Norton Rose beats rivals to land easyJet flotation work

Norton Rose advised easyJet on its initial public offering (IPO) after a beauty parade where the firm’s ability to field US counsel shone through.

Norton Rose was up against three rivals when it was invited to tender in April for the work to reorganise the group for flotation. It had already acted for easyJet on the restructuring of its intellectual property (IP) and branding strategy and had provided aircraft financing advice to its holding company.

It acted as both UK and US counsel to easyJet on the float. The offering, which values the company at £776m and which will raise more than £195m for easyJet, was priced and sold on 15 November.

EasyJet has in the past used Denton Wilde Sapte for corporate advice. The firm was instructed to help on the airport and airline regulatory aspects of the flotation.

Corporate finance partner Mark Lloyd-Williams led Norton Rose’s team, pulling in US securities advice from partner Richard Baumann, aircraft financing advice from partner Jeremy Edwards and IP help from Richard Barratt. Partner David Cohen advised on employee share schemes, and real estate representation was provided by partner Lindsay Morgan.

Lloyd-Williams says: “The reason we were chosen was because there was always an international element to this deal. [easyJet] thought there’d be a US tranche, and there are only a few firms which can do that.”

The company was keen to market to investors through its internet site, which raised new securities aspects, and it also operates a “paperless office” system that presented the firm with unusual issues.

The group will use the money raised to expand its fleet from 18 aircraft to nearer 50.

Credit Suisse First Boston and UBS Warburg were joint bookrunners on the deal, with Merrill Lynch and Schroder Salomon Smith Barney acting as joint lead managers. They in turn were advised by Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in London and New York, led by partner Andrew Deitz.