Clifford Chance could be in line to benefit from the expected rise in equity capital markets in the US, as long-term client Permira plans a New York float for semiconductor group Memec.
The private equity house is considering floating the San Diego-based business either on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
It is understood that Permira had hoped to undertake a dual flotation of Memec in New York and London, although it scrapped the plan in the face of volatility in the equity capital markets.
It is expected that Clifford Chance will act for the private equity house not just in London, but also in the US, should the float go ahead.
The firm, and more specifically highly-rated private equity partner Matthew Layton, have acted for Permira for years on a number of high-profile transactions, including last year’s buyout of retailer Debenhams.
Permira first bought Memec in 2000 for $2.4bn (£1.3bn), when it was part of Veba Electronics, a division of Germany’s E.ON group. Memec was the only one of three businesses under the Veba umbrella that Permira retained.
The prospect of an early year flotation follows a recovery in capital markets in the fourth quarter of last year. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, in Europe 67 companies floated in the final three months of the year, which is a 76 per cent increase on the same period in 2002. The jump in activity was mostly down to London, where 44 initial public offerings (IPOs) took place.
While the value of European floats rose by a startling 129 per cent to €2.53bn (£1.7bn) from the comparable quarter in 2002, the final three months for 2003 showed a slight decrease on the third quarter.
For the US, the number of IPOs jumped to 51 flotations from 27 in the final quarter of 2002.