US firms lead as Russian web group seeks London listing

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Sullivan & Cromwell have taken the lead roles as Russian internet group last week began marketing its London IPO.

The expected valuation of the listing – currently estimated at around $5bn (£3.17bn) – would make it the biggest Russian IPO to launch on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) since the VTB Group three years ago (The Lawyer, 17 May 2007).

Capital markets partner Daniel Braverman is understood to be leading the Cleary team acting for the issuer.

The multi-jurisdictional team also includes fellow London capital markets partner Raj Panasar, Moscow corporate partner Murat Akuyev, US tax partner Jim Duncan and counsel Mark Adams in the Paris capital markets team.

Sullivan is advising the coordinators and bookrunners in both the US and UK, with local firm Alrud taking the mandate in Russia. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are joint global coordinators, while Morgan Stanley and VTB join them as bookrunners.

Sullivan London-based M&A partner Bill Plapinger is leading on US aspects, with the co-head of the London office Vanessa Blackmore leading on the UK side. The team also features tax partner Michael McGowan and Eric Wang on, respectively, UK and US tax aspects. European counsel Adam McLain is also acting on the US side.

For Alrud the deal is being led by senior partner Vassily Rudomino and M&A partner Aleksander Zharskiy.

The successful listing of the company, which owns 2.5 per cent of Facebook and stakes in two Russian social networking sites, could signal the start of a run of flotations for Russian ­companies.

At least three more companies are reported to be poised to raise money on the LSE in the next few months.

Cleary would be well placed to take advantage of any increase in London capital markets work coming from Moscow. Braverman and his team secured the mandate acting for Rusal on its aborted 2007 IPO (The Lawyer, 18 June 2007) before ultimately advising on the aluminium giant’s $3bn Hong Kong listing last year.