Freshfields, Linklaters and Slaughters step up as government confirms Royal Mail IPO

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May will continue to advise on the IPO of state-owned Royal Mail as the UK government agrees to privatise Britain’s postal service “within weeks.” 

The move, described as the largest UK privatisation for decades, was announced by UK ministers today (12 September). The Department for Business said the number of shares sold would depend on market conditions at the time of the transaction, as well as investor demand and ensuring value for money for the taxpayer. The business is valued at a reported £3bn.

Freshfields and Slaughters have both advised their respective clients on the restructuring of Royal Mail in the past year. Freshfields corporate partner Tim Jones has been leading for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) on the flotation alongside a team including pensions partner Charles Magoffin. 

Slaughters corporate partner John Papanichola, an equity capital markets specialist, continues to advise the Royal Mail alongside a team including corporate finance partner William Underhill. Relationship partner Jeff Triggs is not understood to be on the firm’s privatisation team for the Royal Mail.

Linklaters snatched the role advising underwriters Goldman Sachs and UBS, who were unveiled earlier this year as the lead banks on the listing. Linklaters co-head of equity John Lane is leading a team alongside London capital markets partner Tom O’Neil. 

There have been no major changes in legal advisers since the line-up was first revealed in June (6 June 2013). In 2010 Royal Mail cut its legal advisers from eight to three folowing a panel review for company and commercial, IT, IP, pensions, dispute resolution and high-value property work for both Royal Mail and Post Office (25 November 2010). Slaughters was kept on to advise on corporate matters.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “By announcing today that we intend to move ahead with a sale of shares in Royal Mail, we are completing the third and final part of the reforms agreed by Parliament two years ago.

”This delivers on the commitment in the Coalition Agreement to give Royal Mail access to private capital, including opportunities for employee ownership.”