WE Soda calls in Latham as it plots first big ticket London listing in 2023

Soda ash producer is planning to raise at least $800m from listing on the London Stock Exchange

London has seen a collapse in IPO listings in recent months Pavel Ignatov / Shutterstock.com

Latham & Watkins is advising on WE Soda’s debut on the London Stock Exchange, with the natural soda ash producer seeking to raise at least $800m in what would be the largest initial public offering (IPO) in London so far this year.

London-headquartered WE Soda is targeting a valuation of about $7.5bn, according to the FT. The cash will be partly used by its parent company Ciner Group – a family-owned Turkish business led by billionaire Turgay Ciner – to repay intercompany loans, WE Soda’s chief strategy officer Nicholas Hall told Reuters. The total size of the offering will be based on investor interest but will account for at least 10% of WE Soda’s share capital, Hall said. The deal is expected to price by the end of June.

Latham’s team on the WE Soda listing is being led by London corporate partners Francesco Lione and James Inness, with additional advice on UK capital markets matters provided by associate Frederick Gardener and on US capital markets matters by associates Rosie Wu, Sean Stanton, Tamara Fayad and Evan Aluyen.

WE Soda’s listing is a much needed boost for London’s ailing IPO market. Fund raising plunged 90% in 2022 to £1bn from £14.3bn a year earlier, according to KPMG. Activity then slumped to a 14-year low in the opening three months of this year, Bloomberg data show, citing elevated inflation and tepid investor appetite. 

Earlier in May, the Financial Conduct Authority said it is mulling changes to its listing rules in an effort to make London a more attractive destination for IPOs, such as replacing its premium and standard listing categories with a single offering, making it less complicated for companies to issue shares in the City.

Soda ash is used in glass manufacturing, including for solar panels and for a component used in electric vehicle batteries, potentially increasing the material’s demand amid the transition to a low carbon economy.  

The UK’s M&A market is also showing signs of life again after a relatively barren period. Earlier this week, Asda announced plans for a £2.3bn acquisition of EG Group’s UK and Ireland business, with a raft of top law firms advising on the deal, including Kirkland & Ellis, Latham and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

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