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Zoopla! Freshfields and Slaughter and May line up for £1bn float of the UK’s second biggest property website

The anticipated £1bn initial public offering (IPO) of the UK’s second largest online property website has seen Magic Circle firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May retained to advise as Zoopla prepares to list on the main market later this month.

Advising Zoopla is a Freshfields team led by corporate partners Mark Austin and Adrian Maguire, supported by relationship partner Martin Taylor.

Slaughter and May’s Jeff Twentyman is advising Zoopla’s majority shareholder Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), while fellow corporate partner Richard Smith is adviser to minority shareholders LSL Property Services, Countrywide and Connells.

Both Freshfields and Slaughters have been involved in some of the most high profile IPO mandates in the past few months, including most recently Freshfields’ role as adviser to the underwriters JP Morgan, Citigroup, UBS and Investec on Lloyds’ 25% TSB float for £1.5bn, led by London-based corporate partner Julian Makin.

In April, capital markets partners were attesting to an end to the jitters that have until now dogged the IPO market, with retailers including Poundland, Pets at Home and AO World in recent weeks making their debut on the London Stock Exchange.

Pets at Home listed in mid-March at a value of £1.2bn, gifting Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Clifford Chance and Travers Smith with lead mandates.

However, recent pricings have showed signs of market fatigue, with floats such as Saga listing at the bottom of their range.

In mid-May Patisserie Valerie listed on the AIM market at the bottom of its £170-200p range, raising proceeds of £33m and leading to commentary in the financial press that there has been a softening of the IPO market.

However, corporate partner Jonathan King, who led on the float, told Legal Business: ‘The range was at the top end anyway so this is still a good price.’