Freshfields and Linklaters scoop lead roles on Saga’s bumper £3bn IPO

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters are advising on Saga’s planned IPO, which is set to be the largest public offer of shares since the privatisation of Royal Mail.

The group, which provides a range of services from holidays to insurance to over 50’s, will have a free float of at least 25 per cent in an effort to raise £550m in order to reduce its net debt. 

Freshfields is advising new client Saga on the transaction, with advice led by corporate partner Chris Mort. Meanwhile, Linklaters has taken a key role for the banks which include underwriters Citigroup, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Cazenove and UBS. 

Linklaters fielded a team including corporate partners Owen Clay and John Lane, and capital markets partner Patrick Sheil. 

The floatation marks a break-up of Saga’s parent company Acromas, which formed seven years ago when private equity houses Permira, CVC Capital and Charterhouse merged Saga with roadside recovery business AA in a £6.2bn deal. 

The merger bought an end to speculation of Saga launching an IPO back in 2007. At the time, the business had instructed legacy Herbert Smith to investigate the prospects of a floatation, with Allen & Overy winning a role representing financial advises Merrill Lynch and UBS (25 June 2007). 

Background to this deal: 

Saga marks a substantial new client win for Freshfields, and comes as a rebuff to Herbert Smith Freehills which advised on Saga’s proposed IPO back in 2007. At the time, Saga turned to corporate partner Ben Ward, who held the firm’s closest relationship with the business. 

Of Saga’s private equity owners, Charterhouse is the largest investor, holding a 35.8 per cent stake in the business, while the other two firms each own 19.9 per cent. Employees hold 20.2 per cent, and other investors 4.2 per cent. 

Charterhouse is thought to have close ties with firms including Simpson Thacher, Allen & Overy, Dickson Minto and Ashurst. CVC regularly turns to Clifford Chance and Freshfields, while Permira regularly takes counsel from firm including Clifford Chance, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, Linklaters and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.