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How Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall helps Ottawa companies go public

Public securities clients include LiveWell Canada and Martello Technologies Group Inc.

Senior members of Perley's business law group
Senior members of Perley's business law group

For those who don’t deal directly in public securities, it can be easy to breeze over the intricacies of taking a company public.

More than a mere administrative process, public securities dealings require a heavy-hitting team that can get the job done diligently and quickly – in many instances, these highly complex moves must happen in a matter of months.

“It’s about managing the many moving parts of the process in a timely and efficient manner,” says Robert Kinghan, a partner with Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. and head of the firm’s business law group.

With more than 40 years of public securities experience, the firm has helped take a number of local companies public.

In June, the firm advised LiveWell Canada as it went public on the TSX Venture exchange. The burgeoning company, also headquartered in Ottawa, creates innovative products using cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids.

In the months since, LiveWell has appointed several new executive team members and published a white paper on the extraction of CBD from industrial hemp. For these and other important moves, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall has been behind the scenes to ensure the budding company doesn’t make any mistakes that put it at risk.

“The balance of telling a good story without being too promotional is a real art form,” says Michael Gerrior, a Partner of the firm and member of its business law group “And you don’t gain that by reading a book or reading legislation, you gain that from experience.”

Even more recently, Martello Technologies Group Inc. went public with the support of Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall; the cloud and enterprise networking firm completed its reverse takeover (RTO) and listing on Sept. 12.

A delicate process

Most companies go public because they need to raise a large amount of capital and believe they can do so by selling stock in their company to the public.

But going public is a complex process and requires strategic moves to ensure the transaction isn’t jeopardized before it even takes place.

The team at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall is fully equipped to take companies from structuring and strategy to their initial public offering (IPO) and beyond.

“You focus on two huge buckets. One is governance and the other one is continuous disclosure, which is really important,” says Timothy McCunn, another member of Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall’s business law group.

Once a company is listed on a public stock exchange, it is obligated to continuously disclose any information that may affect its market price or value.

A complex set of rules for each exchange means that businesses must be able to navigate the potential minefield that is governance and continuous disclosure. For the team at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall, lawyers must simultaneously act as legal counsel, publicist and HR practitioner to ensure their clients don’t make a fatal misstep.

“Whatever you say publicly as a public company has to fall within the rules set for continuous disclosure,” says McCunn. “Fundamentally, what you’re talking about must not mislead the market.”

Trusted advisors

As an Ottawa firm, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall is intimately familiar with the city’s business community, including its burgeoning tech sector.

In recent decades, the team has seen the city’s perception of taking a company public shift. In part, they attribute this to greater awareness of what becoming a publicly traded company means.

The firm has presented a number of seminars to local businesses in tandem with the TSX as a way to grow understanding of the process. And though many of Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall‘s clients choose to take their companies public on one of the Toronto-based stock exchanges, its business law group is equipped to assist with the transaction across any of the world’s 60 exchanges.

At the heart of the law firm’s public securities strength is its depth of expertise, which allows it to punch well above its weight to compete with the country’s top national firms.

“The difference here is that we do it all in Ottawa,” says McCunn.

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