Freshfields and Slaughters land key roles on Zoopla’s £919m IPO

A raft of firms including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May have advised on Zoopla Property Group’s IPO.

Freshfields took the key role for the property website after winning a competitive pitch process, marking a new client for the magic circle firm. 

As part of the transaction, Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT) which is Zoopla’s majority shareholder, sold 19 per cent of its holding in the offering and opted to retain a 33.7 per cent stake. 

Other shareholders involved include Countrywide, Connells, LSL Property Services, Atlas Venture Fund and Octopus Zenith. 

In an unusual move, the IPO features an exclusive members arrangement, whereby Zoopla’s 18,000 estate agent client were offered the chance to purchase shares at a discount to the offer price listed in the IPO. 

The members who have opted to buy shares will be allocated £9.2m of shares for a total investment of £7.4m. They will also be able to purchase the same amount at the same discounted price next year. 

Corporate partners Mark Austin and Adrian Maguire led Freshfields’ team on the deal. Austin said: “They’re a highly impressive team and it was a very interesting deal from a legal perspective, involving multiple selling shareholders and a highly bespoke offer to the company’s estate agent clients.” 

He continued: “To have been able to support them in moving successfully to the next stage of their development has been great and also to see the IPO well-received by the market.” 

The pair were supported by Freshfields’ senior relationship partner with Zoopla, Martin Taylor, and corporate partner Doug Smith. 

Slaughter and May corporate partner Jeff Twentyman advised majority shareholder DMGT, while partner Richard Smith advised minority shareholders LSL Property Services, Countrywide and Connells. 

Gibson Dunn advised another shareholder Atlas, led by corporate partner James Barabas. Meanwhile, Herbert Smith Freehills picked up a role for the underwriters, led by capital markets partners Chris Haynes and Alex Bafi. 

Background to this deal:

Freshfields and Gibson Dunn previously crossed paths on Zoopla’s merger with DMGT’s consumer media division A&N Media back in October 2011 (24 October 2011). On that transaction Gibson Dunn advised Zoopla, led by corporate partners Barabas and Ken Lamb. 

Freshfields advised both Zoopla and A&N Media on competition issues, fielding competition and litigation partner Mark Sansom. 

RPC took the lead role for DMGT. However, last year the Trust turned to Freshfields on the buyout of its remaining voting shares by Rothermere Continuation Trust.