It’s heartwarming to think that £400-an-hour corporate finance lawyers haven’t spent a slow 18 months playing with
their executive toys.
Simmons & Simmons’ corporate department used the downturn to help out pioneering broker Collins Stewart on its now
famous accelerated initial public offering (IPO) procedure. (For those of you who rush straight through the business
pages to the sport, this is the one where the broker used an Alternative Investment Market (AIM) float to scoop up
Northumbrian Water and Center Parcs ahead of the private equity houses.)
Accelerated IPOs are the deal structure du jour, but now Travers Smith Braithwaite is coming along to steal Simmons’
thunder. Last week, Evolution Beeson Gregory, advised by Travers partner David Adams, got away a management buy-in of Torex from the iSOFT Group.
And this was a new variant accelerated IPO. While that sounds like something you might catch off a mad cow, it was
actually a clever little twist that Evolution Beeson Gregory added to the Collins Stewart method.
In Torex, the deal was structured so that, rather than the purchase being contingent on an AIM float, the institutional shareholders bought the company outright and will float it on AIM a few weeks later.
Travers is also working on Numis’s bid for Centaur (the parent company of The Lawyer, so you can bet we’re
interested), so the firm reckons it is now second only to Simmons in terms of its experience with accelerated IPOs.
This may be so, but the structure for these IPOs isn’t exactly rocket science and every law firm and its dog is now talking to their clients about using the procedure.
In the short term, Travers’ forward thinking has given the firm a leg-up – its corporate finance head Spencer Summerfield says it is busier than it has been for years, with over 30 take-privates being considered as well as around nine accelerated IPOs. Excellent news, given that in last year’s slump Travers’ profits per partner fell by around 13 per cent.
As for the accelerated IPO, well, its day is here. There’s a lot of money around at the moment and a lot of private equity houses looking for exits. Firms with capabilities in mid-market corporate finance should get pitching now.