The AIM players

MEMERY CRYSTAL

The 14-partner firm topped the billing for the second year running with a total of 34 AIM floats. Memery Crystal puts its success down to a good relationship with intermediaries. Seymour Pierce remained the predominant referrer of work from 2000-2001, although the firm also gets work from Collins Stewert.

There are three corporate finance partners at present who work on AIM – Lesley Gregory, Greg Scott and Andrew Titmuss – together with a team of assistants. The firm acted on seven deals for issuers, something which it is eager to continue as it hopes to get work downstream from these clients. Most of the AIM floats that the firm worked on are in the region of £1m-£3m. It would charge in the region of £20,000-£30,000 for issuers, although it would do work for £15,000; for a straightforward float for an issuer, the firm would bill £60,000-£80,000.

HAMMOND SUDDARDS EDGE

A super 18 months for the national firm, acting on a total of 19 AIM floats, mostly for nominated advisers (nomads). The firm has 14 partners in corporate, with around five who work predominantly on AIM. It has managed to ingratiate itself with financial advisers and brokers across the board, acting for Collins Stewart on the largest deal it advised on during the 18 months – the float of GW Pharmaceuticals in June 2001, a placing that raised £25m.

Robert Hamill and Martin Thomas do most of the AIM work, together with some M&A and private equity. The firm did not make it into The Lawyer AIM Survey 2000, illustrating that it has found strength in this niche market, predominantly through its relationships with the intermediaries. The firm’s range is traditionally about £5m on money raised for a float, but it has had its fair share of bigger floats on the market, acting not only on GW Pharmaceuticals but also for Peel Hunt on the £14.9m float of IQ-Ludorum in July 2000 and jointly with Berwin Leighton Paisner on the £30m placing of Numerica Group in November 2001. The firm generally charges between £100,000 and £150,000 per float if acting for the company, and between £50,000 and £70,000 for the finance houses.

BERWIN LEIGHTON PAISNER

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) surprised many with its entry on the 2001 survey, especially as many thought there would be teething problems with a merger that is not yet a year in place. David Collins deals with much of the AIM work, along with Antony Grossman, Murdoch Currie and John Bennett. There are 23 corporate finance partners in the firm, of whom about 10 act on AIM work regularly. BLP acted mainly for issuers (18 floats) and only twice for financial advisers, which is great news for the firm’s ongoing reputation. The deals tended to be in the region of £3m-£5m.

TAYLOR JOYNSON GARRETT

The firm lost out in the 2001 survey, scooping only five deals for issuers and one for the financial adviser. It seems to be making amends, however, acting on deals that account for 20 per cent of all money raised between January and April 2002. Taylor Joynson suffered with the collapse of the technology market throughout 2000 and 2001. It has benefited from follow-on work, though, from clients such as Synergy Healthcare, which floated in August 2001, raising £9.5m. The firm has gone on to act for the company on other acquisitions. Its float range is at the higher end of the scale, acting for companies that raise between £5m and £10m.

LAWRENCE GRAHAM

The firm did well in the The Lawyer’s first AIM survey, acting on 10 AIM floats (mainly for the financial advisers), but it failed to pull off the same story in 2001. Lawrence Graham acted on a total of five floats, but most were for the companies. The biggest IPO was acing for financial company Millfield Group on its £18.5m float in February 2001. The firm has gone on to do follow-on work for the company. It acted for Investec Henderson Crossthwaite on one deal, but partner Hugh Maule says that the objective is to achieve a 50-50 balance between acting for the companies and the financial houses. The deals were at the higher end of the scale for companies raising £3m-£18m.

NORTON ROSE

The firm had a great 18 months, clocking up 14 AIM deals and acting equally for the financial houses and the issuers. In the 2000 survey, it managed only three.
Corporate finance partner Tim Marsden says the main reason the firm got into AIM is because of technology incubator funds (shell companies), which attracted the attention of real technology investors. As a result, the firm has made a lot of money on AIM, says Marsden, focusing mainly on the technology and manufacturing sectors. Norton Rose also has a good relationship with financial houses, especially West LB, which it acted for on the £15m float of Corac Group in July 2001, and Tissue Science Laboratories on its £12m float in December 2001.

GOULDENS

In the 2000 survey Gouldens had a good year, acting on 10 AIM floats, but in the 2001 survey it managed to narrowly beat its own record, advising on 12. There are six partners in the corporate finance department, which is headed by James Brokenshire, who all act on AIM floats. It has a good relationship with the financial advisers, acting for Williams de Broe, Investec Hendersen Crosthwaite and West LB, which recommended the firm to Tissue Science Laboratories on its £10m placing in December 2001. The firm won AIM firm of the year in 2002 in Growth Company Investor magazine.

ASHURST MORRIS CRISP

Ashursts did not appear on the 2000 survey, but has now made significant inroads into AIM. It acted on eight AIM floats, mostly for the financial advisers, at the higher end of the market. It acted for West LB on the £19.5m float of ReNeuron Holdings in November 2000 and for Old Mutual Securities on the £15m float of Fusion Oil & Gas in September 2000. Its biggest float was advising West LB on the £30m dual listing of US company Keryx Biopharmaceuticals.

NABARRO NATHANSON

The firm acted on four floats in the 2000 survey and 13 in the latest survey, and managed to strike a balance between the issuers and financial advisers. Iain Newman and Glyn Taylor handle most of the AIM work and its company clients tend to be from the technology sector. It acted for software developer TransEDA on its £2m float in July 2000 and for Bits Corp, a developer of video and internet-based games, on its £4.1m float in September 2000. It has also forged good relationships with Peel Hunt and Collins Stewart.

DLA

DLA acted on 12 deals in the 2001 survey and did not even feature on the 2000 list. The firm has a good corporate client base, acting for eight AIM floats for issuers.
Andrew Sherratt, head of public equity, puts the success down to heightening the profile of the corporate finance team, especially with finance houses. There are 15 partners across the UK who focus on AIM work. The firm has good relationships with Investec and Brewin Dolphin. It acted for Investec on the £10.5m float of Mission Testing in December 2000.

EVERSHEDS

The firm has a fairly evenly balanced practice, but leans more in favour of the financial advisers, acting for Williams de Broe, Seymour Pierce and Beeson Gregory, which it acted for on the £5m placing of home entertainment company Warthog. The firm has approximately 25 partners throughout the UK who would do AIM work.

THEODORE GODDARD

The firm won AIM Firm of the Year in 2000, awarded by Growth Company Investor magazine, and Simon Griffiths was its highest ranked lawyer in the ‘Top 50 Movers and Shakers’. Griffiths and his team of six partners who do AIM work pulled off 13 IPOs, leaning more towards the financial advisers. The firm has a good relationship with Peel Hunt, acting for the nomad on the £12.3m float of Innovision Research & Technology in April 2001.

HALLIWELL LANDAU

Halliwells made inroads into the corporate arena, acting for six issuers out of a total of nine AIM floats, for example acting for InterClubnet on its £5m float in August 2000. It did not make it into the 2000 survey. Partner Mark Halliwell says the firm has achieved this through its main target sectors, acting for entrepreneurial clients and also raising its profile with the financial institutions. The firm does not have a dedicated AIM team, but its 10 corporate finance partners would all act on AIM floats. The value of deals that the firm acts on ranges from £1m-£3m.

PINSENT CURTIS BIDDLE

Pinsents made it into The Lawyer 2000 AIM Survey, acting on four floats for the issuers. This time round it completed 11 floats, acting mainly for the issuers once again. Its deal range is between £1m-£3m, although the firm did act on some larger deals, including the £8.5m float of bank Restaurant Group in November 2001. The firm has 16 partners who deal with AIM work out of around 30, headed up in London by Gareth Edwards. Edwards says that much of the work comes from intermediaries and existing clients that have grown up with the firm.

WRAGGE & CO

Wragges managed a respectable six AIM floats in the 2001 survey, four for the issuer and two for the nomads. The largest IPO for the firm was UBC Media Group, which raised £4.4m in June 2001, with a market capitalisation of £30m. There are 18 corporate finance partners, five of whom are in the public equity group, and three dedicated AIM partners, headed up by Julian Henwood.

CMS CAMERON MCKENNA

The firm acted on 10 deals, mostly for the finance houses. In the 2000 survey Camerons acted on four deals, mostly for the issuers. There are 26 corporate finance partners, 10 of whom would do AIM work. The firm became involved on the mammoth £44.4m float of Patientline in March 2001, acting for brokers ING Barings and the nomad Hawkpoint Partners.
It also acted for IQ-Ludorum on its £14.9m IPO in August 2000, with a market capitalisation of £60,000.

ADDLESHAW BOOTH & CO

The firm does not fare as well as its regional counterparts in the 2001 survey, acting on only three deals throughout the period. The AIM team is headed by Stephen Houston in London, which is a new market for the firm, with most of the work being done out of Leeds and Manchester. The corporate finance team received good coverage when it advised engineering fabricators Oystertec on its £7m float in February 2001.

HOWARD KENNEDY

The 2001 survey saw Howard Kennedy racking up five deals, acting predominantly for the issuers. Partners Paul Miller and Michael Harris do most of the AIM work. The firm became involved on some of the higher-end floats, acting for Sports Entertainment & Media Group on its £7.4m placing in August 2001.

NICHOLSON GRAHAM & JONES

The firm completed five deals, all for issuers. It acted on some of the larger deals, including advising Home Entertainment Group on its £11.7m float in October 2001.

OSBORNE CLARKE

The firm advised on five AIM IPOs, mostly for the advisers. It has a good relationship with Rowan Dartington & Co, acting on the listing of OverNet Data in July 2000, which raised £3.5m. Simon Fielder, Patrick Graves and Bruce Roxburgh are the main AIM partners.