Linklaters flies high after winning Aer Lingus work

Linklaters has won a place advising on the forthcoming flotation of Ireland's state-owned airline Aer Lingus.

The firm pitched for the work in a competitive tender with Salomons Bank, which was appointed financial adviser to the Irish government. Linklaters will advise the government on international matters.

Linklaters also worked on the flotation of Telecom Eireann last year.

Keith Johnson, the corporate partner who led the team, says: “We are very pleased to have won the work as we also worked on the flotation of Telecom Eireann and I believe it is very hard to be appointed twice by the government.”

The tender was kept a secret but it is believed that one of the firms that Linklaters beat to the work was Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, its US competitor that also worked on the telecoms flotation.

Mason Hayes & Curran will handle the retail offering to the public after winning the tender process with corporate partner Paul Egan leading the team.

Declan Moylan, managing partner at Mason Hayes, says that while the firm is delighted to have won the work, it does not believe that it will lead to the firm handling more government-led flotations. Last year the firm advised the Irish government on the retail offering of Eircom to the public.

Moylan says: “I think the department of public enterprise will run a fresh competition on each occasion of a privatisation, so just because we won one of them does not mean that we can be complacent.

“We will make no assumptions but we are very grateful to be chosen in such a high profile matter.

“Every Irish law firm of size would have competed on this deal apart from Aer Lingus' lawyers Arthur Cox who were conflicted out.”

William Fry is the government's lead legal adviser on domestic issues with managing partner Owen O'Connell leading the team. The firm has, says O'Connell, advised on most major flotations involving Irish companies in the recent past, including the flotation of Iona Technologies.