A&O sets up equity team for IPO work

Allen & Overy has responded to the boom in initial public offerings (IPOs) by setting up a dedicated equity capital markets group.

The group, headed by Richard Cranfield, will comprise 10 partners, of whom two – Bart Capeci and Alex Cohen – are US-qualified, underlining Allen & Overy’s focus on dual listings on the New York and London stock exchanges. Nearly all of the firm’s IPOs in the last year have included a US tranche.

Allen & Overy corporate partner Jonathan Lang says: “We have broad-based corporate lawyers, but the market is getting more sophisticated. Anybody can pick up the London listing rules, but you need to understand the subtleties when there aren’t any rules – can you issue research reports, the issue of stabilisation, and how to meld the listing requirements of London and the SEC together.”

The firm, which has handled nine London listings in the past 18 months (The Lawyer, 4 September), has a practice based predominantly on underwriters rather than issuers.

The practice previously operated as a hybrid of the firm’s corporate and international capital markets departments, but this new distinct group signifies a growing investment in the area.

Lang is currently advising BT on the spin-off of its directory services arm Yell, which also includes Yellow Pages. The planned float, which is part of a wide-ranging restructure by BT, is being underwritten by Rothchilds and Morgan Stanley & Co.

Allen & Overy has not had a longstanding track record in equity capital markets and its major emphasis has been on the debt side. But recently, its relationship with UBS Warburg in particular has yielded a number of flotations.

This year, it has advised the bank on the IPOs of Eyretel, Orchestream and Zen Research.