Smith & Williamson lines up autumn stock market launch

Sources at S&W said a decision to undertake an IPO will be largely
dependent on the figures for year end April 2007. The numbers are said to be on
track, and alongside a benign market should see the firm take a public listing
in the autumn.

‘It’s not time-critical when we go to market,’ said one source. ‘But Easter
will give us a better feel for an opportunity this year.’

‘Autumn 2007 is where we’re heading,’ said another source. ‘It’s been a long
time in the planning, but realistically we won’t rush.’

Smith & Williamson is not alone in looking at an IPO. Bosses at Vantis
indicated they expected upheavals in firm ownership, especially given the
Clementi law reforms that are deregulating the ownership of law firms.

During the launch of Vantis’ interims last week, Jackson revealed that there
was ‘significant interest’ among other firms. ‘S&W are not the only ones
interested in listing. But those looking to do what we’ve done, it has to be
done as an integrator model rather than the consolidator model,’ he added.

Vantis has bought traditional audit and tax compliance firms, looking to
cross-sell consultancy services to a roster of clients.

S&W chief executive Gareth Pearce said ‘nothing had changed’ regarding
the firm’s listing strategy since it purchased NCL in 2002, when it promised to
consider an IPO before April 2008.

But Pearce confirmed that the firm would look further into the IPO during the

The release of S&W’s annual report last September revealed the firm had
appointed advisers to help the business consider flotation.

The firm posted strong growth figures for 2005/2006. Income for the year
ended 30 April 2006 climbed to £134.3m from £105.8m a year earlier. Profit
before tax climbed to £20.1m from £12.4m.

City analysts had earlier suggested that the firm’s market capitalisation
could be valued at £250m – 15 times its earnings.

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