Walker Morris partner talks public companies and IPOs

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IPOs are all the rage at Walker Morris this year, with the firm having advised on four already, two of them, Fishing Republic and Gear4music, based in Yorkshire.

The other two, Cleeve Capital delisting to AIM and Satellite Solutions’ reverse takeover.

Corporate partner at Walker Morris, Richard Naish, spoke to TheBusinessDesk.com about Walker Morris’ expertise in the IPO and the ins and outs of being a publicly listed company.

Mr Naish said: “Weve had a run of IPOs but also cover a wide range of work including takeovers of plcs and funding.

“Public companies have always been a focus of the firm and of the team and we continue to invest in and want to grow that section of the business.”

He also discussed what makes Walker Morris stand out from the crowd of other advisory firms in the same market.

“We have the skills in Yorkshire to rival similar firms in London in the way deals are done now, there is less and less requirement to be on the ground to do plc transactions” he said.

“Plenty of businesses outside of London recognise and appreciate the skill set we have, and the price differential between a London and a Yorkshire firm is something we can leverage off. However, regardless of price, we need to show we have the right skill set, if not, we won’t get very far; we have to have an in-depth knowledge as well as being competitive on price. “

I asked him what were some of the challenges firms had when attempting to float, after having so much experience guiding companies through the process. Mr Naish said: “IPO candidates need to be aware of constraints on management’s time. Lawyers, accountants and investors will all require their attention over a about a five month period. They are running the IPO process on top of the day to day job which can put the pressure on.” Shear demands on their time that is the biggest issue.

The transparency required of the process is also another issue, but most will know that they will have to bear all. His advice to companies is to start preparing around 15 months before the planned listing. “Get your advisory team notified early so you can be prepared for the hectic four weeks before an IPO” he said.

On what firms really get out of doing an IPO, apart from the funds (with the added bonus of shareholders) he said: “An IPO generates good PR for the firm, and for the region. Gear 4 music and Fishing Republic (the Yorkshire firms who have floated recently) have been in the press because they have caught the imagination of journalists and the public.”

“There are a number of reasons why people list but each company will be different. Access to capital is the main thing, to help grow and develop their own businesses. There’s also the prestige of being a plc which helps raise profile with customers and suppliers.”

Coming out of recession means there’s a growing sense of activity in the market, but there will be fluctuations.Mr Naish said that Q1 on the IPO front was quieter this year because of General Election, with the uncertainty of the outcome at the time but he also said: “The election results will be a boost to the IPO and M&A market in general.”


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