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Herbert Smith Freehills and Ashurst get the call up for O2’s listing

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Ashurst have won roles advising Telefonica on its plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of its UK business O2.

Telefonica UK’s newly-employed chief executive Mark Evans told The Telegraph last weekend there is no chance O2 will go to market before the US election in November, but plans are ‘full speed ahead.’

He added Telefonica is looking to sell off between 25% and 49% of O2, which will allow the telecoms company to retain a controlling stake but bring in enough cash to pay down €53bn in debt.

Telefonica has turned to HSF to advise it through the flotation. Legal Business understands the firm’s head of equity capital markets Charles Howarth will lead the team. The telecoms group has opted for experience with Howarth advising TSB Banking Group on its £1.3bn listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2014, and Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate on its £1bn IPO in the same year.

It is understood Ashurst’s head of equity capital markets Nicholas Holmes is leading the team advising the underwriting banks. Advising both corporate clients and investment banks on equity, M&A and corporate finance transactions, Holmes advised Peel Hunt and Liberum Capital which were appointed to manage the Joules Group’s £140mn IPO in May last year.

Yesterday (5 October) it was confirmed Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are advising medical products company ConvaTec on its anticipated $1.8bn IPO.

The IPO market has been slow in the months since the Brexit vote in June, with waste management firm Biffa planning to raise £270m and Pure Gym aiming for a £190m float.