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By Philip HoultClients of Bristol firm Burges Salmon and the London office of US firm Sidley & Austin won the top prizes at the fifth annual AIM Awards last week.Burges Salmon client Access Plus won the main award of best company. The print-related marketing services company joined AIM four years ago with a market capitalisation of £12m in a deal handled by the firm. Through a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions, Access Plus is now valued at £90m.Burges Salmon has acted for Access Plus and its founder Tim Brettell, who also won the entrepreneur of the year award, since the late 1980s, including its first venture capital investment by Charterhouse Venture Capital. The firm also advised on Access Plus’ AIM flotation in 1996 and on the £10m-plus purchase of Software Stationery Holdings in July.Godfrey said: “The key unifying feature of their success has been attributable to the strategic focus and drive of Tim Brettell.”Sidleys’ client Gameplay.com, which is looking to build the leading European online games community, won the best newcomer award. The firm has been acting for Gameplay.com since shortly after the company floated on AIM last August. In the last 12 months Sidleys has acted on several deals, including a £12.4m investment by BSkyB and a £19.7m joint venture with Dixons. Sidleys’ head of corporate, Mark Pinder, said: “This is the type of high-quality technology-based clients we are building our corporate practice around.”Other winners include Lawrence Graham client Inter-Alliance for best use of AIM. IP company Transense, which instructs Addleshaw Booth & Co and Swindon firm Clark Holt, won the best technology award.But receipt of an AIM award does not guarantee a healthy future. Independent Energy, which won last year’s best company award and reached a market capitalisation of £1bn before transferring to the main stock exchange, called in receivers last month after billing problems.

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