Freshfields holds on to banks role on MegaFon IPO despite Goldman exit

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has retained its role advising the underwriters on the IPO of MegaFon, despite lead bank Goldman Sachs pulling out of the deal.

Peter Allen
Peter Allen

The news comes as Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and White & Case emerge as further firms to win appointments on the Russian mobile phone operator’s London float.

A Freshfields team led by London debt capital markets partner Peter Allen is acting for MegaFon’s newly-appointed banking syndicate, which consists of Morgan Stanley and Sberbank CIB (formerly Troika Dialog) as the global co-ordinators and Citi, Credit Suisse and VTB Capital as the joint bookrunners.

The company confirmed the underwriting line-up and its intention to float yesterday (9 October).

The syndicate excludes Goldman, which was originally involved in the process as a lead bank but reportedly removed itself from the listing over a concern that MegaFon’s controlling shareholder, oligarch Alisher Usmanov, was planning to merge his assets under a single company.

Freshfields, which has a longstanding relationship with Goldman, was originally appointed by the consortium of banks to advise on the IPO opposite Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, which continues to act for the company. London-based capital markets and finance partner Raj Panasar is leading the Cleary team (12 September 2012).

Meanwhile, Akin Gump and White & Case are both understood to be involved in the IPO in their roles as advisers to MegaFon shareholders.

Akin Moscow capital markets partner Varun Gupta and London corporate partner Artem Faekov are thought to be advising AF Telecom, which now controls 50 per cent and one share of MegaFon.

White & Case is also believed to be advising Sweden’s TeliaSonera, which currently holds a 35.6 per cent in the Russian mobile giant. It is also understood that TeliaSonera will sell off some of its stake in the company as part of the IPO.

Background to this deal:

MegaFon originally filed for permission in September to float a 20 per cent stake in the company that could be worth up to $4bn (£2.5bn), which would make it one of the largest IPOs by a Russian company since VTB Bank’s $8bn (£5bn) listing in 2007.

The IPO is due to take place during the fourth quarter of 2012 and it is understood that Goldman’s decision not to act as global co-ordinator will not delay MegaFon’s bid to float.

Freshfields has been one of Goldman’s go-to firms for high-end equity capital markets (ECM) work and acted as external counsel to the investment bank on two IPOs that it was involved in between 2008 and 2011. Meanwhile, out of 28 Goldman ECM deals that were not IPOs over this period, Freshfields won seven roles (2 January 2012).

Akin Gump and White & Case landed lead roles alongside Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom on MegaFon’s $8.5bn (£5.3bn) shareholder restructuring earlier this year (25 April 2012).

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