Corporate finance outfit Dow Schofield Watts today announced it has lured three senior managers from PricewaterhouseCoopers in Manchester to run a new division, and has launched a venture capital fund which is looking to raise up to £5m.

Ed Brentnall, Chris Williams and Catriona Lang will join Warrington-based Dow Schofield Watts later this year to lead a transaction services team, focusing on areas such as preparing companies for sale.

Their appointment follows the creation of a corporate debt advisory business to provide turnaround and refinancing services to companies and to advise banks and asset-based lenders on their corporate clients.

It is headed by Joanne Dodd, 34, wife of Dow Schofield Watts corporate finance partner Andy, and Paula Jones, 39.

Joanne, formerly of Grant Thornton and Ernst & Young, has joined from insurance company Paymentshield, where she spent four years.

Paula has 20 years’ experience with the Royal Bank of Scotland, most recently as a corporate director in its specialised lending services team.

Their arrival takes staff numbers at Dow Schofield Watts to 18.

The firm, founded in 2002 by James Dow, Jon Schofield and Mark Watts, has completed 54 deals with a combined value of £1.6bn.

It specialises in transactions ranging from £5m to £50m in value.

Mr Dow said the new services would add significantly to the firm’s capabilities, and that it was looking to expand further, with corporate recovery next on the agenda.

The venture capital business, called PHD Equity Partners, has secured approval from the Financial Services Authority and is looking to raise between £3m and £5m initially. It is chaired by Lord Daresbury.

Its name is derived from the surname initials of the Dow Schofield Watts partners running it – Phil Price, Frank Herlihy and Mr Dodd.