A trainee's role in Royal Mail's initial public offering
Hector Sants talks about his role in the initial public offering by the UK's designated universal service provider, the Royal Mail.
What kind of work were you doing?
"When the transaction started I was working in one of our Corporate groups, and later rotated into the firm's IP/IT team.
At the beginning, there was a good deal of preparatory work, including advising Royal Mail on the transition from Government body to listed company. In this capacity, I produced a number of memos for Royal Mail on aspects of the company that would change following the IPO. I also spent a lot of time researching IPOs of other letters and parcel delivery companies in continental Europe.
My main role in the following stages was carrying out due diligence. This was a combination of reviewing agreements, liaising with Royal Mail to ensure the data room contained the required materials, and drafting the due diligence report itself.
As the deal progressed to the IPO stage, which coincided with my switch to IP/IT, my role changed to focus on producing the prospectus. This involved drafting discrete sections of it, predominantly in relation to Royal Mail's IP and technology assets.
As the final prospectus submission date approached, I was tasked with liaising with the printers to ensure that all went smoothly."
Were you working as part of a large team?
"It was a large team. I worked predominantly with my supervisor, another associate and one of the partners on the transaction. There were also, at times, up to ten Corporate trainees working on the deal."
Were any other departments involved?
"Absolutely. The deal required the involvement of almost every department in some capacity. This provided a logistical challenge in and of itself, and one of my tasks was scheduling meetings between those departments."
What sort of hours did you work?
"The hours varied throughout the deal. During some parts of the due diligence process, and in the lead up to the final prospectus submission, there were some extremely late nights/early mornings."
What was it like working for such a well-known name?
"It was both challenging and rewarding, and certainly added an extra consideration to the transaction. It was exciting to see each step of the deal reported in the press and gave me a first – hand insight into just how speculative some news articles are!"
Did the prominent nature of the deal make you feel particularly pressured into getting everything right?
"While there was an awareness of how prominent the deal was, I don't think that led to anyone adopting a different approach to any other IPO – there is always a desire to get everything right here. That said, it was fascinating to get an understanding of how public prominence influences strategic decision making."
How did you feel when the deal completed?
"I was actually away on secondment when the deal completed, having flown to Australia about a week before the closing of the offer. However, I certainly kept an eye on it from the other side of the world, and it was extremely rewarding to see the transaction close, particularly given that it had, at that point, made up 12 months of my training contract."
What did you find interesting about the transaction?
"The firm advising on the first major privatisation in a generation threw up a number of unusual considerations that I would be surprised if I ever encounter again during my career. I also, for better or for worse, became a self-taught expert on postage stamp pricing regulation..."