Burges Salmon shortlisted for Property Team of the Year at legal industry awards

Burges Salmon has been shortlisted in the Property Team of the Year category at the Legal Week British Legal Awards for its work advising the Co-operative Group on the sale of its Farms business.

22 October 2014

Burges Salmon has been shortlisted in the Property Team of the Year category at the forthcoming Legal Week British Legal Awards.

Reflecting the high quality client work that the firm continues to carry out in the Real Estate sector, Burges Salmon has been shortlisted for the work it has carried out advising the Co-operative Group on the sale of its Farms business for £249 million to the Wellcome Trust.

The sale reflects The Co-operative’s decision to focus on its core retail and consumer services divisions, including food, funeral care, general insurance and legal services.

The net proceeds of the Farms sale were used to further reduce The Co-operative’s debt and invest in its core businesses.

The sale of the business as a going concern incorporated The Co-operative’s existing farming operations, and included:

  • 15,997 hectares (39,533 acres) of freehold and third party owned land
  • 15 farms, including three pack houses
  • over 100 residential properties
  • 27 commercial properties.

Richard Pennycook, Interim Group Chief Executive of The Co-operative Group, said: 'The successful sale of our Farms business is another important development for The Co-operative Group.  The sale proceeds will enable us to further reduce our debt and progress with the delivery of the clear strategic plans we have in place for our core retail and consumer services’ divisions.

'In the Wellcome Trust we have a buyer whose values are closely aligned to those of The Co-operative. They have a proven track record in managing a sustainable investment portfolio, the proceeds of which are used to fund improvements in biomedical science and learning. The Wellcome Trust has acquired an excellent farming business characterised by the quality and professionalism of colleagues and high levels of customer service. I expect the farming business to continue to thrive under their committed long-term ownership.”

The Burges Salmon team was led by Real Estate partner Alastair Morrison and Corporate partner Nick Graves with support from a variety of lawyers and different teams from across the firm including Commercial, Employment, Tax, Banking and Pensions.

Alastair Morrison, a partner in Burges Salmon's Food, Farming and Land sector team, said: “The sale of the Co-operative Group’s English and Scottish farmland portfolio and of its Farms business is one of the largest rural land transactions in recent history. A cross-border transaction with a tight deadline, transferring such a large area of land through a company sale, requires organisation and dedication.

'I am very pleased that the team of partners, lawyers and various support staff, totalling over 40 over the course of the last eight months, was able to work so closely with our client and its other advisers, to produce a successful result.'

Judges for the awards, hosted annually by industry magazine Legal Week, noted that “The quality of the submissions has improved markedly in recent years and we are often impressed by the contenders' innovation, energy and commitment to the legal profession.”

Burges Salmon’s senior partner Alan Barr said: “We are delighted to receive further industry recognition by being shortlisted in this national awards programme. The accolade demonstrates the extremely high quality of work and excellent service that we continue to provide our clients with, in one of our core sectors. We wish all those involved the very best of luck.”

Winners of The Legal Week British Legal Awards will be announced at an awards dinner at Old Billingsgate Market in London on Thursday 27 November.

For more information, please visit The British Legal Awards website.

Key contact

Alastair Morrison

Alastair Morrison Partner

  • Real Estate
  • Food and Farming
  • Food and Farming Finance

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