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Companies Reducing Poverty With Help From North East Lawyers

Friday, 9th August 2019

North East lawyers have acted for a Swiss business on its acquisition of a Durham company in a deal aimed at strengthening their work to reduce poverty and bring long term economic growth in poor countries.

The Springfield Centre for Business in Development Ltd (SFC) and Swisscontact Services AG have worked together on various projects around the world over the last 20 years and have now formalised their partnership with the help of solicitors at BHP Law and DWF.

BHP Law acted for Swisscontact, supporting the companys Swiss lawyer and handling the English legal issues on their behalf.

The Springfield Centre will become a subsidiary of Swisscontact but will retain its name, jobs and base in Durham, and continue to operate as a stand-alone, UK-based company.

BHP Law consultant Gary Copeland said: "The transaction involved multiple parties with two share purchase agreements entered into both under Swiss law and UK Law. This involved lawyers from Switzerland, ourselves advising Swisscontact, and DWF advising two of the selling UK shareholders.

"It was a pleasure to work alongside our Swiss and fellow North East colleagues to ensure the deal reached successful completion. It is a positive step for both organisations in terms of furthering their work to end poverty and we were pleased to play our part in the transaction."

Peter Bissegger, a member of the Executive Board of Swisscontact, said: "BHP Law provided us with professional advisory and support services relating to the successful acquisition of an UK based company. We are very satisfied with the overall quality of the relationship, services and support of BHP Law. The delivery of their services was both timely and relevant and the broad spectrum of advice requested was delivered well. Overall the services of BHP Law were provided in a professional and thoughtful manner."

Both SFC and Swisscontact share a mission to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods through sustainable and inclusive economic development.

By combining their expertise, they aim to address the many changes and challenges in global aid markets.

SFC, which was founded in 1996, has built a global reputation in inclusive market systems thinking and practice providing advisory, training and programme implementation support to target the poorest and disadvantaged.

Swisscontact promotes economic, social and ecological development by giving people the opportunity to improve their living conditions on their own. It boasts technical expertise in designing and managing large scale socio-economic development projects.
The two organisations have already pioneered new market development approaches, financed by the Swiss Development Cooperation and UK Aid, called Market Systems Development for the Poor, that have shaped systemic thinking in development around the globe.

Samuel Bon, CEO of Swisscontact, said: "We share the same values and are we are fully committed to continuing our mission to deliver more effective and better development to make a meaningful contribution to long-term economic growth in developing countries; creating jobs and increasing incomes.

"While continuing to provide advisory and training services, combining the two organisations is expected to provide opportunities to support larger programmes and to develop and deliver new services to corporate and philanthropic aid markets.
Together, they are committed to providing new, innovative solutions to development challenges in support of the United Nations-led global Agenda 2030, which is aimed at bringing about an end to poverty, and its related 17 sustainable development goals."

Jon Burns, CEO of Springfield Centre said: "Successful delivery will require new thinking, including the development of new delivery and financing models, new partnering models with the private sector, and the appropriate application of new technologies. In this context, the ability to deliver larger scale and lower cost high quality services is becoming a fact of life in our existing and emerging markets."

Photo: (Back row, L-R) Felix Mathis, Gary Copeland, Roland Kgi; (front row, L-R) Edwin Ulrich, Rachel Burns, Jonathan Burns, Samuel Bon, Peter Bissegger, Heinrich M. Lanz at the contract signing