Hot 100: David Beech, Knights

Knights Solicitors managing partner David Beech (scroll down for video interview) is a man with a plan, and the plan is to turn the Midlands-based firm into a capital-rich business with a nimble management structure.

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Thanks to a capital injection from private equity house Hamilton Bradshaw, which is run by Dragons’ Den star James Caan, he is well on the way to achieving that.

The deal, which was granted SRA approval just before Christmas, went live on 1 January, meaning Beech now has sole responsibility for all management decisions at the firm, with backing from a small board that includes Caan and Hamilton Bradshaw finance director Andy Sumner.

Convincing partners to give up annual equity payments in favour of a structure designed to give a private equity investor a return on capital was never going to be easy, but if anyone was up to the job Beech was. Having previously run North West firm Heatons, he is also familiar with the private equity model, both as a legal adviser and an investor, so his knowledge of what the deal would entail was second to none.

While at Heatons Beech broke Allen & Overy’s exclusive relationship with now-defunct Icelandic investment group Baugur, advising it on a string of multimillion-pound deals such as the £110m acquisition of UK retailer Goldsmiths and £152m buyout of high street clothing chain Oasis. He also raised and managed a private equity fund, having left Heatons in 2005 to join private equity house Arev, where he managed a fund alongside former Baugur international operations chief Jon Scheving Thorsteinsson and former KPMG partner Andrew Manders.

“I previously managed a law firm and a private equity fund,” said Beech. “The thought of bringing the two together was exciting.” Groundbreaking stuff.