stay focused on the Solent region, with most of our deals coming from the area’s business owners and entrepreneurs. We are committed to bringing on our people and training them. Prabin Sunar, who won Young Dealmaker of the Year, is a great example of this. We also benefit from taking lawyers on six-month secondments, which helps us build our relationships with local law firms.” Michael Barcia, Director, Meridian Corporate Finance


• Azets Corporate Finance


• FRP Corporate Finance

• James Cowper Kreston

Banker of the Year – sponsored James Cowper Kreston

Winner: Simon Finch – NatWest

“Last year was better than the previous year for us and we are delighted to have this recognised by winning the award. A lot of our success is down to collaboration. That’s both internally, where we work together to deliver results, and externally where there are some great advisers in the region. As a team, we are optimistic about the year ahead. We have a better deal flow and pipeline entering 2024 than we did last year.” Simon Finch, Relationship Director, NatWest


• Ed Partridge – Santander

• Mikael Rosen – NatWest

• Antony White – NatWest

Corporate Finance Adviser of the Year – sponsored by Ellis Jones Solicitors

Winner: Darren Miller – FRP Corporate Finance

“The CLC deal, which won Large Deal of the Year, was a landmark transaction for us. It is such a well-known and successful business and it was a real privilege to be involved in helping on the deal. As a team of corporate advisers, we really want to deliver for our clients – it is what motivates us. I like to work on a small number of deals where I can be absolutely involved in every detail of the transaction. At the moment, everyone is having to work really hard to get deals over the line, but we feel optimistic that this year will be stronger than last year.” Darren Miller, Partner, FRP Corporate Finance


•Simon Davies – FRP Corporate Finance

• Rob Holmes – Azets Corporate Finance

• Philip Mettan – Meridian Corporate Finance

Law Firm of the Year – sponsored by Meridian Corporate Finance

Winner: Blake Morgan

“During the year, we were busy in a quiet market. We delivered a range of corporate transactions involving private and public companies. Our successes are about teamwork, not individuals. We have strength and depth and people play to their strengths across all the different markets we serve. It has been a good last 12 months and we look forward positively to the next year. There are a lot of companies out there looking to grow and drive forward.” Stephen Archibald, Partner, Blake Morgan


• BDB Pitmans

• Moore Barlow LLP

• Paris Smith

• Shoosmiths LLP

• Trethowans

Young Dealmaker of the Year (under 35) – sponsored by Deal Ticket

Winner: Prabin Sunar – Meridian Corporate Finance

“Working as both a financial adviser and managing investments gives me extra added perspective on deals, particularly from a long-term strategy viewpoint. I also sit on the Boards of companies, which is another long-term role. You don’t see the immediate results of what you do but it is nice watching things come to fruition later on. It helps you to be patient and appreciate the journey your clients are on. I think I’m proudest of the relationships I have built with people in the firm who have mentored me and with dealmakers in the region.” Prabin Sunar, Associate Director, Meridian Corporate Finance


• Leah Houghton – BDB Pitmans

• Louis Nutland – Azets Corporate Finance

• Guy Pope – BGF

Small Deal of the Year – sponsored by NatWest

Winner: Red Funnel acquisition of Hythe Ferries


• Computer & Network Consultants (CNC) sale to FluidOne

• Datashapa acquisition by Transparity

• GHG Solutions acquisition of AGB Risk Control Services and Jacksons Partnership

• MBO of Comparison Technologies

• South Coast Insulation Services acquisition of Cotswold Energy Group

Mid-Range Deal of the Year, £10m to £50m value – sponsored by CMA Recruitment Group

Winner: Jimmy’s Iced Coffee sale to Britvic Soft Drinks


• Aspect Ecology sale to APEM Group

• MBO of Message Direct, backed by LDC

• Premier Marinas’ acquisition of Trafalgar Wharf

• RiskSTOP Group sale to Ardonagh Advisory Broking

• Tran-Am acquisition by Duell Corporation of Finland

Large Deal of the Year (over £50m) – sponsored by Paris Smith

Winner: H.I.G. Capital acquisition of CLC Group


• Glory Global acquisition of Flooid

• Just Develop It acquisition of Total Security

• VesselsValue sale to Veson Nautical


To get the best of Dorset Biz News straight to your inbox every week, sign up for our newsletter!

Latest Posts

4th annual Poole Business Awards celebrate 'the backbone of the UK economy'

Ship shape performance as marine interior business celebrates triple win at the Christchurch Business Awards

Gozney and Lush recognised among best and brightest in Solent region

Dorset businesses and individuals triumph at seventh annual South Coast Property Awards

Launch of the 2024 Destination Management Board Tourism Awards celebrated in style

All Awards Stories »

Latest Posts

Economic growth on the horizon: Weymouth and Portland leaders unveil plans at 'Building Tomorrow' seminar

Newly-elected MP praises “impressive” recycling company after a tour of its 32-acre site in Parley

Dorset LEP highlights ‘One Health’ innovation at annual conference

Poole revs up for Emblem Sports Cars' 20th anniversary celebration

Biz Roundtable: Meeting the challenges of Dorset's tourism sector

All Latest News »