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Latham & Watkins has cemented its place at the pinnacle of Russia’s nascent equity capital markets after scoring the lead roles on the $1bn (£557.9m) London Stock Exchange (LSE) IPO of Sistema and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) listing of steel company Mechel.
The Sistema appointment sparked a scrum between the leading UK firms in Moscow to advise the lead arrangers, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston. But last week it emerged that Linklaters had scooped the role.
At the same time, Latham has scored the issuer role on the IPO on the NYSE listing of Mechel. The firm has a strong relationship with Mechel and former Latham lawyer Jan Castro is now a key in-houser at the Russian steel company.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is acting for the underwriters, led by UBS Investment Bank. It is expected that Mechel will float later this month or in early November.
The appointments are a coup for the US pair, as IPOs of Russian companies on the NYSE are rare. To date, only a handful of Russian corporates have successfully passed US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requirements to list on the NYSE. VimpelCom became the first Russian company to float in 1996, followed by Mobile TeleSystems in 2000 and juice company Wimm-Bill-Dann in 2002.
Latham acted for the issuers on both the Mobile TeleSystems and the Wimm-Bill-Dann floats. With the Mechel deal under its belt, the firm will have acted for the issuers on three of the four major NYSE Russian IPOs.
But while the LSE has been more successful at luring Russian companies, UK law firms have had mixed success in securing issuer roles on the listings.
The groundbreaking IPO of Lukoil on the LSE saw US energy specialists Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld advise the issuer, with Linklaters acting for Morgan Stanley on the deal.