Manchester-based Fox Brooks Marshall has advised Highland Gold on its £200m admission to AIM, which is the second-largest placing on the market to date

Highland, the owner of Russia's fourth-largest gold mine, is expected to raise up to £25m to expand its existing mine and bring its next four deposits on stream by 2004. It will take the estimated value of Highland to £200m.

The Jersey-registered company boasts Lord Daresbury as its executive chairman and South African mining giant Harmony Gold Mining as one of its major shareholders. Christopher Palmer-Tomkinson, the uncle of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, will join Ted Grobicki of Harmony on Highland's board as a non-executive director.

This is the latest in a series of deals undertaken by Fox Brooks in the mining sector, with a particular focus on Australia. Of 10 Australian mining companies listed on AIM, Fox Brooks acted for five, with a further three potential admissions planned for 2003.

During December, the firm advised Gold Mines of Sardinia on a change of domicile, from Australia to the UK. The holding company was subsequently admitted to AIM with a market capitalisation of £13m. Earlier in 2002 it advised Santa Barbara Mines on its £20m AIM listing.

Fox Brooks senior partner Andrew Wright said: “It's very difficult for small companies in Australia to raise money there. AIM is obviously one way to raise capital. It's also attractive for a number of other reasons – it's active and relatively liquid, it has a high profile and has tax advantages. But perhaps the most important reason is that it offers a stepping stone into Europe. London is still the place to raise capital, and to be considered a serious player it's important to have a presence there.”

Wright has also recently returned from New Zealand, where he was lecturing on the benefits of AIM on a trip organised by the London Stock Exchange (LSE). It was the latest in a series of similar trips to Australia and New Zealand for Wright, organised as part of the LSE's push to attract more foreign companies to the London market.