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Sponsored briefing: The influence of diversity in M&A

Emma Danks, partner and co-head of Taylor Wessing’s international corporate group shares her experience on how the M&A industry has evolved, the greater awareness of diversity and inclusion in private equity and the rising profile of female founders in the venture capital world

The three areas of M&A, private equity and venture capital are typically perceived as being among the toughest working cultures and one of the most competitive industries in the business world. With the client base being historically predominantly male, there was a perception that it was more difficult for new talent, and more diverse talent, to break through.

So, what has changed and how can the industry continue to maximise this to encourage the next generation of female talent to choose a career in M&A and related areas?

We have seen a significant change with an increasing number of women in client relationship and leadership roles. The lack of powerful women in M&A, private equity and venture capital by comparison to their male counterparts is shrinking – albeit their profile overall is still lower, and this is still a potential restriction to ensuring the success of the next generation of female stars in the industry.

The deliberate encouragement of networking opportunities and dedicated member groups and associations set up to champion more support and success, plus the great profile of successful female founders, has all helped. In conjunction, those female associates from the early years of the City surge in M&A and private equity deal making in the 2000s pre-financial crisis, when deal volumes hit new highs, are now reaching leadership roles in their respective firms and other organisations. The value derived from their roles is immeasurable and in many ways intangible – but is yielding results – with a strong cohort of successful corporate female partners leading deals and delivering successful results for clients time and time again.

The importance of diversity is clear, and much ‘louder’ than it used to be. More and more of our clients are championing diversity and inclusion through their demand for diverse panels of advisers, because they know these teams outperform and add a valuable depth of experience and diversity of ideas.

While no-one wants to hear the word pandemic again, it has fast-tracked opportunities for all lawyers to shape their own careers, with new ways of working that benefit everyone. Yes, in M&A, we will always have to prioritise the closing deadline, but it is not like it was 10 or 20 years ago when it was automatically assumed that male colleagues could be more flexible with their priorities – with the high-profile deals and best opportunities defaulting to them.

We look forward to more women coming into M&A, private equity and venture capital, helping to create a lasting legacy of positive impact for clients, organisations and the legal industry worldwide.

About the team

Covering 17 jurisdictions, our team of female M&A stars has an outstanding record in complex cross-border M&A, private equity and venture capital.

Emma Danks, partner

T: +44 20 7300 4718

Emma Danks is co-head of Taylor Wessing’s global corporate/M&A group and a member of the firm’s executive board. She is recognised as one of the UK’s leading private equity lawyers and is described by clients as bright, commercial, and solutions focused. Emma is well known for her work with private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies, having acted on a wide range of leveraged buyouts and related transactions. She also frequently advises private equity backed management teams on buyout transactions and equity plans.

Tandeep Minhas, partner

T: +44 20 7300 4244

Tandeep Minhas is head of Taylor Wessing’s corporate finance and equity capital markets team in the UK. She has more than 25 years’ experience in advising clients on all aspects of corporate finance and M&A activity.

Suzy Davis, partner, London

T: +44 20 7300 4266

Suzy Davis is a partner in Taylor Wessing’s private equity group. She regularly advises private equity funds and management teams on domestic and cross-border corporate transactions. Suzy also has experience acting on general M&A transactions for private companies and venture capital investments, particularly in the life sciences and healthcare sectors.

Siobhán Langwade, partner, London

T: +44 20 7300 7019

Siobhán Langwade is a partner in Taylor Wessing’s corporate group and is part of the corporate technology and life sciences team. Siobhán specialises in cross-border M&A in the technology and life sciences sector with a particular focus on North America. Siobhán also advises companies on growth financings and corporate restructurings.

Alexandra Richardson, partner, London

T: +44 20 7300 7167

Alexandra Richardson specialises in M&A and venture capital transactions, primarily in intellectual property-rich industries. She advises institutional, corporate, and individual investors and the companies they invest in on a wide range of corporate matters, from startup through to exit. This includes venture capital and growth capital investments, debt financings, and M&A.

Charlotte Whalley, senior counsel, London

T: +44 20 7300 7000

Charlotte Whalley is a senior counsel in Taylor Wessing’s corporate group and is part of the corporate finance team. She specialises in advising companies, investors and private shareholders on a broad range of corporate matters, including public and private M&A transactions, joint ventures and general corporate issues.

Rachel Mc Causland, associate, Dublin

T: +353 86 457 4042

Rachel Mc Causland is an associate in the corporate team and advises clients on buy and sell-side M&A transactions, joint ventures, and restructurings, particularly within the technology sector. Rachel also advises companies and investors on venture capital and growth equity financings and is experienced in structuring, negotiating, and executing these transactions on a domestic and cross-border basis, regularly working across Europe and the UK.

Sarah Cole, senior counsel, San Francisco

T: +1 415 559 3058

Sarah Cole is a dual-qualified (UK/California) senior counsel based in Taylor Wessing’s San Francisco office. Sarah specialises in advising predominantly North American life sciences and technology companies on M&A, venture investments and international growth in the UK and Europe.

Elinor Picton, senior counsel, London

T: +44 20 7300 7000

Elinor Picton is a senior counsel in the corporate group and is part of the corporate technology and life sciences team. She advises investors and technology-focused companies, including start-ups, on venture capital investments, M&A transactions and other general corporate matters.

About the firm

We are a full-service, international corporate practice. We can help throughout your business journey. From set-up and early-stage funding to larger investments like private equity and M&A, we act on buy-side and sell-side deals of all shapes and sizes. Whether it is an IPO, public takeover or private M&A, national or international, our extensive commercial experience will help make your transaction a success.

Our people are connected to their clients’ sectors and enjoy working at the forefront of new areas of law and regulation. Our specialist knowledge lets us identify potential challenges before they become issues, de-risk transactions and get you the best outcome possible.

Advising some of the world’s most innovative businesses means we are widely recognised for our deep expertise in technology, media and communications, life sciences and healthcare, real estate and energy, and private wealth. But we also have a strong background in cross-border M&A, capital markets and corporate restructuring for clients who are reshaping more traditional sectors such as financial services, consumer and industrials.

Our clients like our pragmatic approach and our ability to work globally as an integrated international team. If you would like to know more about how we can help, please get in touch.