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Firms rescued by capital raisings
International firm comes under fire in Federal Court:

Firms rescued by capital raisings

Capital raisings are keeping law firms busy as clients rush to raise funds in an uncertain market.

Capital raisings are keeping law firms busy as clients rush to raise funds in an uncertain market. 

This sort of work is keeping law firms afloat as IPOs and other typically profitable projects have virtually disappeared in the global financial downturn.

“There are equity capital raisings occurring in this environment because raising debt is so difficult,” Victoria Poole, partner at Allens Arthur Robinson, said. “We’ve done lots and lots of these recently.”

“There is plenty of work in the capital markets space, where companies are considering how they can strengthen their balance sheets by raising additional capital,” Poole said. “And that is influenced by current market conditions.”

The most recent capital raising project for Allens is Aristocrat Leisure Limited’s recent institutional placement, which raised $200million. The firm is also advising the world’s second largest maker of slot machines, Aristocrat, on the share purchase plan and offer to the Ainsworth family shareholders to raise a further $75 million. 

Deals like this come in quickly and are often over within weeks, so the partners and lawyers are working in short but intense spurts. Allens and other firms are temporarily moving lawyers from other practice areas to help with the often short-lived workload. 

Last week media groups STW Communications and Seek both announced capital raisings initiatives, while gaming business Sky City Entertainment sought to raise around $NZ179 ($139) million to pay its own debts. 

The increase in capital raisings is welcomed by firms, however, as they face a drop in other work. Allens has also been involved in the TabCorp notes issue, the first ASX corporate bonds issue in almost 20 years. 

“We may start to see a few more retail bonds issues, since the first one is out there now,” Poole said.

The Aristocrat project, meanwhile, has been fraught with problems. It faced recent scrutiny over a dramatic rise in short-selling in its shares the day before its $275 million capital raising. 

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission looked into the shorting amidst growing concerns among investors that top investment banks and fund managers are privy to the details on pricing and size of Australia’s biggest capital raisings. 

Last week, ahead of the Aristocrat capital raising, 51 per cent of its turnover was traded by short-sellers. 

Aristocrat’s chief financial officer, Simon Kelly, said it was a coincidence that the stock was shorted a day before the capital raising. 

Shareholders in Aristocrat Leisure now wait for the findings of a summary judgment in the US District Court on the issue of damages that could cost the company up to $350million. 

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