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The end of the pipeline: Herbert Smith Freehills and Simmons advise AO on float to attain $1bn market cap

A healthy pipeline of London Stock Exchange listings has seen Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) advise online appliances website AO on its proposed initial public offering (IPO), with the small-beginnings Bolton white goods company reportedly expected to attain a market capitalisation of around £1bn upon listing.

The HSF team is being led by equity capital markets (ECM) partner Chris Haynes and includes US-qualified global head of capital markets Steve Thierbach and corporate partner Mike Flockhart. AO, which sells items from fridges to coffee machines through its website, said in a statement last Friday that it plans to raise £60m from the IPO.

Simmons & Simmons is advising the underwriting banks on the deal including Jefferies International, J.P. Morgan, Cazenove and Numis Securities. The team is being led by corporate and ECM partner Colin Bole, alongside US securities partner Julian Perlmutter.

Reports from the financial press including the FT and Bloomberg have placed AO’s capitalisation figure at around the £1bn mark, with the FT placing it between £800m and £1.4bn.

While there were no entries in January to the main list, companies waiting to float in order to provide their private equity investors with an exit include Warburg Pincus-owned Poundland and KKR-owned Pets at Home.

Last year saw IPOs raise $18.7bn, a substantial increase on 2012, which raised just $4.7bn according to Dealogic.

In late January, Dentons and Lawrence Graham advised Hurricane Energy, which focuses on oil reserves in reservoirs beneath the North Sea and has already signed investment and drilling deals with BP and Transocean, as it prepares to float on the AIM market of the LSE with a value of £272m.

Hurricane, which is expected to start drilling in the second half of 2014, was led by Dentons corporate partner Jeremy Cohen, alongside energy partner Danielle Beggs and environment partner Sam Boileu.

Cenkos Securities acted as Hurricane’s nomad and broker, with Lawrence Graham’s head of corporate Geoff Gouriet advising alongside senior associates Rebecca Gordon and Jenna Beever.