Freshfields beats Linklaters to Aer Lingus IPO

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is celebrating after scooping a mandate to advise the Irish government on the IPO of its flag carrier Aer Lingus.

The magic circle firm won the high profile mandate after participating in a beauty parade at the end of last year.

Irish firms William Fry and Arthur Cox are acting a local counsel to the government and Aer Lingus respectively. Aer Lingus has also instructed Davis Polk & Wardwell.

It is understood that Linklaters, which acted for Aer Lingus on its original IPO plans in 2000, unsuccessfully pitched against Freshfields.

The Irish government, which currently owns an 85.1 per cent stake in Aer Lingus unveiled plans to float the company on both the London and Dublin stock exchanges last week. The government expects the company to make its stock exchange debut before the end of the month.

Aer Lingus is reported to be looking to raise between EU400m and EU500m from the IPO, and is aiming for at least 50 per cent of the airline’s shares to be held by Irish investors. The Irish finance minister will retain a 25.1 per cent stake in the business.

McCann Fitzgerald and Shearman & Sterling are acting for the financial advisers to the government UBS and AIB. The Shearman team is being led by London-based corporate partner Peter King.

The Freshfields team was led by corporate partner Julian Makin.

Aer Lingus operates a fleet of 35 aircraft, with flights to and from Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports. The company implemented a restructuring plan and significantly changed its business model at the start of October 2001 after it ran into financial difficulty.