BLP advises Schroders Property Investment Managers on AIM IPO of WELPIC

International law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is advising property investment management company Schroders on the AIM IPO of West End of London Property Investment Company (WELPIC), a newly formed, Guernsey incorporated closed-ended investment company. The deal, which announced on Wednesday 9 January 2013, aims to raise over £100m for WELPIC through a placing of Ordinary Shares and is [one of the first IPOs to be announced this year.]

After the shares are admitted to AIM, WELPIC intends to achieve a market capitalisation of over £250m within the next 18 – 24 months, with future plans to admit its shares to the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange once growth targets have been achieved.

WELPIC will invest in the West End of London Property Unit Trust (“WELPUT”), a Jersey closed-ended unit trust, to gain access to the market for office property in London’s West End and Mid-Town districts. WELPUT has been managed by Schroders and advised by Grafton Advisors since it was established in 2001 and owns an £850m (as at 28 December 2012) portfolio of diversified real estate assets. 

BLP has a proven reputation acting on public markets transactions for listed investment companies in the real estate sector, having been involved in a number of similar transactions in recent years. These include the Main Market IPO of Duet Real Estate Finance, AIM IPO of Squarestone Brazil (advising Liberum Capital), Main Market IPO of PXP Vietnam Fund (advising Seymour Pierce), CISX listing of ApexHi Property Fund and the AIM IPO and subsequent move to Main Market of Raven Russia. In the wider listed funds arena, members of the team have also previously advised GCP Infrastructure Investments and Loudwater Trust

This latest listed funds transaction for Schroders was led by Corporate Finance partner Benjamin Lee, assisted by senior associate Richard Werner, associates Hari Guiliani and Theo Clarke. Tax partner Cathryn Vanderspar also provided advice, supported by senior associate Amy Manchia.

Commenting on the deal, Benjamin Lee said: “Given the tough equity capital markets landscape, this is a strong start to the year and is testament to the determination of Schroders to float its feeder fund, which will provide excellent opportunities for investment in the UK real estate market.  We are delighted to be advising Schroders – a new client for the corporate finance practice – on this high-profile mandate and wish them every success with their fundraising process and in achieving their target market capitalisation.”

Schroders Head of Property, William Hill said: “BLP worked collaboratively with all parties involved in order to be able to announce today. We were particularly impressed by the team’s specialist knowledge of the listed investment companies’ sector and their commitment and dedication to our transaction.”
Lawrence Graham advised Oriel Securities, who acted as nominated adviser and broker on the transaction.

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