Ashurst wins new client Softcat as company embarks on IPO

Ashurst is advising IT infrastructure provider Softcat on its intention to float on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), with the firm becoming the company’s first chief City legal adviser. 

Softcat, which provides companies with software licensing, networking and data centre infrastructure, has tended to turn to regional firms in the past. 

Ashurst’s team on the listing is led by equity capital markets head Nicholas Holmes, while partner Jennifer Schneck is providing US securities advice. Holmes and Schneck are working alongside Softcat’s general counsel Tim Bell, who joined the company earlier this year from professional services firm Knights. 

Ashurst’s Holmes told The Lawyer:“The company arranged a pitch process and we won, as we were a reasonably obvious choice with a good track record.” 

He added that “an increasing number of issuers are doing their own research on which law firms to use, with Ashurst advising on large IPOs in the last two years including Merlin Entertainments and Kennedy Wilson”.

Meanwhile Allen & Overy (A&O) is advising the underwriters Credit Suisse and Jefferies, after acting on a number of issuer mandates in the last month. Its team was led by corporate partner James Roe and US securities partner Adam Wells, while corporate counsel Michael Block also assisted. 

Softcat’s admission to the main market of the LSE is due to take place in November. The £596m revenue company is partnered with over 200 corporations, including Apple, Citrix, Dell and Microsoft. 

Background to the deal 

Buckinghamshire-based Softcat is a new client for Ashurst, with the company needing to appoint a main City firm to handle IPO work. Ashurst partner Holmes has advised on a number of listings over the past two years, including Merlin Entertainments, Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate and Cairn Homes. 

Meanwhile, A&O has won a number of new clients after successfully pitching for IPO work, including Ibstock and McCarthy & Stone. It also acted for the underwriters, such as Credit Suisse, on the listings of Equiniti and Hastings.   

Last week, A&O partner James Roe said the firm had “made a significant investment in our ECM practice, particularly in the people.” He added that “the number of transactions we’re currently involved in is a testament to that”.