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Capital raisings have changed, say lawyers

Capital raisings have changed, say lawyers

A recent deal has brought to lawyers' attention the changing nature of capital raisings in Australia.

Australand Property Group's entitlement offer to raise $475 million, announced this week, an effort to strengthen its balance sheet, typifies the current "vogue in capital raisings", Tony Sparks, partner at law firm Freehills, told The New Lawyer.

Freehills advised JP Morgan Australian Limited and UBS AG, Australia branch, on their underwriting of the capital raising, while Mallesons Stephen Jaques advised Australand.

Australand undertook the first major undocumented rights issue in July 2008, which set the model for legal processes in the following raisings over the past year, said Mallesons partner Brian Murphy.

But the Australand deal highlights a trend in which capital raisings are executed quickly, but also that they are  moving commercially from more "desperate" capital raisings to what Sparks labels "prudent" capital raisings.

"Previously we were seeing what I would describe as desperate capital raisings, and now we're seeing more prudent capital raisings, where issuers don't have an impending date to pay down their debt or refinance their facilities.

"But they are putting money away for a rainy day and for when markets might improve," he said.

Sparks said the move is likely a product of the fact that the equity capital markets are seen now to be operating successfully and rationally.

"So they are not a source of last resort for companies and funds wanting to raise money," he said. "They can do it now without detrimental effect and it's relatively well received by the market and their existing shareholders."

The offer includes many features of recent capital raisings, said Spark, including being a low-doc accelerated offer, executed in a very short timeframe, with the pre-committed support of existing cornerstone investors.

The Freehills partner said lawyers will have to wait and see whether this trend translates in the next six months to capital raisings for acquisitions and M&A activity.

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Capital raisings have changed, say lawyers
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