The first major challenge Nilema Bhakta-Jones (scroll down for video interview) took on following her promotion to group legal director at Emap in 2008 was to advise on one of Europe’s largest transactions in the media sector at the time.
In a deal worth more than £2bn, Emap sold its consumer magazines and radio businesses to German publisher H Bauer for £1.14bn, and sold its business-to-business magazine and events arm to Guardian Media Group and private equity firm Apax for about £1bn. Through the deal, Emap also delisted from the London Stock Exchange.
The whole transaction lasted around seven months and involved more than 250 participants. Although Bhakta-Jones was the only in-house counsel during the process, she successfully completed this enormous task by leveraging the external resources of a 30-lawyer team from Allen & Overy.
Bhakta-Jones was not allowed to rest on her laurels. With the arrival of new CEO Duncan Painter in 2011, the company split its business into four independent operating companies and rebranded the holding company as Top Right Group.
Bhakta-Jones was again at the centre of a major restructuring. This has kept her busy over the past year working on a staggering amount of legal matters, such as those relating to tax, trademarks, agreements revision and employment.
In parallel to the restructuring, she has advised the group on eight M&A transactions, including the disposal of CAP Motor Research to Montagu and the acquisition of an international exhibition portfolio.
As part of the group’s strategic review, it will focus its future growth on emerging markets overseas, particularly Brazil and China. Bhakta-Jones, therefore, has been entrusted to lead the process of setting up two wholly-owned foreign entities in China and two entities in Brazil.
To provide better support to the group’s new structure and new vision, Bhakta-Jones has also helped build up the in-house team with the hire of three new counsel. The enlarged team has been involved in a number of projects, including negotiating more than 40 significant material contracts which otherwise would have been outsourced.