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Square One Law advises on financial services acquisition

Newcastle law firm Square One Law has advised financial services firm Moneygate Group on the acquisition of a controlling stake in Watermark Financial Solutions, a discretionary fund management business, which has since been re-branded Marketstar Investment Management.

Jeremy Swift, Head of Corporate at Square One Law

The deal will enable Moneygate to provide its clients with the option of a full discretionary fund management service alongside its ever-increasing national network of independent financial advisers. The firm will be operated by the current chief executive of Watermark, Mark Woods, who retains a stake in the business.As part of the transaction, which was completed in February 2013, Moneygate also acquired a minority stake in Watermark Wealth Management, the client-facing independent financial adviser arm of the Watermark business. Both acquisitions were structured in a way that allows Moneygate to alter its stake in the Watermark entities provided that certain conditions are met.

The transaction was a collaborative effect between the parties concerned which reflected the deal dynamic going forward based on the complimentary relationship between Moneygate Group and Mark Woods, who was also appointed as Investment Officer of Marketstar.

Mark Woods said: “I am looking forward to bringing the extensive experience of the team to the table at what is a very exciting time for Moneygate Group as it looks to continue its rapid expansion.”

Lee Hartley, Chief Executive of Moneygate Group said: “The team at Square One Law provided an excellent service throughout this transaction.

“Jeremy and his colleagues worked with us in structuring the transaction by providing constructive and real-world commercial advice without unnecessary legalise. We were offered solutions rather than mere options which appear to embody what Square One Law is about and we look forward to working with them on transactions going forward.”

Square One Law’s team was led by Head of Corporate Jeremy Swift and supported by Marie-Louise Bozonet and Jemil Visram whilst Mark and Michelle Woods, the sellers of the Watermark entities, were advised by Bristol-based Ashfords.

Jeremy Swift said: “Over the last few months we have established an excellent working relationship with Moneygate Group and we are pleased that our first major acquisition has successfully completed. The Watermark acquisition required careful consideration as to when, and how, Moneygate’s shareholding could be altered dependant on the success of the business and I am pleased that all the parties were satisfied by the solution devised.

“We have advised Moneygate Group on a number of other transactions in the last couple of months on a deferred buy out basis whereby they acquire a minority stake of an independent financial adviser business with an option to acquire the entirety at a later date.

“We have worked closely with the Moneygate team to refine an acquisition process which has successfully been used to absorb Surrey-based Group Rapport, Stoke-based Murfitt Financial and Fife-based Sharp Financial Solutions, to name but a few, and we look forward to working with the Moneygate team on future transactions.”

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