Bird & Bird advises on Patientline IPO

Bird & Bird has advised Patientline on its £104m initial public offering (IPO) on AIM.

The deal went ahead in mid-March, despite a global collapse in equity capital markets and investor distrust of technology, media and telecoms (TMT) stock.

Patientline provides bedside entertainment, communication and information services for acute hospital patients in the UK and the Netherlands.

Founded in 1993, Patientline instructed specialist IT practice Bird & Bird at the end of last year to act on the IPO.

This is the first major piece of work the firm has done for the company. The instruction came through Patientline chief executive officer (CEO) Derek Lewis, a long-term acquaintance of Bird & Bird partner David Kerr.

As well as the listing, the deal involved two tranches of refinancing. Therefore, although corporate partner Neil Blundell led the deal, banking partner Brett Israel also worked on the transaction.

Upon flotation, the company had a market capitalisation of £104m and raised a total of £41m. It will use the money to repay debts and fund the rollout of its products, which range from audiovisual devices to internet access providers.

Israel concedes that the market was very tough during the build-up to the IPO, and remains so. But he adds: “Although it is a technology and telecoms-related entity, Patientline is not a startup. Part of the problem is general dotcom paranoia, and Patientline was able to distinguish itself there.”

He adds that the reputation of Lewis, who is the former head of the Prison Service and Granada Group, added weight to the float.

Two non-executive directors were also brought in prior to the float. They were the non-executive director of Abbey National and Scottish Power Mair Barnes, and the former head of the NHS executive Alan Langlands.

But despite all this, Israel confirms that two weeks before the planned flotation date there were discussions about scrapping the deal altogether because of unfavourable market conditions.

The firm expects to continue its work for Patientline in the future.

CMS Cameron McKenna advised nominated adviser Hawkpoint Partners and nominated broker ING Barings.