Ashurst, Davis Polk and Slaughters at the wheel for Esure IPO

Ashurst, US firm Davis Polk & Wardwell and Slaughter and May have won lead roles advising on the planned IPO of Esure, the insurance company behind Sheila’s Wheels and Go Compare.


The motor insurance company, which famously coined the phrase “Calm down dear, it’s only a commercial”, confirmed today (27 February) that it would raise £50m through the listing to pay off outstanding debt, an offer that will include the partial sale of existing shares held by founder Peter Wood and members of his management team.

Slaughters is advising Esure after successfully pitching for the work, with London-based corporate and commercial partners John Papanichola and Jonathan Marks taking the lead. The London team also includes the firm’s head of competition, Philippe Chappatte, head of pensions and employment Jonathan Fenn and financial regulation head Ruth Fox. Tax partner Gareth Miles, IP and IT partner Cathy Connolly and real estate partner Jane Edwarde are also advising.

The City firm also instructed the London office of former ally Davis Polk to advise Esure on US matters. The team is led by London-based European financial institutions head Jeffrey Oakes, as well as counsel John Satory.

The syndicate for the IPO comprises Deutsche Bank as joint global co-ordinator and joint bookrunner, JPMorgan Cazenove as joint global co-ordinator, joint bookrunner and sole sponsor and Canaccord Genuity and Numis Securities as co-lead managers. They turned to Ashurst for advice, with London corporate partner Nick Bryans and London-based US group partner Ray Fisher taking the lead.

Background to this deal:

Lead Slaughters partners Papanichola and Marks pitched to Esure for this mandate a couple of years ago. The pair then turned to Davis Polk for US matters on the deal as both had worked with European finance head Jeffrey Oakes on other matters.

Two years ago Taylor Wessing, which is understood not to be advising on this mandate, fielded a seven-partner deal team to advise Esure on the group’s £185m private equity-backed management buyout from Lloyds Banking Group. The buyout brought to an end a tempestuous 15-month relationship between founder Peter Wood and Lloyds, which itself operates a competing car insurance business (1 March 2010).