Osborne Clarke has lost key technology client Vanco to Ashurst Morris Crisp
The company defected to Ashursts after flotation despite a long relationship with Osborne Clarke's Thames Valley office. The £13.86m Vanco flotation last November was one of the few non-investment trust offerings on the London Stock Exchange in the latter part of last year. Vanco, one of the UK's largest privately-owned telecoms operators, chose to stick with long-term legal adviser Osborne Clarke for the float. Ashursts acted on the other side of the deal for Williams de Broe. Immediately after the flotation, the Vanco management team decided to ditch Osborne Clarke in favour of Ashursts. Ashursts partner Paul Gadd said: "I think we did a very good job on the flotation and that having seen us, Vanco decided to move." Ashursts is now Vanco's primary corporate adviser with Gadd and telecoms partner Clive Tucker as the main relationship partners. It is common for companies to review their legal advisers in the run-up to an initial public offering (IPO) on the full list, but less common to switch afterwards. Gadd said: "If they're going to change, they tend to do it before the float, often when the investment bank flexes its muscles over which law firms are appropriate advisers." Osborne Clarke cancelled quarterly partner drawings this February, so the loss of a key client will be a blow to the Thames Valley office. However, the firm has performed extremely well in the sluggish IPO market. According to The Lawyer IPO Survey 2001, it handled more full-list offerings for the issuer than any other firm bar Linklaters last year (see The Lawyer, 22 April).