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Lewis Silkin advises Cirkle on “transformational” Employee Ownership restructure

26 April 2018

Leading law firm Lewis Silkin LLP has advised Cirkle, the PR and digital consultancy, on its move to become 60% owned by employees.

The new structure will see Cirkle’s 40-strong team take on majority ownership of the business, via the sale of 60% of the consultancy’s shares into an employee ownership trust (EOT). Founder and chairman Caroline Kinsey, who previously owned 100% of the business, retains 40% of the shareholding.

A team from Lewis Silkin, led by Matthew Rowbotham, who heads the firm’s Tax, Reward & Incentives group, with support from Jo Evans, a partner in the firm’s Corporate group, advised Cirkle on navigating the entirety of the process, including the legal and contractual changes that were required to establish the new EOT and associated changes to corporate governance.

Matthew Rowbotham commented:

“Employee ownership is becoming one of the most talked about alternative business models in the UK, and take-up is rapidly increasing as businesses of all stripes seek to emulate the success of early adopters like John Lewis. There are various benefits to utilising this relatively new model, not least being improved employee engagement and providing new opportunities for management to move a business on to the next level. It was a pleasure working with Caroline and the team at Cirkle to help them through this transformational process.”

Jo Evans commented:

“Particularly in the Advertising and Marketing sector, we are seeing founders and other leaders adopt a new mindset when it comes to legacy, expansion and impact, with the transfer of ownership to employees an increasingly attractive option. A lot of them will be looking at Cirkle with interest!”

Caroline Kinsey, founder and Chairman at Cirkle, said:

"The great thing about an EOT is that I am transferring a majority shareholding but preserving the integrity and continuity of the business and rewarding the contribution and loyalty of staff. As an agency recognised for our employee engagement, our culture and a real belief in and focus on our people and our team, this was the right structure. I could not have asked more from Lewis Silkin right from their initial proposal of this model as the right business solution for Cirkle through to the quality of their advice, their management of the process and their genuine desire to deliver the best outcome both for myself and all my team. They have been real partners at this major milestone in our journey.”

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