Lawrence Graham LLP

The Scoop

Lawrence Graham LLP underwent a major image overhaul in 2007, when the firm rebranded itself as LG and relocated to large, flashy offices by the Thames. The steps were an effort to put out a new image of a plain-speaking, straightforward business firm for the modern age. Over the years, the firm has built a reputation as a top real estate practice. LG also handles increasingly large amounts of work advising companies listing on the AIM, London's junior stock exchange, and is building on its private client expertise.

 

Hot property

Real estate is the firm's largest practice area, with more than 70 lawyers working on both contentious and non-contentious matters. The firm's former senior partner, Penny Francis, is a heavyweight in this arena, and was one of the few female senior partners in the UK top 50. In property matters, the firm focuses on real estate finance, litigation and restructuring. Clients have included Universities Superannuation Scheme, Whitbread and IVG Institutional Funds. In 2011, LG was appointed for the first time to the regional urban portfolio of the Crown Estate.

Taking AIM

LG commands a strong presence as an advisor on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), where it has been named the "Most Active Legal Advisor" by Business XL/M&A magazine and regularly dominates Hemscott's quarterly rankings of law firms by AIM-listed clients in terms of both total client numbers and market capitalisation. In the period from 2007 to the start of 2010, for example, LG acted on over 50 AIM transactions, raising £2.6 billion of new funds-representing approximately 10 per cent of all monies raised on AIM in that period. In recent years, LG has also undertaken a substantial amount of work in India, with the firm acting for some of the largest Indian technology companies and advising on the IPOs for several Indian-focused companies listed on AIM.

From the Riviera to Red Square

While domestic clients currently generate more than half of the firm's revenue, a sizeable 42 per cent comes from overseas clients; and that number is likely to increase, as the firm's international business continues to expand. Despite the heavy global bent of LG's practice, until recently, the firm had just one office outside London, in the glamorous principality of Monaco. But in 2007, the firm opened its doors in another high-net-worth haven, Dubai, where the firm's practice focuses on private capital, corporate finance and construction projects.

In 2009, the firm made its Russian debut when it merged with Moscow firm Aurora; the new entity operates under the name Lawrence Graham CIS LLP. Prior to the Moscow merger, LG had already been appointed to the legal panel for Lukoil Overseas, the overseas operating arm of Russia's largest privately owned oil and gas company. LG now advises Lukoil Overseas on oil and gas project work, M&A, finance and dispute resolution matters. The firm also has acted for Gazprom, the largest company in Russia, in connection with offshore gas fields in the Barents Sea, and in 2011, LG won a bid to serve as foreign counsel to Naftogaz, Ukraine's state-owned oil and gas company.

Recent News

Team effort saves Olympic Park

Benchmark Scaffolding Limited is one of the largest scaffolding companies in the southeast whose projects have included the Westfield shopping centre, refurbishment of the House of Commons and the Olympic site at Stratford. After Benchmark was placed in administration, LG worked with insolvency specialists at Smith & Williamson to complete the company's restructuring in July 2011. Thanks to their efforts-and to an injection of funds from turnaround investor RCapital-some 350 jobs were saved and construction could continue for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Market listings

In May 2011, LG advised Cape plc, a global provider of industrial services that operates in 28 countries, on its step up from AIM to the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. Simultaneously, the firm advised Cape on its restructuring through the creation of an offshore international holding company, New Cape, with its tax residence in Singapore and Jersey.

Other examples of the firm's recent AIM work include advising wind project company Clipper Windpower Plc when United Technologies Corporation made a $270 million equity investment into Clipper; and helping Brazilian real estate investment company Squarestone Brasil Limited enter AIM with a £28.2 million fund-raising and an initial market capitalisation of £39.5 million.

Big win for investors

While some top firms may be loathe to undertake litigation against financial institutions because of potential blowback from clients, LG is not among them. In July 2011, LG won a closely-watched victory when a panel of Supreme Court judges unanimously dismissed an appeal by Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy estate in which the trustees sought to recoup £61 million from a group of Australian investors. The court held that the priority provisions in the Belmont Park Investments noteholders' collateralised debt obligation (CDO) agreement did not violate the anti-deprivation rule, a 200-year-old principle of English common law whose goal is to prevent assets that would otherwise be available to bankruptcy trustees from being withdrawn or excluded from an insolvent estate. LG represented 29 of the Belmont investors.

Green is the new gold

In January 2011, the firm advised The Threadneedle Low-Carbon Workplace Trust in its inaugural purchase of four office buildings for £42 million. The Trust , founded in 2010 to provide an investment vehicle for those interested in low-carbon commercial real estate, will pay for refurbishment of the buildings to make them more environmentally efficient. The Trust expects the redeveloped properties to be worth £54 million. The fund plans to raise up to £350 million from institutional investors to buy and refurbish up to 50 properties to best practice low carbon standards.

Resource round-up

The natural resources industry has proved particularly ripe for LG's capital markets practice. In 2010, the firm staged a £110 million funding for a reverse takeover for Cove Energy on its conditional acquisition of oil and gas assets in Mozambique and Tanzania; it advised Cenkos Securities Plc on a £18.9 million fundraising for Canadian oil and gas company Caza Oil & Gas, Inc.; and assisted ocean power technology company Marine Current Turbines in a lease agreement with the Crown Estate for the first commercial wave and tidal leasing round in the world.

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Lawrence Graham LLP


4 More London Riverside
London SE1 2AU
Phone: +44 (0)20 7379 0000
www.lg-legal.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing partner: Hugh Maule
  • Total No. Attorneys 2011: 240

Major Office Locations

  • Moscow, Russia
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Monte-carlo, Monaco

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