Norton Rose AIM push brings reward as it tops latest quarter’s client table

Norton Rose AIM push brings reward as it tops latest quarter’s client table” />Norton Rose has leapt to pole position in the Hemscott AIM client rankings, knocking Eversheds off the top spot by netting seven new clients during the last quarter.

Norton Rose can now boast 50 AIM clients, according to Hemscott. This pipped Eversheds’ roster of 48, a figure that has remained static from the last quarter.

Norton Rose’s new clients include Prosperity Minerals Holdings, the Chinese iron ore company that floated for $360m (£192m), led by partner Raj Karia, with Julian Stanier also on the deal. Stanier, together with Stephen Rigby, are leading the firm’s AIM charge.

Of the firm’s push for AIM clients, Stanier said: “It’s a strategy we’ve been focused on for a long time. AIM is a means of increasing our corporate client base. As AIM has matured, we’re seeing more international companies looking at it and we use our international network to attract these clients.”

Rigby said the work is not restricted to one-off IPOs. The team leverages AIM files into referrals for the rest of the firm, particularly in the case of energy companies.

Eversheds partner Neil Matthews also stressed the importance of not just targeting big transactions, but companies that could yield ongoing work. He pointed to May Gurney, whose £130m IPO he led in June, as an example.

Also enjoying a strong run this quarter was Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), which pushed into the top five from seventh place by scoring two more clients.

BLP topped both the market cap and client profit rankings in AIM, with £3.8bn and £85m respectively. The firm moved to first place from second in both instances. Corporate partner David Collins said: “We’ve made a concerted effort to push into AIM for many years.”

New clients include Nanette Real Estate Group, which floated for £102m in June, led by Jonathan Morris. Collins attributed the success to close relationships with intermediaries such as Collins Stewart Tullett and Brewin Dolphin, together with a focus on certain industries, such as gaming and leisure, a good example being the £548m Playtech IPO on which Collins worked.

Norton Rose ran close behind BLP in the market cap chart with clients worth £3.78bn, but was outside the top 20 advisers when ranked by the profitability of clients.

Also absent was Eversheds. This is explained by the fact that those firms with a focus on, say, energy and mining (mining companies now claim a fifth of AIM’s market capitalisation) bring to market companies that are valued highly on prospective rather than historic performance, whereas BLP’s client base, with a heavy reliance on gaming and leisure, is already profitable.

Stanier said: “The beauty of AIM is that you can float companies that are barely revenue-earning, but as these businesses mature so does their need for legal advice.”

Memery Crystal is enjoying something of a resurgence, returning to the kind of AIM pre-eminence it enjoyed before firms such as Eversheds and Norton Rose got in on the act. The firm has held on to eighth position in the client number charts and edged into the top 20 law firms by market cap of its AIM clients.

Magic circle opens its eyes to AIM

UrAsia Energy’s entrance onto AIM on 31 August was one of the most noteworthy deals of the year. The Canadian-based company mines uranium in Kazakhstan and has a market cap of £610m. Ashurst, led by Michael Robins, advised, with Canadian energy firm Macleod Dixon advising on Kazakh law. Another Canadian firm, Stikeman Elliott, advised Canaccord, UrAsia’s nominated adviser and broker.
Another mining deal this summer that demanded attention was Nikanor’s IPO in July, with a stock market value of $1.5bn (£800m), which made the copper and cobalt miner the largest company when floating on AIM.

The offering comprised 36-million ordinary shares at 600p a share, the new shares amounting to 26.4 per cent of the company.

Linklaters scooped the lucrative instruction from Nikanor, which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with Charlie Jacobs, Robert Cleaver and Simon Ratledge leading. Linklaters has a strong track record in the mining sector, with clients such as Falconbridge, Anglo American and Impala.

Meanwhile, a Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer team, led by corporate partner Julian Makin, advised broker JPMorgan Cazenove. Proof that AIM is now taken seriously by the magic circle.

BLP cashes in on AIM gaming boom

There is no relent in the popularity of AIM for gaming companies. First there was the IPO for Playtech worth £550m, which made it the largest flotation AIM had seen at the time and made Playtech the world’s largest listed online gambling software provider. David Collins’ team from Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) advised the British Virgin Islands-based company, which has 94 online casinos, 15 online poker sites and 15 bingo sites. Hilary Stewart-Jones, BLP’s gaming regulatory partner, also advised. Playtech is a longstanding client of BLP.

The team was also the lead corporate adviser on February’s IPO for gaming software provider Excapsa, worth £214m.

Then in June came Inspired Gaming Group, provider of analogue machines for the gaming market, which acquired both Inspired Broadcast Networks and Ever 2533, then floated them simultaneously on AIM for £115m.

Saul Sender and Giles Beale at Reed Smith advised the company, with Travers Smith advising on share-incentive arrangements. Norton Rose, led by Julian Stanier and Paul Whitelock, advised underwriter Evolution Securities. The team has a longstanding relationship with the intermediaries.