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Scottish aviation company names Giles Wilson as new CEO

Aviation services business John Menzies – one of Scotland’s oldest and largest companies – has announced the appointment of Giles Wilson as chief executive with immediate effect.

He was named chief financial officer of the group in June 2016 and was made interim chief executive on 12 March this year on the departure of Forsyth Black.

Wilson joined the group in 2011, and has held senior roles including finance director of Menzies Aviation and senior vice president of African, Middle East and Indian Operations.

Menzies, which dates back to 1833 when it opened a bookshop on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, selling The Scotsman, said Wilson “brings great financial acumen and a deep knowledge of the aviation services market to this role”.

Chairman Dermot Smurfit said: “Giles provides excellent continuity whilst bringing great energy and enthusiasm to the role. He has strong relationships with our shareholding base, a sound understanding of our business, and is already tackling the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“The board are confident that Giles will provide strong leadership as we continue our drive to sustainably grow our business in the aviation services market.”

Wilson said his appointment comes at a “very exciting” time for Menzies. “We have a strong team in place and I look forward to working with them as we drive further efficiencies from the business, pursue sustainable organic growth, deliver excellent service to our customers and increase shareholder value.”

Black had been ratified as chief executive in September, returning Menzies to what it described at the time as a “more standard executive structure”.

EY appoints Ally Scott as managing partner of Scottish operations

EY has for the first time appointed someone who is not a chartered accountant to head its Scottish operation, and flagged major hiring plans.

Ally Scott, who joined the accountancy firm’s Scottish operation from banking giant Barclays in autumn 2016 as head of transaction advisory services, will succeed Mark Harvey as EY’s managing partner for Scotland on July 1. Mr Harvey will remain a partner of EY until next April, before joining car retailing giant Arnold Clark as chief financial officer in the summer of 2020.

A spokeswoman for EY confirmed that Mr Scott would be the first leader of the Scottish business who was not a chartered accountant.

EY highlighted its ambitions to increase its current Scottish workforce of about 1,000 by 25 per cent over the next 12 months.

The spokeswoman said: “We are going to be recruiting at all levels of seniority but also across all service lines. It is in all geographies as well. It is across the office network.”

EY has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen.

The accountancy firm noted Mr Scott had led the firm’s Scottish transaction advisory services practice to 15% and 21% growth in its last two financial years, “helping secure deals for prominent Scottish clients such as Simon Howie Group, QTS Group and Weir Group”.

EY noted Mr Harvey had, since taking on the Scotland managing partner role in 2015, raised the annual revenues of the accountancy firm’s Scottish business from about £100 million to £170m.

Mr Scott, who joined Royal Bank of Scotland as a 16-year-old trainee and worked for the Edinburgh-based institution from 1985 to 2005 before joining Barclays, said: “It’s a real honour to take up the role of managing partner. Under Mark’s leadership, EY has enjoyed significant growth in Scotland, securing notable client wins across all service lines and investing in our product offering to support a broader range of businesses.”

He added: “Our ambition to increase headcount to 1,250 staff across all levels in the next 12 months is a strong signal of our intent to build on that momentum. It’s an exciting time to be part of our business. Our continued investment in technology and automation has resulted in our Edinburgh office becoming EY’s UK centre of excellence in data analytics and provides our clients with an exceptional level of strategic insight and clarity in decision-making.”

The EY spokeswoman noted some of the new jobs would be in the data analytics, automation and digital area, but emphasised hiring would be broadly based, citing a ramping up of activity across assurance, advisory and tax operations.

Scottish Business PHOTO

Business Minister commends Scottish Industrial Strategy efforts

Speaking to over 50 business leaders at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) Annual Forum today (Friday 26 April), Lord Henley showcased how, through collaboration between UK and Scottish government, Scottish businesses and regions were “rising to the occasion” to meet some of the UK’s biggest challenges.

In particular he highlighted the importance of collaboration between the SCDI and government in supporting Scottish enterprise in recent years – with £87 million of UK government funding awarded to 163 Scottish organisations through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund since its launch in April 2017.

The government has also invested over £1.35 billion pounds across Scotland, as part of the City and Growth Deals, aimed at providing more power and flexibility to cities in terms of employment and skills, business support and housing.

Business Minister Lord Henley said:

From addressing the needs of an ageing society, to capitalising on the benefits of artificial intelligence, it’s brilliant to see first-hand how businesses in Scotland are thriving while tackling the UK’s grand challenges.

Through collaboration between business and the UK and Scottish governments, we can ensure that we continue to back Scottish businesses, boosting productivity and creating high quality, well paid jobs.

As part of his visit, Lord Henley met with life sciences company RoslinCT to see how £887,000 of government funding, awarded in October 2018, is being used to help develop stem cell therapies for clinical use.

He also met with scientists and academia from SynthSys, Edinburgh’s virtual centre for Synthetic Biology, to tour its flagship Genome Foundry, which is using robotics and automation to assemble DNA for medical applications.

IP AWARDS - ADVISORY EXCELLENCE

Double wins for Burness Paull and Brodies at IP awards

Burness Paull LLP and Brodies LLP have scored double wins for their intellectual property teams at an international awards ceremony.

The Managing IP Awards saw Burness Paull named winners of the Scottish Patent Contentious Firm of the Year and also Scottish Copyright Firm of the Year awards at the event which took place in the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London last week.

Brodies was recognised for the seventh consecutive year, picking up the awards for Scotland’s Trade Mark Contentious Firm of the Year and IP Transactions and Advisory Firm of the Year.

Brodies’ IP team received the awards in recognition of excellence in innovation and specialist intellectual property work over the past 12 months.

Burness Paull’s IP practice is led by Colin Hulme, the only Scottish IP litigator ranked as band 1 in Chambers UK and as a “leading individual” in Legal 500.

He said: “The patents award is reflective of the ongoing work we are doing with AstraZeneca in the Court of Session and acting for both operators and major service companies on patent disputes in Scotland and internationally in the oil and gas sector.

“The breadth of our practice is underlined by the copyright award in recognition of our work for significant rights-holder clients such as the Harris Tweed Authority, Sky, PPL, PRS for Music and the enforcement of their rights across Scotland ensures we are the heaviest user of the Scottish IP Court by some margin.”

Robert Buchan, partner and head of Brodies’ contentious IP team, said: “IP continues to be critical in safeguarding the future of many businesses, encouraging innovation and improving the bottom line. This year we have worked on international patent and trade mark disputes and high value IP transactions, as well as using the local Scottish courts to successfully protect valuable IP rights.

“Receiving these awards from Managing IP for the seventh consecutive year is a great honour, and is testament to the hard work of the team at Brodies, not to mention our clients, who we thank for continuing to trust us with challenging and interesting mandates.”

About Burness Paull LLP:

Lawyers like data. So here are the numbers:

We have over 530 people.

We operate from three offices.

This year we have worked on over £42.8bn of deals in more than 60 jurisdictions.

And we have one goal. To be the Best Scottish Law Firm in the World.

But it’s not the numbers that make us special.

Don’t take it from us. Take it from our clients.

Harte PHOTO

Morton Fraser chalks up 60% revenue growth over last five years

INDEPENDENT law firm Morton Fraser has chalked up revenue growth of nine per cent, topping the £20 million mark for annual billings for the first time in its history (£21.7m). It also saw profits soar 13% in the year to April 30, 2018, with revenue having grown 60% over the last five years.

The Scottish firm, which employs over 270 staff, attributed its growth to its investment in people. And it declared its strong commercial performance would result in another increase to Morton Fraser’s performance-related bonus scheme, which will reward all staff with up to 13% of their annual salary.

Chris Harte, chief executive, said that the quality of the team at Morton Fraser was the “one consistent factor underpinning this period of growth for our business”. Mr Harte said: “We have some exceptional talent and some of the best specialist teams in the country. The roster of truly independent Scottish firms is dwindling, and our focus on talent is setting us apart.”

Performance highlights included a “fantastic year” for the firm’s commercial real estate division, boosted by a strong performance in London. It also advised Rockspring on the purchase of 9-10 St Andrew Square in Edinburgh and BAM Properties on its role in the city’s largest speculative office development at Capital Square.

Morton Fraser’s corporate team played an integral part in Quattro Group’s multi-million-pound acquisition of Scotland’s big gest privately-owned plant hire operator, AB2000.

Mr Harte said that the firm, which merged with Macdonalds five years ago and has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, continued to work with longstanding clients including Diageo for which Morton Fraser is lead legal adviser for the global drinks giant’s commercial real estate work in the UK.

It also saw an increase in its international work, with a growing number of referrals through the global network Interlaw.

“It would be wrong to assume that a proudly independent firm in Scotland can only do business in Scotland,” Mr Harte said.

“Our connections and reputation extend not only into the City of London, but also internationally.

“We help overseas clients to assess their options here and also support domestic clients in other jurisdictions too,” he added. “We are the only Scottish firm in the Interlaw network but you still need a reputation for excellence to succeed internationally.”

The firm, said Mr Harte, had spent the last five years “getting into the right shape and investing in people”, and has increased its headcount by 30%. “That has been the bedrock of success for us,” he said. “A lot of people have been working really hard to get us to this stage and it is still about trying to retain and attract the right people.

“As we become more successful it makes it easier for us to have conversations with people we think might be interested in working for us and we have had people choose to relocate to Scotland rather than move to another firm in London, for example.”

There was also an increase in profits and turnover for international law firm Pinsent Masons which employs 540 staff in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Its unaudited results for 2017/18 showed a 6% increase in global turnover to £450m. Fees billed rose by 10% on the previous year. In the last five years, turnover has increased by more than 40% while profit growth has jumped by 60%.

The results follow a period of investment which has included setting up a technology and financial services-focused practice in Dublin. In the last year, Pinsent Masons has added an energy and infrastructure practice in Perth to complement its Australian business in Sydney and Melbourne.

LAW PHOTO

Law At Work acquires Aberdeen law firm

Aberdeen-based HR and employment law firm, Empire, has been acquired by Law At Work (LAW), in a deal that will combine Empire’s position in the North-East together with LAW’s strong Central Belt presence.

This transaction, which follows LAW’s acquisition of Square Circle HR in 2016, will see the new firm boast close to 1,000 clients UK-wide, with a projected combined turnover of £5.5m.

Empire and LAW bring fixed fee services to businesses facing legal and regulatory challenges for more than a decade. Clients of the newly combined firm will benefit from added knowledge and experience in existing sectors coupled with expertise in new areas. The new firm will have 70 staff across offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness providing nationwide coverage.

The new firm has plans to grow the business in both the North East and Central Belt regions. Under the deal, Empire founder and chief executive officer Steve Cook, and current managing director PJ Chalmers, remain with the business, joining the LAW board as directors and shareholders in LAW.

New group MD, Steve Cook from Empire, said: “We are two businesses which have known each other well for many years. We share the same aims and objectives: allowing clients to get on with growing their business, while we take their legal and compliance worries away. We are both already best in class but, through a combined offering, are now better placed than ever to set the standard others can only aspire to.”

Magnus Swanson from LAW, Chairman of the new group, added: “It is a great opportunity for us to provide the best support for UK businesses to meet the rising challenges of legal compliance while having the certainty and transparency of fixed fees. From GDPR to tribunals and health & safety compliance, pressure on busy employers has never been greater.

“The combination of the two businesses will enable both LAW and Empire clients to access new enhanced services. Businesses want advisors they can trust and this deal brings together two trusted advisers in their distinct markets to form the strongest consultancy in our field in Scotland.”

The debt funding for this deal was provided by HSBC. The advisors on the deal have been David Beveridge of Macdonald Henderson and Neil Grimmond of Craig Corporate on behalf of LAW and David Rennie of Stronachs and Tom Faichnie of Hall Morrice on behalf of Empire.

Ross Keenan, relationship director at HSBC in Scotland, said: “HSBC was delighted to provide funding to support Law At Work’s acquisition of Empire. We’re excited to play a role in the next stage of LAW’s continued development across Scotland.”