FFW, Mayer Brown advise as Abramovich invests in Oxford green-tech group

Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) and Mayer Brown have won roles advising on a deal that sees Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich invest £4.3m in a small gas-to-liquids technology company.

Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich

The Chelsea FC owner’s Ervington Investments injected £4.3m into an oil and gas company owned by Oxford Catalysts as the group, founded by Oxford University’s Chemistry department in 2004, raises £30.6m in a share issue.

Mayer Brown’s London office advised longstanding client Oxford Catalysts with corporate partner Rob Hamill leading a team that included senior associate Beccy Bothamley and associate Katharine Muldown.

According to Mayer Brown, Oxford Catalysts, which develops ways of turning bio waste into clean synthetic fuels, intends to use the net proceeds of the placing to drive the commercial rollout of its green technology.

Hamill commented: “This fundraising shows that there is strong investor support for the company’s technology in commercial projects.”

FFW represented joint brokers Numis Securities and Cenkos Securities in the transaction, with corporate partner Jonathan Brooks taking the lead.

Abramovich, who has previously turned to Skadden for advice, is not believed to have used legal advisers for the deal because Ervington Investments bought the stake with other institutions in the placing, which were all based on standard documents.

Rob Hamill
Rob Hamill

Another major investor, fund manager Invesco, is also not understood to have instructed outside lawyers.

Background to this deal:

Numis and Cenkos are both new clients for FFW after corporate partner Jonathan Brooks joined the firm from Maclay Murray & Spens in October. Although Brooks had not worked directly with Cenkos at his previous firm it was here that he got to meet the team and subsequently win the work. Numis was instructed by Oxford Catalysts and chose to use the same legal adviser as Cenkos.

Mayer Brown previously advised Oxford Catalysts on the conditional placing of shares to raise £21m in 2011 as well as on its acquisition of Ohio-based Velocys in 2008.

For more on Numis’s legal advisers, see number crunching and an interview with general counsel Michael Lee