Shoosmiths takes the high road as new hotels group seals maiden deal

Shoosmiths takes the high road as new hotels group seals maiden deal


Author: Kara Shadbolt

The Manchester-based corporate team at national law firm Shoosmiths has completed the first of what it expects to be many acquisitions for an ambitious new private equity-backed hotel group.

The team led by partner Karen Procter acted for London-based investor Downing LLP on its acquisition of Dunkeld House, an historic hotel in the Scottish Highlands.

Downing has backed three experienced hotel operators, Arnold Schnegg, James Hawksworth and Joe McMahon in their purchase of the four-star Perthshire-based property.

The trio previously successfully built up and then sold Hallmark Hotels for £75m in 2014 - and have now embarked on a buy and build venture with the backing of Downing LLP.

Karen Procter said: 'We are delighted to be working with another leading private equity investor out of the Manchester office. We have extensive experience of working with driven, ambitious PE-backed management teams who are on the acquisitions trail. For example we have completed more than 50 bolt-on deals for Chase Templeton under the ownership of Palatine Private Equity.

'We previously worked with the guys when they were at Hallmark and it's great to be working with them again. I know they will look at more acquisitions in the coming months.'

Arnold Schnegg, chief executive of Dunkeld House Hotel LLP and the former CEO for Hallmark said: 'We have been working with Downing for over a year and considering a number of acquisition opportunities. I hope this will be the first of many success stories as we look to build a group of managed hotels.

'The Shoosmiths team did an exceptional job on the acquisition - really impressive, thorough, professional, helpful and efficient, all we could ask for.

Dunkeld House finance director James Hawksworth added: 'Although this was the first acquisition in a new venture with new funders we chose Shoosmiths due to the high quality of the work they had previously performed at our former hotel company.

'Shoosmiths has an extremely good knowledge of what is important in Hotel transactions hence it was our preference to continue to use them. The work performed on the acquisition, funding and property documents was of a very high quality and done in an efficient manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone else in our industry.'