Eversheds tops charts as energy powers AIM market

A boom in mining, oil and gas has fuelled a major push by law firms to secure AIM clients, with mid-sized UK firms the first to get their piece of the action.

Eversheds advises 43 AIM clients – the biggest AIM client list of any firm, according to research conducted by Hemscott Group. Other firms in the top five include DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary with 41 AIM clients, Pinsent Masons, also with 41, Field Fisher Waterhouse with 38 and Halliwells with 37.

Eversheds’ top spot could be attributed in part to corporate rainmakers Stuart Fleet, Chris Garnet, Neil Matthews and Rob Pitcher, who have brought in three new clients for the firm during the past 12 months: antibodies distributor Abcam, insurance services company Advent Capital and Manchester-based asset lender Davenham Group.

The firm’s corporate kingpin Matthews says: “We’ve had a cracking year. To date, we’ve acted on 34 IPOs and secondary issues.”

Eversheds ranked fifth in the Hemscott market capitalisation table with £1.2bn, while Norton Rose, Ashurst and Pinsent Masons all placed in the top five, with market caps valued at more than £1.3bn.

While Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) ranked eighth in the charts based on the volume of AIM clients, its clients are heavyweights. So despite serving 13 fewer clients than Eversheds, the market cap of its AIM clients is £2.8bn. BLP has worked on some of the biggest AIM listings this year, including Raven Russia (market cap £150m), Dawnay Day Carpathian (market cap £140m) and Cyberscan Technologies (market cap £91.3m). The firm has successfully advised on 23 AIM flotations this year and four AIM listings via reverse takeovers.

BLP corporate partner Michael Anderson says: “We completed a number of deals for AIM clients, including NETeller, one of the largest companies on AIM. We acted for NETeller, the online money transfer service provider, on a share pricing that raised £218m, as well as their acquisition of NETinvest for a total cash consideration of £12.36m.”

Driving the surge in AIM activity has been the skyrocketing mining and energy sectors, as well as technology and pharmaceutical stocks.

Anderson claims that BLP had carved out a niche for itself representing European property funds and betting and gaming companies. “There’s certainly been a trend in European property funds using AIM to invest in property funds in Europe and Eastern Europe,” he says. “Healthcare has also been an emerging AIM sector.”

Magic circle firms have not yet made their AIM presence felt, with next to no mentions in Hemscott’s charts.

The big City hitters have yet to pile into AIM in a way that might have been expected when accelerated IPOs became all the rage. Clifford Chance was the only magic circle firm to appear in the lower reaches of the market cap table, but Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May were nowhere to be seen.

Ashurst was the most prolific of the traditional City firms with 23 AIM clients and just under £1.9bn in market cap.

Norton Rose also placed quite highly on the Hemscott charts, with 36 clients and a market cap of almost £2.1bn.

Law firms by number of AIM clients
Rank Law firm No of clients
1 Eversheds 43
2 DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary 41
2 Pinsent Masons 41
4 Field Fisher Waterhouse 38
5 Halliwells 37
6 Norton Rose 36
7 Memery Crystal 35
8 Berwin Leighton Paisner 30
9 Osborne Clarke 26
10 Charles Russell 25
10 Lawrence Graham 25

Source: Hemscott Group

Law firms by market capitalisation of AIM clients
Rank Law firm Client market cap (£bn)
1 Berwin Leighton Paisner 2.81
2 Norton Rose 2.07
3 Ashurst 1.99
4 Pinsent Masons 1.32
5 Eversheds 1.23
6 DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary 1.21
7 Osborne Clarke 1.07
8 Jones Day 1.04
9 Burges Salmon 0.86
10 Taylor Wessing 0.82

Source: Hemscott Group