The Merlin Partners Team

Understanding the client: Merlin's professionals have all worked in businesses that we seek as clients. Merlin is an entrepreneurial business and understands the pressures of businesses as they develop.

Matthew Clarke

Principal and Founder

Matthew Clarke is the founder of Merlin. He practised as an international finance lawyer at Linklaters from 1988-1998 working in London, New York and Hong Kong.

From 1996-2001 he was a director at the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. Limited, where he carried out numerous natural resource transactions in emerging markets.

He founded the company as Montrose Partners Ltd. in 2002 and turned it into a regulated LLP in 2006. In 2011, he changed the company name to Merlin Partners LLP. Matthew also sits on the Boards of several private natural resource businesses.

Maria de Freitas

Company Secretary

While pursuing her legal career, Maria de Freitas specialised in public interest law. She has worked for both the European Court of Human Rights and The Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. Upon returning to the UK, Maria worked for Sage Pay and the Royal Mail Group, where she added financial and office administration to her portfolio of skills and knowledge.

She graduated in 2002 from Spiru Haret University in Bucharest with a BSc 2:1 in LLB Law. Maria continued her studies in the UK, graduating from the University of the West of England in 2011, earning a BSc (Hons) 2:1 in LLB Law.

Maria joined Merlin Partners LLP in July 2019.

Dominic Hughes


Dominic Hughes has been advising companies on raising capital since 1994 and has IPO’d companies from Beirut to London and most markets in between. Starting as a front-line equity salesman, he has gone on to build equity advisory businesses for institutions including Flemings, Dresdner Kleinwort and, most recently, Berenberg.

He has advised clients in a wide variety of sectors and situations, ranging from IPO to complex cross-border public M&A and from banks to bar owners. He has been working as an independent advisor since 2013, initially at STJ Advisors, the leading IPO-only specialist.

He joined the team at Merlin in 2017.

Ashleigh Ruxton


Ashleigh Ruxton spent several years on the Institutional Equity Sales team at GMP Securities, specialising in mining, energy and agriculture. Prior to that, she worked in the interests of Close Asset Management as an analyst on the Pan-European Equity Fund, managing their collective investments and serving as their senior relationship manager.

In 2007 Ashleigh graduated from the University of Oxford with a Master of Chemistry and went on to do her Post-Graduate in Entrepreneurship, founding the Foldeez shoes company, in Cape Town.

Ashleigh joined Merlin in early 2014

Desmond Woods


Desmond started his career as an analyst with JB Equity, a corporate finance advisor in Edinburgh, focused on the global agriculture and agri-technology sectors. He worked on transactions in South America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018 he relocated to Sub-Saharan Africa, overseeing the regional expansion of a major Southern African food business in Malawi and Tanzania. Whilst in Malawi, Desmond joined the investment team of African Lakes Company, the Malawi-focused Scottish investment company. Desmond holds a master’s degree in International Banking and Finance from the University of Edinburgh and LLB from the University of Aberdeen.

Desmond joined Merlin in 2019

Henry Clarke


Henry Clarke began his career at Kitcat and Aitken in 1982, prior to running the sales desk for Bank Sarasin in London for eight years. He later founded the highly successful distressed debt unit at Collins Stewart.

In 1996, Henry launched his own venture and private equity business, Trafalgar 1805 Ltd., investors in successful mining, engineering, software, manufacturing, biotech, med-tech, and oil & gas businesses, and served on the boards of many among them. In 2011, he co-founded Stone Drum Partners, and manages its Resources Early Stage Opportunities Company.

Neil Jamieson


Neil began his career in financial services in 1982 with Gordon Capital Corporation. After 11 years, he became executive vice-president of Midland Walwyn Capital (Merrill Lynch Canada) and co-managing their Capital Markets division. In 1994, Neil became a shareholder, director and vice-president of Lincluden Management Limited as a senior investment counsellor and portfolio manager. In 2012, he formed NNP Capital Partners Ltd. to provide diversified advisory services to a broad base of Canadian, European and Caribbean companies as an executive director, non-executive board member, M&A advisor and investment banking financial advisor.

Neil joined Merlin in 2019

Mark Vickers


Mark Vickers has worked for over 28 years as an adviser, analyst, private equity investor and credit risk manager in project, structured and corporate finance.

He began his career at Linklaters, working in London, Frankfurt and Singapore with a focus on the energy and infrastructure sectors. His career in banking and commerce has involved working (in various roles) for BAT Industries, Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, WS Atkins, Commerzbank, TCW, Standard Chartered and The Crown Estate. Latterly, he was the Director of Project Finance for NuGen’s 3.8GW nuclear power project at Moorside in West Cumbria. Mark is a founding director of ESVM, a renewable energy investment management business, and serves as an officer in the RNR with 15 years naval & maritime security experience.

Mark has extensive experience in oil & gas, power generation, renewable energy, asset finance and private equity fund transactions across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He joined Merlin in 2008

Fiona Stubbs


Prior to joining Merlin, Fiona spent 9 years at BlackRock where she led product strategist activities for BlackRock’s Natural Resources equity team across mining, gold, energy, new energy and agriculture.  She was responsible for business and product strategy globally, including all communication, asset growth, product development and product campaigns.  Fiona graduated from Oxford Brookes with a BSc in Biology.

Fiona joined Merlin in 2019

Joel Othen-Lawson


Joel has carried out due diligence and research on numerous equity and debt financing projects within the Renewable Energy, Mining, FinTech and Agri-Business sectors. He graduated from the University of St Andrews in June 2018, with an MA (Hons) in Classics. He has a working proficiency in French and conversational ability in Greek, whilst learning Russian in his spare time.

Joel joined Merlin in September 2018, with prior experience as a summer analyst at the firm.