Ashursts leads the pack for company flotation advice

Ashurst Morris Crisp is the country's leading legal adviser to companies seeking a flotation, according to a league table produced by big six accountants KPMG.

During the period from January 1993 to 30 September 1996, Ashursts advised 28 of the 500 companies that floated on the London Stock Exchange.

Slaughter and May, Linklaters & Paines, Norton Rose and Clifford Chance were second, third, fourth and fifth respectively, advising 27, 26, 25 and 20 companies.

Freshfields came only 13th in the table of company legal advisers with six flotations in the period, but, reflecting its strong merchant banker client-base, topped the list of advisers to the sponsors of flotations, with 42 under its belt.

Allen & Overy, which has strong links with commercial banking clients but not with the merchant banks who do flotations, came only 12th as adviser to companies and 11th as adviser to sponsors.

Showing their strong links with companies, some of the larger regional law firms did well with Eversheds and Pinsent Curtis coming eighth and ninth respectively as advisers to the company, but not as well as advisers to the sponsor.

Most law firms chase flotation work, especially advising companies, since there is a good chance of retaining the client company once it has floated.

Simon Jay, corporate partner at Travers Smith Braithwaite, who helped Pace Micro in its £375 million flotation earlier this year, said his firm now acted for Pace in its more general corporate work as well. Previously, Pace had used a number of different firms.

He said that advising a company and educating directors as to what is required of them after a flotation, was a more arduous role than negotiating and drawing up an underwriting agreement with a sponsor.

But he added that he often acted for a sponsor when the company's law firm had never advised on a flotation before. “In those sort of situations, you end up doing a lot more work to ensure the company is meeting all the requirements.”