Freshfields and Linklaters scoop roles on Burberry IPO

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters have acted on one of the few initial public offerings (IPO) to go ahead this year. While tumultuous equity markets have, at least temporarily, put paid to the flotation plans of Focus Wickes, HLF, Yell and Prada, upmarket clothing and accessories group Burberry has braved the choppy waters and dived in.
Burberry, owned by retailer Gus, secured its flotation after it covered the order book more than 2.5 times. The parent company has scaled back its interest in Burberry to roughly 77.5 per cent, selling almost one quarter of its stake. Gus had to scale back its aspirations to price shares at as much as 290p, opting for a more market-friendly 230p. The offering gives Burberry a market valuation of around £1.15bn.
Freshfields acted for joint sponsors and joint lead managers of the IPO, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. It fielded a team led by partner and joint head of securities Tim Jones. He said: “The Burberry IPO is significant for having survived the turbulent market conditions of the last few weeks. The dramatic turnaround of the company in recent years has caught the imagination of investors and we are very pleased to be involved in such a high-profile exercise.”
Linklaters corporate partner Brigid Rentoul advised Gus and Burberry, with Burberry's in-house legal head Michael Mahony concentrating on the Burberry side. Rentoul and Linklaters have historically advised the company. The deal entailed internal reorganisation within the Gus group, as Burberry had to be set up as a separate business.
Rentoul said: “The partial IPO presented a fascinating array of issues. It was a great team effort – a lot of people have worked on this for a long time. It was good for all involved that we were able to launch it in these current volatile conditions.”
The IPO is good news for both firms' capital markets practices. Freshfields has seen its work advising investment banks on proposed IPOs for business listings company Yell and insurance broker HLF stalled by market conditions.
Jones said: “It's important not to be too gloomy about things. If you look back over the past few months, floats for William Hill, HMV and Detica all happened. Even in the best of conditions you wouldn't see every job come to fruition.
“It was a good deal. It is a very interesting company to watch develop. To turn a company round from providing rainwear for Japanese businessmen to a high fashion brand is quite an extraordinary story.”