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May 27, 2009 4:13 PM

Law Firms Line Up for a Little IPO Action

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: 7:00 p.m., May 27. This story has been updated with the Max Property Group IPO--the largest IPO in Europe so far this year.

Today brings some good news for corporate lawyers who are sick and tired of reading about the downturn in global M&A activity: IPOs are back!

On Tuesday PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust, a Calabasa, Calif.-based  investment firm headed by the former president of embattled home lender Countrywide Financial, announced it had filed papers with the SEC for a $750 million IPO.

PennyMac is owned by the Private National Mortgage Acceptance Company (PNMAC), which is backed by New York-based money manager BlackRock and suburban Boston-based hedge fund Highfields Capital. The IPO does not have a timetable yet, but the company plans to operate as a REIT after the offering.

Sidley Austin corporate partners Edward Fine and J. Gerard Cummins and global securities group head Edward Petrosky are advising PennyMac on the IPO.

Sullivan & Cromwell private equity group cohead Alison Ressler and corporate partner Patrick Brown in Los Angeles advised PennyMac underwriters Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank Securities.

The PennyMac announcement comes on the heels of three IPOs completed within the past week that raised more than $500 million--share issuances that had some observers hearkening back to the glory days of the late nineties, if only for a moment.

New York-based asset management firm Och-Ziff Capital Management is backing a London property IPO for Channel Islands-based Max Property Group, which hopes to raise $306 million on a sub-market of London's stock exchange.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom tax partners James Anderson in London and Pamela Endreny in New York are advising Och-Ziff on the IPO, which is expected to close on Wednesday as the largest IPO in Europe so far this year.

Austin-based SolarWinds, a computer network repair and maintenance company that remarkably, has nothing to do with power or energy, raised a whopping $151 million through its IPO.

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partners Paul Tobias and J. Robert Suffoletta, Jr., advised SolarWinds, which is backed by Bain Capital Ventures and Insight Venture Partners.

Fenwick & West partners Laird Simons III and Robert Freedman advised SolarWinds underwriters JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

OpenTable, an online restaurant reservation service, also got in on the IPO action, tapping Latham & Watkins emerging company practice cochair Patrick Pohlen for an offering that raised more than $60 million.

Davis Polk & Wardwell partner Alan Denenberg advised OpenTable underwriters Merrill Lynch, Stifel Financial, and private investment bank Allen & Company.

Founded in San Francisco in 1998, OpenTable was backed by venture capital firms Benchmark Capital Partners, Impact Venture Partners, Integral Capital Partners, Venture Frogs Fund, and W Capital Partners, hedge fund Pacific Asset Partners, and other investors like Charles Schwab, IAC/InterActiveCorp, Citysearch, and Zagat. Many sold their entire stake in the company through the IPO.

Unfortunately a suspiciously-timed patent infringement suit rained on OpenTable's IPO party. The suit was filed in U.S. district court in San Francisco by investment firm Mount Hamilton Partners (MHP). MHP is represented by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman IP chair James Gatto and associate Benjamin Duranske, founder of the Virtually Blind law blog.

Now flush with cash, at least OpenTable won't have to worry about costly IP litigation. Counsel for the company was not yet immediately available.

Additional reporting by Zach Lowe.

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