LG tops AIM charts for the first time

This month saw LG make its debut at the top of the rankings for AIM advisers.

This month saw LG make its debut at the top of the rankings for AIM advisers.

LG is now only the third firm to have topped the quarterly table since Hemscott began ranking law firms by AIM clients four years ago.

Previous leader Pinsent Masons lost two junior market clients in the last three months and fell into second place, while Norton Rose, another firm to have occupied the top spot in the past, saw its total remain static at 53, keeping it in third place.

LG secured two new clients in the last quarter to bring its total to 56. The firm has been successful in targeting the upper end of AIM – it has been at the top of the table for total market capitalisation of its clients for three consecutive quarters.

Among the firm’s recent client wins is industrial services provider Cape, which has a market capitalisation of £140.6m, following a successful pitch to the company.

TOTAL AIM CLIENTS
Rank April 2009 Rank Jan 2009 Firm AIM  Clients April 2009 AIM Clients Jan 2009
1 2 LG 56 54
2 1 Pinsent Masons 55 57
3 3 Norton Rose 53 53
4 4 DLA Piper UK 51 52
5 5 Eversheds 50 51
6 6 Berwin Leighton Paisner 41 45
6 7 Memery Crystal 41 43
8 8 Fasken Martineau 39 41
9 11 Carey Olsen 37 37
9 9 Field Fisher Waterhouse 37 39
9 9 Stephenson Harwood 37 39
12 11 Halliwells 34 37
13 13 Osborne Clarke 29 32
13 15 Travers Smith 29 28
15 15 Cobbetts 28 28
15 15 Hammonds 28 28
15 14 Nabarro 28 29
18 20 Charles Russell 24 23
18 20 Watson Farley & Williams 24 23
20 18 Fladgate 23 24

LG corporate partner Tom Nicholls said: “We’re targeting genuine growth companies. It’s about trying to follow those companies through as they mature.”

This time last year Norton Rose was at the top of all three Hemcsott tables for total clients, AIM 100 clients and market capitalisation.

But the firm has now dropped to third in the clients and AIM 100 tables and to second in the market capitalisation list.

It has lost nearly 20 per cent of its AIM clients during the market turmoil of the past 12 months. During the past three months the firm has also seen oil and gas client Hydrodec fall out of the AIM 100, although the number of top 100 clients remained steady at five.

Norton Rose corporate partner Stephen Rigby said the firm was still committed to the junior market, but that with fewer deals around partners were working on a smaller number of large transactions.

He added: “The client base hasn’t gone away, there’s just less activity. But it’s starting to come through. People are starting to talk about fundraising on AIM again.”

LG has seen corporate activity boosted by an increasing number of secondary fundraisings on AIM. Nicholls said: “In the last six weeks we’ve seen a change in the level of activity. IPOs are still all but dead, but we’ve closed nine secondary fundraisings in the last eight weeks.”

MARKET CAPITALISATION
Rank April2009 Rank Jan 2009 Firm Mar Cap (£bn) Apr 2009 Mar Cap (£bn) Apr 2009
1 1 LG 2.56 2.56
2 2 Norton Rose 2.06 1.99
3 3 Berwin Leighton Paisner 1.99 1.72
4 4 Jones Day 1.89 1.71
5 7 DLA Piper UK 1.6 1.45
6 10 Harney Westwood & Riegels 1.49 1.3
7 6 Travers Smith 1.41 1.47
8 9 Maples and Calder 1.39 1.36
9 11 Ashurst 1.16 1.21
10 12 Taylor Wessing 1.13 1.15
11 8 Pinsent Masons 1.12 1.37
12 14 Carey Olsen 1.1 1.06
13 16 Cains 0.93 0.93
14 17 Eversheds 0.89 0.91
15 15 Ozannes 0.86 0.94
16   Osborne Clarke 0.84 0.84
17 18 Fasken Martineau 0.82 0.85
18 19 Stephenson Harwood 0.81 0.85

Most recently the firm has helped Indian power company KSK and energy supplier Zenergy raise £32m and £9m respectively from shareholders.

Nicholls said the firm had benefited from its strategy of targeting highvalue AIM companies that often moved up to the main list, taking LG with them in the process.

Hardy Oil & Gas listed on the FTSE last year, for example, and has maintained its relationship with LG.

But, he added, the junior market was being squeezed from above and below. “AIM’s hurting,” he said. “The strong companies are looking to move up to the main market and there’s an increasing number of companies delisting.”

In the past 12 months the market capitalisation of clients from the top five law firms has more than halved, from £25.9bn to £10.1bn.

Rigby said: “The AIM market share prices have come down a long way and it hasn’t been easy for
those smaller companies to raise money. People are conserving their cash.”

Nicholls commented: “People may not be pushing AIM that strongly. Those that look after smaller companies may see a significant number disappearing.”

One of the law firms hit hardest by the downturn in AIM work is offshore specialist Cains. The Isle of Man outfit built a strong practice advising companies registering in the tax haven on local law, alongside UK advisers. In January 2008 the firm stood at the top of the AIM 100 with eight clients. Since then it has lost five, leaving just three names on its roster.

Property investor Hirco, oil and gas supply company Lamprell and Unitech Corporate Parks are all no longer listed as AIM 100 clients by Hemscott.

DLA Piper is the leading firm for top 100 clients, as it was in the last quarter. The firm has gained three companies during the past year and counts China Central Properties, CVS Group and Datatec among its clients.

AIM 100 CLIENTS
Rank April 2009 Rank Jan 2009 Firm AIM 100 April 2009 AIM 100 Jan 2009
1 1 DLA Piper UK 7 7
2 2 LG 6 6
3 3 Norton Rose 5 5
3 3 Pinsent Masons 5 5
5 7 Jones Day 4 4
5 7 Macfarlanes 4 4
5 12 McGrigors 4 3
5 7 Taylor Wessing 4 4
9 12 Arthur Cox 3 3
9 7 Berwin Leighton Paisner 3 4
9 3 Cains 3 5
9 12 Carey Olsen 3 3
9 3 Conyers Dill & Pearman 3 5
9   Eversheds 3  
9 12 Harney Westwood & Riegels 3 3
9 12 Herbert Smith 3 3
9   Hunton & Williams 3  
9 12 Osborne Clarke 3 3