Freshfields tops bill for secondary offerings

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has emerged as the surprise leader in a series of Europe’s largest rights issues.
According to research conducted by The Lawyer (see table), the firm has dominated as issuer counsel by acting on four out of the 10 largest cash calls since 2000, when media group Pearson launched its massive £1.7bn rights issue.
Commenting on the firm’s track record, which has also included Kingfisher’s bumper £2bn issuance last year, Freshfields securities partner Don Guiney said: “We have maintained our position in the secondary rights market that we had in the primary issues market.”
Shearman & Sterling cemented its formidable European reputation in France and Germany after acting for Allianz and France Telecom, which launched the largest ever rights issue when its raised E15bn (£10.35bn) to reduce its massive debt mountain.
Allen & Overy and US firm Davis Polk & Wardwell dominated as underwriters counsel, each acting on three of the largest European rights issues. Davis Polk acted on Ericsson’s £2bn cash call, which experts say kick-started the trend in Europe for euro-denominated deals launched by the likes of France Telecom.
Guiney said: “I think we’re going to see more of these deals because in current conditions, the primary markets are going to be difficult to access and companies are going to have to look to their shareholders to raise capital.”