Simon Nicholls

Joined firm 1996. Partner since 2005.

Simon is co-head of our Corporate and M&A group. His principal areas of work are public and private M&A, joint ventures, activism defence, governance, crisis management and investigations. He acts for a number of listed companies, including Babcock, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, John Wood Group, Morgan Advanced Materials, Ultra Electronics and Whitbread.

Simon is named as a leading individual in: 

    • the Corporate/M&A: High-end Capability section of Chambers UK, 2021
    • the M&A: Premium Deals of Legal500 2021

He is also a member of the Times Law Panel.

Highlights include advising:

  • GlaxoSmithKline on:
    • the demerger of its consumer healthcare business to form Haleon
    • the creation of its consumer healthcare joint venture with Pfizer
    • the divestment of Horlicks and other consumer healthcare nutrition brands to Unilever plc and the merger of Indian-listed GSK Consumer Healthcare Limited with Hindustan Unilever Limited
    • its buyout of Novartis' interest in their consumer healthcare joint venture
    • its three-part inter-conditional Vaccines, Oncology and Consumer Healthcare asset swap transaction with Novartis
    • its agreement with Pfizer to create ViiV Healthcare, a specialist HIV company
  • Whitbread on:
    • its £1 billion rights issue in May 2020 following the onset of Covid-19
    • its sale of Costa to The Coca-Cola Company and subsequent return of value via tender offer
    • various other transactions, including the disposal of its pubs and bars division, the disposal of its UK Marriott hotels, the sale of TGI Fridays and various hotel acquisitions for Premier Inn
  • Ultra Electronics on the recommended offer by Cobham
  • John Wood Group on:
    • the sale of its Built Environment consulting business to WSP Global 
    • the sale of its nuclear business to Jacobs Engineering
    • its recommended all-share offer for Amec Foster Wheeler
    • its acquisition of PSN, the UK aspects of the disposal of its Well Support Division to GE, and its subsequent return of cash to shareholders
  • Actelion on the $30 billion tender offer by Johnson & Johnson and the related demerger of a new R&D biotech company, Idorsia
  • Babcock on the sale of Context, a leading cyber defence consultancy, to Accenture
  • Diageo on:
    • its United Spirits acquisition in 2012 by private acquisition, preferential allotment and tender offer as well as the subsequent 2014 tender offer to increase its stake
    • the sale of its interests in Jamaican-listed Desnoes & Geddes and Malaysian-listed Guinness Anchor Berhad to Heineken and its acquisition of additional shares in Ghana-listed Guinness Ghana Breweries
    • various other transactions, including its intended transaction to increase its stake in its Nigerian listed subsidiary, Guinness Nigeria
  • Reliance Communications on its transaction with Maxis Communications Berhad to combine its wireless business with Aircel
  • Catlin on its recommended cash and share acquisition by XL Group
  • ViiV Healthcare on its agreement with Shionogi to acquire exclusive global rights to the Shionogi-ViiV Healthcare joint venture assets and under which Shionogi became a shareholder in ViiV Healthcare alongside GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer
  • Cazenove on the transaction with J.P. Morgan under which J.P. Morgan Cazenove became wholly-owned by J.P. Morgan
  • Corus on the competing bids by Tata Steel and CSN and the successful final offer by Tata Steel

“Simon Nicholls operates a broad practice with expertise in M&A and equity capital markets deals. He is leant upon by a stable of clients composed of listed companies and investment banks.” Chambers, 2023

"Simon Nicholls is a strategic legal thinker with a high degree of business acumen." Chambers, 2023

"He can add serious value when board discussions come into play. He picks things up at lightning pace and can draft quicker than other people can think." Chambers, 2023