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Leveraging its huge international network, Baker McKenzie’s Hong Kong office is regularly involved in multi-jurisdictional aviation financing transactions for a diverse array of market participants including airlines, lessees, lessors and lenders. The ‘very smart’ Andrew Lockhart has excellent connections with numerous PRC and Hong Kong-based banks, which he frequently advises on the facilities to secure the financing of aircraft and for general borrowing purposes for airlines. Allen Ng is also recommended for leasing and financing matters across a range of Asian jurisdictions, including Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (HK) LLP’s three-partner asset finance team in Hong Kong forms part of an integrated global group (including complementary offerings in Singapore, Beijing and London), which provides ‘responsive, cost-effective and commercial’ advice to banks, lessors and operators in the aviation and shipping finance industries. Since the firm’s merger with Hong Kong-based asset finance boutique William KK Ho & Co in July 2016, the team has rapidly gained market visibility, particularly on the aviation finance front as a result of the expertise and knowledge that the ‘brilliant’ William Ho and the ‘very patient, responsive and reliable’ Jackson Chow have in the sector. The team is rounded out a partner level by Nigel Ward, who handles both aviation and shipping finance mandates.

With numerous practitioners on the ground in Hong Kong and also able to call upon the firm’s wider resources, including offices in mainland China and Singapore, in addition to a strong asset finance offering in London, Clifford Chance is well versed at handling highly structured financings, ‘which require attention to details involving multiple tax and legal jurisdictions’. Paul Greenwell has broad experience in Japan and China-related aviation finance and leasing matters, and has recently handled numerous aircraft sales for GECAS, including the disposal of 51 aircraft to Avolon Aerospace Leasing. On the shipping finance front, the team has strong connections with lessors, banks and funds, both in the context of new money transactions and in distressed scenarios. Recent highlights include the team’s work for ICBC regarding the limited recourse financing for SinoEnergy Capital on its purchase and leaseback of two jack-up rigs. The team’s primary ship finance expert Alastair MacAulay retired in September 2017 but corporate partner Neeraj Budhwani has handled numerous transactions in the shipping sector including advising ICBC Financial Leasing on its joint venture with China Merchants to acquire and operate up to 14 Valemax bulk carriers. Senior associate Becky Tai is also recommended. Other clients include Jackson Square Aviation, Macquarie Aircraft Leasing Services and SMBC Aviation Capital.

Clyde & Co LLP’s three-strong Hong Kong shipping finance practice acts as the hub for the firm’s activity in the Asia Pacific region and as well as handling standalone transactions also benefits from the ability to call upon the expertise of practitioners with sectoral shipping expertise across its network of offices including Shanghai, Singapore, London and Dubai. The team was, however, weakened by the departure in August 2017 of former practice head Conor Warde to Mayer Brown JSM. Clients include financial institutions, lessors and investors including ICBC Financial Leasing, GE Capital, China Minsheng Banking and CM International Financial Leasing.

Although HFW’s Hong Kong asset finance practice remains best known for shipping finance work, Justin Sun’s recent arrival has substantially increased the firm’s profile in the aviation market, particularly in light of his ‘familiarity and experience of the Chinese leasing sector’. Sun has handled numerous matters for Minsheng Financial Leasing including recently advising it on the financing and leasing of two Airbus A380 for Asiana Airlines. On the shipping front, as well as continuing to handle new money and refinancing matters for owners and banks, the team is also active on behalf of lessors, which are increasingly prominent in the market. Patrick Cheung is recommended for his shipping finance expertise, while ‘patient and kind’ associate Harriet Fung is noted for her ‘excellent’ work in the aviation sector.

A stalwart of the shipping industry, Ince & Co has deep market penetration for a broad array of stakeholders including banks, lessors, export credit agencies and owners across the spectrum of new money financings and restructurings in the sector. The ‘very personableGary Wong has a thriving practice acting for PRC-based leasing companies, which are increasingly active on deals as the number of commercial banks active in the space has continued to diminish. David Beaves is also recommended, while at associate level, Lorraine Mok has a growing pedigree in the market. Although historically less well known for aviation finance work, the firm is picking up an increasing number of mandates in the sector. Balbir Bindra excels at handling heavily structured financings.

Equally strong at handling aviation and shipping finance matters, Mayer Brown JSM’s ‘exceptional’ asset finance team benefits from ‘unrivalled industry and subject-matter knowledge’, and provides ‘highly commercial’ advice to banks, owners and leasing companies. Maggie Cheung has strong ties with lenders in the region (particularly PRC banks including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) and regularly handles bilateral and syndicated financings in the shipping sector. Senior consultant Dean Young has vast experience in the market acting for banks and leasing companies, while Bill Amos has a focus on ship finance workouts; he is advising Chiyu Bank (a subsidiary of BOCHK) on the enforcement of its mortgage over “YONG FU”. The team was also recently bolstered, particularly on the PRC leasing side, by the arrival of the ‘excellent’ Conor Warde from Clyde & Co LLP in August 2017. On the aviation front, the ‘exceptionally detail-orientedRichard Stock is noted for his ‘excellent negotiation skills’ and has expertise across a range of cross-border commercial and financing activity for banks, lessors and airlines. Stuart Miller handles cross-border commercial aircraft finance, leasing and corporate jet transactions, and is also increasingly active advising PRC aircraft lessors on their financing requirements for aircraft portfolios. Recent highlights include acting for China COSCO Shipping Corporation in a 53 ship financing transaction with The Export-Import Bank of China.

Norton Rose Fulbright provides ‘technical, practical and commercial advice’ to a broad range of finance providers including banks, lessors and funds engaged in both new money transactions and restructurings. The team has ‘excellent knowledge of the shipping industry’ and is able to leverage the firm’s global expertise in the sector to seamlessly handle cross-border work. ‘Technically strong’ team head Jonathan Silver has ‘excellent connections within the Chinese market’ and has therefore been well positioned to exploit the growing importance of Chinese leasing companies providing liquidity to the market as a result of the retrenchment of numerous international banks in the sector. Senior associate Georgina Axon is also recommended, as is associate Siavush Mokhtar, who provides ‘responsive and practical advice’ to banks and lessors. Clients include Bank of China, CCB Financial Leasing, CDB Leasing, Standard Chartered Bank and ICBC Financial Leasing.

Led by Paul Jebely, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s nascent aviation finance practice is handling a significant amount of work for an array of airlines (Nok Airkines and Jeju Airlines, for example), financial institutions (DVB Bank) and leasing companies (AerCap and China Aircraft Leasing Company). The team has handled numerous matters for Investec Bank including the financing of a portfolio of 17 helicopters and the financing of one new Gulfstream G450 aircraft.

Reed Smith Richards Butler is ‘particularly strong advising borrowers’ on shipping finance mandates and continues to act for China COSCO Shipping Corporation (COSCO), the largest shipping group in the world, on the majority of its high-value US-dollar shipping-related financings. The ‘superb’ Peter Lee handles much of this work, including advising COSCO on over $4.5bn of pre- and post-delivery financing, restructuring and refinancing, lease financing and deliveries of 84 vessels, various term loan facilities and multiple marine container financings. Lee also recently advised CIMC Capital on the $93.5m sale and leaseback financing of five container vessels involving French shipping giant CMA CGM as a counterparty. The team regularly partners with practitioners from across the firm’s network on major multi-jurisdictional matters; for example, alongside practitioners in London, it advised an international investment fund on the acquisition of four vessels from a distressed Chinese shipyard. Chris Tang has a strong track record handling syndicated and bilateral transactions for banks and borrowers including many in the shipping sector. Associate Belinda Lee is also recommended.

Stephenson Harwood provides ‘responsive and commercial advice’ to banks, lessors, export credit agencies and operators in the aviation and maritime sectors. Aided by the firm’s enhanced presence on the ground in China, the practice continues to pick up market share on behalf of PRC leasing companies, both in terms of their role as lenders and also when they need to borrow money. The ‘very likeableHongkai Zhou has been ‘extremely effective at picking up work out of China’, and alongside recently promoted partner Elton Chan, advised China Development Bank Financial Leasing on a sale and lease back project of eight large ore carriers, which will be chartered by an affiliate of Australian mining conglomerate Fortescue Metals Group. In addition to his work for lessors and banks on conventional ship finance work, Roy Chan is also regularly instructed by high-net-worth individuals on the financing of superyachts. On the aviation front, the firm handles work for lessors including ICBC Financial Leasing and JIC Leasing. As well as handling financing work for leasing companies, where the ‘excellentSimon Wong is recommended, the team has also been active establishing platforms for PRC lessors in Hong Kong in recognition of the tax advantages of doing so. ‘Hardworking and knowledgeable’ associate Elian Wong is also recommended for aircraft financing and leasing transactions.

With an impressive roster of banking and lessor clients including Credit Suisse, HSH Nordbank, ICBC Leasing and Minsheng Financial Leasing, Watson Farley & Williams’ 11-strong team is ‘extremely knowledgeable on shipping matters’. It provides ‘responsive and effective advice’ on new money financings and restructurings involving all types of shipping-related assets including containers, bulkers, tankers and LNG vessels. Department head Madeline Leong has ‘vast experience’ in the North Asia shipping market and is praised for her ‘commerciality and practicality’ as well as her ‘excellent negotiating skills’; she recently advised Credit Agricole Asia Shipfinance on the structuring and financing of two Japanese operating leases with call option relating to two Hong Kong flagged oil tankers under a sale and leaseback transaction with Parakou Tankers. The ‘affable and user-friendly’ Christoforos Bisbikos is the other partner in the team and is recognised as a ‘very safe pair of hands for maritime debt financing’. Although he is relatively new to the Hong Kong market, having relocated there from Athens in 2015, Bisbikos is ‘very aware of the market conditions and has made a real impact in the Chinese market’. The ‘very hardworking’ Ryan Tan and Valerie Lee are both highly regarded associates, as is Tom Van Hoof, who is noted for his ‘attention to detail’.

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