Cleary beats Ashurst, Links to main role on Rusal’s IPO

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has elbowed aside Ashurst and Linklaters to emerge as lead counsel to Rusal in a twist in the saga to secure an instruction on the Russian aluminium giant’s London listing.

Ashurst and Linklaters had waged a six-month battle to win the instruction on the flotation ever since both firms acted on Rusal’s $30bn (£15.04bn) merger last year.

A compromise has been reached after both firms scooped key roles on the IPO, slated for later in the year. Linklaters will act for underwriters JPMorgan Cazenove and Morgan Stanley, while Ashurst will advise Rusal along with Cleary. Russian firm Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners will also advise Rusal, which turned to Egorov and Ashurst on the 2006 tripartite combination with Linklaters’ clients Sual and Glencore.

Cleary did not act on the original merger. The firm declined to comment, but it is understood that London-based finance partner Daniel Braverman is leading the team on the IPO. Cleary’s Russian capital markets practice is well established, with the firm advising Polymetal on its $600m (£304.7m) London listing earlier this year.

Cleary is also co-advising another global aluminium player, US-based Alcoa, with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom on the company’s $33bn (£16.76bn) unsolicited bid for Canadian rival Alcan. If successful the combined company would dwarf Rusal in size.

Meanwhile, Ashurst is pleased with its instruction. It is understood that it was assisted by a recommendation from Michael Pitt, an in-house lawyer at JPMorgan Cazenove, with whom the top 10 firm has a longstanding relationship.

Egorov chairman Dimitry Afanasiev joined Rusal’s board immediately after the merger was complete. Helpfully for the IPO, Egorov has also recently opened a London office.