Wagamama looks to Travers for AIM float as IPO market revives

Travers Smith Braithwaite is close to executing an AIM float for noodle bar chain Wagamama as the initial public offering (IPO) market shows signs of springing back to life.

Travers originally advised Graphite Capital Management back in 1998 when it first invested in Wagamama.

Graphite currently holds around 60 per cent of the restaurant chain, although at this stage it is not clear if the private equity house will choose a complete exit from its investment or retain a stake after the float goes ahead.

According to reports, Wagamama had been preparing to float by June, although a spokesperson for the company said the deal was scheduled for May.

Travers’ team is being led by corporate and private equity partner Andrew Roberts. Deloitte Corporate Finance and Investec are being represented by Ashurst corporate partner Richard Gubbins.

Wagamama is approaching a flotation as the UK equity capital markets appear to be recovering from a sustained slump.

According to London Stock Exchange figures, the number of flotations on AIM swelled from just nine in the first four months of 2003 to 46 in the four months up to and including 19 April this year.

Not surprisingly, the value raised by new entrants to AIM has skyrocketed, rising to £544.6m in 2004 from just £7.8m in the comparable period. The main market also appeared to recover during the four months of this year. In 2003, just five companies braved the equity capital markets, raising £78.7m.

In 2004, this figure edged up to just nine companies. However, the value raised grew to a staggering £809.5m.

IPO activity: 2003 and 2004
  AIM IPOs Main market IPOs AIM £m raised Main market
£m raised
Jan/Apr 2003 9 5 7.8 78.7
Jan/Apr 2004* 46 9 544.6 809.5
* Up to and 19 April 2004
Source: London Stock Exchange