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Legal Tie Up

Rik Pancholi of Pattersons Commercial Law, based in Ratby just outside Leicester, orchestrated the merger of his firm with Ashteds Solicitors who are also based in Leicester. Pattersons Commercial Law is renowned in the East Midlands for Corporate and Commercial legal expertise within sectors ranging from Accountancy, Financial Services and Retail to E-Commerce and Healthcare businesses to name but a few, Ashteds has maintained a strong reputation in Dispute Resolution and Corporate Insolvency lead by Ashwin Mody. Rik Pancholi (MD of Pattersons Commercial Law) commented that “I followed my instincts when looking to merge with Ashteds as I always wanted to find another firm which would be a perfect fit for Pattersons Commercial Law in order to further compliment the advice we offer to our clients.  Ashteds were the perfect marriage partner and together we will be stronger in the depth and breadth of advice we are able to offer going forwards under the Pattersons brand.” Ashwin Mody (MD of Ashteds) said “I have been in the legal sector for over 25 years so you can say that I have seen many things in my career but like the old adage goes, doctors make bad patients so I decided when embarking on this merger, to instruct Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers to deal with the sale as, having made the big decision to merge with Pattersons Commercial Law, I was content to leave the contractual negotiations with them.” Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton) said, “unlike most transactions where from time to time you find problems can escalate into deal-breakers, there was a real desire from both Pattersons Commercial Law and Ashteds to ensure that nothing should be a problem which could not be resolved and looking at the personalities and make up of both firms, I can genuinely say that the merger of these two firms is not a marriage of convenience but instead, the coming together of two reputable legal firms to create a formidable legal force within the East Midlands.”


Années folles

We started the year coming off a high from a business point of view knowing that the 2019 election gave Boris his majority which would put an end to the uncertainty of Brexit on the basis that the political paralysis was now broken. Then came the talk of the Budget and the pre-tax planning about removal of ER (aka Entrepreneurs Relief) which would hit SME owners hard. The results of this speculation consumed many professionals, both accountants and lawyers alike and took over as the main driver for their clients.  This concern did not prove unwarranted as the lifetime allowance for ER was reduced from £10m to £1m. This means that in a business sale in excess of £1m, the proceeds will be taxed at 20% and not 10%. This even made my speculations to the ER changes look too conservative and reminded me of a valuable lesson of always preparing for the unexpected. This is what those clients did in their pre-budget planning where they were able to do so. The detail of the changes to ER has been lost by the press in their budget commentary by the talk of emergency funding for the NHS, the ability to claim sick pay, business interruption loans, business rates being abolished for firms within leisure, hospitality and the retail sector and such like. But all of this is needed as you do not need to be an economist to know that the UK growth in 2020 will be severely curtailed as a result of the Coronavirus and will most likely be the slowest since 2009 as a result of the banking crisis. That brings me back to the point I always focus on which is productivity and how to do more with less. Businesses should learn and heed well the lessons taught from the Coronavirus, as businesses still need to function and deliver goods and services but with a contracting workforce so productivity improvements will have to be delivered if businesses are to survive and come through the shock of Coronavirus. It is at times like this that spark innovation as business has to “think out of the box” to deal with situations which it normally does not need to face maybe because a lot of businesses were within their own comfort zone. The message to businesses is to focus on the “bounce-back” and keep applying those productivity improvements and innovations in order to ensure that this decade can try and emulate some of the “Roaring Twenties” in the last century through the collaboration between the political elite and business to engender growth in order to prevent this decade from being another lost decade. 


Good Deal

Marex Spectron completed another acquisition. This time it was for a London-based Tangent Trading Ltd (‘Tangent Trading’). Tangent Trading is a leading scrap metals trading firm which can trade its roots back to 1985. Tangent Trading specialises in non-ferrous scrap metals trading, with a focus on copper and aluminium markets. A long-term member of the London Metal Exchange, Tangent Trading has an international network of customers and suppliers across Asia, Europe and North America. Tangent Trading will continue under the leadership of Darren Leigh and Robert Borland, who join Marex Spectron’s global metals franchise, which boasts one of the most experienced teams and broadest product ranges across base, precious and ferrous metals worldwide. Ian Lowitt, Marex Spectron Chief Executive, commented: “The scrap metal market is a new and exciting direction for our business as we continue to invest in and grow our market-leading metals franchise. This acquisition is part of a strategy focusing on expanding our offerings and developing our business in sustainable commodity sectors. We believe the recycled metal markets are poised for growth as environmental sustainability becomes more important to clients. Given the scale of our global network and balance sheet, there are significant opportunities to further develop the Tangent Trading business – making it an excellent fit for Marex.” Darren Leigh, CEO of Tangent Trading added: “We are excited to join the Marex Spectron family. Not only will we have access to new technologies and services, we will be in a great position to further enhance, strengthen and expand our global offering.” Tangent Trading were assisted by Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers who have worked with Tangent Trading for several years and have detailed knowledge of their background and operating model. Colin Rodrigues, Corporate Partner of HH said “as with any deal, time is the biggest enemy and there was a lot of ground to cover in a very short period of time, yet this was achieved as there was a true meeting of the minds between the parties”. David Price, Director of Price Pearson Accountants commented: “it has been a pleasure to work with Tangent Trading from the outset. Price Pearson have a long history with Tangent Trading and have a special affinity for them. We are delighted to help achieve the shareholders goals of continued growth and expansion through this acquisition by Marex Spectron.


Exit Brexit Growth

As we can finally see an end in sight to Brexit, we must now start to look to the future of the UK economy and try and influence the best way for the UK to deal with the challenges it will face in the post Brexit world. This leads me to an issue which I always express a strong opinion about as it is something I look to improve within my own firm on a continuing basis. In a word it is “productivity”. This has long been the curse of the UK economy as there are inefficiencies in what we do in the UK at work. Will the UK get back to the growth it achieved in the last decade? This was over 2% in real terms which can be translated down into the doubling of living standards every 35 years. But since the turn of the century, the UK growth figures have been well below this. Economists have mused and politicians have pondered over the reasons why productivity has been so low in the UK. Consensus has centred around the fact that the UK has been more focused on ensuring that (since the last financial crisis) those who are able and willing to seek employment gain employment and so the UK is close to full employment. Another conundrum is that, notwithstanding we have almost full employment within the UK, inflation is still at an all time low. In the post-Brexit world with the UK no longer being the magnet it once was for the younger mobile Europeans; the UK may not continue with this full employment so now the UK must concentrate all its efforts on productivity otherwise inevitably firms within the UK will have to raise prices to deal with demand. So, here is hoping that in a bid to achieve growth after Brexit we all play our part in lobbying those in the corridors of power so they do not just stop at HS2 Phase One but also agree to Phase Two. We need to encourage the government to give the green light to the building of the third runway at Heathrow and put more effort into improving the railways, rolling stock and the network of roads. Though in my view, what will make the most difference to productivity is 5G as this has the capability of improving connectivity and so hopefully be the long-awaited boost in the arm to UK plc which can make the real difference to the UK’s productivity. We can all do our part and we should ensure that businesses continue to invest in plant and training for future capability. But as with everything, big or small, it comes at a price. So, if there is an increase in taxes in the fourth coming budget, as some suspect, let’s hope that the extra revenue is put to good use to create this extra capacity for the UK’s post Brexit economy as a spring board for future growth.


No Toil for Tollgate

Tollgate Products Limited recently went through a management buyout under which the existing owners principally led by Edward Sneade (all of whom helped steer Tollgate over the last 45 years) made way for the existing management team to come in and continue to build on Tollgate’s success and experience. The management team led by Donna Nicholas, included Darron Shepherd, Phil Shieber and Angela Thompson, all of whom are long standing employees of Tollgate and have contributed to it being a leader in the UK within the cubicle hardware sector. This status has been achieved through Tollgates’ excellent service and flexibility whilst never compromising on its ability to be responsive and providing unrivalled customer support. Donna Nicholas said “as a team, Darron, Philip, Angela and myself, have always worked together to help deliver the results and customer service that people expect from Tollgate. Therefore, for us, it is the start of a new journey and something which we have long relished and are keen to ensure that we fulfil.” In order to facilitate Tollgate’s MBO, the management team enlisted the help of Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers and HSBC UK Bank Plc. Stuart Smith, an experienced senior commercial manager within HSBC led the transaction on behalf of HSBC and said that “as with any MBO, it is all about the management team and their ability to work together as a team in order to put the needs of the business first. Having looked at Donna and the rest of her MBO team, I am confident in saying that they will continue to make Tollgate a success and ensure that it achieves the recognition that it deserves for its superior products and services.” Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner of Hawkins Hatton) said “I have long known that the name and reputation of Tollgate is that of a one-stop-shop for cubicle and architectural hardware. What I did not appreciate is how vast and diverse the business of Tollgate is and having worked with Donna and the rest of the MBO team, I can clearly see that their ambitions for the success of Tollgate will be realised and thereby create an even stronger and better business focused on its strong product range and loyal customer base.


Déjà vu

I recall writing an article last year headed “Jaw Jaw Not War War” based on that famous quote from Winston Churchill when talking about potential international trade wars. It is déjà vu that at the start of 2020, when looking back at the tension in 2019 that existed between the US and China over trade and how this started to affect the world economy as a whole, that we are back here again, but this time between the US and EU, whilst China and the US have started to resolve their trade differences by the “Phase One” deal. The trade war is now a lot closer to home as this month, the EU and the US are meeting in America to discuss a long list of trade issues which are causing tension between the two trading blocks. This has the possibility to become the biggest news story of 2020 if agreement cannot reached quickly as it effects products as esoteric as artisan cheese and single malt whiskey. The tension on the US side has started to build up due to the French digital service tax (“DST”). The DST is a 3% tax on the revenue of digital companies providing advertising services within France, which was given effect by President Macron in July 2019. To avoid a drastic outcome that would more likely effect the EU more than the US, it is hoped that Phil Hogan, the EU Trade Commissioner, will be able to get a reset on EU/US trade relations, but this will only be achieved if they can sort out the big issues that have caused the US to impose these tariffs. These tariffs have come about due to the unease felt by the US over aircraft subsidies that have been given by the Europeans to Airbus and the fact that now Airbus has just overtaken Boeing as the biggest aircraft manufacturer in the world by the number of planes sold. If progress cannot be achieved, as I said, it will be the EU that suffers more because of the very nature of the US economy being more insular and closed, as opposed to the EU which is more driven by export. As with everything over trade, any resolution will be politically driven, especially given the backdrop of the pending election in the US and Trump’s mantra of “America first”, so if anything, the EU may only in reality, achieve a mini deal, a similar deal to the one that Japan has recently done with the US and/or a deal similar to that with China the “Phase One” deal, though only time will tell.


A Towering Success

It was at the beginning of 2019 that HH launched its London venture. This was undertaken in the first instance by an inaugural dinner held in the Palace of Westminster at which some key contacts and clients were invited. Since the launch earlier this year, HH has continued to build on expanding its footprint within London. This has also been demonstrated by its recent event which was held in the Engine Room at Tower Bridge at which over 60 key contacts attended including some famous names such as Bobby Zamora and Mark Noble as well as the “tax timelord” Peter Rayney (Deputy President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation). HH has concentrated on developing its relationships with its London contacts by using the same tried and tested formula of good client service and transparent fees all of which is framed around commercial advice. HH has not taken its focus away from its Midlands roots and has continued to also expand its professional contacts and client base within the Midlands. All of this has meant that HH has been involved in a number of key transactions which have earned their place as being some of the major or prestigious transactions of that kind in that sector within the Midlands region. The three main areas HH continues to focus on are; M&A, Real Estate and Dispute Resolution. HH works well with other firms in respect of employment and private client work. HH has gained recognition for its areas of specialisms from clients, professional contacts, including accountants and financial institutions. HH is going to commemorate its 15-year anniversary next year, it has been a long journey in a short time and it has been a long ladder to climb. Colin Rodrigues, Corporate Partner said: “you have to keep moving forward as time does not standstill and in these ever-changing times, you are only as good as your last deal. In recent years, we have seen many people in firms come and go, as long as you stay true to your principles you are always able to move forward and innovate which is the key to being an effective law firm”. Harminder Sandhu, Managing Partner said: “in 15-years, I have seen so many changes, but change is always good as it keeps everybody on their toes. I still have a passion for law and as long as this continues, I will always strive to ensure that HH continues to achieve the goals and recognition that it deserves.”


Funding for schools

Schools Advisory Service (SAS) is the UK’s largest insurance services provider within the educational sector, insuring over 4,000 schools nationwide. The reason why SAS continues to be the market leader in its industry is because SAS puts relationships with its customers, at the heart of its business model. John Brady, (the MD of SAS) said “I have always ensured that my unique understanding of insurance and specialist support services required by customers within the educational sector has meant that I can ensure that year on year, SAS will continue to meet the needs of our customers and so, remain relevant to them as it is our goal to ensure that we support them.” To this end, John Brady turned to Shawbrook Bank rather than the usual list of high street lenders, as he wanted somebody who understood his business in detail, as he believes that whenever you do business, relationships are the key element. With Shawbrook Bank’s support, SAS will continue its growth so that not only will SAS remain relevant to its customers, but it will also become synonymous whenever anybody talks about insurance within the educational sector. SAS utilised the services of Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers who have, for a number of years, been the cornerstone of legal support within SAS’ business. Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers) said “I agree with John that relationships are a cornerstone of business dealings and it has been a great pleasure for HH to help John in a small part in his journey to ensure that SAS achieves and continues to achieve all of its goals within its business.


A new extension for AMG

AMG is the oldest, privately owned building contractor in Wolverhampton whose heritage goes back over 120 years. In its long history, AMG has seen many changes within its industry and weathered many storms. Richard Green (the MD of AMG), wants AMG to continue its growth and expansion of the company into the future. Stanford Construction (“Stanford”), was founded and run by Nigel Turner. Stanford has a strong reputation within the construction industry for trusted service and satisfied customers. Richard Green felt that Stanford would be a good partner for AMG as it shares the same core values as AMG. With AMG’s focus being on larger contracts up to £10m, Stanford is a perfect fit to the AMG stable as it will compliment clients of AMG who need services on small works of up to £1m in value. AMG has had a long association with Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers and it was only natural for Richard Green to ask them to continue to provide assistance when he decided to embark on this venture of taking Stanford into the AMG stable. Richard Green said that having good advisors around you makes corporate deals goes easier in the same ways, as having good contractors allows projects to run smoothly.


A Brisko Deal

Taurani Holdings Group (THL) is regarded by everyone in the industry as one of the UK’s most competitive and custom, steel stockholder specialists specialising in wholesale, large quantity and bulk-order steel supply. Its flagship company Brisko Metal resources has already got steel supply capabilities and its dispatch depot in Ipswich provides competitive steel supply for UK and global buyers, clients and customers. In order to continue the growth of the group, it has recently taken over ParkerSteel, whose existing business within the UK means that the group can now supply a wide variety of steel and aluminium products to industries across the south of England. ParkerSteel built its reputation on high quality steel designed to suit the needs of various manufacturing and construction industries. Given the synergies between Brisko and ParkerSteel, it made sense for THL to look to ParkerSteel when it was looking to expand its operation within the UK. Lalit Premchandani, the MD of Brisko, said that “with the combination of the two businesses now working together as one, we will be a formidable presence within the steel industry, able to meet customer’s expectations and requirements for steel processing services with tight deadlines”. THL was assisted by Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers, Colin Rodrigues, corporate partner said that this was a particularly difficult deal, given the size of the transaction, the number of locations through which they operated, the number of employees and the very short window within which we had to complete the deal. But as with everything, provided that a logical approach is taken, difficulties can be overcome and a swift completion was achieved.” Ed Thompson, from Lancaster Haskins LTD, who provided corporate finance advice to THL, said that “every deal has its unique attributes and this one was no exception, however, working as a team, we have managed to achieve the outcome that everybody was looking for.”


A new specialism

Jerroms Accountants and Business Advisers (“Jerroms”) have recently embarked on a new journey which has seen them move from their old office to a new purpose-built building in Lumaneri House, Blythe Valley, Solihull. Jerroms’ journey has been the vision of its four directors; Mark Eden (Managing Director), Lucas Markou, Neill Currie and Richard Horton who have spearheaded Jerroms into becoming one of the go to firms in the Midlands for business and financial solutions which is not based in Birmingham City Centre. Jerroms continue to further their journey, having recently merged with Blue Sky Corporate Finance, headed up by Paul Heaven, to gain their own in-house specialist corporate finance division. This complements their existing service provision and means that Jerroms can now offer a full suite of financial and business advisory services, from accountancy and tax planning to corporate finance and wealth advice. Jerroms has grown significantly over the last few years and during this time they have been aided by sound commercial advice from Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers, who have assisted them in achieving their goals.   Mark Eden said “we aim to position Jerroms as a shining light in the world of business advisers within the Midlands and it is good to work with a strong legal team”.


The future is bright, the future in white goods is Axon

Axon has long been regarded as the UK’s leading wholesaler of quality catering equipment since its inception over 30 years ago. Axon’s reputation is legendary given its ability and expertise to source the highest quality and widest range of white goods and catering equipment for businesses far and wide. Axon has always understood that being a trade dealer means that you cannot simply compete on pricing, you need a service. As such, Axon supports its trade customers every step of the way to ensure that the process for them in purchasing goods, is made as smooth as possible and that their orders are efficiently dealt with. Jan Allen, who has been with Axon for many years has now led the management buyout through which she is now going to help continue the smooth running of the business and build on the strength and core values, which Axon has always had. Jan Allen said: “in the same way that Axon is a reliable partner for their trade customers, we needed reliable partners to help assist us through the process and we found that in Chris Steele and Harvey Owen from Nicklin LLP as well as Colin Rodrigues from Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers”. Colin Rodrigues said: “any management buyout is fraught with difficulties and just because the parties know each other well, it does not mean that there are no obstacles to overcome. Sometimes conversations are more difficult with people you know than third parties, but Jan was able to negotiate the roadblocks to help achieve a successful outcome”. Chris Steele and Harvey Owen said that “whenever you are looking to buy, figures play a big part in the transaction, but provided that you have sensible cashflows and protections which are based on a solid foundation, then you tend to find that everything will go according to plan subject to always having an element for contingencies”.


The Title of my New Book

I usually prepare an article a week in advance of having to submit it on the basis that I take my inspiration from the latest world events and how they affect UK PLC. This has been one of those rare occasions when knowing what has happened in the last 14 days and what is yet to happen, I know everything I am commenting on will be over taken by new events. “Do or Die” or “Dead in a Ditch” could be the book titles where the “Big Boss” called Borris is the lead who uses a secret weapon called the “Proroguing Missile”. Who could have predicted the events that have just unfolded in parliament? Could this also be the basis for a real-life soap opera based on political intrigue, with the audience being the EU and the rest of the world? Staying with the book analogy, the main theme is based around rivalries of three families who are vying for control. The Tory family, have “clipped” their critics tantamount to a “mob hit” and cleared out dissent by removing the whip from 21 MPs when they least expected it. Whilst the other fractious family known as Labour are trying to coalesce around their “Don” Corbyn and the smaller SNP family, cannot be ignored as they are using the adage of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” when having had a “sit-down” with the Labour family.  The power struggle within the Labour family is still rumbling on beneath the surface meaning that they are not ready to take on the Torys in the “shoot-out” known as the election. Will the Labour family continue to play for time with the SNP under their new alliance or will it break down if something more unexpected happens and we find that the proroguing missile was not the only new weapon in Boris’ arsenal? I will leave it to you to speculate whether these other weapons could be the “Big Boss” stepping down and allowing the Don to seek the extension from the EU knowing that because the Labour family is divided the Don may be “whacked”, not by his family but by the “gangbusters” known as the electorate when the election inevitably happens.


Free Trade Rules Africa

The countries within the African continent are on the verge of entering into a new deal for free trade, which will hopefully be the spur that drives the continent into realising the potential that has always existed within Africa. Since the roll back of the colonial tide in Africa, cohesion between the African countries left behind has been difficult due to rivalries between nations and political divides some of which have never been reconciled. However, in recent times China has focused in on the African continent with the view to gaining access to the rich resources of the African continent. Over 80% of Africa’s exports are shipped overseas, mainly to the European Union (EU), China and the US. This new free trade deal has a very original name being ‘’The African Continental Free Trade Area’’ (“AfCFTA”). With the back drop of Brexit, will this give the UK, with its historic links in the African continent, an opportunity to find many new trading partners sitting within one trading block? The purpose of AfCFTA in their words is to “Accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.” Nigeria has just joined AfCFTA along with South Africa. This means that the largest nation in Africa and the most developed nation in Africa are now part of AfCFTA, making up 52 out of the 54 nations in Africa, giving access to a population of over 1.25 billion people. It is hoped that in time when AfCFTA has completed the operational phase it will be a formidable force on the basis that it will be the largest free trade area in the world allowing intraregional trade between the African nations to grow from around the existing 15% to maybe replicate the figures between the countries in North America which is currently about 40% and in Western Europe which is about 60%. AfCFTA will obviate the need for VISAs and break down barriers of trade. There will always be barriers to trade though I do appreciate there will be tough negotiations trying to agree and adopt common standards, but if countries like Nigeria can put aside their concerns about being a dumping ground for other low cost African nations, there will be a bright future for AfCFTA.


Never too Big to Care

John Brierley, (MD of Signis Group) spearheaded the formation of the Signis Group back in 2014 by bringing together various businesses including “tri.x” and “Reconstruct”. The purpose of this group was to provide both online procedure manuals as well as providing safeguarding, child protection training, consultancy and independent children's services in one entity. John had a lot of knowledge and experience within the social care sector and he wanted to continue to grow the group. That is why he felt it was a natural step for him to find another partner for the Signis Group. The new partner is Carter Brown which John knew was fast paced and dynamic enough to help continue the growth of the Signis Group. Carter Brown is based in Mansfield and has its roots within children and family work. Carter Brown’s ethos revolves around providing a high-quality service and offering specialised expert witness assessments for family law cases. It has developed and expanded across the UK to become the largest provider of multidisciplinary assessments, widening its specialism to include reporting directly to Local Authorities and within Criminal Law, Asylum and Immigration, Mental Health Tribunals, Panels and Pre-Proceedings. Hawkins Hatton assisted John Brierley and Signis Group in the legal process. Colin Rodrigues said that: “having worked with John for over 10 years on various matters it has become clear to me that it is not just a question of having a vision it is a question of delivering that vision and making it become a reality and John has this unique ability to do both.” John Brierley said that: “having formed the Signis Group and ensured that it was relevant within the sector of social care for children I wanted to ensure that there would be continued success so it seemed natural to pass the baton on to Carter Brown who would help the Signis Group grow and expand to have a national footprint”.


Refreshingly Different

Our team of experienced lawyers came together to form Hawkins Hatton in 2006 with the single ambition of creating a different type of practice. One that not only delivers the desired results for our clients, but puts the smooth running of their business and life at the forefront of everything we do. Our ethos is built on total personal support, regardless of whether we are reacting to a client crisis within a moment's notice or pro-actively advising on a complicated legal or commercial issue. By bringing clear thinking to legal complexities, and responding to often challenging deadlines we help take the pressure off our clients. Through a highly dedicated, hand-picked professional team, our clients have access to vast experience within the firm. Achieving the results you require, means understanding your business, and your personal aspirations. In short, working alongside you as your legal partner.



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Refreshingly Different

Our team of experienced lawyers came together to form Hawkins Hatton in 2006 with the single ambition of creating a different type of practice. One that not only delivers the desired results for our clients, but puts the smooth running of their business and life at the forefront of everything we do.

Our ethos is built on total personal support, regardless of whether we are reacting to a client crisis within a moment's notice or pro-actively advising on a complicated legal or commercial issue.

By bringing clear thinking to legal complexities, and responding to often challenging deadlines we help take the pressure off our clients.

Through a highly dedicated, hand-picked professional team, our clients have access to vast experience within the firm. Achieving the results you require, means understanding your business, and your personal aspirations. In short, working alongside you as your legal partner.

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Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers Ltd.
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