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Despite banks still having to grapple with various regulatory hurdles impacting on their ability to lend (including heightened restriction placed on capital reserves), they are, for the correct targets, more than willing to provide funding. This level of supply coupled with a relative paucity of deals (particularly in light of various political events including Brexit creating a degree of uncertainty in the market) has meant that both private equity sponsors and corporate acquirers are the power brokers in negotiations and can therefore increasingly dictate the terms with which acquisitions are funded.

The removal of jurisdictional boundaries between loan markets in the US and Europe has presented an opportunity for lenders to compete across borders and for sponsors to achieve more favourable contractual terms as a consequence of the widening of the investor base and the ability to access increasing choice as to where to acquire capital. Large borrowers and sponsors continue to be able to access a wide array of funding sources, with New York law-governed high yield bonds and covenant-lite US Term Loan B debt continuing to occupy a prominent place in the capital structure on many, primarily big-ticket deals. However, European lenders have reacted to the flight of borrowers to the US markets to fund deals and are adapting their product lines to attract business. Therefore, increasingly transactions are being structured in a covenant-lite fashion – in part due to the relative ease with which banks are able to sell on their debt in the CLO market (although the European market is still dwarfed by the institutional loan market in the US). This covenant-lite approach has manifested itself most prominently in the burgeoning European Term Loan B market which is increasingly gaining traction in the market, particularly in light of the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program supressing interest rates into negative territory, leaving investors starved of yield.

On the larger deals in the market flexibility is key, and the law firms that are most valued by participants in the industry are those that can provide a credible offering across the key financing products including high yield bonds, Term loan B, Yankee loans and hybrid European leveraged loans with New York style covenant packages.

This trend of cross-pollination naturally plays to the strengths of the US firms based in London, most prominent of these in the leveraged market is Latham & Watkins, a well-earned acknowledgement of its ability to provide a flexible approach to clients on both New York and English law financing products in the loan and bond markets. White & Case LLP has the broadest and most comprehensive finance offering. In spite of this changing dynamic in the leveraged finance market, the Magic Circle firms remain at the heart of the highest-profile deals in the market and have to varying degrees been successful in ramping up their high yield and Term Loan B capability. Of these, Allen & Overy LLP, Clifford Chance LLP and Linklaters LLP all remain at the top of the acquisition and investment grade finance market, in addition to many of the other finance categories, and the sheer strength and depth of their teams, as well as their large international spread of offices, ensures that they are able to handle a tremendous range and volume of multi-jurisdictional mandates.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP benefits from a particularly strong debtor-focused client base (including FTSE 100 and 250 clients, as well as private equity sponsors) and as a result is often involved in many of the largest transactions in the market, a fact that is reflected in its elevated position in many of the finance categories. Although it is more generalist in its approach than many firms in the market, Slaughter and May is also able to leverage an enviable roster of corporate clients, as well as often being involved in sensitive matters involving government input.

The rise of the credit fund market continues unabated and while the levels of activity are still a long way off that of the US, new funds are appearing with increased regularity, driven in part by investor demand to extract higher yields out of what remains a low interest environment. Although it remains primarily a mid-market product (aimed at providing funding to smaller less creditworthy companies, who in light of tightened credit standards for banks are unable to obtain leverage from traditional sources), direct lending has moved up the food chain with some funds able to write increasingly large cheques to finance deals, either on their own or in a club with other funds. Ashurst and Hogan Lovells International LLP remain two of the most dominant players in this sector, although as the product matures many other firms are seeking to pick up market share. In addition to its deep penetration among credit funds, Ashurst’s longstanding ties with private equity sponsors and numerous banks ensures that it picks up a raft of new money deals, and matters that require restructuring and consequently it performs well in the acquisition finance, bank lending and corporate restructuring sections, in particular. Other high-ranking firms include Baker McKenzie and Herbert Smith Freehills LLP for emerging markets and bank lending; Dentons, for trade finance and asset finance; and Simmons & Simmons, for derivatives and trade finance. Clyde & Co LLP, Hill Dickinson LLP, HFW, Ince & Co, Reed Smith LLP, Stephenson Harwood and Watson Farley & Williams LLP are all key players in commodities (physicals) deals, a discipline that relies heavily on a strong complementary shipping group. Able to leverage their respective pre-eminent sponsor client bases, Kirkland & Ellis International LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP perform well for acquisition finance, as does Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP, which, in addition to its entrenched private equity ties has an increasingly formidable roster of banking clients. Dechert LLP is growing its acquisition finance capability, following most notably the recent hires of leading mid-market finance lawyers Philip Butler and David Miles from DLA Piper.


Acquisition finance

Index of tables

  1. Acquisition finance
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Acquisition finance clients in London using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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With 31 leveraged finance partners based in London and also able to tap into its extensive international network, Allen & Overy LLP is well placed to advise banks, corporates, sponsors, and an increasing number of debt funds, on domestic and cross-border financing deals. The firm is also expanding its finance offering in the US; having made a series of significant hires over the past year, the firm is able to tap into the increasingly convergent UK and US financing markets. Co-head of global leveraged finance Jonathan Brownson recently advised the mandated lead arrangers, including Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, on the €920m covenant-lite financing to support EQT’s acquisition of Bilfinger Group. Greg Brown, who handles acquisition finance deals as part of his wide-ranging finance expertise, recently advised the lenders, including Deutsche Bank and HSBC, on a $25bn acquisition finance facility to facilitate British American Tobacco’s $40.4bn acquisition of the remaining stake in Reynolds American. Robin Harvey has an excellent reputation among private equity sponsors and recently advised PAI Partners on the €337m senior term loan facility and €60m revolving facility in support of its acquisition of Ethypharm. David Campbell handles both leveraged finance and investment grade acquisition finance matters for both lenders and borrowers; he recently advised the lenders on the €600m financing to support Shanks Group’s acquisition of Van Gansewinkel Groep. Other recommended partners include the ‘very impressive’ Nicholas Clark, Philip Bowden, Matt Moore and Timothy Polglase. Stephen Kensell joined Latham & Watkins in September 2016. RBS, Advent International and Providence Equity Partners are additional clients of the team.

Clifford Chance LLP has the critical mass and level of expertise among its practitioners to provide a ‘proactive and cost-effective’ service on behalf of banks, sponsors and corporates including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, CVC Capital and J Sainsbury. The firm has been active on a number of covenant-lite Term Loan B financings in several large-cap deals; Taner Hassan recently advised EQT on the €1.2bn financing (involving Term Loan B and revolving credit facilities, as well as a bonding line of credit) to facilitate its acquisition of Bilfinger’s real estate services division. The team is also well versed in handling transactions incorporating both bond and bank financings as exemplified by Charles Cochrane and Fabio Diminich’s recent work for the arrangers and underwriters in relation to the €380m high yield bond and €100m super senior revolving credit facility in support of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and WM Holding’s acquisition of BUT, the largest furniture retailer in France. The firm has also been active advising on infrastructure-related acquisition finance mandates, including the London and Paris offices recent work for lenders on the senior and junior financing of First State Investment’s acquisition of Coriance SAS, the French district heating business. The ‘technically strong’ Emma Folds ‘is focused on representing lenders and is a very safe pair of hands’ for both banks and credit funds. Folds recently advised Commerzbank, as agent for a syndicate of lenders, on the $750m multi-currency term loan facilities provided to RPC Group on its acquisition of Letica and for the repayment of existing indebtedness. Jim MacHale and the ‘calm and experienced’ Michael Bates are also recommended.

Praised for its ‘responsive, knowledgeable and highly technical’ approach, Latham & Watkins’s ‘strong and well-resourced’ 11-partner team has the strength-in-depth, on both the bank and bond-side, to service a broad mix of banks, sponsors and alternative lenders. The team also benefits from an impressive global presence, including offices in Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and US, to handle a range of complex domestic and cross-border mandates. Team head Sam Hamilton has deeply entrenched ties with leading European private equity sponsor Nordic Capital, recently advising it on the financing, including a €3.4bn bridge and €1bn revolving credit facility, to facilitate Lindorff’s combination with Intrum Justitia. The ‘excellent’ Dominic Newcomb is also particularly strong on the sponsor side; he recently advised EQT Partners on the €773m financing in connection with its acquisition of Kuoni Travel. Alongside Jayanthi Sadanandan, Newcomb also advised Onex Corporation on the first lien/second lien acquisition financing of Parkdean Resorts; notably this was the largest leveraged buyout of a UK target since the Brexit referendum. Adrian Chiodo is well versed in leveraged buyouts across the capital structure including deals with an international complexion; Chiodo recently worked alongside the firm’s Paris office to provide advice to the lenders, including BNP Paribas and JP Morgan, on the €410m financing to facilitate TowerBrook Capital Partner’s acquisition of Infopro Digital. Other recommended partners include the ‘very impressive’ and ‘highly technical’ Christopher Kandel; the ‘very strong’ Ross Pooley, who as part of his broad-ranging practice is handling an increasing amount of work for pension funds as lenders; Ross Anderson, who benefits from a ‘refreshingly no-nonsense approach’; and bank-side expert Stephen Kensell, who joined the team in September 2016 from Allen & Overy LLP. Clients include JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Ares Management and Permira Advisers.

Leveraging the firm’s extensive international network, the ‘very hardworking and approachable’ team at Linklaters LLP has an ‘excellent perspective of the overall market’ and is well-versed in both bank and bond financing, as well as Term Loan B financing. Recent highlights include advising BC Partners on the €695m European covenant-loose Term Loan B and €150m payment in kind (PIK) facility in connection with its acquisition of Israel-based Keter Plastics. With assistance from the firm’s Milan office, Adam Freeman recently advised the lenders, including UniCredit and BNP Paribas, on the financing to facilitate CVC’s acquisition of Doc Generici from Charterhouse. Incorporating a €325m Term Loan B facility and a €50m revolving credit facility, the transaction was one of the first covenant-lite loan only deals in Italy. The ‘very strong’ team also includes Edward Aldred, who is ‘excellent on Term Loan B deals’; the ‘smart and practical’ Oliver Edwards; the ‘excellent’ Nick Syson; and Annette Kurdian, who is appreciated by clients for her ‘up to date knowledge of market evolution’. Other clients include HSBC, UBS, Carlyle Group and Alcentra.

Although it is largely absent from deals in the market that contain a US nexus and a high yield element, Ashurst’s ‘very responsive’ team has stayed ‘really up to date on the prevailing market conditions’ impacting UK and European leveraged finance deals, in particular, and is recognised as a ‘market leader on unitranche deals’ as a result of close ties with leading non-bank lenders including Haymarket Financial and BlueBay Asset Management, amongst others. Helen Burton (‘excellent at handling leveraged finance transactions’) has developed a particularly strong reputation in the credit fund and unitranche space; her recent work includes advising CVC Credit Partners on a unitranche facility to Bregal Freshstream for the acquisition of Verwater from Infestos. Ross Ollerhead provides ‘technically strong and commercial advice’ to direct lending clients including Crescent Capital, which he advised on the subordinated debt facilities it provided to support HgCapital’s acquisition of The Foundry. The team also has a strong reputation among banking and private equity clients, for which it handles deals in the mid to upper-mid market, where RBS, HSBC and Charterhouse Capital Partners are core clients. Paul Stewart recently advised Charterhouse Capital Partners on the covenant-lite financing implemented to facilitate its acquisition of Coopération Pharmaceutique Française SAS and subsequent bolt-on acquisition of the Vemedia Group. Nigel Ward and the ‘unflappable and impressive’ Jane Fissenden are both increasingly active for banks and sponsors in relation to the financing of infrastructure assets. Other recommended partners include Mark Vickers, Martyn Rogers, Tim Rennie and Paul Stewart.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s integrated finance practice has the bandwidth to provide a ‘commercial and flexible service’ to a predominantly borrower focused client base across the spectrum of debt products including European and US Term Loan B and high yield bonds. The firm continues to generate a substantial flow of work from leading private equity sponsors including CVC Capital Partners, which Alex Mitchell and New York-qualified Denise Ryan acted for on the €620m Term Loan B and €25m revolving credit facility in connection with its acquisition of a majority stake in Tipico Group, Germany’s market-leading sports betting provider. Christopher Davis has an excellent reputation in the leveraged finance market and has acted for Cinven on the financing of numerous acquisitions across Europe including on its recent acquisition (alongside Canada Pension Plan Investment Board) of Hotelbeds from TUI. Davis also advised global growth private equity firm, General Atlantic, on the financing for its acquisition of Argus Media. As well as advising private equity sponsors, Sean Pierce also regularly handles financing work for the firm’s vast roster of corporate clients including on their event driven financings. Ward McKimm is also recommended.

The ‘tenacious and diligent’ team at Kirkland & Ellis International LLP provides an ‘exceptional service’ to a first-rate roster of private equity sponsor clients, including Lion Capital, Bain Capital and KKR. It has an extensive track record of handling sophisticated deals across the spectrum of financial products including senior, unitranche and high-yield debt financing. Praised for its ‘value-add in tactics when it comes to negotiating’, the team is also supported by a pre-eminent commercial lending offering in the US and is thereby well-placed to handle matters implementing US finance products including Term Loan B, as well as being at the forefront of the export of these US terms to the European market. ‘Tenacious and diligent’ team head Stephen Lucas (who is an ‘intellectual powerhouse’) recently advised new client Charterhouse Capital Partners on the financing aspects of its acquisition of Optima, an Italian ice cream ingredients manufacturer, from Nocciola. Neel Sachdev is regarded as ‘one of the best in the field’ and is praised for his ‘excellent read of the market’. Sachdev recently acted for Lone Star on the financing of its secondary market acquisition of the Xella Group, and worked alongside the ‘experienced and creative’ Christopher Shield on the financing aspects of Bain Capital’s sale of Brakes to Sysco. Michael Steele is also recommended.

‘One of the more flexible in the field’, Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP’s ‘user-friendly’ team has a ‘great grasp on market trends’, both from a sponsor and lender perspective. Benefiting from two high-profile US-qualified partners in London, who advise on the New York law governed high yield element of deals, as well as from a large indigenous US team, the practice has excellent credibility among US sponsors and investment banks. The ‘excellent’ Reena Gogna is well regarded by sponsors and lenders, and as result is regularly involved in complex leveraged finance transactions for high-profile clients including JP Morgan and Bain Capital. Gogna has also provided the financing input to corporates on their acquisitions, including her work, alongside the New York office, for AMC Entertainment on its $595m and £250m senior subordinated notes offerings to part finance its £921m acquisition of Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group Limited (UK). The firm is also at the forefront of the increased migration of US-style documentation to European deals, as well as handling unitranche mandates for direct lenders. The ‘commercially aware and user-friendly’ Tom Richards handles a considerable amount of work for Advent International including recently advising it on the financing pursuant to its acquisition of Allnex, as well as on various bids including for Logoplaste and Priory Healthcare. ‘Excellent’ team head Mark Donald is well respected by both sponsors and lenders; he recently advised the lenders on the Term Loan B financing in support of CVC’s acquisition of Tipico Group from private owners. Chris McLaughlin and James Hogben are also recommended. Inrastructure specialist Paul Hibbert joined from Baker McKenzie.

Benefiting from an ‘impressive platform’, which includes offices in the US, Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific, White & Case LLP provides a ‘commercial and cost-effective service’ to banks, private equity sponsors and alternative capital providers engaged in acquisition finance mandates, including matters with a US nexus – where it benefits from a ‘very good bank and bond offering and solid US and UK law offering’ – as well as emerging markets mandates and European-based deals. Justin Wagstaff, Martin Forbes and Colin Harley are among the core members of the leveraged finance teams focusing on private equity deals; Harley recently acted for HgCapital, and one of its portfolio companies Cogital Group, on the senior facilities arranged by DNB and SEB to facilitate several acquisitions including Cogital Group’s acquisition of Baldwins and Blick Rothenberg. The ‘excellent’ Gareth Eagles regularly handles work for non-bank lenders including GSO Capital Partners and is a key member of the team that also includes the ‘affable and professional’ Jeremy Duffy (who provides ‘technical and commercial’ advice to a range of lenders and borrowers), and team head Lee Cullinane. Other clients include Deutsche Bank, Barclays, CVC and Meridian Capital.

Primarily focused on lender side mandates for clients including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s ‘small but very focused’ London-based team excels in big-ticket and complex cross-border financings. Working alongside practitioners from the firm’s New York office, ‘excellent’ London-based team head Suhrud Mehta advised numerous lenders including Barclays, Credit Suisse and HSBC on bank/bond financing to facilitate Carlyle Group’s $3.2bn acquisition of Atotech. Neil Caddy recently worked alongside lawyers from the firm’s Beijing office for the arrangers, including ICBC, on the $910m financing of HNA Group’s $2.8bn acquisition of Swissport. US-qualified Timothy Peterson is recommended, in particular for his high yield capability.

With numerous US-law qualified practitioners based in London and also able to tap into the expertise and relationships garnered from a strong team in situ in New York, Shearman & Sterling LLP is very well-positioned to capitalise on the continued willingness of borrowers to raise finance in the US capital markets and through Term Loan B structures. Dual US and UK-qualified partner Peter Hayes is able to provide ‘flexible solutions’ to sponsors and banks on leveraged finance deals; he recently acted for Investcorp on the financing of its acquisition of Secure Link Group, and represented EMT 2 Holdings (a Bridgepoint portfolio company) on the $535m financing to facilitate the $1bn acquisition of Herculean, the holding company of the Element Materials Group, from an entity controlled by private equity sponsor 3i. ‘Excellent’ New York-qualified partner Ronan Wicks relocated from the firm’s New York office to head the London leveraged finance practice; he brings an extensive track record of US finance structures. Other key members of the team include Korey Fevzi, who specialises in cross-border transactions; the ‘very personable’ Iain Goalen, who is ‘very good on bank debt acquisition finance’; Mei Lian; and Caroline Leeds Ruby.

Praised for its ability to ‘innovate’ and to ‘aggressively seek the best terms’ for its sponsor-focused client base, (which includes heavy hitters KKR, Blackstone and Apax Partners) Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has been at the forefront of the market in London for covenant-lite structures. Ian Barratt is regularly involved in the highest-profile mandates handled by the London team; he acted alongside newly promoted partner Shahpur Kabraji for KKR on the financing to facilitate its €1.1bn acquisition of Airbus Group’s defence electronics business. Barratt also regularly handles deals for Apax Partners, including advising it on the financing for its acquisition of Invent Farma. Working alongside the firm’s New York office, Antti Pesonen assisted Blackstone with the financing to enable its acquisition of Acetow from Solvay. Stephen Short and dual UK and New York law qualified partner Sinead O’Shea are also key practitioners on the bank debt side, while New York law qualified partners Gil Strauss and Nicholas Shaw, provide the necessary input on the high yield front.

Led by Nick Tostivin, Baker McKenzie’s ‘responsive, pragmatic and commercial’ seven-partner banking team is regularly engaged in acquisition finance transactions for borrowers and lenders on matters encompassing structures across the capital spectrum including senior and mezzanine debt, as well as high yield bonds. Able to leverage a broad ranging international network of offices, the firm’s sweet-spot lies in advising clients on substantial cross-border transactions as exemplified by Bernard Sharp’s work alongside the firm’s Tokyo office for Mizuho Bank on its bridge loan facility to finance part of SoftBank’s £24.3bn acquisition of ARM Holdings. Ian Jack and Lynn Rosell Rowley are also recommended. Paul Hibbert joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s five-partner banking and finance practice provides a ‘top-notch level of service’ to major corporates such as Continental Foods and Arcelor Mittal, as well as private equity sponsors including Lone Star. Known for its generalist approach to finance, the ‘very nimble’ team are regularly called on to advise on matters which require sophisticated and highly strategic cross-border expertise. For example, UK and Russian-qualified partner Polina Lyadnova – who has a particular strength in emerging markets work – recently advised Qatar Investment Authority on the financing (which included a €5.2bn non-recourse margin loan provided by Intesa Sanpaolo) of its acquisition, alongside Glencore, of a minority stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft. The deal was particularly noteworthy as it was executed against the backdrop of US and EU sanctions against Rosneft. The ‘excellent’ Andrew Shutter recently advised Oaktree Capital Management and Northwestern Mutual as lenders providing second-lien financing to a portfolio company of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice to fund the acquisition of German manufacturer Kalle. David Billington is also recommended.

The departures in August 2016 of Philip Butler and David Miles to Dechert LLP notwithstanding, DLA Piper remains a significant presence, most notably in the domestic space as a result of its strong ties with UK clearing banks and its ability to leverage the expertise of practitioners not only based in London but also in the UK regions. Andy Kolacki acts for both lenders and borrowers in deals utilising both senior and subordinated capital structures; his recent highlights include advising HSBC, Investec and Bank of Ireland on the provision of an all-senior debt financing package to Levine Leichtman Capital Partners to support its MBO of GL Education. The ‘incredibly hardworking and pragmatic’ Mark Dwyer regularly acts for corporate borrowers on acquisition finance transactions, including advising VimpelCom on its $250m financing to facilitate its acquisition of Warid Telecom in Pakistan and the £340m Takeover Code cash confirmed financing of Heineken's public takeover of Punch Taverns. The ‘commercial’ Julie Romer is also recommended, as is the ‘vastly experienced’ Maurice Allen, who joined the firm in a consultancy role in March 2017 from Ropes & Gray LLP.

Leveraging its strong roster of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 corporate clients, and its growing array of private equity sponsors including Carlyle, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP provides an ‘excellent service’, with a particular strength in the infrastructure and energy sectors. Led by ‘sharp shooter and quick thinker’ Ian Yeo and aided by ‘down-to-earth and detail-oriented’ Ilze Vigo, the firm advised Marel Group on a secured facilities agreement, used amongst other things, to fund the acquisition of MPS meat processing systems for €383m on a debt and cash free basis. As well as handling numerous borrower-side mandates, including for British American Tobacco (BAT) on its $25bn acquisition finance facilities to fund part of the $49.4 billion acquisition of the remaining stake BAT does not already own in Reynolds American, ‘knowledgeable and attentive’ team head Will Nevin has also successfully nurtured growing lender relationships, as underscored by his advice to Crédit Agricole and Unicredit on the £452m bridge term loan for the financing of Steinhoff International's public bid for Poundland Group. Ewen Fergusson and the ‘responsive and highly technical’ Kristen Roberts are also recommended.

The ‘commercial’ and ‘proactive’ team at Hogan Lovells International LLP has significant visibility in the market on behalf traditional lenders, including Barclays and Lloyds, as well as in the rapidly maturing non-bank lending sector for clients including Ares Management and ICG. Matthew Cottis recently advised a banking syndicate on the financing to Phoenix Group to fund its £935m acquisition of the Abbey Life insurance business from Deutsche Bank. Paul Mullen and Jo Robinson are well regarded in the market, in particular within the alternative lending space; Mullen recently advised Hayfin Capital, Lloyds and Bank of Ireland on the senior term and revolving facilities used to facilitate Exponent Private Equity’s acquisition of The Racing Post. The ‘very effective and commercial’ Penny Angell is also recommended.

Macfarlanes LLP’s four partner team provides a ‘responsive and client-oriented service’ to private equity sponsors engaged in mid-market leveraged finance deals. Kirstie Hutchinson is ‘very good on black letter law and also excellent at taking into account commercial considerations’; she recently advised Silverfleet Capital Partners on the acquisition financing of Lifetime Training Group, one of the UK’s leading training providers, from Sovereign Capital. ‘Excellent’ team head Christopher Lawrence has deeply entrenched relationships with private equity sponsors including Alchemy Partners, Inflexion and Exponent Private Equity; he recently advised Exponent on a unitranche financing provided by Ares to fund its acquisition of the Leisure Pass Group. Andrew Perkins has built up a strong reputation amongst alternative capital providers including Hayfin and BlueBay.

Benefiting from UK and US-qualified practitioners on the ground in London and also able to tap into the expertise of a significant pool of leveraged finance lawyers in the US, Ropes & Gray LLP has the expertise to provide ‘commercial advice’ to private equity sponsors and alternative capital providers, and has notable expertise in the US high yield market, as well as knowledge of the increased convergence between US and European market terms. Matthew Cox recently advised 3i Group on the financing to fund its £159m acquisition of a majority stake in Audley Travel from Equistone Partners Europe. US-qualified partner Jane Rogers is particularly accomplished at handling the high yield elements of financing work for private equity sponsors and corporates including Liberty Global, which she recently advised on the bank and bond financing to facilitate its $5.3bn acquisition of Cable & Wireless. Benoit Lavigne regularly handles acquisition finance work for core client Altice and is a key member of the team that also includes US-qualified partner Mike Goetz and Malcolm Hitching, who joined the firm in February 2017 from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. Maurice Allen recently joined DLA Piper as a consultant, while Fergus Wheeler joined King & Spalding LLP in June 2017.

Often working closely with colleagues in the US, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP’s three-partner team has significant credibility in the market, particularly on behalf of major multinational corporates. In a deal which involved input from the firm’s Chicago office, Clive Wells advised Ball Corporation on the financing to facilitate its successful takeover of Rexam Plc – the matter included a $3.3bn multi-currency revolving credit facility and a £3.3bn bridge term loan facility and subsequently a $4.1bn loan to refinance the original revolving credit facility and the portion of the bridge facility not refinanced with bonds. Pete Coulton is well versed across the spectrum of financing techniques and recently advised Reichhold on its €625m unitranche facility for the financing of its merger with Polynt Group. Mark Darley rounds out the team and having recently acted for Jacobs Douwe Egberts on its €5.8bn secured, cross-border refinancing, is now acting for it on the financing of its acquisition of Singapore-based Super Group.

Complementing its market-leading M&A practice, which acts for a sizeable number of FTSE 100 corporates from a range of industries, Slaughter and May’s banking team is regularly involved in public acquisition financings at the highest end of the market. Ian Johnson advised Ladbrokes on the £1.35bn combined term loan and revolving credit facilities pursuant to its merger with Gala Coral Group. Ed Fife handles acquisition finance work as part of his broad-ranging finance capability; he recently advised Swiss-based Datwyler Holding on the English law financing aspects associated with its recommended cash offer for Premier Farnell. Robert Byk acted for Lonza on debt and equity financing provisions to facilitate its $5.5bn acquisition of Capsugel from KKR. Team head Philip Snell and Matthew Tobin are also recommended.

The ‘responsive, knowledgeable and cost-effective’ six-partner team at Travers Smith LLP has tremendous visibility and traction in the mid-market arena, particularly on behalf of private equity sponsors (including clients Bridgepoint, Phoenix Equity Partners and ECI Partners). Donald Lowe recently advised Exponent Private Equity on the debt facilities supporting the acquisition of the Racing Post. ‘Highly technical, proactive and thoughtful’ team head Matthew Ayre recently advised Exponent Private Equity on the £53m debt facilities – which included a unitranche term loan and a revolving credit term – to fund its acquisition of Inspiring Learning. Praised for his ‘commerciality’, Ayre has also been central to building out the firm’s banking client base, which single out his ability to ‘attain the best position for lenders while also balancing the maintenance of a strong, ongoing relationship with the borrower/sponsor’. Other recommended partners include Charles Bischoff and Danny Peel for lender-side work, and Barry Newman and Andrew Gregson for private equity sponsors.

A growing presence in the mid-market for a balanced portfolio of clients including banks, debt funds, corporates and private equity sponsors, Addleshaw Goddard is able to provide a ‘strong and commercial service’ out of London and is also aided by numerous practitioners from key regional offices including Manchester. Recently promoted partner Laurie Keel has been at the forefront of many of the team’s most significant mandates, including advising GVC on the debt financing for its £1.12bn acquisition of bwin.party digital entertainment. Keel has also been central to building up the firm’s capability on the direct lending front; she recently advised Alcentra Debt Funds as unitranche lender in relation to the debt and equity recapitalisation of Alcumus Group following its acquisition by Inflexion Private Equity. Alex Dumphy is national head of the firm’s leveraged finance practice and benefits from strong ties with private equity sponsors including ECI Partners and Inflexion Private Equity. Angus Gill and Amanda Gray are also recommended.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s ‘lean and dynamic’ four-partner team provides ‘concise, relevant and timely advice’ to a balanced mix of clearing banks and corporates. Praised for its ‘tremendous work ethic and unstuffy approach’, the team has an excellent perspective from both sides of the table and is thereby well-placed to get the deal done in a ‘very commercial’ manner ‘without unnecessary point-scoring’. Derek Hrydziuszko recently advised BCA Marketplace on consents, amendments and accessions required under its £375m syndicated financing relating to its £135m acquisition of the Paragon Automotive Group. ‘A delight to work with’, Emma Howdle-Fuller is an ‘experienced and strong negotiator’ and is overall banking team head. The ‘commercial’ Daisy Reeves also handles acquisition finance mandates as part of her broad-ranging finance offering. Clients include HSBC, Lloyds, Tesco and Playtech.

Enhanced by the firm’s recent combination with Olswang and Nabarro, CMS provides ‘commercial, pragmatic and responsive’ advice to lenders and private equity sponsors on leveraged finance deals within the mid-market. Alex Patience, Patrick Donegan and Mark Moseling are all recommended. Peter Crichton joined McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP in May 2017.

Well positioned to advise on cross-border deals involving both bank and bond debt by dint of its US offices, as well as US and UK practitioners based in London, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has a focus on borrower mandates, in particular for some core firm-wide private equity sponsors including Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. In a deal which involved a €380m high yield element as well as a €100m super senior revolving credit facility, Pierre MaugÌé and Thomas Smith recently advised the aforementioned sponsor on the financing associated with its acquisition of BUT. Alan Davies recently advised Canada Pension Plan Investment Board on the $400m financing aspects of its $1.1bn acquisition of Ascot Underwriting Holdings. Other clients include Reynolds Group, Providence Equity Partners and MV Credit.

The arrival in November 2016 of John Markland from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP and ‘leading mid-market leveraged finance practitioners’ David Miles and Philip Butler from DLA Piper, has marked a step change in the capabilities of Dechert LLP’s leveraged finance offering in London. Focused squarely on the sponsor side, the ‘knowledgeable and responsive’ Markland has maintained his strong relationship with Mid Europa Partners, recently advising it on the financing of its acquisition of Profi Rom Food from Enterprise Investors – Romania’s largest-ever leveraged buyout. Praised for their ability to ‘balance detail and understanding of complexity with commerciality’, Butler and Miles have ‘seen the development of the alternative lending market in Europe and are at the cutting edge of financial innovation that debt funds have brought to the market’. ‘Proactive, knowledgeable and commercial’ senior associate Smridhi Gulati is also well regarded in the alternative lending space. Other clients include Ares Management, Hayfin, Alcentra and CVC Credit Partners.

Led by the ‘experienced, pragmatic and commercial’ Catherine Astruc, Dentons’ two-partner team provides an ‘excellent service’ to a varied mix of corporates, banks, alternative capital providers and private sponsors. Astruc recently advised a UK clearing bank on the facilities to be provided to an Irish investment fund in relation to its acquisition of shares in a Colombian airline. Praised for his ‘clear and concise communication skills’ and his ‘ability to explain complicated matters in plain English’, Lee Federman has handled numerous financings for NYX Gaming Group, including its £125m unitranche facilities with Ares Capital to facilitate its acquisition of Openbet. Federman also recently advised Cathay Investments on its €29m senior financing with HSBC for its acquisitions of Lantor, PNC Global Logistics and The Original Poster Company. Other clients include KSL Capital Partners, Oak North Bank and Fortress Credit.

Leveraging its strong US brand, in particular for advising major corporates and private equity sponsors on their financing needs, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s London finance team represents US funds with operations in the UK, where it is able to offer expertise across the spectrum of funding products at their disposal. As well as picking up work with a US nexus, the London team has also handled matters for blue-chip FTSE 100 corporates including William Hill, which the ‘excellent’ Stephen Gillespie advised on its investment and related financing in NYX Gaming, a digital gaming supplier, as part of a consortium to acquire OpenBet. In a deal which involved significant input from the firm’s New York office, Gillespie also advised satellite services company, SES, on the $730m financing to secure the remaining shares in the O3b Networks. The ‘very dedicated and experienced’ Thomas Budd handles acquisition finance mandates as part of his broad-ranging finance practice. Other clients include Sankaty Advisors, Anchorage Capital Group and Highbridge Capital Management.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s strong clearing bank relationships sees the firm take a role on the senior lending part of many domestic mid-market transactions. In addition to handling corporate lending transactions, Vanessa Heap also regularly handles mid-market acquisition financing deals and recently advised RBS and Lloyds, on the £80m term and revolving credit facilities provided to F M Conway, which were used to finance the £57.8m acquisition of United Construction Materials and to refinance the £15.7m acquisition of Berkshire Macadams. Liam Terry handles a significant amount of work for HSBC, recently advising it on a £50m term and revolving facilities agreement to Vectura Group to part finance its £441m acquisition of Skyepharma. Martin Bishop is also recommended.

Simmons & Simmons’s banking and finance group regularly undertakes corporate-related acquisition finance deals and sponsor-driven mandates for both lender and borrower clients. The firm has a particularly strong brand for its Nordic financing work as underscored by Simon Middleton’s representation of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken and Nordea Bank, as lead arrangers, on the financing for Konecranes on its €1.1bn acquisition of Terex Group. Alistair Hill regularly represents a broad cross-section of stakeholders including corporates, private equity sponsors, alternative credit providers and banks on leveraged finance deals; he recently acted for Future plc on all debt, equity and corporate aspects relating to its acquisition of Imagine Publishing. Other clients include HSBC, Citigroup and British Land.

Leveraging strong ties with the UK clearing banks including HSBC and RBS, as well as picking up engagements for the firm’s roster of corporates including Next and Dairy Crest, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is particularly visible in UK mid-market deals. Team head Nick Swiss has a strong reputation for new money deals and refinancings. Leveraging the firm’s expertise in relation to renewables energy-related matters, the team is also regularly engaged in energy and infrastructure-related acquisition finance mandates, where the ‘excellent’ Indraj Mangat is singled out for praise. The firm is also able to leverage strong regional finance teams to provide a cost-effective offering to clients.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP provides an ‘excellent, friendly and high-quality service’ to sponsors, direct lenders and banks engaged in leveraged finance mandates. Stuart Brinkworth has a ‘fantastic reputation’ in the direct lending space and recently advised Permira Credit Solutions as lender in the financing of Sovereign Capital Partners’ acquisition of the Eaton House group of schools in London. Praised for his ‘smart business advice, responsiveness and exceptional industry knowledge’, Jons Lehmann is also regularly engaged in acquisition finance transactions as part of his broad-ranging banking offering. With assistance from the firm’s New York office, Lehmann recently advised Credit Suisse, as arranger, on a $1.55bn term loan and $175m revolving loan facility to finance Onex Corporation and Baring Private Equity’s acquisition of Thomson Reuter’s intellectual property and science business. Other clients include Goldman Sachs, ICG, BlueBay Asset Management and CVC.

With a broad and balanced international footprint that includes offices in US, Asia and Europe, Mayer Brown International LLP’s London finance team has a focus on advising both borrowers and lenders on multi-jurisdictional mandates. Recently promoted partner Andrew Crotty is particularly active in the leveraged finance space and recently advised Vitruvian Partners on the unitranche financing of its acquisition of OAG. The firm also benefits from a market-leading asset based lending practice, which is frequently called upon to provide advice on cross-border European leveraged deals. Dominic Griffiths parlays his structured and asset based lending expertise to good effect on leveraged finance deals and is a key practitioner of the team which also includes Trevor Wood. Clients include HSBC, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Nomura.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s ‘user-friendly’ team in London excels in acquisition finance mandates in multi-jurisdictional scenarios where it can call upon the assistance of lawyers from across its broad ranging international network. Team head Michael Ings is known for his work within the emerging markets (particularly in Africa); as well as handling general corporate lending mandates, he often handles acquisition finance related work for banks including The Standard Bank of South Africa. Michael Black has a niche specialism in asset based lending work and is praised for his ‘excellent understanding of the market and knowledge of the detailed lending and collateral requirements of various European jurisdictions’. Black has deeply entrenched ties with Wells Fargo and frequently applies asset based lending techniques to acquisition finance mandates; he recently advised the aforementioned bank in relation to its asset based lending/acquisition facilities to Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping, in order to make strategic UK acquisitions of Camfaud Concrete Pumps, as well as Premier Concrete Pumping and South Coast Concrete Pumping. James Dunnett is also recommended.

Supported by strong and well-established offerings out of Bristol and Reading, Osborne Clarke LLP’s six-partner banking team in London is seen as a credible option by banks and borrowers on mid-market deals, particularly in relation to deals within sectors which the firm has a focus on. Technology accounts for a significant amount of acquisition finance work handled by the team; Dominic Ross advised RBS on the financing (which included a £36m term loan facility) to Maintel Holdings to facilitate its acquisition of Azzurri Communications. Ben Truman is also recommended. Other clients include HSBC, Santander and Silicon Valley Bank.

Substantially enhanced following the arrival of the ‘excellent’ Alexander Griffith from DLA Piper in October 2015, and Ben Davis from Reed Smith LLP in August 2016, Proskauer Rose LLP’s three-partner team provides ‘very commercial’ advice to an array of alternative capital providers including Alcentra, Ares Management and BlueBay Asset Management. Faisal Ramzan is also recommended.

Taylor Wessing LLP acts for a varied mix of clients including senior and mezzanine lenders, private equity sponsors and corporates, predominantly on acquisition finance mandates within the mid-market. Team head Martin Yells is frequently at the forefront of the most significant matters handled by the team, including on the debt financing relating to News Corp’s acquisition of talkSPORT owner, Wireless Group. Yell also advised Arlington Capital Partners on the debt financing to facilitate its acquisition of Molecular Products. Other clients include Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Rutland Partners and Santander.


Asset-based lending

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Praised for its ‘very strong service levels and industry knowledge’, Mayer Brown International LLP has excellent traction among all stakeholders in the market including clearing banks, hedge funds, alternative capital providers, corporate borrowers and sponsors, and as a result, ‘you get the assuring sense that there is little there that the team has not encountered before’. Although it does handle some commoditised mandates in the market, the team’s real sweet-spot lies in complex cross-border matters which often involve the asset based lending (ABL) product sitting alongside other debt. The ‘commercial and pragmatic’ Alex Dell has particularly strong relationships with the UK clearing banks including HSBC, which he recently advised on the financing of certain European operating subsidiaries of the Bibby group of factors domiciled across Europe; a complex financing structure it primarily involved a back-to-back receivables purchase structure in relation to acquired trade receivables in addition to a revolving loan facility in relation to loan receivables advanced by Bibby. Dell also recently advised Macquarie Bank International on a €200m uncommitted, non-recourse bill discounting programme for Apple Distribution International regarding the supply of Apple product to Dixons Carphone. The ‘excellent’ Dominic Griffiths co-heads the five-partner team alongside Dell and is noted for his ability to work on complex multi-jurisdictional matters, involving ABL alongside other layers of debt including senior secured lending facilities. Simon Fisher has a particular focus on large syndicated cross-border and trans-Atlantic ABL transactions. Nigel White is also recommended. Graham Wedlake retired in February 2017.

With practitioners based in London as well as Manchester and Leeds, Addleshaw Goddard’s six-partner full-service ABL team has a very strong reputation in the domestic market on behalf of both bank-owned asset based lenders and independent market participants. ‘Excellent’ team head Mike Davison has ‘in-depth industry knowledge’ and has experience across the gamut of ABL products, including factoring and invoice discounting, revolving collateral loans and off balance sheet financing solutions. Davison recently advised BNP Paribas Commercial Finance on the provision of invoice discounting and inventory facilities to a pharmaceuticals manufacturer in UK and Ireland. He also recently acted for three Lloyds entities on a complex blended ABL financing for a UK manufacturing business which involved the development of a completely new product. Praised for his ‘common sense approach’, Manchester-based Simon Prendergast represented Clydesdale Bank on a receivables finance facility and term loan and revolving credit facilities to Park Cakes to refinance its existing facilities, finance capital expenditure projects and provide working capital. On the litigation front, the firm’s already significant presence in the north of the country, was significantly enhanced in February 2017 by the arrival of Manchester-based Howard Brako from Shoosmiths LLP. Other clients include HSBC Invoice Finance, PNC Business Credit and Leumi ABL.

The ‘extremely strong and talented’ team at DLA Piper has expertise out of London as well as many of its regional offices, ensuring that it has the critical mass and geographical ties to seamlessly handle any transaction, regardless of location. Praised for its ‘technical and commercial’ approach, the team has strong ties with the domestic clearing banks, in addition to alternative finance providers and corporate clients, and is able to handle the full range of transactions including those which use an ABL facility for either working capital, refinancing or acquisition finance purposes, in addition to supply chain finance and in a cross-border finance setting. Manchester-based Joseph Frew has a strong reputation in the local market for lenders and borrowers, and in a deal which also involved a unitranche facility provided by Tosca Debt Capital, he recently advised HSBC (as one of the finance providers alongside PNC) to facilitate the merger between sponsor-backed recruitment businesses Swift and Air Energi. Birmingham-based Stephen Bottley also regularly implements ABL techniques within transactions and recently acted for Lloyds Bank, as part of a banking club, on the £80m multi-currency ABL facilities provided to Anglia Maltings Group for working capital and acquisition finance purposes. The ‘very commercial’ Simon Boon is, according to one client, ‘one of the most knowledgeable lawyers in the UK in the ABL and invoice finance arena’, and because of his contentious expertise is well-placed to assist clients on the construction of facility documentation and in providing guidance on regulatory issues such as data protection, money laundering and insurance mediation. Leeds-based partner Sarah Day is ‘highly proficient in all areas of banking law with a close awareness of matters relating to receivables financing and asset based lending’. Lorinda Peasland is recommended for ABL-related restructuring work. Clients include ABN Amro Commercial Finance, Aldermore Invoice Finance, GE Capital and Siemens Financial Services.

The ‘very experienced and commercial’ team at Irwin Mitchell benefits from ‘broad industry knowledge’ which ensures it is conversant with all aspects of financing in the ABL space, from off balance sheet receivables financing facilities to factoring and invoice discounting and supplier finance. Predominantly active on the lender side, the firm’s client base includes traditional banks including HSBC, as well as challenger banks (Metro Bank, Shawbrook Bank), who appreciate the firm’s ability to provide a "cradle to grave" service which encompasses transactions, product development, and any litigation or restructuring which may be necessary. The ‘vastly experienced and knowledgeable’ Andrew Watson and ‘pleasant, knowledgeable and responsive’ Birmingham-based senior associate Natalie Barnes recently advised Investec Bank on the £24.5m ABL facility to facilitate the buy-out of Fresh-Pak Chilled Foods. The ‘experienced, commercial, friendly and responsive’ Birmingham-based Jon Bew provides ‘accurate advice on tricky legal issues’, both in terms of new money ABL financings, and in restructuring and distressed ABL scenarios. Bew recently worked alongside Barnes on a £10m term loan and receivables financing facility for Birmingham-based company Hills Numberplates used to support its continued growth in the market. Stephen George has significant experience advising on restructuring and insolvency issues in the ABL market.

The ‘user-friendly’ team at Norton Rose Fulbright ‘understands the market and is knowledgeable on the detailed lending and collateral requirements of various European jurisdictions’. Instructed by a primarily lender-focused client base on bilateral and syndicated domestic and cross-border transactions, the small team provides ‘business savvy advice which is framed in the context of real world judgement and analysis’. ‘Responsive and client friendly’ team head Michael Black is noted for his ‘all-round excellence and understanding’, which ‘allows him to protect his banking clients while also allowing borrowers to maintain a treasury and cash management function that does not impede their business’. Wells Fargo continues to instruct the team across a considerable volume of deals including on the ABL/corporate loan provided to Burton’s Foods and the ABL/acquisition facilities to Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping. Although it is far more active on the lender front, the team is picking up an increased flow of mandates from borrowers including DG3 Group, which it advised on the provision of an ABL facility involving the full refinancing and replacement of an existing lender, together with a new security package. Senior associate Alex Dunn is also very well-versed on ABL work and regularly works alongside Black. Other clients include Bank of America, Lloyds Bank, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Credit Suisse.

The ‘responsive and approachable’ team at Squire Patton Boggs has a ‘high level of ABL knowledge’ which it deploys to good effect on behalf of an impressive roster of both bank-owned asset based lenders (Bank of America, JPMorgan, ABN Amro Commercial Finance) and independent market participants (Shawbrook, FGI Finance). Team head Andrew Knight is noted for his ‘cross-border expertise’ which he often utilises to good effect on deals involving other offices from the firm’s global network in Europe and the US. In a deal which involved US, Australian and Irish-related jurisdictional issues, Knight recently advised PNC Bank, National Association on the English law aspects of the financing provided to Napsbury to facilitate the acquisition of the Bond International Software Group and the Tempbuddy Group, as well as to provide working capital facilities for the group on an ongoing basis. Knight has also handled numerous syndicated deals for lenders during 2016 including his recent work for PNC Business Credit, as agent and arranger, of £150m syndicated ABL financing facilities to British Steel to finance the acquisition of the former Scunthorpe plant and related businesses of Tata Steel. Co-head Paul Laird has ‘in-depth industry knowledge’ and among her vast array of work over the past twelve months has advised Gordon Brothers and Gordon Brothers Europe on a variety of asset backed deals both in the UK and Europe. Associate Lauren Priest-Stephens is also ‘a very experienced ABL lawyer who provides a high level of client service’. The team is rounded out by the expertise of Gareth Timms, on the litigation front and Cathryn Williams, for restructuring matters.

Led out of the firm’s Birmingham office by the ‘very hands on’ Edward Sunderland and assisted by practitioners spread across the regional network, including Leeds and Manchester, Pinsent Masons LLP is ‘highly experienced in the field’ and ‘whether acting for borrower or bank, is focused on getting the deal done and not arguing points for the sake of it’. Sunderland ‘knows the ABL product and market inside out’, and with assistance from ‘excellent’ Manchester-based senior associate Tim Fearn recently advised RBS, HSBC and Barclays on the provision of £231m debt and ABL facilities to Conviviality plc to refinance the acquisitions of the Matthew Clark Group and the PLB Bibendum Wine Group. On the borrower side, Sunderland and senior associate Victoria Baker acted for Briggs Equipment UK on the novation of its existing syndicated ABL facility led by GE Capital alongside a club of Lloyds Bank Commercial Finance, RBS Invoice Finance, ABN Amro, Wells Fargo and PNC. James Cameron and Amy Flavell are recommended for their work on the recoveries front. Other clients include Europcar Group, Arran Isle, and BNP Paribas Commercial Finance.

Led by ‘absolute star’ Georgia Quenby, the ‘responsive and thoughtful’ one-partner team at Reed Smith LLP provides a ‘fantastic level of service’ across a range of ABL matters, often involving multi-jurisdictional issues and complex inter-creditor arrangements. Praised for her ability to ‘speak to what is market in deal terms’, Quenby handles a significant amount of work for Wells Fargo on its European transactions; she recently represented the US finance company as incoming lender on a new ABL facility for First Milk, one of the UK’s leading dairy co-operatives. In a transaction which also involved significant input from the firm’s Hong Kong office, Quenby also acted for Wells Fargo as the incoming lender on a refinancing of the existing facilities provided by Investec Bank to Maplin Electronics. Senior associate Victoria Thompson is a ‘rising star’ who already has a significant amount of experience in the market, particularly in relation to cross-border ABL transactions. Other clients include Bank of America, Weston Group and Investec Bank.

Jones Day’s Andrew Rotenberg has a ‘strong reputation’ for handling cross-border asset based lending mandates, where he is able to leverage the expertise of practitioners across the firm’s European, US and Asian offices, on behalf of both corporates and lenders. As well as new money financings, Rotenberg is also often involved in ABL-related refinancings and restructurings.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s ‘responsive and approachable’ two-partner East Anglia-based team has a ‘high level of ABL knowledge’ and is thereby well-placed to advise both lenders and borrowers engaged in both commoditised and more structured transactions in the sector. The ‘commercially minded’ Zak Virgin regularly handles ABL-related work in an acquisition finance context, including advising PNC on the English law aspects of the acquisition finance and working capital facilities put in place for the acquisition and funding of DG3 Group by Resilience Capital Partners. The ‘commercial and accessible’ William Roles regularly handles ABL work as part of his broader banking and finance expertise; he advised PNC on the provision of receivables finance, inventory and cashflow facilities to a private equity-owned garden centre business to refinance acquisition debt and provide ongoing working capital facilities. Although the team is better-known for its representation of independent lenders, it is also picking up more mandates for bank ABL divisions, including RBS Invoice Finance.

Praised for its ‘detailed knowledge of the industry’, Bermans provides ‘pragmatic and commercial advice’ to lenders on domestic invoice finance and receivables finance mandates, both from a transactional and litigation perspective. Recent highlights include advising Secure Trust Bank on a £20m receivables facility to Thinksmart alongside a facility provided by Santander Bank. The ‘very experienced’ Ian Munford has ‘great knowledge of the market and a very pragmatic approach to matters’, and is a key member of the team that also includes Alex Chapman and David Gledhill. Jonathan Berkson heads the firm’s ABL litigation offering which also includes senior associate Andrew Henderson, who provides a ‘value for money approach to debt collection litigation’.

Michelmores LLP provides a ‘high level of service’ to borrowers and lenders across the gamut of receivables and invoice discounting mandates. Chris Willison is ‘second to none’ and provides ‘concise guidance and advice’ to clients including TradeRiver, which he advised on the refinancing of its existing lines of credit through entering into a receivables facility with ABN and inter-factor transfer on ABFA inter-factor transfer protocol from Santander. Other clients include Aldermore Invoice Finance, Ebury Finance, and Bartons Global Holdings.


Asset finance and leasing

Index of tables

  1. Asset finance and leasing
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

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Leveraging the firm’s strong banking ties, in addition to its wide-reaching international network, Allen & Overy LLP provides a ‘very professional and efficient’ service that runs the gamut of transportation asset classes. ‘Knowledgeable and pragmatic’ team head Mario Jacovides ‘provides solutions-oriented advice’; on the aviation front, he recently acted for DVB Bank on the first ever Japanese operating lease with a call option (JOLCO) financing for a Turboprop aircraft. Jacovides was part of a team including the ‘excellent’ Paul Nelson advising the arranger, guarantor and trustee on the world’s first-ever Euro-denominated, ECA-backed bond for five ATR aircraft. In another highlight, Nelson led the team advising three different syndicates of banks on the Islamic Ijaara financing of twelve A330s and eight A320 aircraft to IAFC for lease to Saudi Arabia Airlines. As part of his wide-ranging asset finance expertise, David Smith regularly picks up significant shipping work, and acted alongside practitioners in the firm’s Moscow office for Sberbank on the $340m financing of three ice breaking tanker vessels for Sovcomflot Group; this was the first structured ship financing by a Russian bank and the largest commercial deal completed by a single bank without syndication. Kevin Young is also highly rated for shipping finance work and recently advised Excelerate Energy on the sale and leaseback of an LNG floating storage and regasification vessel (FSRU) arranged by CMB Financial Leasing. The ‘business-oriented’ Harry Upcott and rail expert Jonathan Bevan are also recommended. Other clients include Nordic Aviation Capital, ING Bank, BNP Paribas and Falko. Dylan Potter joined Vedder Price

Praised for its ‘client-friendly approach’, Clifford Chance LLP’s ‘very professional and highly talented’ four-partner team has expertise across the spectrum of financing deals in the aviation, rail and shipping markets. Benefiting from asset finance practitioners in key global jurisdictions (including in the US and Asia), clients appreciate the firm’s ability to work on ‘highly structured, complex or specialised financings that require attention to details involving multiple tax and legal jurisdictions’. Global head of asset finance William Glaister has an ‘excellent reputation in the market’ and is co-ordinating the firm’s work (in concert with lawyers out of the firm’s Singapore, Hong Kong and New York office) in relation to GECAS’s sale of a portfolio of 45 aircraft to Avolon. The ‘smart, dedicated, professional and easy to work with’ Paul Carrington provides an ‘attentive and detail-focused’ service to clients in the rail and aviation sectors; he recently advised ING Capital on a $139m pre-delivery financing facility to Ethiopian Airlines for the purposes of financing pre-delivery payments to Airbus for up to eight new Airbus A350-900 aircraft, scheduled for delivery to Ethiopian Airlines throughout 2017 and 2018. Ranbir Hunjan has an excellent reputation in the market for handling highly structured aviation finance deals; his recent work includes acting for Natixis as arranger of financing structures for A380 aircraft using a Cayman Islands or Abu Dhabi Global Market orphan SPC as borrower/AOE and lessor to Emirates or Etihad pursuant to an operating lease. On the shipping front, the ‘excellent’ Oliver Hipperson has a strong reputation in London for handling complex ship finance mandates; he recently advised Maersk on the lease restructuring, and subsequent sale and charter-back, of eight container ships to a subsidiary of Bank of Communications Financial Leasing. Hipperson is also active in the secondary debt trading market within the asset finance sector. Director Christopher Hardisty has strong relationships with lessors, banks and export credit agencies active in the aviation sector. Other clients include Investec, Deutsche Bank, Avolon and HSBC.

With 20 partners focused on transportation finance based in London and also aided by practitioners throughout Europe, Asia Pacific and US, the ‘responsive and knowledgeable’ team at Norton Rose Fulbright has the ‘depth of resources, expertise and multi-disciplinary capability’ to handle a large volume of matters across the aviation, shipping and rail sectors. The ‘responsive, tactful and experienced’ Duncan Batchelor provides ‘balanced advice in complex situations’ often involving highly structured, multi-jurisdictional issues; he recently advised Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) on a JOLCO and lease financing for three Airbus A320 aircraft for Pegasus Airlines. The ‘excellent’ Giles Brand is noted for his strength across the asset classes and recently advised Amedeo Air Four Plus Epsilon on an innovative leasing structure with HSBC Middle East Leasing Partnership. Working alongside lawyers in the firm’s Tokyo office, the ‘very commercial’ Simon Lew recently advised ORIX Corporation on the acquisition of a portfolio of performing shipping loans from RBS. The ‘highly regarded’ Simon Hartley handles work for a broad range of lenders and borrowers in ship finance transactions. Hartley has been particularly active in the cruise ship sector and recently acted for Italian export credit agency SACE and UniCredit, as agent, on ECA term loan facilities to finance three Virgin Voyages cruise vessels. On the rail front, Tom Johnson represented Commonwealth Bank of Australia on a £900m rail financing in partnership with train leasing company Angel Trains; in what is one of the largest-ever privately procured train orders in the UK, the financing will be used to fund a new fleet of 665 Bombardier Aventra trains for Abellio’s new East Anglia franchise. Other recommended practitioners include the ‘brilliant’ Eleanor Martin; ‘excellent’ global asset finance head Harry Theochari, who is singled out for ship financing matters; Simon Chamberlain, for aviation; and senior associate Will Alete. Apollo Aviation, Carnival, Monarch, Department for Transport and Saga Cruises are additional clients of the team.

Although it is active across all transportation classes, the ‘very dedicated’ team at Stephenson Harwood is best known for its ‘powerhouse ship finance’ offering, which acts for banks and operators on both new money deals as well as restructurings. ‘Market leader’ Mark Russell recently advised Nordea Bank Norge, as agent, on a $895m syndicated financing of a 36-tanker fleet. The ‘experienced’ Jonathan Ward is particularly skilled at handling cross-border shipping mandates in Europe and the Far East; he recently advised the Export-Import Bank of China on the $2bn loan facility to allow state-owned Brazilian company Petrobas to pre-finance resources needed for 2017 and diversify its sources of finance. Global head of ship finance Ian Mace has recently handled numerous matters for ABN Amro, including advising it on a facility that includes a hunting licence secured against a fleet of existing vessels. Head of the aviation finance practice Richard Parsons is praised for his ‘ability to succinctly explain complex issues’, particularly pertaining to operating lessor financings. In addition, Parsons has been active on aircraft portfolio acquisitions and disposals including advising a leading operating lessor on the disposal of a portfolio of 37 aircraft and the servicer of that portfolio on ongoing portfolio administration. The ‘very commercial and thorough’ Graeme McLellan leads on the rail finance front, and is assisted by Lisa Marks, who also handles general leasing work for banks and other financial institutions. Other clients include Macquarie Bank, Flybe, Abellio East Anglia and Arriva Trains Wales. The firm joined by experienced ship finance partner Dean Norton from Clyde & Co LLP in May 2017.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP’s 17-partner team provides an ‘excellent service’ rooted in ‘in-depth knowledge of the law and market’. Able to draw upon asset finance practitioners across all ten of its international offices, the team remains best known for its ‘top-notch’ ship finance practice, which benefits from deeply entrenched relationships with financial institutions, owners and investors. The ‘very commercial’ Michael O’Donnell has ‘long-established expertise’ in the shipping industry and recently represented Nordea Bank on the provision of a $409.5m revolving credit facility for international shipping company Euronav (replacing a term loan on more favourable terms for the borrower). Firm chairman Nigel Thomas has a focus on international ship finance deals and recently represented Teekay Tankers on a $894m refinancing, which included a term loan and a revolving credit facility. The ‘very thorough’ Jahnavi Ramachandran is ‘able to explain complex issues in concise language’ across an array of aviation finance matters; she recently advised TC-CIT, a joint venture leasing vehicle, on the sale and leaseback of two A330 aircraft. The ‘excellent’ Rex Rosales is also well regarded in the aviation sector and handles the full range of structured financings, aircraft portfolio acquisitions and disposals, and leasing structures. The ‘very proactive and solutions-oriented’ Lindsey Keeble is recommended for ship financing involving export credit backed products and project financing transactions across a variety of maritime and offshore assets.

Aided by a significant international network of offices, in addition to complementary practice areas including capital markets, restructuring and private equity, White & Case LLP’s four-partner team is well positioned to handle a wide range of matters, from plain vanilla financings to highly structured mandates, involving a range of financial products. The team is praised in particular for its ‘depth of knowledge in the aviation sector’ and strong relationships with lessors, lenders and export credit agencies. The ‘excellent’ Adrian Beasley has strong credentials in the aviation sector and continues to advise CIT Group on the ECA-supported finance of more than 50 Airbus aircraft deliveries on lease to various airlines. ‘Very commercial’ team head Justin Benson ‘combines real experience of the requirements of lessors with top-level debt financing capabilities’; he recently acted for numerous banks including DVB and BNP Paribas on the $515m limited recourse portfolio financing of fourteen aircraft. The firm has also been particularly active on restructuring-related matters within the shipping sector as demonstrated by its recent role for the secured lenders of Torm on its insolvency. Alison Weal provides ‘astute and concise analysis of transactions and documentations’ across a range of asset classes including shipping. At associate level, the ‘very detail-oriented’ Andrew Harper and David Wright are also recommended. Other clients include Barclays, BNP Paribas, Jackson Square Aviation and the Thomas Cook Group. Louise Mor joined Watson Farley & Williams LLP in 2017.

The ‘very knowledgeable’ and ‘commercial’ team at Dentons acts for a varied mix of operators, lessors, banks and manufacturers on finance transactions within the aviation sector. Paul Holland has a focus on Middle East-related matters and recently acted for Emirates on eight JOLCOs for Airbus A380 and Boeing 777ER aircraft, arranged by Credit Agricole CIB and niche aviation finance advisers Veling. The ‘excellent’ Greg Kahn regularly handles ship finance mandates for clients including VTB Bank, which he recently advised on a $260m loan for Sovcomflot for the construction of the first ice class LNG vessel and for TUI UK on its acquisition of a 915-cabin cruise ship "Legend of the Seas" from Royal Carribean Cruises. Other recommended partners include the ‘very intelligent’ Sarah Dyke, Nick Chandler and Serge Sergiou. William Gibson joined Vedder Price in June 2017.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s four-partner team has a focus on the aviation sector and is active for clients including banks, lessors and operators on the financing of assets utilising bank debt, in addition to capital markets structures. Leveraging the firm’s US offices, the team continues to pick up instructions from clients which require the implementation of New York-law governed debt. In a deal which involved substantial input from the firm’s New York office, team head Robert Fugard co-ordinated the firm’s advice to Norwegian Air Shuttle on its enhanced equipment trust (EETC) financing of ten B737-800 aircraft. As part of his broad-ranging aviation finance expertise, Fugard has been involved in numerous portfolio acquisitions and disposals, including acting for AerGen Aviation Finance on its acquisition of a portfolio of ten narrow-body aircraft from Macquarie AirFinance together with the subsequent warehouse and ABS financing of its fleet. Recently promoted to partner, Richard Goss has a burgeoning aviation finance practice; his recent work includes advising Babcock on numerous lease financing transactions for its new and existing helicopter fleet. Shalini Bhuchar is active advising funds and banks on shipping transactions out of Africa. Outside of the aviation sector, Simon Gwynne provides a ‘very commercial and thorough’ service to participants in the rail and shipping industries. Other clients include African Export-Import Bank, UBS, RBS/Lombard and SMBC. Robin Hallam recently became a consultant at Bird & Bird LLP.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP recruited several associates from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP; they join a two-partner group that is primarily focused on the aviation sector, and which is able to leverage the vast experience and expertise of the very well-regarded team in New York, ensuring clients are well served on highly structured mandates which may require US capital markets advice. The firm provides ‘very robust and commercial advice’ to leasing and financing companies including BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Avolon and Aercap. Co-head Nick Swinburne recently advised Accipiter Holdings on its inaugural $1.2bn third -arty financing of 43 aircraft. With significant support from the firm’s Singapore and New York offices, Swinburne also recently led the team’s advice to Avolon Aerospace Leasing on its acquisition of a portfolio of 45 aircraft from GE Capital Aviation Services. ‘Very experienced and well-regarded’ co-head James Cameron has been instrumental in developing the flourishing London practice; in addition to his ‘first-rate’ aviation finance expertise, he is also picking up a steady flow of shipping mandates. Special counsel Richard Walton is well regarded in the aviation finance sector, in particular for structured finance transactions, including for work within the growing non-US EETC market.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP provides a ‘responsive and cost-effective service’ and is best-known for its work in the rail sector where its clients include Angel Trains and Beacon Rail. Involved in all of Angel Trains’ leasing and procurement financings, as well as on some financing matters, the firm recently advised it on the procurement, leasing and financing of 665 new Bombardier Aventra electric multiple-unit passenger vehicles as part of Abellio’s winning East Anglia rail franchise bid. Asset finance head Russell Clifford led on this deal and also co-ordinated the firm’s efforts, along with lawyers in Germany, on its representation of Beacon Rail on its acquisition of Ascendos Rail Leasing. The ‘excellent’ Jamie Wiseman-Clarke is also recommended for rail finance work. Consultant Tom Budgett leads the firm’s efforts on the aviation front and recently advised CCB Aviation Corporation on the sale and leaseback of eleven aircraft with Wizz Air. ‘Very approachable’ consultant Rebecca Quayle provides ‘practical and resourceful solutions’ to numerous clients in the aviation industry including CityJet.

The ‘knowledgeable and responsive’ five-partner aviation finance practice at Bird & Bird LLP provides a ‘deep product suite at a competitive price’ to an increasingly balanced array of clients including airlines (Air Asia, Etihad) and lessors (Aviation Capital Group, Avolon). The arrival in May 2016 of the ‘very commercial, bright and talented’ Jim Bell from Allen & Overy LLP has brought about instructions on the lender side from the likes of JP Morgan; ‘genuinely one of the very rare aviation lawyers who combines strong technical expertise with an acute business sense’, Bell recently worked alongside lawyers in the firm’s Frankfurt office on the representation of emp structured assets, as arranger and bookrunner, on a sale and leaseback with Emirates which involved a complex financing structure including an innovative blend of both commercial debt and multi-tranched capital market notes. The ‘very responsive and experienced’ Brett Hailey is also recommended, as is the ‘very commercial’ Paul Briggs, who is noted for his ‘strong advice on the practical aspects of operating leases’. The ‘very experienced’ Robin Hallam recently joined as a consultant from Hogan Lovells International LLP.

Clyde & Co LLP has a ‘strong reputation’ within the shipping sector. ‘Very knowledgeable about the marine industry’, Stuart McAlpine provides ‘clear and sound advice’ to a range of shipping clients and has developed a particular area of strength within the LNG sector. In this regard, he recently advised Dynagas Holding on the long-term vessel chartering of six ice-glass tankers to Yamal LNG. Paul Turner has significant experience advising on ship sale and purchase transactions and has been advising The Norwegian Cruise Line Group on various ship financing, contracting and delivery arrangements involving luxury cruise ships built in European shipyards. John Leonida is recommended for his work within the superyacht sector. On the aviation front, Mark Bisset is particularly noted for his corporate jet expertise. Dean Norton joined Stephenson Harwood in May 2017.

The ‘responsive’ aviation finance team at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP benefits from ‘excellent industry knowledge’ and provides a ‘thorough service’ to clients across a range of financings including export credit agency-supported transactions and other structured financings. Although it has successfully cultivated its own client base since the establishment of its London office in May 2014, it also benefits from the strong brand name the firm has for aviation finance in the US. ‘Knowledgeable, attentive and commercial’ co-head Debra Erni acts for several lessor clients including Macquarie AirFinance, which she has advised on numerous operating and finance leases to several airlines during 2016 including TUI, Swiss Air and Blue Air. Erni also has strong ties with a number of Japanese clients including Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company which she advised on the sale of a portfolio of used Boeing and Airbus narrow-body aircraft to Aircastle and related lease novations with four separate airlines. Co-head Graham Tyler is also well regarded and handles an increasing volume of work for Emirates, including advising it in relation to a raft of sale and leaseback transactions. ‘Responsive and attentive’ senior associate Rakhi Savjani is also recommended. Other clients include Aircastle, DVB Bank and AWAS.

The ‘very solid’ four-partner ship finance team at Reed Smith LLP provides ‘technically sound’ advice to a varied mix of stakeholders including banks (Bank of America Merill Lynch, DnB Nor), alternative lenders (Hayfin Capital), funds (York Capital) and operators (Eagle Bulk). Supported by complementary practice areas including private equity, restructuring and structured finance, as well as by practitioners situated in key shipping financial centres including Hong Kong, Athens, Paris and across the US, the team has the capability to represent clients on a range of commoditised deals, as well as more structured mandates, often with a cross-border complexion. ‘Dependable’ team head Rob Wilkins has a ‘genuine passion for what he does’ and recently advised a syndicate of banks, led by HSH Nordbank, on the restructuring and buy-back of the combined $120m senior and junior debt made available to US-listed shipowner, Dryships. Wilkins continues to be active in shipping-related restructurings as well as for the purchasers of large non-performing shipping loan portfolio transactions. Philip Rymer is also recommended for his ‘non-nonsense and practical’ advice.

Praised for its ‘strong negotiating skills and ability to deal with complex deals’, Vedder Price’s four-partner London team has ‘very solid experience’ in the market and is particularly accomplished at deals with a US nexus (where it is able to leverage the support of its market-leading US practice). The ‘reliable and responsive’ Gavin Hill has a strong reputation in the market and is regularly at the forefront of the most significant deals handled by the team; his recent highlights include acting for Arab Banking Corporation on the $90m structured lease financing of Airbus aircraft and work for several banks, including BNP Paribas, on a structured and bespoke aircraft warehouse facility for Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Neil Poland is also recommended. Clients include lenders (Credit Suisse, SMBC), lessors (AerCap, Aircastle), manufacturers (Airbus) and operators (Flybe, Virgin Atlantic Airways).

Addleshaw Goddard’s two-partner team has significant traction among airlines including British Airways, Flybe and Philippine Airways, which it advises on an array of financing, transactional and regulatory work. The two partners Rory MacCarthy and Rebecca Garner have recently been involved in numerous sale and leaseback transactions for airlines. New clients include Aer Lingus and Iberia Airlines.

Benefiting from a ‘core focus on the shipping industry’, HFW is able to provide a ‘highly efficient and quality’ service to banking clients, in particular, on both new money financings and restructurings. The ‘superb’ John Forrester has a very strong reputation among banks and export credit agencies; he recently advised Svenska Handelsbanken as agent and security trustee of a banking syndicate which provided a $152.5m revolving credit facility to Concordia Maritime. Tony Rice is ‘able to put difficult commercial points across without alienating anyone’ and recently represented Emirates Ship Investment Company, as guarantor, on a shari’ah-compliant financing to facilitate the acquisition of two product tankers to be chartered to ENOC, the UAE government-owned oil company. As part of his ship finance expertise, Jay Tooker has a niche focus within the superyacht sector. Team head Elinor Dautlich also handles superyacht work, in addition to corporate jet financings. Stephen Marais is also recommended at a partner level for his ship and aviation finance expertise, while senior associate Gudmund Bernitz provides ‘very clear and efficient advice’ for banks and borrowers in the shipping sector. Other clients include Danske Bank, DNB Bank, Turkish Airlines and Waypoint Leasing.

Established in London in May 2016 following the merger with aviation boutique Clark Ricketts, Holland & Knight (UK) LLP continues to build up its aviation finance offering following the hiring of four lawyers from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP in February 2017. The practice is active on both the airline and operator side, and is able to leverage the asset finance expertise within the firm’s US offices. The ‘very capable and responsive’ Robert Ricketts provided assistance from London on the US-led work for BBAM Aircraft Management on the $1.2bn aircraft securitisation backed by 49 aircraft on lease to 37 airlines in 25 countries. Victoria Koob recently advised Dubai Aerospace Enterprise on the sale of 21 narrow-bodied aircraft through a $410m asset-backed securitisation structure. Associate Giles Cornwall is ‘very up to date on recent developments in the market and eager to handle difficult negotiations’.

The ‘service-minded and commercial’ team at Ince & Co is noted for its representation of operators on financing and leasing matters within the shipping sector. The ‘very responsive and pleasant’ Beatrice Russ is particularly accomplished within the LNG and FSRU space and has handled numerous sale and leaseback transactions for Golar LNG. David Baker is global head of the firm’s ship finance practice; as well as new money financings for banks and owners, he has been particularly active of late (given the moribund nature of the shipping industry) on numerous restructurings. Baker has been active for H.I.G Capital on the financing associated with its recent shipping investments. The team was strengthened by the arrival in September 2016 of Spencer Gold from HFW. Other clients include Gaslog, Nordea Bank and SHL Holding.

Sitting within the firm’s global banking group, Linklaters LLP’s asset finance team provides ‘solutions-driven and pragmatic’ advice to banks, corporates and investors across a range of shipping and aviation finance matters, particularly those involving complex cross-border issues. On the aviation front, the team recently advised VistaJet on its corporate reorganisation, which involved three stages of amendments to more than 60 separate aircraft financing facilities and several pre-delivery payment loan facilities. The ‘responsive and solutions-oriented’ Olga Petrovic is the primary partner active in the asset finance field, while at associate level Caroline Courtney has ‘deep industry knowledge’ and provides ‘sound advice’ across a range of new money financings and restructurings. Clients include Citibank, Golar LNG and Wells Fargo.

REN Legal continues to ‘carve out a very good niche’ in the market, primarily for small to mid-ticket aviation finance and leasing work where it provides a ‘first-class service’ to lessors (AerCap, Infinity Transportation), lenders (DVB Bank, Erste Group Bank) and operators (Emirates, Transportes Aéreos Portugueses). Christopher Jackson and Norman Fraser have an ‘in-depth understanding of the aircraft leasing and finance business’, and are both noted for their expertise in aircraft engine leasing transactions. The ‘very bright and technically strong’ Adam Longney handles aviation finance matters and has made inroads into the rail sector, as illustrated by his recent work for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe and the syndicate of existing financiers in connection with the refinancing of debt provided to Ascendos Rail.

Benefiting from ‘deep and sound knowledge of the aviation industry and individual jurisdictions’, Winston & Strawn London LLP’s nascent asset finance group in London was formed in April 2016 and has already begun to achieve traction in the market for leasing companies, banks and airline clients. The speed with which the firm has been able to do so is largely attributable to the two partners, Mark Moody and Christopher Boresjo’s strong reputation in the market and ties built up during their time at Simmons & Simmons. Able to leverage a strong US presence, the team has the flexibility to advise on cross-border aircraft finance and leasing under English and New York law. In a deal which involved input from the New York office, Moody recently acted for US leasing company Wings Capital on the financing of an Airbus A321 on lease to Iberia. In addition to his work for leasing companies, Boresjo also has a significant airline client base including Finnair which he recently acted for on the first ever Airbus A350 JOLCO financing.

Burges Salmon LLP’s three-partner rail group displays ‘excellent knowledge and expertise’ in the rail industry and is particularly accomplished at advising on rolling stock and leasing financing procurements pursuant to franchise bids. The firm benefits from an ‘incredibly strong relationship’ with operator First Group; the ‘excellent’ Brioney Thomas led advice to the client in relation to its procurement of rolling stock and mobilisation for the TransPennine Express franchise. As part of her broad banking practice, Rachael Ruane also regularly handles asset finance transactions and has advised First Group and Merseyrail on leasing arrangements for non-rolling stock equipment. Associate Chris Lewis is also recommended and is praised for his ‘amazing levels of commitment and resilience’.

Benefiting from ‘impressive technical and industry knowledge’, CMS provides ‘robust yet commercial advice’ to a range of stakeholders engaged in the financing of a broad mix of asset classes. On the aviation finance front, Keith Wilson is praised for his ‘lateral thinking, commerciality and creativity’. Tim Elliott relocated to the firm's Hong Kong office.

A key part of the firm’s global asset finance practice, which includes strong capabilities out of Moscow, New York, Hong Kong, Paris, Oslo and Dubai, DLA Piper’s two-partner London-based team has expertise within both the shipping and aviation sectors on behalf of owners, banks, lessors and private equity investors. Alan Cunningham recently acted for Flybe on the lessor novation of six Embraer 195 aircraft between Falko and Avolon. Recently promoted partner Richard Skipper was also involved in the aforementioned matter and is the other core partner within the team. US-qualified capital markets partner Tony Lopez has expertise advising on aircraft portfolio securitisations.

At Hill Dickinson LLP, Panos Pourgourides has an ‘excellent reputation’ for advising ultra-high-net-worth individuals and lenders, including BNP Paribas and JP Morgan, on superyacht and corporate jet financings. Malcolm Entwistle handles mainstream shipping transactional and finance work as part of his broader corporate practice.

K&L Gates LLP established its asset finance offering in London following the arrival of the aviation finance team (including Philip Perrotta and Sidanth Rajagopal) from legacy Kaye Scholer. Perrotta handles work for lenders, lessors and operators and recently advised Vietjet on the $450m sale and leaseback of six new Airbus A321-200 aircraft. Rajagopal has a focus on deals based in the Middle East, south Asia and Africa; as well as his recent work for flydubai on numerous sale and leaseback transactions, he recently advised Spicejet on the $15bn acquisition of 155 new Boeing 737 Jetliners. Other clients include Cebu Pacific, Jackson Square Aviation, Sri Lankan Airlines and ACIA holdings.

Led by the ‘very experienced’ Clive Smith, ‘who knows the rail industry very well’, Osborne Clarke LLP’s one-partner asset finance group handles work for a varied mix of participants in the rail industry including operators (Arriva), manufacturers (Siemens) and banks (Barclays Bank and Lloyds). The firm is particularly active for leading rolling stock operating company Eversholt Rail Group, which it acts for on the financing, acquisition and leasing of large fleets. Smith’s other recent highlights include advising Stadler Rail Valencia on the modification of an existing fleet of Class 68 locomotives, owned by Beacon Rail, for the purposes of integrating them with new coaching stock to be built by Spanish train manufacturer CAF, for lease initially to First TransPennine Express.

Shoosmiths LLP provides a ‘responsive and commercial service’ and is noted in particular for its ‘high level of knowledge on rolling stock matters’. ‘Very commercial’ team head Chris McClure is, according to one client, ‘one of the best asset finance and leasing lawyers in the country’ and ‘really knows the rail industry and the main players within it’. McClure handles a raft of work for leading rolling stock operating company Porterbrook, including advising it on the transfer of leases for the various Porterbrook-owned rolling stock fleets and associated heavy maintenance agreements as well as the leases for the ticket barriers installed at numerous stations on East Anglia network from Abellio Greater Anglia to Abellio East Anglia. The ‘solutions-oriented’ Martin Fleetwood ‘has a deep knowledge of the structure of the UK rail industry and how the rolling stock sector fits within that’.

Slaughter and May has numerous individuals within the firm’s broader finance offering with significant experience across a range of cross-border matters for clients including Rolls-Royce and British Airways. Recent highlights include advising Orient Overseas on two TEU container ship financings. Andrew Johnson is regularly involved in the firm’s most significant asset finance matters including acting for private equity firm First Reserve on its majority acquisition in PV Keez Pte – a single purpose company which owns a floating production, storage and offloading vessel – and on the entry into an asset financing facility by PV Keez with a syndicate of lenders for the refinancing of PV Keez’s existing debt facility.

Leveraging the firm’s private wealth capabilities, Fieldfisher’s asset finance team regularly advises lenders and ultra-high-net-worth individuals on the financing requirements related to the acquisition of a range assets, including corporate jets and yachts. Andrew Evans is the main contact within the group and handles asset finance work as a part of his wider banking and finance capability.


Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans

Index of tables

  1. Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans
  2. Leading individuals
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Next generation lawyers

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Leveraging the firm’s deeply entrenched banking relationships, the ‘very impressive’ 31-partner team at Allen & Overy LLP ‘displays vast expertise and knowledge’ of investment grade acquisition finance, corporate lending for working capital purposes, and syndicated and structured lending. Able to deploy significant resources, not just out of London but also across the firm’s network of offices worldwide, the practice has the critical mass and benefits from a geographical diversity that ensures it is able to handle a large volume of big-ticket mandates. The ‘excellent’ Trevor Borthwick is global head of the firm’s corporate lending practice; his recent highlights include acting for the agent bank on the £1.35bn multi-currency facilities used to support Ladbrokes’ £2.7bn merger with Gala Coral. ‘The smart and practical’ George Link acted for Cooperative Rabobank and Credit Agricole, as arrangers, on the $600m term loan and revolving credit facilities provided to Dutch company OCI. In a mandate which involved significant input from the firm’s New York and Dutch offices, Greg Brown recently advised the lead banks, including Deutsche Bank and HSBC, on a $25bn syndicated facility to enable British American Tobacco to acquire the remaining 57% stake in Reynolds American not already owned by the client. Praised for her ‘excellent judgement’, Melissa Samuel is active across a range of financings including syndicated and structured lending; she recently acted for RBS on a £1.7bn term loan and revolving credit facility for AMEC Foster Wheeler. Michael Castle and Darren Hanwell are noted in particular for their expertise within the margin lending space. Other recommended partners include Nicholas Clark and Simon Roberts. Stephen Kensell joined Latham & Watkins in July 2016.

The ‘knowledgeable and experienced’ team at Clifford Chance LLP provides an ‘excellent service’ to lenders and borrowers on corporate lending mandates ranging from working capital facilities to big-ticket acquisition financings. Praised for her ‘strong technical skills’, Emma Folds has significant expertise in the investment grade space and recently advised Commerzbank on the $750m facilities provided to RPC Group in connection with its acquisition of US plastics manufacturer Letica. The ‘very experienced and well-respected’ Michael Bates heads the firm’s London finance team; in addition to his market-leading expertise for infrastructure financing, he is also regularly involved in general corporate lending matters. Alongside Matthew Dunn, he recently advised J Sainsbury on the amendment and restatement of its £1.15bn revolving credit facility used in part to finance its takeover bid for Home Retail Group. ‘Able to handle a variety of different transactions’, the ‘very clever’ Charles Cochrane regularly advises on corporate loans; he acted for Barclays Bank on the £630m syndicated revolving credit facility provided to ITV. Other recommended partners include the ‘calm and experienced’ Nicola Wherity, the ‘experienced and commercial’ James Boswell, Jim MacHale, and Peter Dahlen, who ‘has a very good understanding of the Nordic financial markets’. Other clients include HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Jaguar Land Rover.

Benefiting from the expertise of 36 partners in London, in addition to vast international resources, Linklaters LLP’s clients value its ‘extensive deal experience’ and ‘good overall view of the market’. Particularly active on the lender side on behalf of banking clients including HSBC, Lloyds and UBS, the ‘hardworking and responsive’ team is able to leverage the expertise of practitioners on the ground in a vast array of jurisdictions to handle a large volume of syndicated lending mandates. The ‘exceptional’ and ‘knowledgeable’ Philip Spittal heads the firm’s global loans team and is regarded as ‘one of the best in the market’. He recently advised a syndicate of banks on the post-IPO financing for Philips Lighting, the lighting division of Philips. Stuart Thomas advised BNP Paribas and other facilitating banks on the amendment and extension of the $5.5bn revolving credit facility for Arcelor Mittal. On the corporate side, the ‘outstanding’ Toby Grimstone and Ian Callaghan recently advised Glencore on the financing necessary to facilitate its acquisition of a minority stake in Russia’s state-owned oil and gas company Rosneft alongside the Qatar Investment Authority. The ‘smart and practical’ Oliver Edwards and James Martin are also recommended.

Leveraging its impressive roster of firm-wide investment grade corporate clients, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s primary strength lies in its ‘high-quality’ corporate treasury offering, which enables it to act for an impressive array of FTSE 100 and 250 corporates. David Trott advised CDS (Superstores International) on its £115m multi-currency term and revolving facilities, arranged by HSBC, for general corporate and working capital facilities, and to assist with future growth plans.Sean Pierce recently advised Ahlsell on the related refinancing of banking facilities pursuant to its IPO and listing on Nasdaq Stockholm. Although it is more dominant on the borrower side, the team does handle bank-side mandates as illustrated by Simon Johnson’s recent work for a consortium of banks, including RBS, on the financing provided to Informa plc to facilitate its acquisition of Penton Information Services.

Receiving a regular flow of work on behalf of the firm’s impressive roster of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 corporate clients, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP provides a ‘high-quality, commercial and responsive service’ to borrowers. Team head Kristen Roberts is praised for his ‘first-class technical skills and insightful advice’; he recently advised Provident Financial on its £450m multi-currency revolving facility agreement. Praised for his excellent ‘general market knowledge’, Will Nevin regularly handles corporate acquisition finance mandates; his recent highlights include acting for British American Tobacco on the $25bn facility to enable the funding of part of the $49.4bn acquisition of the remaining stake in Reynolds American. The energy sector remains a highly fertile ground for financing activity and in this space the team regularly acts for lenders on the provision of facilities on a reserve-based funding basis. Thomas Bethel acted for a syndicate of lenders on the refinancing of Lundin Petroleum’s $4bn reserve based lending facility. Ewen Fergusson is also a key member if the team and recently advised new client Amcor on its €750m debut European syndicated financing.

Drawing on the firm’s extensive roster of FTSE 100 corporate clients, including Whitbread, Shire and Rolls Royce, Slaughter and May provides ‘responsive, thoughtful and sensible advice’ across the spectrum of financings including for acquisition finance, as well as general corporate and working capital purposes. The team’s reputation in the space is also underscored by its continued work with the Association of Corporate Treasurers on LMA documentation. The ‘extremely bright, hardworking and practical’ Ed Fife advised Hibu Group on its successful refinancing and reorganisation of Hibu’s capital structure. Other highlights included Caroline Phillips’ work, alongside a high-profile US firm, on behalf of INOVYN ChlorVinyls on the raising of €775m of term loans and its offering of €300m senior secured notes. Stephen Powell, Andrew McClean and Richard Jones are also recommended.

Ashurst provides a ‘responsive and commercial’ service to a balanced array of corporates and lenders including Aveva plc, Amey, HSBC and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. James Collis’s renewed focus on fee-earning work, following several years as the firm’s managing partner, and the arrival of the vastly experienced Dave Rome from RBS (where he headed its EMEA loan markets division), has enhanced the firm’s profile in this are. The ‘excellent’ Nicholas Moore advised RPC Group on the £770m revolving credit facility, used to part finance the takeover of British Polythene Industries. Moore also advised a syndicate of five banks co-ordinated by MUFG, on a £200m bridge term loan facility for the Go-Ahead Group. Working alongside the firm’s corporate/M&A group, the banking team has an excellent reputation advising investment banks on the debt aspects of cash confirmations for listed company acquisitions. The ‘excellent’ Tim Rennie advised Deutsche Bank as financial adviser to Twenty-First Century Fox in relation to the proposed acquisition by Twenty-First Century Fox, of the shares of Sky plc that it does not already own. Senior associate Darren Phelan specialises in cross-border investment grade/corporate lending matters for both borrowers and lenders; his expertise within the investment grade space was recently enhanced by his secondment with MUFG in its EMEA syndications and origination team. Nick Wong is noted for his work on behalf of lenders and borrowers on the financing of acquisitions within the insurance sector. Lee Doyle, Martyn Rogers and Mark Vickers are also recommended.

Headed by Nick Tostivin out of London and also able to tap into the expertise of practitioners on the ground across Europe, US, Asia and the Middle East, Baker McKenzie provides ‘excellent service levels’ to lenders and corporates across a broad range of financings, ranging from short-term unsecured loans to global facilities involving multi-jurisdictional collateral, bilateral loans, syndicated loans and participations. ‘Standout partner’ Sebastian Marcelin-Rice ‘has very wide experience in cross-border lending’ and is a key member of the team, which includes ‘very client-oriented’ senior associate Sudhir Nair and the ‘very bright’ Ian Jack, who has a particular focus on CEE-related transactions. Clients include Macquarie, ING and SARquavitae. Infrastructure and real estate finance expert Paul Hibbert recently joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP.

Recently enhanced by the combination with Olswang and Nabarro, CMS has strength in depth out of London, the regions and internationally, enabling it to act for a balanced spread of corporates and lenders, which in addition to the firm’s staple core of clearing banks also includes a growing number of investment banks. Working in conjunction with a number of the firm’s international offices including Brazil and Mexico, Alex Patience advised new client Rabobank and a syndicate of lenders on the provision of cross-border, multi-base currency facilities for Genus. Patience also advised HSBC and Lloyds on the £70m financing of BGL Group to support the group’s securitisation. Ted Harrison, Patrick Donegan, Mark Moseling and Neil James are also recommended.

Leveraging its growing international network, Dentons has a strong reputation among banks for syndicated loans work, particularly in the emerging markets. ‘Excellent’ team head Isaac Felberbaum is noted for his work on behalf of banking syndicates providing liquidity to other financial institutions in the emerging markets. Felbarbaum is particularly experienced at handling work emanating out of Turkey and recently advised UniCredit Bank, as facility agent, on the $1.2bn syndicated dual currency loan facility agreement for Turkish financial institution Akbank TÃŒrk Anonìm Şìrketì. Lee Federman regularly handles cross-border syndicated financings amnd acted for BNP Paribas and Erste Group Bank, as arrangers, on the €615m syndicated revolving credit facilities with MOL, the Hungarian integrated international oil and gas company. Other clients include Commerzbank, Mizuho Bank and BNP Paribas.

Although it is better known for its leveraged finance practice, Hogan Lovells International LLP also regularly handles corporate lending mandates for a primarily lender-facing client base that includes commercial banks and direct lenders including Lloyds, Citibank and Ares Management. The insurance market remains a fertile ground for financing work for the team and adds value to clients as a result of its ability to leverage the firm’s broader corporate and regulatory expertise within the sector. Matthew Cottis has been involved in numerous insurance lending mandates, including advising lenders on the provision of financing to assist Phoenix Group fund its £935m acquisition of the Abbey Life insurance business from Deutsche Bank. Working alongside colleagues in the firm’s Moscow and Amsterdam offices, Andrew Taylor advised a syndicate of banks on a $1.2bn pre-export facility to PJSC Uralkali – the largest Russian syndicated loan transaction of 2016. Penny Angell and Jo Robinson are also recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s extensive international network, as well as the firm’s industry knowledge in key areas including energy, transport and telecommunications, are key features of the finance team, which is able to provide ‘commercial and focused advice’ to banks and corporates. James Dunnett has a particular focus on the oil and gas sector; he recently advised Tullow Oil on the upsizing of their contingent resources and quasi-reserves based facility to $1bn. Alexandra Triptree has a focus on media and telecoms financings in the emerging markets and has recently handled numerous financings for the Turk Telecom group of companies, including on $150m-worth of term loan facilities made available to it by ING Capital and Mizuho Bank for the purpose of financing the acquisition by the company and its subsidiaries of equipment and services from Alcatel and Cisco. Team head Michael Ings also handles media and telecoms financings, as well as Africa-related financings (he is a trusted adviser to The Standard Bank of South Africa). The ‘user-friendly’ Michael Black regularly handles asset based financing provisions.

White & Case LLP provides a ‘very commercial’ and ‘cost-effective’ service to both lenders and corporates including Aliaxis Group, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. Led on the banking side by the ‘solutions-oriented, commercial and proactive’ Jeremy Duffy, the team recently advised Cabot Financial on a £250m revolving credit facility and £350m issuance of New York law-governed senior secured notes. As part of his broad-ranging banking practice, Christopher Czarnocki has particular expertise handling emerging markets work and recently advised Puma Energy on its $800m revolving credit facilities. Gareth Eagles has close ties with GSO Capital Partners; he recently advised it on a $205m refinancing facility to Luminator Technology. Robert Bennett, Lee Cullinane and Jacqueline Evans are also recommended.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP provides a ‘responsive, commercial and cost-effective service’ to a balanced mix of lenders and borrowers across a range of corporate lending matters. Praised for its ability to provide ‘deep technical knowledge’ as well as the ability ‘to pull together specialists throughout the firm, to support where necessary’, the four-partner team has the capacity to handle a variety of commoditised and highly bespoke mandates (where it often works closely with colleagues in the structured finance group). The practice continues to receive a regular flow of corporate lending work for longstanding borrower clients including Tesco, and is expanding its client base, recently handling work for rapidly growing corporate Gett in relation to a $100m financing from Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank. The ‘commercial’ Daisy Reeves acted on the aforementioned matter and also advised Hippodrome Casino on a £18m facility with Barclays. As part of his broad-ranging finance practice, Derek Hrydziuszko handles less conventional work including margin loan financing, and recently advised Goldman Sachs on the provision of such facilities to high-net-worth and ultra-high net-worth individuals. ‘Helpful and knowledgeable’ team head Emma Howdle-Fuller is also recommended. Other clients include Lloyds, HSBC, RBS and Mount Street.

Despite the departure of well-regarded leveraged and corporate lending partners David Miles and Philip Butler to Dechert LLP towards the end of 2016, DLA Piper maintains a significant presence in the market where it is praised for its ‘high service levels on the more complex or esoteric structures’. The ‘incredibly hardworking and pragmatic’ Mark Dwyer – who joined at the end of 2015 from Slaughter and May – has been instrumental in building up the firm’s borrower-side credentials. Dwyer advised Discovery Communications on its $2bn refinancing and acted for Heineken on its £340m financing of its public takeover of Punch Taverns. ‘First-rate’ team head Julie Romer recently advised numerous banks including Barclays on the £200m amendment and restatement of facilities for Just Eat to fund its acquisition of Hungry House. Other clients include Workspace Group, HSBC and Ares Capital.

Mayer Brown International LLP is particularly strong within the asset based lending space and is able to leverage strong banking relationships to service corporates raising money solely through this product as well as in conjunction with other debt products. Able to tap into the firm’s broad-ranging international network, the team is regularly engaged in cross-border mandates; Alex Dell and Dominic Griffiths acted alongside practitioners in Paris and Frankfurt, for HSBC Bank and ABN AMRO Commercial Finance on a €80m invoice discounting facility provided to STIGA/Global Garden Products (GGP), one of Europe's largest makers and sellers of powered garden equipment for residential and commercial use. Other recommended partners include Liz Soutter, for funds finance, and the ‘detailed and commercially oriented’ Trevor Wood, who has significant experience handling Turkish-based transactions.

Leveraging its strong clearing bank relationships, as well as servicing the firm’s roster of London-listed corporates, Pinsent Masons LLP is a very visible presence in the UK corporate lending market. Liam Terry leads the firm’s HSBC relationship and recently advised it on a $70m term and revolving credit facility for Telit Communications. Vanessa Heap acted for Motorpoint Group on its post-IPO facility with Santander. Team head Martin Bishop has recently handled numerous matters for L&G including on its £175m refinancing of the Sofitel Hotel situated in Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. Other clients include RBS, Barclays Bank and Redefine International plc.

In addition to handling a significant amount of general corporate lending work, Reed Smith LLP also has niche expertise in more specialised areas including funds finance and asset based lending. Monica Barton advised Santander and HSBC on the £36.2m term and revolving facilities provided to Southern Communications Group. ‘Proactive and commercial’ asset based lending expert Georgia Quenby handles a significant amount of work for Wells Fargo and recently advised it as incoming lender on a new asset based lending facility for First Milk, one of the UK’s leading dairy co-operatives. Leon Stephenson is recommended for fund finance and general bank lending.

Although its core focus lies in acting for private equity funds on leveraged finance deals, Ropes & Gray LLP handles a significant amount of corporate lending and event-driven financing work, in particular, for marquee clients Altice and Liberty Global, and is able to advise on UK and US finance products (including New York law-governed high yield). Benoit Lavigne recently acted for Altice on its $10.6bn cross-border equity and debt financing to facilitate the acquisition of Cablevision. Jane Rogers advised Liberty Global on the financing arrangements to facilitate its acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications.

Well positioned to exploit the continued trend of European borrowers accessing the US high yield market to fund deals alongside bank debt, Shearman & Sterling LLP provides a ‘very commercial service’ to banks and corporates on cross-border new money and refinancing transactions. Korey Fevzi recently advised Interoute Finco on a €350m combined term loan and revolving credit facility (in a transaction which implemented US high yield bond style covenants). Fevzi also recently advised Indian corporate Aditya Birla on a $925m refinancing of existing facilities of certain of its subsidiaries (despite being governed by UK law, the deal implemented New York style covenants). New York law-qualified partner Ronan Wicks heads the European finance group and has strong credibility amongst the investment bank community; he recently advised Bank of America and HSBC on a $200m US and Euro incremental financing for Archroma to finance a dividend and working capital. Caroline Leeds Ruby and dual US and UK-qualified partner Peter Hayes are also recommended.

Simmons & Simmons has a multi-disciplinary finance team that regularly handles new money corporate lending mandates for banks and borrowers. The Nordic region remains a fertile area for the firm and regularly assists lenders with syndicated transactions in the region. Simon Middleton advised Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken and the other mandated lead arrangers on a €200m multi-currency revolving credit facility for Valmet Corporation. Middleton also represented Citigroup Global Markets and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, as co-ordinating mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners, on a €1bn multicurrency revolving credit facility for Electrolux AB. The ‘helpful and responsive’ Alistair Hill is ‘detail oriented but does not lose sight of the bigger picture’. Other clients include Bank of New York Mellon, British Land, Morgan Stanley and HSBC.

Able to leverage the firm’s international network of offices including a strong presence in the US, Winston & Strawn London LLP regularly acts for lenders and corporates on cross-border mandates. Rebecca Finn acts for a range of conventional lenders, as well as multilateral and development financial institutions; she recently acted for Taiwanese bank, Cathay United Bank, on a $350m syndicated loan to the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam. ‘Personable’ team head Zoe Ashcroft has an excellent reputation for advising borrowers in African financings. The team was bolstered by the arrival of Ian Borman from King & Wood Mallesons in January 2017.

In addition to servicing the firm’s corporate client base, Addleshaw Goddard has a strong following among both clearing banks and alternative lenders, for which it handles an array of financings including investment grade and sub-investment grade corporate lending. Emblematic of the firm’s growing presence in big-ticket deals, Laurie Keel recently advised GVC Holdings on the debt financing on its £1.12bn acquisition of bwin.party digital entertainment. Subsequent to this, Keel advised GVC on the committed €250m refinancing provided by Nomura International. Amanda Gray and Angus Gill are also recommended. Other clients include Alcentra Debt Funds and Morris Group.

Leveraging its broad-ranging international network of offices, which includes a market-leading Moscow office, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is noted for its strength advising on emerging and developing markets deals, particularly involving energy-related financings. Robert Aulsebrook (one of the ‘best in the City for Russian deals’, according to clients) recently advised LUKOIL on a $500m financing to fund the development of the Gissar gas fields, an onshore gas exploration and production project in Uzbekistan. Lisa Hearn also handles cross-border financings, recently advising VimpelCom on a $200m Swedish export credit backed equipment financing facility, with ING Bank and AB SEK as lenders.

Bracewell (UK) LLP provides an ‘outstanding service’ to lenders and corporates on reserve-based lending transactions. The ‘sharp and commercial’ Jason Fox (who is ‘one of the most experienced oil and gas finance lawyers in the EMEA region’) recently advised Petrogas on a $280m reserve based facility to develop its upstream assets in Oman. Fox is also advising Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration on their $1.75bn development financings for the development of the Leviathan gas field, offshore Israel, arranged and underwritten by JPMorgan and HSBC. Praised for her ‘strong execution capability and commercial understanding’, Olivia Caddy was involved in the aforementioned deal alongside senior associate Suchita Woodward, who is praised for her ‘methodical and detailed approach’. Other clients include Seplat Petroleum, Natixis, Citibank and DNB Bank.

Less siloed than many practices in the ranking, the ‘eclectic’ five-partner banking practice at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is regularly engaged in high-profile cross-border mandates for a predominantly borrower-side client base including investment grade corporates ArcelorMittal and Continental Foods. Working alongside colleagues in the firm’s New York office, David Billington advised Codere on a US bond issue and an English law super senior revolving credit facility. Polina Lyadnova is noted for her cross-border expertise, particularly on financings related to Russian businesses; she recently acted for Qatar Investment Authority on the financing of its €10.2bn acquisition (alongside Glencore) of a minority stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft.

Praised for its ‘excellent service levels’, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s seven-partner global finance group is picking up an increased number of mandates for investment grade borrowers on their financings. Although best known for his leveraged finance expertise, the ‘excellent’ Stephen Gillespie has handled numerous matters for William Hill, including the financing of its failed merger with Canadian online gambling company, Amaya, and on its investment and related financing in NYX Gaming, a digital gaming supplier, as part of a consortium to acquire OpenBet. Gillespie also acted for satellite services company, SES, on the equity and debt financing of its $710m acquisition of the remaining stake in O3b Networks it did not already own. Thomas Budd is praised for his ‘supreme dedication to client service’.

The ‘responsive and practical’ two-partner team at Greenberg Traurig, LLP handles a range of domestic and cross-border finance work including general corporate lending. A ‘technical wizard’, Emma Menzies recently acted for the mandated lead arrangers on a revolving credit facility provided to Goshawk Aviation. As well as acting on new money mandates, Menzies also regularly handles restructuring work; she recently advised new client DRC Capital on the €48m refinancing of a German property portfolio. Gary Bellingham is the ‘personification of calmness’ and assisted Menzies on her representation of Empyrean as the lender of a bridge facility provided to Ethika Investments and related security and put-option agreements. Other clients include Rentokil, MonuRent Holdings and William Davis Limited.

Well versed across the spectrum of European and US-style financings, Jones Day’s London banking and finance team handles work for an increasingly balanced roster of borrower and lender clients. In addition to the team’s leveraged finance capability, it is also regularly involved in general corporate lending and corporate-led acquisition finance work. Paul Simcock acted for Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund and National Car Parks (NCP), in connection with the £160m refinancing of NCP's debt facilities. Simcock also advised Stallergenes Greer on the multi-currency revolving credit facility provided by UBS. Edwin Borrini has expertise across a broad spectrum of financings including energy and infrastructure-related emerging markets mandates.

Although banking and bond powerhouse Latham & Watkins is best known for its market-leading leveraged finance practice, it also receives a considerable and growing amount of corporate lending and corporate-based acquisition finance mandates. The arrival of the ‘excellent’ Stephen Kensell from Allen & Overy LLP in September 2016 brought ‘strong credentials’ in the investment grade debt and syndicated loan market. Kensell advised numerous banks, including Danske Bank, on the SEK10bn combined term loan and revolving credit facility provided to Ahlsell following its recent IPO. Christopher Kandel has very strong credentials among the investment bank community and recently advised the lead arrangers (including Goldman Sachs, HSBC and UniCredit Bank) on TMF Group’s €750m covenant-lite Term Loan B facility and revolving credit facility, to refinance existing senior secured and senior unsecured notes in the institutional loan market.

Regularly working on deals in collaboration with its US colleagues, McGuireWoods London LLP’s increasingly active three-partner London practice has broad ranging expertise, for a predominantly lender side client base, including on cross-border syndicated lending and public takeover financings. Team head Marc Isaacs recently worked alongside colleagues from the firm’s Charlotte office to provide advice on the English law aspects of Bank of America’s revolving credit facility provided to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In another matter that involved significant input from practitioners from the firm’s US offices, Isaacs also acted for Fifth Third on its role as lender and arranger under the amendment and restatement by a five-bank club of the £125m multi-currency facility agreement with Vitec Group. The arrival in February 2017 of Jennifer Kafcas from O'Melveny enhances the team’s capability advising lenders and borrowers in complex structured and cross-border transactions in Europe and the US. Other clients include Wells Fargo Bank, Goldman Sachs and Enstar Group.

‘Praised for its knowledge of current market trends’, Macfarlanes LLP provides a ‘responsive’ and ‘high-quality service’. Although it is best known for its mid-market private equity-focused leveraged finance work, it also regularly handles bilateral lending and syndicated lending work for investment grade and sub-investment grade borrowers. Team head Christopher Lawrence advised Famar on the refinancing of existing facilities agreements and the granting of a new money facility. Kirstie Hutchinson is ‘very good on black letter law as well as taking into commercial considerations’. Appreciated by clients for her ‘can-do attitude to problem solving’, Bronwen Jones has a ‘high level of technical expertise on fund finance matters’. As well as work for alternative capital providers, the ‘excellent’ Andrew Perkins is also well regarded for his fund finance expertise. Clients include BNP Paribas, Cimpress Group, Deutsche Bank, Hayfin Capital Management and Encore Group.

Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP’s debt finance offering in London handles a range of financing work for a growing number of European corporates, in addition to the firm’s established roster of US and Asian corporates. The ‘outstanding’ Phillip Slater recently provided English law input on the debt financing provided to Japanese multinational telecoms company SoftBank on its high-profile £24bn acquisition of ARM Holdings plc. Slater also regularly acts for Just Eat on its ongoing financing requirements, including the amendment and restatement of its credit facilities.

While Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s finance team primarily focuses on servicing its top-notch roster of private equity clients on their leveraged finance transactions, it does also handle some mandates for investment grade corporates. Antti Pesonen recently assisted French electronics retailer, Groupe Fnac, with its €950m term and bridge loan facilities and its €400m revolving credit facility to facilitate its acquisition of Darty plc. Sinead O’Shea and Nicholas Shaw also advised Melrose Industries on the financing for its acquisition of Nortek, a leading diversified global manufacturer of innovative air management, security, home automation and ergonomic and productivity solutions. Other clients include Auto Trader Group, New Look, Pets at Home and Sophos Group.

Leveraging the firm’s pre-eminent M&A reputation in the US, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP’s London team is regularly involved on the financing aspects of major global mandates for US corporates. Clive Wells recently worked alongside colleagues in the US on the financing for Ball Corporation (including a $3.3bn multi-currency revolving credit facility and a £3.3bn bridge term loan facility) to enable its acquisition of Rexam plc. Pete Coulton has a strong appreciation of various financing techniques and recently advised Reichhold on a €625m unitranche facility for the financing of its merger with Polynt Group. Mark Darley has handled a number of transactions for Jacobs Douwe Egberts including on the financing of its acquisition of Super Group. Counsel Andrew Brown is also recommended.

With numerous dual-qualified New York and UK law practitioners based out of London and also able to tap into the expertise of the firm’s pre-eminent transatlantic reputation, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP regularly acts for corporate borrowers on complex international financings – often involving dual English and New York law financing structures. Presley Warner recently advised Ferrari on the financing of its inaugural €500m notes offering and the establishment of its inaugural €1.5 billion revolving bank credit facility. Presley is also regularly involved, alongside Chris Beatty, on CNH Industrial’s revolving credit bank facility and US capital markets financings.

Although the firm is best known for its mid-market sponsor side offering, Travers Smith LLP also handles a significant amount of financing work for corporate borrowers, in addition to more niche areas including funds financing and financial institution lending. Charles Bischoff has strong credentials among banking clients, with a particular niche in lending to other non-bank financial institutions; he recently represented a syndicate of banks including RBS, Shawbrook Bank and Secure Trust Bank, on the provision of a £85m senior term and revolving credit facility to Non-Standard Finance to facilitate its acquisition of Everyday Loans Holdings. Daniel Peel has a well-established lender side funds finance practice and recently advised on a subscription facility to Europa Fund V.

Praised for its ‘very high standard of service and cost-effective approach’, Bird & Bird LLP has a particularly strong reputation advising conventional commercial banks and development banks on emerging markets financings. The ‘responsive, patient and innovative’ Andrew Hallgarth has ‘vast experience across sectors, jurisdictions and financing instruments’. Recommended for her borrower side emerging markets work, Isabel Evans recently advised The Greater Amman Municipality in Jordan on an innovative €102m infrastructure-related loan provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Team head Trystan Tether handles a mix of both lender and borrower side work.

Bryan Cave is best known for its lender-side funds finance practice. The firm continues to handle a raft of work for Scotiabank; Gohar Lputian recently advised the client on a €60m revolving facility agreement to JP Morgan American Investment Trust, as well as in relation to a JPY3bn multi-currency revolving facility to JPMorgan Japan Smaller Companies Trust. Ed Marlow and of counsel Martha Collins Rolle are also recommended.

Based out of London and Bristol, Burges Salmon LLP’s six-partner team provides a ‘responsive, knowledgeable and practical’ service to lenders and borrowers (including investment grade corporates) on mid-market transactions, particularly within the energy, transport and real estate sectors. Noted for his expertise in renewables-related financing transactions, Graham Soar ‘will go the extra mile to get a transaction over the line’; he recently advised Bluefield SIF Investments on the £217m refinancing of its portfolio of solar parks onto a long-term whole-business style debt platform. Team head Richard Leeming acted for longstanding client National Express Group on the provision of a combined £450m financing including a £350m bridge facility (to pay off an existing bond) and a £100m facility for general corporate purposes. Other clients include Lloyds, HSBC and Santander.

Closely integrated with the firm’s derivatives and structured finance offering, Fieldfisher’s banking team provides a ‘commercial and client-oriented service’ to banks and corporates across a range of mid-market transactions, including financings relating to general corporate lending and corporate-led acquisition finance. The ‘very commercial and well-liked’ Robin Spender is regularly involved in acquisition finance mandates in the TMT sector; he recently advised GlobalData on its £100m debt financing. Spender also acted for Conservatory Outlet Group on its senior, mezzanine, invoice discounting and overdraft facilities made available by AIB Group (UK) for the purpose of two staged acquisitions. Philip Abbott is also recommended.

Praised for its ‘excellent industry knowledge and response times’, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP’s two-partner team continues to develop its relationships with debt advisors and corporate clients and is visible in numerous financings, particularly where there is a complex structure, for example, involving both New York law-governed high yield and bank debt (which the firm is particularly well suited to given its US heritage). The ‘responsive’ Johns Lehmann provides ‘sound business advice’ and recently acted for Credit Suisse (as arranger), alongside the firm’s New York and Frankfurt offices, on the $1.55bn term loan and $175m revolving loan facility to finance Onex Corporation and Baring Private Equity’s acquisition of Thomson Reuter’s Intellectual Property & Science business. Stuart Brinkworth is also recommended.

Led by the ‘responsive’ Kirsty Barnes out of London and also including practitioners based in Birmingham, Gowling WLG is particularly well regarded for its mid-market work, where it advises on multi-currency secured and unsecured domestic and cross-border matters. The ‘pragmatic and efficient’ Chris Brierley recently advised Hill Smith Holdings on the amendment and restatement of its banking facilities with a syndicate of banks (including HSBC and Lloyds). ‘Responsive and client-focused’ director Ed Hall is also recommended and handles a range of work for banks and borrowers including corporate banking and real estate finance matters.

Regularly working alongside practitioners from the firm’s US, Moscow and Middle East offices, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP’s London finance team excels at handling international financing work for a mix of borrowers and lenders. Working alongside several of the firm’s US offices, team head Bruce Johnston advised Sumitomo Corporation on the financing to facilitate the €751m takeover of Fyffes. Thomas O’Connor is recommended for his private placement work for US institutional investors.

Stephenson Harwood’s ten-partner bank lending practice handles a mix of work for lenders and borrowers including syndicated and bilateral corporate lending, corporate-led acquisition financing, funds finance and restructuring. Team head James Linforth recently advised easyHotel on its £12m bank financing provided by Santander, which sat alongside a recent equity raising, to fund its hotel expansion strategy. Senior associate Daniel Margolis supported Linforth on the aforementioned deal and also acted for Insight Investment Management on the term loan to Oakem, a UK-based microfiber fintech challenger, under a £30m facility entered into with RBS.

At Wedlake Bell LLP, team head Hilary Platt has significant experience advising both lenders and corporates across a range of syndicated and bilateral financings, often involving a cross-border component. Platt recently advised longstanding client Day Lewis on the addition of a £5m property facility alongside an existing £160m club financing (previously put in place to refinance the group’s existing debt and to fund further corporate acquisitions). Other clients include Bank of Ireland, Coutts & Co, Honest Burgers and Care UK.


Commodities: derivatives

Index of tables

  1. Commodities: derivatives
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Simone Goligorsky - Reed Smith LLP

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The team at Reed Smith LLP covers commodity derivatives from all angles and is known for its ‘excellent service and advice’ on transactional, regulatory and contentious matters. ‘On energy matters, there is no other firm in the UK that has the same strength’, says one client. Its expertise also covers other asset classes including metals and soft commodities in both exchange-traded and over-the-counter (OTC) markets. The London commodities team, which Kyri Evagora still oversees despite having moved to New York, also benefits from the firm’s network in Asia, the US, Europe and the Middle East, and its client base includes not only financial institutions and funds, but also exchanges and commodity trading houses. ‘Excellent regulatory lawyer’ Chris Borg is ‘someone upon whom clients can really rely – a very strong hand in the pack’. ‘Great transactional lawyers’ Prajakt Samant and Rashpaul Bahia ‘have very good expertise and know the market exceptionally well’. Clients also recommend Brett Hillis, who has particular expertise in gas and power trading, and Claude Brown, who has over 30 years’ experience in derivatives as a banker and lawyer. Counsel Joanna Williams and senior associate Simone Goligorsky are also highly regarded. The firm is closely involved with the development of WeatherXchange, the world’s first weather derivatives platform, and helped secure its authorisation as an introducing broker by the US National Futures Association. Other clients include the European Federation of Energy Traders, the Futures Industry Association (FIA) and global commodity exchange CME.

Shearman & Sterling LLP is ‘a truly global player that understands the whole of the market’. The firm’s primary focus is on market infrastructure and it advises exchanges and clearinghouses. It is a key adviser to the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and its affiliates including ICE Clear Europe, ICE Futures Europe and LIFFE. It also has a strong client base among financial institutions, corporates and buy-side entities, for which it handles a wide range of transactions, disputes and regulatory matters. The London team works closely with colleagues in the US to advise on the overlap between European, US and UK derivatives regulation. Clients single out ICE relationship partners Barney Reynolds (who is ‘one hell of a lawyer’) and Thomas Donegan; Patrick Clancy, who heads the UK derivatives team; and structured finance expert James Duncan – all are specialists in their respective fields. In a key mandate, the team advised ICE Clear Europe and ICE Futures Europe on an update to clearing and exchange rules in order to enhance sanctions protections; specific amendments were required for white sugar futures, cocoa futures and robusta coffee futures. The team also advised same clients on the impact of regulations such as MiFID II and Securities Financing Transactions rules. Another highlight saw Reynolds advise Abu Dhabi Global Market on the structuring and regulation of a new financial free zone, which included the drafting of commodity trading and derivatives rules. Sasol New Energy, Dow and BTG Pactual are also among the firm’s clients.

Ashurst has a global commodities practice in which the London office plays a central role. Its partners have extensive experience in derivatives and commodities trading matters and the firm represents traders, producers and investment banks in physically-settled and cash-settled hedging transactions. OTC derivatives specialist James Coiley is routinely called on to handle regulatory matters and is leading a project for Bank of America Merrill Lynch for the novation of guaranteed and collateralised intra-group commodity contracts. He is also assisting Institutional Secured Funding (Jersey), an ABCP programme sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald, on documentation for a commodities financing programme for spot metals trades. Other key mandates include assisting Merrill Lynch International with a review of all commodity due diligence and netting opinions on a global basis, which requires the co-ordination of derivatives and regulatory teams in multiple jurisdictions. Jonathan Haines is leading that project with support from Antony Skinner and counsel Kerion Ball. Chris Georgiou left the firm to help establish the Condor Legal Solutions initiative run by Fieldfisher.

Fieldfisher ‘can hold its head up with the best’, according to one client who also remarks that lead derivatives partner Guy Usher is ‘absolutely excellent, combining unsurpassed technical knowledge with a great deal of common sense’. The firm’s six-partner derivatives team covers a broad range of on-exchange and OTC transactions that include commodities asset classes such as metals, oil, electricity, freight and weather. Luke Whitmore, who is a key structured finance adviser to financial institutions including Citigroup and UBS, acted for Deutsche Bank on a gold swap with VTB Capital. He is also advising Nystar AG on futures agreements with ICBC, Koch Trading and Toyota Tsusho Metals to enable trading on the London Metal Exchange (LME). Edward Miller and Emma Spiers also play key roles in the derivatives team. Regulatory specialist Azad Ali is advising Mitsubishi Corporation on the impact of MiFID II on its commodity derivatives business. Duncan Black is recommended for contentious matters. Usher and associate Steven Burrows, who is praised for his ‘excellent service’, advised Triland Metals on tri-party margin funding structures with three banks that committed to provide margin and take security over the client’s LME futures accounts.

HFW has a deep bench of commodity lawyers whose expertise covers both physical and derivatives trades. The firm’s merger with Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown LLP in the US added an office in global energy centre Houston, Texas, through which derivatives work flows to London. Robert Finney is regarded as a leading specialist in derivatives and regulation, particularly in the energy and metals markets; in 2016, he advised financial institutions and commodity traders on the impact of new regulations such as MiFID II. International trade and commodities partner Judith Prior advises clients on futures trades and contentious matters, and is regarded as a leading figure in the sugar market. Brian Perrott’s practice encompasses not only commodity and freight matters, but also complex derivative disputes. Sarah Taylor focuses her practice on international commodity trading and handles both derivatives trades and contentious matters. The team advised a soft commodity trader on urgent matters relating to the delivery of a multimillion-dollar cargo at the expiry of an exchange-traded futures contract. The firm also assists exchanges with the development and implementation of new commodity derivatives contracts. Clients of the London team include BP, Cargill, Gazprom and Trafigura.

The commodities practice at Linklaters LLP is central to its market-leading presence in energy, natural resources and mining markets, and derivatives are a key part of the team’s skill set. The firm has built up a solid reputation in commodity derivatives thanks in part to its innovative approach to new products such as exchange-traded commodity platforms, structured carbon credit transactions and structured trades in both precious and base metals. The firms is able to call upon a top-tier derivatives and structured finance practice and its prominent physical commodities practice to provide hedging and financing tools for its key clients. Chris Staples, a partner in the firm’s energy, natural resources and infrastructure practice and co-head of the global commodities group, advised RWE on regulatory matters affecting the trading of commodity derivatives in Japan, China, Singapore and Bangkok. Other highlights included acting for Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Citigroup on the preparation of master sale and repurchase transaction documentation for commodities transactions following the impact on the repo market of the Qingdao metals storage and financing dispute.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s highly regarded structured trade and commodity finance practice in London acts for banks, development finance institutions, traders, producers and exporters on a broad range of commodities markets. Global head of financial services Jonathan Herbst is a leading light in the market for regulatory matters, regularly advising on commodity derivatives, custody and clearing matters in light of new regulations such as MiFID II. Herbst and financial services partner Hannah Meakin, who advises numerous financial institutions and industry bodies, assisted FIA Europe with documentation relating to regulatory changes including EMIR. Daniel Franks and Nigel Dickinson focus on OTC derivatives, repos, securities lending and structured finance as well as advising on collateral and netting issues. Other highlights for the practice included advising the Commodity Markets Council – Europe, which comprises 19 major commodity producers and traders, on new legislation including EMIR and MiFID II. BTG Commodities (UK), Cargill, Cleartrade and JPMorgan are also clients.

Noted for its energy commodities focus, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP is ‘a capable firm for the more complicated and innovative deals’, and is well regarded for general trading matters, structured trading, portfolio sales, M&A and regulatory matters. Team co-head Matthew Williams is ‘a seasoned lawyer who can focus on what is important from a business perspective and who provides quick but considered responses, sound commercial and industry awareness, and great value for money’. Fellow co-head Edward Humphries is a trading expert with a significant track record of deals in the UK, Europe and Africa. Peter Roberts, who was once GC of Centrica, gives the firm a strong presence in oil and LNG trading. Regulatory specialist Elisabeth Blunsdon garners high praise for her ‘deep knowledge and understanding of regulatory issues and risks’. The firm’s highlights included advising Axpo Trading on multiple LNG purchase and sale agreements; acting for ENGIE Global Markets as lead external counsel for power, gas, coal and carbon trading agreements; and assisting JPMorgan with its purchase of Morgan Stanley’s base metals trading portfolio.

Simmons & Simmons has a global commodities practice that ties in with its prominent derivatives team in London to generate significant mandates from buy-side and sell-side clients, as well as providers of market infrastructure. The firm counts many of the world’s leading banks and commodity traders among its clients and it is a key adviser to the key players in the European hedge fund industry. Furthermore, it has a highly regarded metals and bullion practice, though its work covers energy trading and a broad range of other commodities. Rosali Pretorius, who was previously head of the regulatory and commodity derivatives practice at Dentons, joined the firm’s regulatory group and added cross-border expertise to the practice. Jonathan Melrose leads the multi-jurisdictional commodities and energy trading and finance practice group, in which he specialises in UK and European regulation on trading, clearing and settlement, asset management and market conduct. Darren Fox, who specialises in energy, metals and financial futures, advises both buy-side and sell-side clients. A key strand of the team’s work in 2016 involved advising international financial institutions on implementation projects driven by regulatory and structural changes to commodity derivatives markets brought about by MiFID II and MiFIR regulations.

Noted for the breadth of its derivatives and structured finance capability, Clifford Chance LLP's practice in London includes several partners that are known for their knowledge of phsyically and financially-settled OTC, exchange-traded and securitised commodity contracts. The firm also has in-depth knowledge of commodity-linked instruments such as carbon-linked bonds. Derivatives specialists Habib Motani, Matthew Grigg and Paget Dare Bryan are all recommended, as are regulatory partners Chris Bates and Simon Crown. Emerging markets experts Leonard Cleland and Logan Wright also handle signficant commodity derivatives matters. The firm advised banks including ING Bank on a syndicated borrowing facility for a pan-European multi-commodity wholesale and trading group, and assisted Trafigura with a $90m financing of two subsidiaries of an independent Russian oil producer. Both deals included derivatives elements.

Energy, infrastructure and project finance partner Mark Cheney, who devotes part of his practice to energy trading matters, and banking partner Matthew Sapte, who focuses on debt capital markets and derivatives, are the key partners in the team at Dentons following the departure of Rosali Pretorius to Simmons & Simmons. Counsel Luca Salerno specialises in non-contentious financial services regulation and advises numerous banks and trading houses on OTC and exchange-traded deals in gas, power, emissions, metals and other commodities. His work includes advice on regulation and credit risk mitigation such as netting, clearing and collateralisation. He recently advised an international oil and gas company on the impact of EU regulations EMIR, MiFID II and CRR on OTC derivatives trades. Salerno also played a key role the team’s work for independent gas and power supplier Utilita Energy Limited on agreements with BP Power and Gas Marketing that included hedging services. The firm also acts for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Export Development Canada.

Newly merged Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP incorporates the team from what was formerly Sutherland (Europe) and before that Arbis, which focuses specifically on the commodities market. Paul Sinnott has a longstanding reputation for oil and metals transactions; he regularly advises major oil companies and global trading houses on their commodity derivatives transactions for trading and hedging purposes. He also handles structured commodity trade finance transactions that incorporate both physical and derivatives trades. Sinnott also handles exchange-traded and OTC derivatives matters including commodities, freight, foreign exchange and interest rate products as well as customisation of master netting, marginning and deal documentation. He also advises clients on the impact of regulations such as EMIR and MiFID II on their commodity derivatives activities. Highly experienced litigator Jenni Lajzerowicz joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.

At McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP energy trading specialist David Birchall is recommended for his ‘in-depth knowledge of the physical energy market, which he can flawlessly translate into financial derivatives with sharp insight and pragmatic business acumen’. He is also a key adviser to agribusinesses on trading matters. Key clients include JPMorgan, which Birchall advised on numerous regulatory and trading matters, including master netting terms. Birchall also advised Statkraft on its US carbon trading activities, which included a full audit of all trading arrangements.


Commodities: physicals

Index of tables

  1. Commodities: physicals
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Clyde & Co LLP is ‘a preferred adviser to the world’s commodity trading houses, not least because of its growing presence in jurisdictions across the world’. The firm can advise on contentious and non-contentious matters across all parts of the commodities supply chain from raw material to end user. The dedicated trade and commodities team in London handles hard and soft commodities, oil and energy, and has specialist expertise in sanctions, regulation and internal investigations. Clients strongly recommend litigators Hatty Sumption and Michael Swangard, sanctions expert John Whittaker, Marko Kraljevic, who stands out for energy transactions, and Clare Hatcher, who is ‘excellent, pragmatic and always meets the brief’. Other key figures include Eurof Lloyd-Lewis, who regularly advises on commodities disputes arising from shipping matters, and Paul Dillon, who has more than 25 years’ experience in international disputes involving energy and natural resources. The firm’s deep bench includes senior associate Tara Smith, who excels in trade disputes involving hard and soft commodities. In a key mandate, the firm advised UK-based steelmaker Liberty Global on trading aspects of numerous corporate acquisitions. In addition to acting for longstanding clients including Glenrore, ED&F Man, Tata Steel and Vitol, the firm is also handling matters for a growing list of new clients such as British Steel, Duferco, Louis Dreyfus Commodities and Sahara Energy.

HFW has ‘a very strong practice – top tier’. The firm has significant strength across all commodity classes and its tie up with a new office in Houston is increasing its flow of work in the energy sector. Head of litigation Damian Honey is singled out by clients as ‘a practical and commercial realist; he is a consummate performer in complex oil and gas disputes’. Litigator Chris Swart (‘a huge figure in GAFTA disputes who has the respect of opponents’), Sarah Taylor (who focuses on coal, iron ore and metals), energy specialist Alistair Feeney and soft and energy commodities specialist Katie Pritchard are ‘all good, sound lawyers’. Clinets also single out ‘consummate professionals’ Brian Perrott (who is ‘tough but always likeable in the pursuit of his clients’ interests and never afraid to think outside the box’) and associate Rachel Turner (who ‘can sort the wheat from the chaff and distil complex issues into a brief and pithy synopsis that gets to the heart of the problem and leads to workable solutions’). Highlights for the team included representing Cargill in an appeal against an arbitral award, and acting for Chinese steel trader Sinocore International Co on the enforcement of a $4.9m award against Reuben Brothers Resources Group. The firm also counts BP, BHP Billiton and Glencore among its clients.

Hill Dickinson LLP’s ‘first-class’ team is ‘unbeatable’, according to one client; another notes that ‘the entire team is very responsive and always available even at short notice, and the quality of the work product is excellent’. Soft commodities expert and team head Jeff Isaacs is ‘the only lawyer we would use for commodities matters’, according to one client, who highlights his ‘practical, comprehensible and deeply intelligent advice’. Another client describes the firm as ‘the market leader for legal advice in the cotton sector’. Also recommended are Fred Konynenburg, for his ‘vast experience in the commodities and shipping world, and rapid and pragmatic advice’; ‘intelligent and attentive’ litigator Darren Wall, who is ‘simply a first-class lawyer’, according to one client; David Lucas, who has 40 years’ experience in commodities and energy; and Paul Taylor, who is also recommended for contentious matters. Patric McGonigal joined the London team from Hogan Lovells Horitsu Jimusho Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo in Tokyo and litigator Andrew Buchmann returned to the firm after working for consultancy Obsidian Legal in South Africa for seven years. Highlights for the team included successfully defending Swiss trader Addax Energy in a $1.5m claim; assisting ADM Asia-Pacific Trade with an anti-suit injunction to prevent Indonesian court proceedings relating to a $21m FOSFA arbitration; and acting for Gunvor in the English Commercial Court in a case that included complex exclusive jurisdiction conditions. The firm also acts for Bunge, BP ad Gerald Metals.

According to one client, Reed Smith LLP is ‘one of the top three firms in the commodities space’. Its deep bench includes experts in physical commodities, trade finance, emissions, power, gas, renewable energy and infrastructure. Team head Kyri Evagora, who is known for his ‘dynamic leadership’, is now based in the New York office but the London team has outstanding practitioners in Richard Swinburn (who is ‘a very good lawyer of whom clients always speak highly’), Diane Galloway and Andrew Meads, who specialises in international trade and frequently advises commodity producers, mining companies, trading houses and oil majors on contractual matters and disputes. Other key figures include Vassia Payiataki, who has 16 years’ experience in international trade and physical commodities, advising on contentious contract, trading and shipping matters, Paul Skeet, and senior associates Elizabeth Farrell and Philippa Rowe. The firm’s flagship commodities clients include producer and trader Glencore Agriculture, bioenergy company Nidera, trading house Bunge, energy multinational Chevron and global mining company Vale International. The firm’s highlights included a $50m metals purchasing, sale and storage deal for an international bank and a multibillion-dollar energy supply deal on behalf of a large trading house.

Stephenson Harwood fields a ‘practical and knowledgeable’ team that ‘has grown into a major force in the commmodities market thanks to its wide and deep knowledge of the law and commercial practicalities’. The firm has notable strength in the energy, metals and mining sectors and acts for blue-chip clients such as Macquarie, Rabobank, Drax, ENEL, Vedanta Group and Chevron. Other clients include commodity end users, banks, oil and gas traders, mining companies and energy producers. In a standout case, the practice acted for Mercuria Energy Trading and Mercuria Energy Group in a dispute with Citibank concerning allegedly missing or multiple pledged metals stocks in Qingdao. The case ran for three years before settling at the end of 2016. The firm also advised Euro-Asian Oil in a Commercial Court claim against Credit Suisse and an oil company arising from fraud claims. Team head Haris Zografakis, senior associate Jonathan Spearing and associate Mark Lakin are highly recommended, as are Peter Bennett, who is ‘an old hand in commodities, especially in the area of disputes’, and Paolo Ghirardani, who regularly acts for major oil companies and trading houses on trade and shipping fraud matters.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP ‘has developed a strong reputation in the commodities field’ and its litigators are known for having ‘a strong presence in court’. Head of litigation and arbitration Andrew Savage is ‘very tough, has good litigation sense and is good at dealing with difficult issues’. The firm not only has a strong suit in commodities disputes, but also advises extensively on trading and finance matters and acts for a diverse client base that includes mining companies, energy producers, traders, banks and government entities. Litigator Andrew Hutcheon acted for MRI Trading in an LME arbitration and enforcement proceedings following a rare appeal against an LME arbitration award. Savage’s highlights included a $32m breach of contract claim against the Government of Gambia on behalf of oil supplier Conapro Dena-BMS. Vitol, Hyrdo Aluminium and Rabobank are also among the firm’s clients. Robert Fidoe, who returned to London from the firm’s Bangkok office, handles significant matters in the energy and natural resources markets. He is acting for a state-owned energy company arising from problems with the design, supply and implementation of an integrated commodities trading risk management system procured from a US-based software company.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP fields a team of highly experienced partners who cover the full range of physical and financial trading matters for clients in the commodities markets. Mark Aspinall and Paul Sinnott are respected practitioners for oil and metals transactions, while John McCaskill focuses on soft commodities. Regulatory specialist David Brown is ‘a star associate’. Jenni Lajzerowicz joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.

Ince & Co is ‘a go-to firm for commodities disputes thanks its good industry knowledge and a solutions-oriented approach’. The firm is known for ‘highly responsive, to-the-point and pragmatic advice’ and one client remarks that it is ‘particularly strong on oil and gas disputes’. ‘Bright, technically strong and user-friendly’ global head of trade Will Marshall ‘leads a well-honed team’ and is described as ‘a polymath and a committed and commercially pragmatic performer with fantastic judgement’. Jonathan Goldfarb acts for leading trading houses and has a strong presence in the LNG market, while Ted Graham leads the firm’s metals and mining team and advises numerous steel, nickel and iron traders, as well as clients in the oil and soft commodity sectors. Nuno Frota joined as a partner from Trafigura and Spencer Gold, formerly a senior associate at HFW, joined as a partner with a specialist focus on cross-border debt financings in the shipping, energy, commodity and mining sectors. Newly promoted partner Carl Walker has international trade and shipping expertise that includes commodity trading matters. The firm counts Trafigura, ED&F Man and Gerals Metals among its clients.

At McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP, team head David Birchall is known for his ‘in-depth knowledge of the physical energy market’. He advises major investment banks on their physical trading activities, and serves as counsel to numerous energy trading houses and agribusiness groups. Highlights included advising Intergen on its structured off-take arrangements with Citibank for unhedged power from UK assets, acting For Morgan Stanley on uncollateralised arrangements with UK power and gas suppliers First Utility and Spark Energy, as well as assisting the same client’s energy management services business with cross-border green trading matters. In the carbon trading area he helped Statkraft with a review of its US trading book and conducted an audit of its trading arrangements. Other key commodities clients include Addax Energy and JP Morgan Chase.

Based in Newcastle, Mills & Co. Solicitors Limited is a specialist maritime and international trade firm that delivers ‘excellent service with timely responses, deep industry knowledge and great value for money’. One client sees it as ‘one of the top firms for trade and shipping, always reasonable and commercial without losing sight of the legal aspects’. The firm regularly acts for large multinational trading groups based in Switzerland, London, Germany and Brazil. Bunge and Vitol are among its key clients. A large proportion of its workload consists of GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations, arising in part from a number of Paranaguan detention claims, but non-contentious contract work is also a strong suit of the practice. Key figures include the ‘brilliant’ Neville Hopper, who ‘anticipates what clients need to know and is a real team player’, Jonathan Green, who is ‘very pragmatic, efficient and responsive’, and Simon Williams, who is recommended for contentious matters, particularly in relation to metals contracts. Clients note that ‘the lawyers’ advice can always be trusted and comes at a cheaper price than from London firms’.

Norton Rose Fulbright is ‘a go-to firm for physical commodities matters, whether in relation to trading or litigation’, according to one source. Clients single out banking lawyer Nicholas Grandage, who has a market-leading trade finance practice that sees him act for banks and commodities traders in transactional matters, recently promoted partner Andrew Wood, and Neil Q. Miller, who leads the energy dispute resolution group in London and regularly handles disputes in the energy, trade and transport sectors. His experience includes international arbitration and High Court litigation, regularly acting for national oil companies and international contractors. Holly Stebbing, who was recently made up to partner, also advises several oil companies, oilfield services providers, utilities and petrochemical companies on upstream, midstream and downstream disputes. The firm is a key adviser to Rosneft on export contracts for crude oil, and acted for Citibank and Citigroup Global Markets in a $285m Commercial Court dispute concering contracts with commodities trader Mercuria concerning stocks of metals stored in Qingdao.

DWF’s commodities work stems from its strong shipping and insurance practice. Head of shipping and commodities Jonathan Moss handles major disputes for charterers, cargo owners and underwriters, while Michael Kingston is well known for commodities and marine insurance matters. Senior associate and former barrister Elliott Bromley is also recommended, as is Peter Olymbios. In a highlight matter the team advised commodities trader Trafigura on the loss of cargo after a fire at an oil terminal in Johor, Malaysia. At arbitration an award of $150m was made and the team is pursuing enforcement proceedings.

The bulk of Gateley Plc’s commodities practice comprises GAFTA and FOSFA arbitrations and the practice handles disputes concerning a broad range of commodites including wheat, maize, palm oil, soyabeans, rice, sugar, coal and petroleum products. Nicholas Walser, who has more than 30 years’ experience, recently acted in a $1.5m GAFTA matter for respondent sellers Soufflet Negoce arising from damages claims for non-shipment of a cargo of feed barley. The sellers counter-claimed for damages, alleging wrongful cancellation of the contract. Walser also acted for a US exporter of vegetable oils in a $5m FOSFA arbitration that concerned allegations of contamination of a cargo of corn oil.

Linklaters LLP’s commodities work stems from its strong energy, natural resources and mining practices, which gives its lawyers an in-depth understanding of the underlying markets. The firm handles significant matters concerning physical and financial commodities trading and dispute resolution, and it has a prominent market position in the buying and selling of physical commodity trading books. Chris Staples ‘garners respect from clients and peers for his practical approach’. Jeremy Gewirtzis also recommended. In a key matter, the firm acted for Commonwealth Bank of America and Citi Group on the preparation of a suite of master sale and repurchase transaction documentation for a variety of commodities. The firm also counts Noble, Glencore and Castleton Commodities among its clients.

RPC is ‘a very experienced firm that is excellent in every way in the commodities space’. Its commercial disputes team has a long track record in the market and emphasised its commitment to commodities litigation with the hire of Stuart Shepherd from Ince & Co in 2016. ‘A standout lawyer in the commodities area and really at the top of his game’, Shepherd is ‘well known in the commodities space and provides an efficient and appropriate level of service; his direct and no-nonsense approach can be exactly what is required to bring some common sense to a situation’. His recent highlights include acting for Dukkar in a claim against refiner and oil storage provider MOH in a case regarding the contamination of a cargo of fuel. Also recommended are partners Simon Hart and Tim Brown, consultant Jonathan Wood, and ‘impressive’ senior associate Danyel White, who is noted for commodity contract disputes.

Thomas Cooper LLP has a long track record in the international trade and commodities market, and the practice sits alongside the firm’s strong shipping and trade finance practice. The team, led by Charles Williams, regularly acts for banks and commodity trading houses. Williams has notable skills in disputes in the energy sector, and Lisa Hillary is well regarded for shipping and trade disputes, with a niche in commodities and energy matters. Senior partner Tim Kelleher also handles contentious matters concerning oil, petrochemicals and soft commodities.


Corporate restructuring and insolvency

Index of tables

  1. Corporate restructuring and insolvency
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Corporate restructuring and insolvency clients in London using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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‘One of the very best restructuring law firms in Europe’, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld provides ‘excellent advice from both a legal and strategic perspective’ to bondholders/junior creditors. Praised for its ‘very pro-active leadership’, the team has the strength-in-depth to provide large and balanced teams with significant partner and associate level involvement on many of the largest international restructurings in the market (where it is also able to tap into the expertise of its preeminent US offering). ‘Second-to-none in terms of business acumen and industry knowledge’, the team has been at the forefront of work in the oil and gas space, as well as the Norwegian bond market. Appreciated for his ‘gravitas and commerciality’, James Terry is a ‘market leader’ for oil and gas work; alongside the firm’s New York office, he is advising the ad-hoc bondholder group in relation to the restructuring of the Seadrill Group. James Roome is a ‘superstar’ and has been involved in numerous high-profile mandates in 2016 including acting for the mezzanine lenders on the $2.5bn debt restructuring of Expro Holdings, and Brunswick Rail, a Russian railcar leasing business, on its $600m bond restructuring. The ‘very experienced and practical’ Barry Russell co-heads the team alongside Roome and continues to represent private placement noteholders in the restructuring of Premier Oil’s debt liabilities. Other recommended partners include the ‘highly intelligent’ Neil Devaney, who is ‘technically brilliant on difficult structures and legal problems’; the ‘pragmatic and focused’ Liz Osborne; Tom Bannister, who is ‘very cool and measured under pressure’; and the ‘excellent’ Emma Simmonds.

The ‘creative and pragmatic’ ten-partner team at Allen & Overy LLP provides ‘solutions-oriented’ advice to an impressive array of banking clients including RBS, Credit Suisse and Barclays, across a range of creditor-side situations. Benefiting from a huge international network, the team excels at cross-border mandates; it continues to be involved for ING, as lender, on the restructuring/insolvency of Danish oil services company, OW Bunker. Led out of London by Mark Sterling, Jennifer Marshall and James Partridge, and involving considerable input from lawyers from the firm’s US, Hong Kong and Dutch offices, work has included complex cross-border issues and various types of litigation and arbitration in over 20 jurisdictions to recover assets for the benefit of the lender (including a notable victory at the Supreme Court which ruled on various complex contractual issues and provided certainty for supply receivable financiers). Praised for his ‘commercial and practical advice’, the ‘excellent’ Randal Weeks regularly leads on complex cross-border restructurings including his ongoing work for the co-ordinating committee of lenders on the Al Jaber restructuring. On the debtor front, Earl Griffith continues to act for the Four Seasons Health Care Group and its private equity owner, Terra Firma, in connection with a financial creditor and leasehold estate restructuring of the Group’s debt and capital structure. Other recommended practitioners include Katrina Buckley, Jennifer Marshall, Tim Crocker, consultant Gordon Stewart and senior associate Joel Ferguson.

Able to leverage its extensive international network in an ‘effective way’, Clifford Chance LLP’s five-partner team provides ‘commercial advice’ to a broad array of stakeholders including banks, funds, corporates and IPs. Led out of London by Philip Hertz and Iain White and also including supporting from several other international offices of the firm, the team continues to advise bondholders and new money providers on the €13bn Abengoa Group restructuring. David Towers advised the super senior lenders to South African retailer, Edcon, on its highly complex balance sheet restructuring, involving as it did complex intercreditor arrangements, various tranches of debt facilities, and high yield notes, as well as governing documents spanning UK, South African and New York law. John MacLennan has been active within the oil services space and alongside Hertz recently represented semi-submersible accommodation provider, Prosafe SE, on the successful restructuring of its NOK1.3bn and $288m bank facilities. Adrian Cohen has experience across a range of jurisdictions including involvement in the majority of the major corporate restructurings in the UAE. Other clients include Angelo Gordon, HSBC, Mizuho and PIMCO.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has a strong market presence on behalf of creditor and debtor clients including funds, corporates, banks and IPs. The firm’s significant high yield capital markets transactional offering ensures that the restructuring team is well-placed to handle mandates involving complex layers of debt including English law governed bank debt and New York law high yield notes. Team head Richard Tett is advising BrightHouse Group on the potential restructuring of its €220m high yield bond due to mature in May 2018. Tett is also providing the restructuring input for HCP on all aspects of its £139m holding in a portion of senior notes issued by Elli Investments and its £28m holding in the senior secured term loan issued by Elli Finance, both in relation to the Four Seasons Health Care Group. The firm’s ability to quickly and effectively mobilise resources across its UK, Asian, European and US offices was recently starkly brought into focus by its work for Hanjin Shipping on its $5.5bn restructuring. Led out of London on the restructuring side by Adam Gallagher but also including input from corporate, litigation and finance lawyers, the mandate is indicative of the team’s ability to provide a cohesive service on significant cross-border matters involving multiple stakeholders. Catherine Balmond has a flourishing reputation both on the creditor and debtor side; she recently acted for Nordea, as agent for the lenders, on the successful restructuring of Luvata Group’s debt as part of a sale process to a US trade buyer. Other recommended partners include Ken Baird, Nick Segal, Ryan Beckwith and Neil Golding. Sean Lacey left in May 2017 to join Kirkland & Ellis International LLP.

‘Right at the top of the market’, the ‘fantastic’ team at Linklaters LLP ‘excels at handling complex multi-stakeholder cases’ and provides a ‘top-notch service’ to senior lenders, IPs, funds and corporates. Praised for her ‘strong leadership on complex mandates’, co-head Rebecca Jarvis has been working alongside colleagues in the firm’s Madrid office on the ongoing restructuring of Spanish company Abengoa. As part of his broad-ranging restructuring expertise, Richard Hodgson has a leading reputation for advising on distressed M&A mandates; he is assisting PwC and LBIE on the design and implementation of three bespoke auction processes, enabling eligible creditors to sell their remaining claims against LBIE to a third party purchaser rather than taking independent action or waiting for the conclusion of the potentially lengthy "Waterfall" litigation. The ‘highly personable’ Nick Le Masurier is ‘very knowledgeable’ on schemes of arrangement and alongside the ‘super commercial’ Bruce Bell advised the ad-hoc co-ordinating committee of noteholders, via three schemes of arrangement, on the restructuring of Metinvest’s capital structure. Co-head Richard Bussell, Euan Clarke, Richard Hodgson and the ‘smart and effective’ Rory Conway are also recommended. Despite the departure in November 2016 of Yen Sum to Sidley Austin LLP, the team recently welcomed the arrivals of Sarah Mook, from Goldman Sachs and special situations expert James Douglas from Ropes & Gray LLP.

Leveraging its impressive roster of fund clients including KKR, Oaktree Capital, Blackstone/GSO and Centerbridge Partners, Kirkland & Ellis International LLP’s London based restructuring group ‘is very visible’ in the majority of the highest-profile restructurings in the market, either as debtors counsel for a private equity portfolio company or for a fund as an investor in a distressed scenario. The ‘superb’ Partha Kar and Kon Asimacopoulos jointly lead the group and are often at the forefront of the most significant mandates handled by the team including its recent work for Bain Capital portfolio company, Edcon Holdings, on its complex balance sheet restructuring (which involved consideration of New York law governed bonds, South African governed bank debt and an English law intercreditor). Kar and Asimacopoulos are also representing the co-ordinating committee of the first lien lenders of Jack Wolfskin on the financial restructuring of its €365m debt, as well as acting for Algeco Scotsman in its negotiations with lenders regarding its capital structure. Elaine Nolan is also recommended and advised The Harkland Group, an oil services company owned by Oaktree Capital, on it $350m restructuring. The team was recently strengthened by the arrival in September 2017 of Sean Lacey from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Acting as the hub of the firm’s European offering and also able to handle matters with a US nexus by virtue of its preeminent debtor-side New York offering, the ‘very strong’ five-partner restructuring London practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP is regularly involved in big-ticket cross-border restructurings involving stakeholders across the capital structure. Benefiting from the experience he has in private practice, as well as in-house at Goldman Sachs, Andrew Wilkinson is recognised as ‘the real deal’ and alongside Alexander Wood recently advised the ad-hoc committee of senior secured noteholders on the high-profile restructuring of Edcon. Team head Adam Plainer has an ‘excellent reputation in the market’ and as well as continuing to handle numerous matters for Lehman, has also been active for KKR including on the establishment of a ground breaking new venture to partner with European banks on restructuring their non-performing loan (NPL) portfolios across European jurisdictions. The ‘smart, responsive and hardworking’ Mark Lawford is recommended. Other clients include Franklin Templeton, Apollo, Standard Bank and Alvarez & Marsal. Paul Bromfield sadly passed away in June 2017.

‘Knowledgeable and up-to-date on industry trends’, Ashurst’s seven-partner team acts for a broad spectrum of stakeholders including banks, distressed investors, corporates and IPs on cross-border restructurings/insolvencies. Team head Giles Boothman has recently been involved in numerous energy-related mandates including his representation of UK oil producer EnQuest on its complex $2.5bn restructuring (involving as it did senior debt, high yield bonds, retail notes and the simultaneous equity raise). Dan Hamilton advised Bank of Scotland on the sale of Aston Student Village to an entity controlled by Unite and GIC.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s sectoral expertise in the energy industry has manoeuvred its restructuring team in a strong position to pick up some major mandates, particularly in the oil and gas space, as a consequence of the general malaise in the sector brought about by the depressed oil price. Team head Laurence Elliott has ‘been prominent in the oil and gas sector’ and recently advised the co-ordinating committee of secured lenders on the restructuring of overleveraged UK oil exploration company EnQuest. Elliott also assisted a group of banks, including Barclays and BNP Paribas, navigate the best outcome in relation to their combined £170m exposure to beleaguered Scotland-based First Oil plc - a strategy which ultimately led to the sale of its interests in numerous North Sea oil fields using a pre-packaged administration. The ‘excellent’ Kevin Pullen and contentious insolvency expert John Whiteoak continued to advise Ernst & Young as administrators to Nortel’s EMEA entities. Other clients include Scotiabank, Ferrexpro and Baltic Gas.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s six-partner team provides ‘quality advice in a timely manner based on experience and legal analysis’ for a largely creditor facing client base that includes senior lenders and co-ordination committees, agents and security agents, bond trustees, debt purchasers and pension trustees. The ‘very commercial’ Tom Astle has a burgeoning reputation in the market; he has been advising Barclays Bank as one of the lenders to troubled print business Polestar Printing on the rescue finance, prepack and its subsequent insolvency. Deborah Gregory’s broad practice encompasses distressed M&A work; she recently advised Goodwin on its acquisition of certain assets of King & Wood Mallesons LLP six days before the law firm’s entry into administration. The ‘absolutely brilliant’ Paul McLoughlin has successfully cultivated a strong distressed loan portfolio offering and is a key member of the team that also includes the ‘superb’ Stephen Foster and counsel Alex Kay, whose arrival in June 2016 from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP allows the firm to broaden its capabilities in high yield bond restructuring. Other clients include Lloyds, Mizuho, Santander and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Enhanced by the arrival of Simon Baskerville in July 2016 from Ashurst, particularly in relation to special situations work, Latham & Watkins’s four-partner team excels at representing broad ranging creditor, debtor and investor clients in big-ticket cross-border restructurings. Although it is relatively small in comparison to some of the teams in the ranking, it is able to leverage a strong international offering, particularly in the US, as well as a market-leading UK and US finance brand that includes strength on the high yield and bank side. The ‘excellent’ John Houghton has recently handled a number of matters emanating out of Eastern Europe including his work, alongside lawyers in the firm’s Moscow office, for DTEK, a privately owned Ukrainian energy company, regarding an English law scheme of arrangement of its Dutch subsidiary to ensure the cancellation of $200m worth of existing notes and the issuance of new ones in their place. Again working in conjunction with the Moscow office, Houghton is advising the bank co-ordinating committee on the restructuring of the Mriya Group; notably this is the largest Ukranian bank and bond default to date. Helena Potts is also involved in the Mriya Group restructuring as well as numerous other major mandates handled by the group including for the super senior liquidity providers on the Edcon restructuring. Other clients include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Marathon Capital and UniCredit.

Although it has a smaller, discrete standalone restructuring team than many of the firms in the ranking, Slaughter and May’s cross-departmental approach ensures that is able to provide an ‘excellent business oriented service’ to clients across a range of domestic and cross-border restructurings and insolvencies. Leveraging the firm’s top-notch roster of corporate clients, as well as receiving standalone instructions, the team has a particular focus advising on debtor mandates - where it is able to add value by dint of numerous complementary practice areas including corporate, finance and tax. The team has been involved in numerous energy-related matters of late including advising Premier Oil plc (led by Thomas Vickers and Philip Snell) on the restructuring of its $4bn of debt and acting for Seadrill on the negotiation and implementation of a comprehensive refinancing and restructuring plan. Noted for its expertise in politically sensitive scenarios, a cross-departmental team represented Tata Steel on the restructuring of its European business – work which has included asset disposals, contingency planning and negotiations with a range of stakeholders. Team head Ian Johnson and Richard de Carle are also recommended.

The ‘young and dynamic’ five-partner team at White & Case LLP continues to make waves in the market as a result of its ‘incredibly responsive, proactive and commercial service’ to banks, funds and debtors. Recognised for its ‘wealth of experience in both English and international insolvency and restructuring matters’, the team is able to leverage a ‘lot of exceptional talent through its network of overseas offices’. Co-ordinated out of London by ‘very experienced, innovative and client friendly’ team head Christian Pilkington and involving lawyers spread out across eight jurisdictions, the firm recently concluded its long running representation of failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Praised for his ability to ‘resolve difficult matters between groups with competing interests’, Pilkington also recently advised the co-ordinating committee of senior creditors in relation to African Bank’s $3.8bn financial restructuring through a curatorship. ‘Always able to cut to the chase and identify the important points’, ‘standout’ partner Ian Wallace has been particularly active within the oil and gas, and shipping/offshore sectors; he is advising Nordea Bank, as one of the key stakeholders, on the high-profile $2.3bn restructuring of CGG. The ‘outstanding’ Laura Prater was heavily involved in the Kaupthing matters and also regularly acts for core firm client GSO. Other clients include Anchorage Capital Group, Centerbridge Partners, Goldman Sachs and Oak Hill Advisors.

Enhanced by the firm’s recent combination with Nabarro LLP and Olswang LLP, CMS provides ‘practical and cost-effective’ advice to a balanced mix of debtor and creditor clients including clearing banks, funds, IPs and corporates. The ‘very solutions-oriented’ Rita Lowe has developed a significant niche advising on law firm insolvencies including her recent work for King & Wood Mallesons LLP on negotiations with its lender and subsequent administration. Peter Wiltshire is ‘excellent on bank-related matters’ and recently advised Lloyds Banking Group’s client asset management team in relation to its largest exposure in connection with its lending to the Long Port Group of companies (which is comprised of 11 Guernsey registered companies and limited partnerships with prime real estate assets in Guernsey, Jersey and England). ‘Excellent problem solver’ Ashley Smith provides ‘very clear and commercial advice’ to stakeholders engaged in traditional insolvencies and restructurings, as well as in debt trading scenarios. The ‘very hands on’ Duncan Aldred provides contentious insolvency expertise and is a key member of the team that also includes Martin Brown, who excels at multi-jurisdictional mandates, as well as Patricia Godfrey and Glen Flannery, who add gravitas to the team following their arrival from Nabarro LLP. Clients include RBS, HSBC, KPMG and National Australia Bank.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP’s six-partner team is undoubtedly best-known in the market advising funds clients (including Oaktree, GSO, Centerbridge and Apollo) on restructurings, distressed M&A, and special situations. While it is sector agnostic, the team has been particularly active within the oil and gas/energy sector of late, as demonstrated by its work as international counsel for the bond trustee on the restructuring of $246m notes issued by Harkland Finance and secured against two dive support vehicles. Recognised as ‘one of the top practitioners in the market’, Yushan Ng led on the aforementioned matter and is highly regarded for his ‘extraordinarily creative advice’ to funds clients engaged in cross-border matters. Karen McMaster regularly advises investors in direct lending and special situations financing; she recently acted for new money investors underwriting over $1.2bn of new money for distressed Spanish renewable energy group Abengoa. Praised for his ‘ability to marry a strong commercial sensibility with considerable legal knowledge’, Richard Nevins is a key member of the team that also includes team head Gregory Petrick.

Appreciated by clients for its ‘very broad practice covering restructuring and contentious insolvency matters’, DLA Piper’s ten-partner team is effectively able to deploy practitioners at the correct level of experience to provide a ‘cost-effective and commercial’ offering to a range of stakeholders on domestic and multi-jurisdictional matters. ‘Superb’ team head Amy Jacks is a ‘very strong all-rounder’ across a range of restructuring and insolvency work including in relation to portfolio sales. The ‘very commercial and practical’ Chris Parker is ‘very switched on’ on contentious matters and continues to represent the administrators of Lehman Brothers in the Waterfall I and II litigation. French-qualified partner Noam Ankri excels at complex distressed matters involving an international complexion; he is advising the steering committee of bondholders in relation to the restructuring of French-listed company CGG Group’s $3bn debt which involves exposure to debt not only in France but also UK, US and Norway. Recently promoted partner David Ampaw is ‘excellent at navigating the issues of debt sales’ and is a key member of the team that also includes the ‘extremely experienced and knowledgeable’ Michael Fiddy, Neil Riley (who provides ‘sensible and commercial advice on complex restructuring matters’), and private equity restructuring expert Jonathan Richards. Other clients include Deutsche Bank, Lonestar, Lloyds and Aviva Commercial Finance.

Jones Day has significant exposure to creditor and debtor side mandates, both in a formal insolvency setting, as well as in relation to restructuring and distressed M&A-related work. Team head Ben Larkin ‘effortlessly combines commercial deal experience with deep restructuring knowledge’, and is acting for the liquidators of BHS, primarily to scrutinise the role of BHS directors prior to the retailer’s sale to Retail Acquisitions for £1. Larkin also recently advised Standard Chartered Bank on the enforcement of its rights pursuant to a $75m facility provided to a Singapore-headquartered global shipping group. David Harding is noted for his distressed M&A work and recently advised German private equity firm, Aurelius Investments, on its acquisition of The Hospital Medical Group from administrators. Kay Morley has ‘excellent knowledge of current developments in the restructuring market’ and is particularly active advising hedge funds in distressed scenarios. Sion Richards is also recommended for contentious matters. Other clients include AlixPartners, Lone Star Funds and Orion Capital Managers.

Praised for its ‘insightful, responsive and commercially astute advice’, Sidley Austin LLP is gaining increased market traction and recognition after some recent strategic hires, including the arrival in January 2017 of the ‘absolutely outstanding’ Yen Sum and Jennifer Brennan from Linklaters LLP, and in October 2016 by that of Jifree Cader from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP. Praised for her ‘technical know-how and solutions-oriented approach’, Sum is particularly accomplished at advising funds on special situations, and has since her arrival been involved, alongside Cader and Brennan, on the advice provided to the senior co-ordinating committee of lenders to Fraikin Group regarding the upcoming maturity of the senior holdco and senior opco debt. In addition to the firm’s enhanced offering on the special situations front, the team is also noted for its ability to provide a ‘co-ordinated global approach’ and frequently works alongside colleagues in the US and Asia, in particular, on debtor and creditor mandates. ‘Indefatigable’ team head Patrick Corr is praised for his ‘innovative approaches to problems’; he recently represented Bank of America on the restructuring of EnQuest, the UK-based oil and gas producer. US-qualified partner Marc Wassermann is also recommended for his ‘deep understanding of the market’. Other clients include Citadel and Alcentra.

Led by the ‘business-minded and practical’ Ben Jones, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s ‘responsive’ four-partner team excels at advising IPs, funds and banks in mid-market restructurings and benefits from ‘excellent industry knowledge’ in key firm-wide sector specialisms including real estate, hotels/leisure and healthcare. Marc Trottier is regularly involved in oil and gas-related restructurings; he recently advised SDX Energy on the $30m acquisition of a portfolio of oil and gas production and exploration assets from the administrators of one of Circle Oil Group’s subsidiaries. The firm also has significant contentious insolvency expertise, where the ‘excellent’ David Leibowitz is the primary practitioner within the group. The ‘intelligent and considerate’ Ian Benjamin is also recommended. Clients include Lloyds Bank, Cerberus, KPMG and Lonestar.

Able to leverage the firm’s international network as well as its longstanding presence in the UK insolvency market, Dentons is well-placed to advise a range of stakeholders including banks, funds and corporates engaged in formal insolvencies, in addition to corporate restructurings, often involving cross-border issues. Nigel Barnett is noted, in particular, for his contentious expertise and continues to represent the administrators of Lehman Brothers Intermediate II in the ongoing Waterfall proceedings regarding the disputed distribution of the company's surplus assets. Neil Griffiths is also highly regarded for his contentious expertise, and in a matter involving participation from practitioners in offices across three continents, is representing the special administrator of Cypriot bank FBME Bank on restructuring issues following the DOJs decision to bring sanctions against it for alleged money laundering violations. Other highlights included advising the liquidators on the disposal of the BHS property portfolio. Will Gunston was involved in the aforementioned matter and is a key member of the team that also includes Rachel Anthony, Byron Nurse and Celia Hayward.

Although it was recently affected by the departure of leading restructuring lawyer James Douglas to Linklaters LLP, Ropes & Gray LLP is still well-placed to handle multi-jurisdictional work, particularly on behalf of distressed special situations investors including KKR Credit and TPG Special Situations Partners. Although it is a small team, it is effectively able to work alongside lawyers from complementary areas including M&A and finance, as well as in collaboration with practitioners in the US, to provide a ‘responsive and commercial service’ for funds across an array of strategies including loan-to-own, distressed M&A or the working out of existing positions. Led by Peter Baldwin and including input from over 100 practitioners in the UK and US, the firm recently advised TPG’s special situations platform on its $1.27bn acquisition of the entirety of the equity, debt and bankruptcy claim assets of the distressed trading desk of Credit Suisse North America. Tony Horspool and Daniel Martin are also recommended.

‘Excellent at getting the deal over the line’, Simmons & Simmons’s seven-partner team has the strength-in-depth to effectively resource both domestic and international mandates for a wide array of stakeholders including funds, banks and corporates. Team head Peter Manning has broad-ranging non-contentious and contentious expertise; he advised Deloitte as administrators of HMV. Ross Miller has ‘extensive experience in distressed debt trading’ and regularly advises high-profile funds including Avenue Capital, which he advised on the acquisition and follow on sale of its ACSRE student accommodation platform to Brookfield Property Partners. Alyson Lockett is also well regarded for her debt trading expertise and is a key member of the team that includes the ‘technically strong and commercial’ Richard Cook. Other clients include Grant Thornton, Fidor Bank and Credit Veritas.

While small in comparison with many of the higher-ranked firms, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP’s two-partner team is able to leverage a significant international footprint as well as complementary practice areas including banking and M&A to provide a compelling offering to a broad array of stakeholders, including corporates, creditors and funds, particularly as it relates to schemes of arrangements and transactional restructuring. Particularly strong at handling cross-border mandates, the team has been involved in numerous matters with a nexus to central and eastern Europe, including the team’s work for Roust Trading, the ultimate shareholder of Russian Standard Bank, in an English law court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement to restructure two series of Eurobonds. Other highlights included the representation of one of Roust Corporation, one of the world's largest vodka producers, in its prepackaged restructuring. The ‘attentive and reliable’ Dominic McCahill is the ‘perfect advisor to have beside you in a complicated restructuring’ and as well as his involvement in the aforementioned matter also continues to be involved in the restructuring of HETA Asset Resolution. Team head Chris Mallon is the other partner in the team which also includes the ‘very intelligent and commercial’ European counsel James Falconer.

Able to tap into the firm’s widespread international offices - most importantly in the US - and thereby allowing a degree of flexibility regarding the potential use of insolvency procedures including Chapter 11, Mayer Brown International LLP’s six-partner London team provides ‘excellent advice’ across both contentious and non-contentious work for both creditors and debtors. Particularly active in certain industry sectors, including retail and energy, team head Devi Shah recently advised the administrators of high street shoe chain Brantano on various issues arising out of the administration. The team also continues to receive a steady flow of pensions-related restructuring work and represented the pension scheme trustees of BG Group, Habitat, Woolworths, The Work Foundation (in liquidation), the Merchant Navy Officers and Ratings Pension Fund. David Allen is noted for his contentious expertise, where his client base includes banks, corporate trustees and IPs. The ‘commercial and responsive’ senior associate Jessica Walker is also recommended. Other clients include Alteri Investors, Wilmington Trust and FTI.

Benefiting from the expertise of two core restructuring/insolvency partners and four banking and bond partners with extensive restructuring expertise, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s London offering is gaining increased traction in the market, particularly on behalf of fund clients, which are appreciative of its ‘in-depth experience and commerciality’. The team’s commerciality manifests itself in the group’s ability - with UK and US-qualified practitioners on the ground in London and leveraging the firm’s strong position out of New York - to provide an ‘absolutely top-notch service’ across English and US law financial instruments, insolvencies and restructurings. Team head Nick Angel is ‘superb at stakeholder management and understanding process dynamics’; he is currently leading a team, along with support from the firm’s Sao Paolo office, on behalf of an ad-hoc committee of creditors with exposure to beleaguered Brazilian corporate Oi Group on its $19bn insolvency. Praised for his ‘creativity’ and ability to ‘use his knowledge of US/European law to help craft deals’, US-qualified partner Peter Newman is ‘exceptional at working through complex issues’ and recently worked alongside the firm’s New York and Los Angeles offices on behalf of an ad-hoc committee of term lenders in relation to Vertellus Specialities’ Chapter 11 procedure. While it is undoubtedly best known for its creditor work, the firm also picks up some debtor side mandates, particularly on behalf of satellite companies where the firm has strong sector knowledge.

Following the arrival in January 2016 of the ‘cerebral and highly authoritative’ David Ereira from Linklaters LLP, Paul Hastings LLP has successfully broadened the scope of its restructuring/insolvency work to include a broader variety of contentious and non-contentious matters. Praised for his ability to provide ‘very compelling, commercial and effective advice’, Ereira recently advised Gulf Keystone Petroleum on its successful restructuring (a matter which involved a significant debt reduction through a debt-to-equity conversion and the raising of $25m new equity from an open offer to existing shareholders). The team remains a leading presence in the distressed structured finance space where Michelle Duncan displays a ‘detailed understanding of the nature of the market and the role occupied by the participants’. Karl Clowry is also recommended. Other clients include Deutsche Bank, RBS and Farallon Capital Management.

Leveraging the firm’s strong pedigree in the US, as well as being able to tap into the expertise of lawyers on the ground in London with US law knowledge, Shearman & Sterling LLP’s small London-based restructuring offering works closely with the broader finance group to provide a ‘commercial and responsive service’ to a predominantly creditor-focused client base. ‘User friendly’ New York-qualified team head Solomon Noh has a strong reputation amongst bondholders which are appreciative of his broad ranging knowledge of commercial solutions including guidance around Chapter 11 options in European situations. Noh recently advised the ad-hoc group of noteholders on the $910m restructuring of DTEK's high yield notes – a matter which included a contractual moratorium implemented by way of a scheme of arrangement and a subsequent full-scale restructuring of the notes involving an exchange of the notes by way of a scheme of arrangement. Mei Lian is recommended for her ‘pragmatic and results drive mind-set’, and senior associate Alastair Goldrein is ‘confident and knowledgeable’ and increasingly visible in the market.

Leveraging the firm’s strong ties with UK clearing banks, the ‘responsive and hardworking’ four-partner team at Addleshaw Goddard is a ‘leading firm for mid-market insolvency and restructuring work’. Particularly accomplished at handling matters within core areas of sector strength for the firm, including healthcare, education, professional practices and real estate; for example, the ‘tenacious and highly skilled’ Alison Goldthorp recently represented law firm King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) China and Australia in connection with the insolvency of London-based KWM LLP. The ‘very likeable and approachable’ Simon Thomas is ‘well-connected and respected’, and as well as work for banks and accountants, has also been key to developing the firm’s presence in the distressed debt and noteholder space. Recently promoted partner James Davison provides ‘pro-active, commercial and pragmatic advice’ with a particular focus advising funds clients on restructuring/distressed work. Other clients include HSBC, Santander, PNC and KPMG.

The ‘responsive and technically strong’ team at Baker McKenzie provides ‘proactive, innovative and thorough’ advice to a varied mix of lenders, debtors, IPs and security trustees. The ‘very knowledgeable and experienced’ Ian Jack is ‘very effective in defusing what are often fraught and emotional discussions’ between different stakeholders. Also noted for his emerging markets expertise, Jack continues to advise troubled Ukranian corporate on the $2bn restructuring of its bond and bank debt. Louise Webb is also recommended.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is ‘very reliable on mid-market matters’, where in addition to a strong presence in London clients also benefit from ‘excellent regional coverage’. Despite the recent retirement of Paul de la Pena, the three-partner London team still includes numerous well regarded practitioners including ‘calm and organised’ team head Simon Waller, whose non-contentious restructuring/insolvency expertise encompasses work in several industry sectors including financial services. ‘Possessing an enviable ability to distil down complex issues, in order to give clients clear and well thought through advice’, Jamie Leader displays ‘intellectually strong and inquisitive’ qualities, particularly on contentious insolvency matters. Leader recently represented a UK clearing bank on its response to extensive document disclosure requests from liquidators investigating a significant overseas fraud. Principal associates Alexander Mehdevy and Devreaux Gravell are recommended for debt portfolio sales and real estate-related restructurings, respectively.

Leveraging the firm’s strong fund relationships, Macfarlanes LLP provides ‘pragmatic and commercial advice’ across both restructurings and insolvencies, particularly within the mid-market. Simon Beale has a focus on pure insolvency matters and provides ‘practical insight and a very commercial approach’ to clients including Better Capital - which he recently advised (through a pre-packaged administration) on the intra group restructuring of CAV Aerospace to Northern Aerospace, a special purpose vehicle within the same group. The ‘excellent’ Jat Bains has a restructuring focus and recently advised Alchemy Special Opportunities on a new €24m debt facility to refinance the existing holding company debt facility of the Austrian shoe chain, Leder & Schuh. Paul Keddie was recently promoted to senior counsel and displays a ‘calm and thoughtful approach’.

The ‘very responsive’ team at Norton Rose Fulbright is able to ‘bring a breadth of experience’ combining sector specialism from within the firm with a ‘commercial and practical’ approach to restructuring. Leveraging the firm’s core focus within the shipping and energy sectors, the team recently advised a syndicated of senior lenders on the restructuring and refinancing of facilities made available to the DeepOcean Group. Noted for his ‘depth of knowledge and attention to detail’, James Stonebridge combines ‘robust legal analysis with pragmatic, commercial realities to generate effective advice’ and has been particularly active of late within the mining, shipping and oil and gas sectors. Recently promoted partner Mark Craggs is an ‘excellent all-round insolvency lawyer’ and is a key member of the team that also includes Radford Goodman, who gets ‘high marks for insolvency disputes’, consultant Hamish Anderson, who is a ‘real leader of the insolvency bar’, and Sarah Coucher, who has expertise across a range of sectors including real estate, construction, retail, energy and technology. Clients include Credit Suisse, KPMG, Royal Bank of Canada, and Wells Fargo.

With five partners based in London and also able to call upon the expertise of practitioners across a number of regional offices including Manchester, Birmingham and Scotland, Pinsent Masons LLP has the strength-in-depth to provide a ‘cost-effective and commercial service’ to a varied mix of clients including banks, IPs and funds engaged predominantly in mid-market domestic mandates. ‘The reliable’ Tom Withyman has a niche expertise advising on charities restructuring; he recently advised the directors of Aston Student Village on the restructuring of this charity vehicle holding the student accommodation at Aston University. The ‘approachable’ Nicholas Pike handles both contentious and non-contentious insolvency work; he recently advised Gatwick Airport and a group of seven major airlines on arrangements to provide short-term funding to the Aviator Group, a distressed group of companies that operated a ground-handling services business from London Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham airports. The ‘very responsive’ Steven Cottee displays a real ‘"can do" attitude’ across a range of work including law firm insolvencies, while Richard Williams is noted for his expertise on construction restructurings. Clients include HSBC, Alix Partners, KPMG and RBS.

Led by the ‘tenacious and hardworking’ Mark Fennessy, Proskauer Rose LLP’s small three-partner team ‘punches above its weight’ and is regularly involved on behalf of key stakeholders in some of the most significant cross-border restructurings in the market. Appreciated by clients for his ‘value-added and thoughtful approach’, Fennessy recently represented the official liquidator of Onix Capital, a $2bn Chile-based fund. The London team also picks up a significant amount of work for Global Loan Agency Services, an independent provider of debt administration services, including advising it in its role as notes trustee and security agent of a $900m high yield bond offering by Codere, the troubled Spanish construction industry player. Clients also benefit from the team’s ability to leverage the firm’s expertise out of its US offices. Associate Sunay Radia provides ‘straightforward and clear advice’ to distressed debt investors on existing and potential investments. Other clients include Contrarian Capital, HSBC and Itau.

‘Excellent on all fronts’, Stephenson Harwood’s four-partner team provides a ‘client focused’ and ‘highly commercial service’ across a range of contentious and non-contentious mandates, increasingly with a cross-border complexion. The ‘very client-oriented and friendly’ Susan Moore is regularly engaged in the highest-profile matters handled by the team and is appreciated for her ‘decisive, authoritative and assertive’ advice. As well as her continued involvement in the ongoing administration of the Affinion scheme of arrangement, she also recently advised E-Commodities on its cross-border bond restructuring, which was implemented through processes in three different jurisdictions and funded by a parallel rights issue. The ‘meticulous’ Elizabeth Elliott ‘really knows her stuff’ and is advising the Board of the Pension Protection Fund, in its role as the largest creditor of BHS in the company’s administration and subsequent liquidation. Julian Cahn and Stuart Frith are also recommended, in particular for their contentious insolvency prowess.

‘Very strong in complex large or international restructurings’, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP provides ‘very creative advice’ to a range of stakeholders including banks, funds and corporates. Although it has a smaller discrete restructuring offering from many other firms, nevertheless, it displays a fluid approach between finance and restructuring, enabling it to provide a ‘truly bespoke and commercial service’, particularly in relation to matters involving New York-law governed financial instruments including high yield debt. Rated by one client as ‘one of the smartest and most commercial lawyers on the planet’, dual-qualified UK/US qualified partner Christopher Howard ‘never tells you what you cannot do but always tells you how to do what you want to do’. His creativity was recently exemplified by his work, alongside colleagues in the firm’s New York office, for 107 creditors of hibu group, a multinational online directories company, on successfully refinancing and restructuring the company’s balance sheet, strengthening the business and opening new opportunities for growth. Howard was also involved alongside the ‘exceptional’ Presley Warner on behalf of the co-ordinating committee of bank creditors to Abengoa on its €1.17bn restructuring.

‘Experienced operators in the corporate restructuring field’, Taylor Wessing LLP’s ten-partner team has ‘strength-in-depth’ across a wide variety of creditor and debtor side work, both on the contentious and non-contentious side. Leveraging the firm’s overarching IP strength, the team is regularly engaged in restructuring involving IP rich businesses and recently advised KPMG as administrators on the pre-packed sale of WorldStores Group to Dunelm Group. Neil Smyth led on the aforementioned matter and is also ‘very good on contentious insolvency issues and pursuing recalcitrant directors’. Team head Nick Moser is ‘particularly strong in the pensions sector’ where his experience in the area ensures that he ‘understands the different requirements for dealing with trustees who may have different agendas from the general body of creditors’.

Generating a substantial amount of work from the firm’s impressive mid-market private equity client base, Travers Smith LLP’s two-partner team is active on behalf of distressed investor clients, in addition to advising special situation arms of private equity sponsors on distressed investment opportunities. The ‘commercial and responsive’ Edward Smith has handled a range of matters within the retail sector and recently acted for Alteri Investors on the acquisition of equity and debt in clothing retailers Austin Reed, Country Casuals and Viyella, and their subsequent administrations. The team also has a strong understanding of pensions-related restructurings and recently worked alongside its market-leading pensions team on a potential restructuring of a cross-border security and guarantee package put in place for the benefit of the British Steel Pension Scheme, in the context of the possible restructuring of its sponsor, Tata Steel UK. Peter Hughes is also recommended at a partner level, and senior counsel Douglas Hawthorn is admired for his ‘balanced and commercial advice’.

The ‘user friendly and commercial’ team at Bird & Bird LLP has a focused approach to restructuring work which is aimed in particular at key industry sectors including financial services, energy, real estate and sport. The ‘exceptionally talented’ and ‘personable’ team head Joss Hargrave provides ‘highly commercial advice’ to a range of stakeholders including lenders, debtors and IPs and has developed a strong reputation for handling complex investment bank insolvencies. In this context, Hargrave continues to represent the special administrators of Hartmann Capital regarding a misfeasance claim against a director of the investment bank.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s two-partner team has a strong reputation among IPs (Deloitte, Ernst & Young) and business advisory firms (FRP Advisory, Duff & Phelps) and is consequently regularly involved in a range of significant contentious and non-contentious restructuring and insolvency matters. Simon Ridpath recently acted for the joint administrators on the sale of the business and assets of Peyton & Byrne to French company Sodexo following the loss of contracts including Kew Gardens and the British Library. A ‘great man to have in a crisis’, Ridpath is also noted for his contentious expertise, where he ‘combines great legal knowledge, a clear view of the parties’ positions and a pragmatic approach’. Hanh Nguyen is also recommended.

The ‘knowledgeable and practical’ team at Clyde & Co LLP represents creditors and debtors on domestic and cross-border insolvencies. Andrew Foster is ‘always on top of the latest developments in the market and has the ability to express complex legal issues in a simple and concise manner’. Stewart Perry joined Fieldfisher in May 2017.

At Cooley (UK) LLP, Jon Yorke ‘knows everything there is to know about schemes of arrangement, and has orchestrated most of the big ones - particularly in the insurance market’; he is currently advising the administrators of Mediterranean Re, an insolvent reinsurance company. The arrival of finance partner John Clark from Mayer Brown International LLP in March 2016 enhanced the team’s expertise, not only on new money mandates, but also restructurings and on behalf of distressed debt investors.

Unsurprisingly given the firm’s prominence in the funds sector, a good deal of work handled by Dechert LLP’s restructuring team is on behalf of official and ad-hoc committees of secured and unsecured bondholders. The ‘excellent’ Paul Fleming has a strong reputation in the market and as well as his recent work for hedge fund Contrarian Capital Management in successfully contesting a scheme of arrangement in the English Courts by companies in the Asia Pulp and Paper Group. He also continues to represent administrators of Lehman Brothers Limited in ongoing disputes totalling approximately £10bn. Insolvency litigator Adam Silver was involved in the aforementioned Contrarian Capital matter alongside Fleming and is praised for his ability to ‘find compromises in complex negotiations’.

Leveraging the core competences found at the firm, particularly in relation to private wealth and charities, Farrer & Co has several niches in the market, most notably in relation to enforcement matters for private banks and charity-related restructuring work. ‘Exceptional’ associate Nyla Yousuf is ‘always completely on top of the law’ and recently advised a private bank on the enforcement options available following a defaulting facility advanced to two BVI companies. ‘An iron fist inside an elegant velvet glove’, team head David Fletcher regularly advises boards of directors and private banks on insolvency and restructuring situations. ‘Outstanding charity lawyer’ Anne-Marie Piper has a particular specialism in advising charities that are experiencing financial difficulties.

Benefitting from strong ties with IPs and business advisory firms including PwC, KPMG and FRP Advisory, Fieldfisher handles a regular flow of debtor side work in a contentious and non-contentious setting. ‘Not afraid to roll her sleeves up’, Manchester-based Michelle Shean is noted for non-contentious expertise and recently advised on the restructuring of Circle Oil Group and on the subsequent administration of Circle Oil Jersey Limited and sale of its subsidiaries. The ‘hardworking and commercial’ Kit Jarvis provides ‘thoughtful advice’ in a contentious context. The arrival in May 2017 of the ‘very knowledgeable and solutions oriented’ Stewart Perry from Clyde & Co LLP further bolsters the firm’s capability, particularly within the oil and gas space.

Leveraging strong ties with IPs, Fladgate LLP regularly receives predominantly domestic mandates across a range of sectors including in relation to property-related insolvencies. The ‘smart and creative’ Bree Taylor is ‘always up for the fight’ and is noted for her contentious expertise; she recently represented a former director of the UK subsidiary of the "Jacuzzi" group of companies in the defence of claims brought by liquidators alleging breaches of duty in relation to transactions entered by the company prior to its 2011 insolvency. Jeremy Whiteson provides ‘responsive and clear advice’ and is also recommended, in particular for his restructuring/insolvency work on behalf of entrepreneurial/start-up businesses. Clients include BDO, Begbies, Grant Thornton and FRP.

Spread out between the firm’s London and Birmingham offices, Gowling WLG’s five-partner team handles a range of contentious and non-contentious work for stakeholders including investors, pension trustees, clearing bank and asset based lenders, IPs and turnaround professionals. ‘Strategic thinker’ Andrew Witts is noted for his contentious expertise which includes fraud and asset recovery matters; he continues to represent the liquidators of Stanford Bank on all matters concerning its UK assets. The ‘knowledgeable’ Alex Jay provides an ‘excellent client service’ across a range of contentious insolvency matters and is also involved in the aforementioned matter. Julian Pallett is also recommended. Clients include Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Menzies Business Recovery.

Recently bolstered by the arrival of numerous finance partners including Barry Cosgrave, who joined in August 2016 from Shearman & Sterling LLP, K&L Gates LLP provides ‘responsive and commercial advice’ to a range of clients including banks, funds and trustees. Able to effectively tap into the firm’s transatlantic offering, the London team regularly handles work for US-based funds looking to acquire distressed assets in the UK. ‘Impressive’ team head Jonathan Lawrence recently advised LKQ Corporation, a leading supplier of alternative car parts, on the acquisition of the business of Andrew Page and related companies out of a pre-packaged administration run by PWC. ‘Responsive’ special counsel Clare Tanner has a focus on insolvency litigation and is working alongside Lawrence on behalf of Capita Trust Company, as trustee, in connection with the insolvency of Estates & General, a real estate investment company. Andrew Petersen leads the finance practice in London and as part of his broad-ranging work regularly handles structured finance related restructurings.

Although it is relatively small compared to many of the firms in the ranking, Michelmores LLP’s two-partner team ‘punches above its weight and is able to advise on some very complex international transactions’. Praised for his ‘tough but reasonable’ negotiating style, team head Charles Maunder is, alongside the other partner in the team Alexander Wood, representing Alix Partners as receivers of £150m debt linked to the Marme Group liquidation in Spain and associated Aabar Block/ Glenn Maud proceedings. Maunder also continues to act for York Global Finance as one of the respondents in the Lehman Brothers Waterfall proceedings and for Octopus/Ticketus as one of the main creditors of Glasgow Rangers Football Club. Other clients include Agilo Master Fund, Greensphere Capital and New Earth Solutions Group.

Increasingly visible in the London market since team head Stephen Phillips’ arrival over three years ago, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP’s restructuring team has a focus on advising alternative credit providers, hedge funds and the special situation arms of investment banks and is also well-placed to handle cross-border mandates as a result of its extensive European, Asian and US network of offices. Praised for his ‘pragmatic and clear advice’, Phillips’ recent highlights include advising Global Loan Agency Services as trustee of the notes of Edcon, as well as representing the bondholders in relation to Waste Italia’s proposed bond restructuring.

Jointly headed by Jeff Drew and Charlotte MÞller, Reed Smith LLP’s four-partner team picks up some ‘excellent instructions’ from IPs, lenders and funds, particularly in the shipping and energy sectors where the firm exhibits ‘first-class industry knowledge’. The ‘responsive and practical’ MÞller also has detailed knowledge of the UK Special Administration process and following on from her work for the joint special administrators of online spread betting firm WorldSpreads, is currently acting for another investment management firm in special administration. The arrival in September 2016 of Diane Roberts from Ashurst bolsters a team that also includes the ‘very practical’ Elizabeth McGovern, who was recently promoted to partner.

Squire Patton Boggs’s two-partner team handles restructuring and formal insolvencies for a mix of lenders, funds and IPs across a range of sectors including retail. Leveraging the firm’s strong asset based lending credentials for clients including Bank Leumi and ABN AMRO Commercial Finance, the team is also regularly involved in insolvency and restructuring work for such lenders if their deals end up in a distressed situation. Cathryn Williams and Paul Muscutt are recommended. Other clients include KPMG, PwC, Alix Partners and Hilco Capital.


Debt capital markets

Index of tables

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Allen & Overy LLP is ‘superb; it surpasses all other firms in terms of client service, responsiveness, commerciality and value for money’ according to one client, while another notes that ‘the set-up and the level of partner attention is amazing, and the firm has fantastic knowledge of the industry’. Overall, the team is ‘extremely pragmatic in coming up with solutions that work for all parties involved’. Head of debt capital markets Jonathan Melton is ‘very knowledgeable, has super experience and is at the top of his field’. He leads a team that has one of the deepest DCM benches in London, including experienced partners Matthew Hartley, who acts for sovereigns, supra-nationals, corporates, banks and mutuals on the full range of matters; Philip Smith, whose broad practice encompasses work for issuers and underwriters; Tom Grant who is ‘a key partner in the practice’ and whose work includes liability management deals; Theo Trayhurn, who is ‘fantastic, very quick to respond and works well on tough and innovative projects’ and who is described by peers as ‘an impressive sparring partner’; Jamie Durham, who stands out for equity-linked and emerging markets deals; US-qualified Sachin Davé; and newly promoted Daniel Fletcher, of whom clients remark that ‘few lawyers know more about the regulatory environment’. The team of counsel and associates ‘shows great attention to detail and is pleasant to work with’. The firm’s many highlights included advising dealer managers including Citigroup on a €1bn liability management deal for SABMiller, and acting for lead managers including Goldman Sachs on a €1bn notes issue by Nykredit Realkredit.

At Clifford Chance LLP ‘the team always has the interests of the client at heart and always delivers on its promises’. Clients praise the firm’s ‘extensive experience in the field of DCM backed by a very strong regulatory team’ and remark that the firm has ‘a group of professionals with vast experience who are easily accessible, attentive to details and diligent; they are creative in their thinking and able to solve difficult and complex matters swiftly’. The firm is present on some of the biggest deals in the market, including the largest ever Euro-denominated corporate bond in which it advised Anheuser-Busch InBev on six series of issuance totalling €13.5bn to finance its acquisition of SABMiller. Stewart Dunlop led that deal and is one of a highly respected group of partners that includes head of capital markets Simon Sinclair, infrastructure and project finance capital markets specialist David Bickerton, project bonds expert Clare Burgess, Paul Deakins, who regularly advises on equity-linked bonds and liability management, and David Dunnigan, who advises sovereigns, major corporations and financial institutions. ‘The partners have a hands-on approach to every issue that arises and are well informed’, says one client. The firm’s many highlights from 2016 included advising arranger HSBC on a €350m greenfield project bond in Turkey, which saw EBRD’s first-ever provision of a subordinated liquidity facility; a $500m deal in Russia for lead managers including GazPromBank and JPMorgan; and a $1bn debut Eurobond issue for Southern Gas Corridor, which was the first to be guaranteed by the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Linklaters LLP ‘has a very knowledgeable team that provides fast responses, good advice and great service’ across the entire DCM space including liability management, equity-linked bonds, regulatory capital deals and sovereign bonds. The firm is ‘number-one in the market’, according to one client. It not only has a strong practice in English law deals but also has a prominent role in the market for SEC-registered, New York law-governed regulatory capital securities issued by UK and European banks. Elaine Keats leads the practice and stands out for her work on liability management and retail bonds. Ben Dulieu is well known for equity-linked deals. ‘Go-to capital markets lawyer’ Richard Levy has a broad practice that encompasses regulatory capital, liability management and emerging markets deals. Among the other highly regarded partners are Cecil Quillen (who is US-qualified), Carson Welsh, the ‘highly skilled and responsive’ Richard O’Callaghan, who is strong in emerging markets transactions, and Keith Thomson, who ‘knows everything there is about convertibles’. Newly promoted Neil Dixon is a prominent fixture on bank and insurance regulatory capital deals. The firm’s standout deals from 2016 included the ZAR10bn restructuring of Africa Bank’s debt as part of its rescue process; a £2.88bn convertible bond issue for Vodafone; advice to the underwriters of the Sultanate of Oman’s $4bn debut issuance; and the establishment of a £6bn EMTN programme for National Grid.

White & Case LLP is ‘a preferred provider of services in debt capital markets, and one of the best for emerging markets deals’. Clients remark that it is ‘incredibly commercial and, as a truly global firm, able to leverage its expertise in offices in many key jurisdictions’; they also highlight the fact that ‘the firm has spent decades building its DCM capacity and is in so many places that it has become a real force in the market’. The London team is the hub of the firm’s European captial markets capability and is not only a leader in sovereign issuances and emerging markets debt, but also an increasingly strong player in cross-border matters involving Europe and the US. Global practice head Stuart Matty and key US securities law partner Melissa Butler play key roles in outstanding deals, including Ghana’s $750m amortising notes issue, in which the firm acted for joint lead managers Citibank Global Markets, Merrill Lynch and Standard Chartered Bank. Michael Doran has a strong investment grade, equity-linked and debt restructuring practice. Francis Fitzherbert-Brockholes, who is dual English and US-qualified, is a veteran of the European DCM market. Ian Clark is ‘a great guy and a standout specialist in sovereign debt matters’ and Doron Loewinger is regarded as a skilled US law partner. Michael Immordino regularly handles recapitalisation deals for Italian banks and Richard Pogrel stands out for equity-linked and liability management transactions. Key deals included the restructuring of $1.9bn in debt for the Republic of Mozambique, and advising ENI on its €400m equity-linked bonds.

Ashurst ‘has a strong debt practice that is quick and responsive, with good commercial acumen and industry knowledge’. Head of debt capital markets Anna Delgado is ‘efficient and understands the commercial aspects of her clients’ requirements, while being fully up-to-date with all new legislation; her client-care skills are second to none’. Derwin Jenkinson, who has a prominent presence in infrastructure bonds, ‘has exceptionally strong technical knowledge but is also pragmatic and helps to push deals forward’. Francis Kucera has wide-ranging expertise in international securities work in both debt and equity transactions, and newly promoted partner Alexander Biles has a broad practice covering infrastructure and project bonds, regulatory capital matters and liability management transactions. Counsel Christopher Hardingham is ‘knowledgeable, practical and has a great understanding of clients’ needs; he is second to none when it comes to EMTN programmes’. Recently promoted partner Malcom Charles leads the corporate trust and agency team. The firm’s standout deals included advising BP Capital Markets on a £400m issue of convertible bonds linked to BP shares; advising joint lead managers including Citigroup and HSBC on a €1.25bn sovereign bond issued by the Republic of Croatia; and advising solicitation agents JPMorgan Securities, Citigroup Global Markets and Bank of America Merrill Lynch on consent solicitation for ICAP plc’s bonds.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is ‘a prominent player in emerging markets debt’, with clients singling out its ‘broad spread in terms of products and geographies and good reputation for high-end and complex transactions’. In 2016, the London team handled deals in Russia, the CIS, the Middle East and North Africa. All of the lawyers in the finance practice have broad practices that cover not only DCM but also equity capital markets matters, although five partners, one counsel and one senior attorney devote the majority of their time to debt transactions. US capital markets specialists Sebastian Sperber and Pierre-Marie Boury each have more than 20 years’ experience; David Gottlieb is also vastly experienced in SEC-registered debt offerings, and Raj Panasar is dual-qualified in US and English law. Simon Ovenden joined Simmons & Simmons, and the firm promoted sovereign debt expert Jim Ho to partner. Counsel Sarah Lewis and senior attorney Christopher Smith are also recommended. The firm acted for issuer HSBC Holdings in a $1.5bn SEC-registered offering of subordiated notes. Another key deal saw the team act as counsel to the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Finance for $1.25bn in new issuances sold to institutional investors in a Rule 144A/Reg S placement. Other highlights included acting for Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan on two offerings with a total value of $1.6bn by a subsidiary of Telenor in which the parent company disposed of its stake in Vimpelcom.

The ‘responsive and flexible’ team at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP advises on a wide range of debt transactions, including sovereign bonds, equity linked issuances, liability management exercises, MTN programme updates, establishments and drawdowns, and regulatory capital issuances. The firm’s strong corporate practice generates a large volume of issuer-side work and acts for bookrunners and managers on debt transactions. The London team maintains its reputation for innovative and groundbreaking deals, as illustrated by its work for Axis Bank, Nomura International and others on the first-ever corporate issuance of masala bonds. The landmark deal saw Indian issuer Housing Development Finance Corporation issue INR30bn of notes. Highly respected partner Peter Allen and Duncan Kellaway played pivotal roles in the transaction. Allen’s highlights also included acting for Tullow Oil on a $300m convertible bond issue. Stuart Grider worked with Kellaway on a $1bn issue of guaranteed notes by mobile network operator MTN Group. Sarah Murphy leads the firm’s US corporate group in Europe and Asia and is co-head of the international capital markets practice. She acts for both investment banks and for companies seeking to access the US and international capital markets. Murphy provided specialist US securities advice on a deal that Allen led for issuer PAO Severstal that saw it issue two tranches of convertible bonds with a total value of $450m. Nick Hayday joined Dentons.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is recognised for the breadth of its DCM practice, which covers standalone bonds, regulatory capital instruments, EMTN and commercial paper programmes, private placements, equity-linked bonds and liability management transactions for sovereign, corporate and investment bank clients across a wide range of jurisdictions. Its strong UK and European corporate client base includes UK-listed companies such as G4S, Ferrexpo, Royal Mail and Severn Trent. It also acts for a growing roster of investment banks as deal managers including Bank of China, HSBC and JPMorgan. Andrew Roberts leads a team that comprises English and US-qualified lawyers. Tom O’Neill leads the US securities practice in London and has 20 years’ experience in deals across Europe and emerging markets. Dinesh Banani has particular expertise in US law aspects of debt offerings by non-US issuers. Amy Geddes has broad expertise that includes equity-linked deals and regulatory capital transactions for both issuers and managers. Senior associate Mark Dickinson plays a key role in the practice and with O’Neill advised French company Danone on a $12.5bn financing that included a $5.5bn Rule 144a Yankee bond offering. Another flagship deal for the team saw it advise Tideway, which is constructing the Thames Tideway Tunnel in London, on establishing a £10bn asset-backed, multi-currency programme and subsequent drawdowns with a total value of £450m. Emerging markets highlights included acting for lead managers on a CNY3bn offering by the People’s Republic of China.

Latham & Watkins is ‘a first choice for debt deals in the emerging markets space’, for which clients see the firm as ‘well serviced, very proactive and commercial, and fully aware of market practice’. Clients single out the ‘excellent service and professional approach to all tasks – the team knows the products and the sector, so is able to be innovative’. Its primary focus is emerging markets debt, but the team has a growing presence in the European market. Lene Malthasen has 25 years’ experience and plays a leading role in the emerging markets debt practice. David Stewart, who splits his time between the London and Moscow offices, is ‘extremely knowledgeable in emerging markets debt’. Counsel James Baxter is also recommended. The firm’s work for sovereigns included advising the Republic of Mozambique on a landmark exchange offer to holders of $697m in loan participation notes for Eurobond notes with extended maturity. Corporate issuer work included BMW Group’s debut 144a/Reg S offering in tranches with a total value of $6.25bn. The team also works extensively for underwriters and recently advised Barclays, ING Bank and others on the $500m notes issue by Evraz Group. Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, Ukrlandfarming PLC and BBV are also among the firm’s clients.

Mayer Brown International LLP ‘has an outstanding debt capital markets practice and provides deep understanding of both the cross-border and local issues affecting deals’. Much of the London’s team’s work has a US element, though it also advises on emerging markets deals. The skills of US- and France-qualified Robert Flanigan ‘always allow for an efficient and positive result for clients; he is a safe pair of hands for complex transactions’. He regularly represents issuers and underwriters on Rule 144A/Reg S private placements and SEC-registered offerings of a wide range of debt and equity securities. James Taylor ‘has in-depth knowledge of local securities legislation and is always responsive’. He focuses on public and private offerings of debt and equity-linked securities, advising issuers and underwriters. Bernd Bohr, who is qualified in New York, England & Wales and Germany, has a broad practice that covers investment grade debt, high yield transactions and equity capital markets deals, usually with cross-border elements. In an illustration of the collaboration between the US and London teams, the firm acted for Canada Pension Plan Investment Board on the establishment of a CAD25bn global MTN programme, which involved Taylor and a team in New York. The firm also advised Novartis AG on a €1.75bn notes issuance, and Autopista del Sol on a €557m offering.

Norton Rose Fulbright not only has a respected emerging markets debt practice, but also a strong presence in sovereign deals, project bonds and debt restructuring. Peter Young specialises in cross-border transactions under English and New York law and has particularly strong experience in sovereign bond issues. He advised the Central Bank of Bahrain on its $1bn Eurobond and its simultaneous $1bn sukuk, which was challenging given the country’s low credit rating and which represented the first global deal it had issued using a hybrid structure of Ijarah and Murabahah structures. Young was also heavily involved in putting together an innovative project bond-style structure for Angola’s debut sovereign bond issue. A key niche for the practice lies in Canadian deals; Peter Noble handled transactions with a total value of $25bn in that jurisdiction last year, including the country’s first regulatory capital programme. He advised manager Toronto-Dominion Bank on the Province of British Columbia’s INR5bn issuance as it became the first foreign government entity to issue rupee-denominated bonds in the Indian offshore market. DCM expert Farmida Bi regularly handles sovereign debt issuance, project bonds and restructurings, and is head of the Islamic finance team in Europe. US partner Nikolai Mikhailov, who joined from Chadbourne & Parke, enhanced the firm’s ability to handles debt and equity deals in Russia and the CIS.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s clients appreciate the firm’s ‘combination of US and UK law with a practical knowledge and understanding of what is really relevant, as well as the ability to be persuasive and determined’. Co-head of European capital markets David Dixter is ‘top of his game in terms of efficiency and pragmatism’. He advised Citycon on a €350m offering of guaranteed notes to refinance the company’s existing debt and enable investment in new joint ventures. Team co-head Apostolos Gkoutzinis leads on high yield deals but also handles general debt and equity transactions. Longstanding clients include RBS as underwriter and Anglo American as issuer. Richard Price left to take on the role of Group General Counsel at Anglo American but the firm hired Alejandro Gordano as counsel from Credit Suisse and promoted Pawel Szaja to counsel. Highlights included acting for banks including Deutsche bank and Citigroup Capital Markets as representatives of intial purchasers of global pharmaceutical company Mylan’s notes with a total value of €2.55bn, and advising JPMorgan and others as bookrunning managers of a €2bn offering by biotechnology company Amgen.

Sidley Austin LLP is ‘a professional and likeable firm that is always willing to assist and has truly global coverage’. ‘A leader in the US debt market’, the firm is known for its skills in Rule 144a issuances, while one client notes that ‘the advice on Eurobonds is on a par with Magic Circle firms’. The firm advises leading global investment banks in their roles as underwriters, dealers and arrangers, and advises many large US corporate issuers on their debt offerings in Europe. It also acts for many European, Asian and Australian corporate and financial institution issuers in connection with European debt, regulatory capital and liability management transactions. David Howe is ‘highly recommended from a leadership perspective and for his knowledge of the Eurobond market’. He is assisted by ‘a good, solid team’ including Mark Walsh and associate Matthew Ball, who ‘provide excellent service, speed of response and value for money’. Counsel Vivian Root is ‘amazing; she knows exactly what is important to a bank client and has a very commercial, helpful and thorough approach’. Counsel Shireen Khoo is also recommended. Walsh played a key role in the team’s work for US REIT Simon Property Group on a €500m Reg S notes offering listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. Howe assisted Bank of Cyprus with annual updates of its €4bn EMTN programme and its €3bn covered bond programme. Another highlight for the team was its work for McDonalds Corporation on a CHF400m issuance of notes listed on SIX Swiss Exchange.

Simmons & Simmons has been building up its DCM practice, and is increasingly being viewed as ‘one of the main players in the market’. The firm now has four partners in London who ‘have the experience to handle any kind of transaction’, according to one client. Piers Summerfield has extensive experience advising underwriters, issuers and institutional investors and leads the international debt capital markets team with co-head Charles Hawes, who is dual qualified in English and US law and advises leading investment banks and issuers on complex and high-value deals. The practice added to its bench at senior level with the hire of Jonathan Mellor, who for the last 30 years was at Allen & Overy LLP and has extensive experience advising underwriters and issuers on all aspects of international debt transactions including liability management, structured equity and regulatory capital matters. Simon Ovenden also joined from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP to add experience in sovereign debt and emerging markets deals. Summerfield and Mellor have in-depth knowledge of convertible bonds and Hawes excels in deals with a US element including a growing portfolio of privately placed issues. The firm’s highlights included advising arranger JPMorgan Securities on €6.15bn-worth of notes from its €65bn EMTN programme; acting for British Land in €1bn of issuance from its EMTN programme; and handling tender offers for DONG Energy in relation to €2.25bn in outstanding notes.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP is best known for cross-border debt deals including Eurobonds, project bonds, sovereign issuances, and convertible bond transactions. The London team’s international focus sees it act in deals involving jurisdictions such as Russia, Italy and Israel. The firm is a regular adviser on complex and multi-jurisdictional deals for both corporate issuers and underwriters. Head of European capital markets Danny Tricot is the standout lawyer in the practice; his highlights included advising HSBC Securities (USA) as lead underwriter on five separate offerings with an aggregate value of $15.25bn by HSBC Holdings. He also acted for the joint global co-ordinators and joint lead managers in a Rule 144a/Reg S $9bn bond offering by the State of Qatar, which at the time was the largest-ever sovereign bond offering in the Middle East. London office head Pranav Trivedi has a strong reputation for complex capital markets deals, particulary those involving Russia. He worked closely with Tricot on the HSBC deals and also on an $80m private placement of convertible bonds by Atlas Mara. James Healy has extensive experience of international debt offerings for both underwriters and issuers and corporate finance counsel Maria Protopapa frequently advises on both debt and equity capital markets transactions.

At Slaughter and May, ‘the lawyers are knowledgeable and client-focused, always respond on time and definitely provide value for money’. The firm’s primary focus is on borrower mandates, though its advice to banks on structured bond deals is growing. For example, it is advisingWestpac on the annual update of its EMTN and covered bond programmes, and it acted for Standard Chartered on numerous debt issues including a $1bn offering of senior notes. The firm’s multi-disciplinary finance partners cover a broad range of capital markets, structured finance and securitisation transactions. Matthew Tobin, who heads the DCM practice, took the lead on the Westpac deals. Guy O’Keefe advises issuers, borrowers, lenders and counterparties on liability management transactions. He acted for Arrow Global Group on a £220m offering. Ed Fife’s recent highlights include advising Remgro on a £350m placement of senior secured notes, which was the first exchangeable bond issued by a South African company. Caroline Phillips’s work in the debt space includes regulatory capital deals; she regularly acts for insurers and advised Aviva on issuance with a total value of €850m. She also handled a debut bond for Ladbrokes Coral Group. Oliver Wicker and Oliver Storey were both promoted to partner. Miranda Leung retired. The firm has ‘a very good team even below partner level’, with clients singling out associate Louis de Ste Croix.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP ‘has a good understanding of the debt capital markets which goes beyond just legal advice’. The firm’s combination of UK and US lawyers in London gives it a leading role in many cross-border deals, particularly where complex structures are involved. A prime example is the team’s work for Anheuser-Busch InBev on the second-largest corporate bond sale of all time, linked to its landmark acquisition of SABMiller, which saw the company issue $46bn in senior unsecured notes. The firm also acted for Coca-Cola HBC Group in connection with its €3 billion EMTN programme, under which it issued €600m in fixed rate notes. Other highlights included acting for Statoil an issuance under its €20bn EMTN programme, and advising Barclays on $560m in SEC-registered debt issuances. Vanessa Blackmore’s expertise covers DCM financings and liability management; she acted along with George White on the aforementioned Coca-Cola deal. Kathryn Campbell frequently advises on securities offerings into the US by non-US companies. John O’Connor counts Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Standard Chartered among his clients. Newly promoted partner John Horsfield-Bradbury was part of the team advising Anheuser-Busch InBev. Chris Beatty, whose practice focuses predominantly on high yield debt, is ‘very knowledgeable and clients like his hands-on approach’.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is noted for its ‘practical and commercial advice and ability to provide solutions rather than opinions’. The firm acts for issuers, institutional investors and hedge funds based in the US, Russia, the CIS, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe. It has one of the leading private placement practices for investors in London and Barry Russell is a prominent figure in private deals for UK and US investors. Mark Mansell advises numerous insurance companies and other financial institutions on cross-border private placements. The firm is ‘excellent in the debt restructuring space, particularly representing bondholders’. The highly respected Robert Aulsebrook advises issuers on Eurobonds, loan notes, convertible debt securities and commercial paper. Also recommended are Sarah Smith, who is ‘superb, always providing thorough, detailed and practical advice’, and Lisa Hearn. Key deals from 2016 saw the firm act for oil and gas giant Lukoil on a $1bn 144a/Reg S offering, which was the company’s first Eurobond and the first of that scale to be placed by a Russian company. Other highlights included advising mobile operator VimpelCom on a $1.2bn dual-tranche offering.

For some, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP has ‘a market-leading practice for sovereign debt issuance and its bench strength in London makes it a prominent player in the market’, particularly for deals in emerging markets. In an illustration of its track record on innovative transactions in growth markets, the team acted on a $300m Nigerian diaspora bond, the first to be issued by an African country and to be listed on the London Stock Exchange, in addition to being the first retail bond to be approved by the SEC and the UK Listing Authority. Jeremy Willcocks is the key name in London, though partners based in the US including former US Executive Director of the World Bank Whitney Debevoise spend a significant amount of time in the London office. In another example of the firm’s high-end work, it advised the Republic of Turkey on a $1bn sukuk offering that was structured to comply with shari’ah law and involved issuance of lease certificates for government real estate assets that were transferred to the issuer and leased back to the government. Other sovereign clients include the Republic of Azerbaijan, the State of Israel, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Kenya and Hungary.

The debt capital markets practice at Baker McKenzie combines English and US law capability, enabling it to play a prominent role in the market for Rule 144a offerings. The London team is also a central hub for emerging markets debt work. Simon Porter leads the London structured capital markets group and regularly advises issuers, trustees and arrangers. Roy Pearce acts for issuers and investment banks in Eurobond offerings and debt restructurings, with a particular focus on deals in the CEE and CIS regions. Adam Farlow’s practice focuses predominantly on high yield transactions but he brings to bear his knowledge of US securities law and transaction management on a wide range of debt matters. Don Guiney retired and Chris Hogan is on secondment to the Johannesburg office. Porter and Farlow acted for Deutsche Trustee on the restructuring of renewable energy company Abengoa, which includes $4bn in outstanding bonds. Other key deals saw the firm act for BHP Billiton on a $152m bond issue, and advise the Kingdom of Bahrain on a $1bn sovereign bond offering.

CMS is ‘excellent on all fronts; very responsive and knows its clients’ business very well’. ‘The lawyers leave their egos at the door’ say clients of Michael Cavers and Jason Harding, who are ‘very focused, consistent, effective and excellent at client service’. The firm’s recent merger with Nabarro and Olswang added corporate partners with DCM experience including co-head of the corporate group Iain Newman and real estate finance partner Mike Delaney, although the legacy CMS team is where the bulk of the firm’s debt capital markets experience lies. Cavers leads the team and frequently handles project bonds, debt programmes and standalone issuance. Harding focuses on structured finance but acts for banks and corporates on Eurobonds and project bonds. Clients remark that the team’s in-depth experience ‘makes negotiations easier and helps to form pragmatic relationships with other law firms’. Daniel Winterfeldt joined Reed Smith LLP. A highlight for the CMS team in 2016 was its work for Ei Group on a range of capital markets transactions including a £250m liabilty management transaction. The firm also acted for Northumbrian Water on the refinancing of £300m in guaranteed bonds.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is a US firm with a long track record of European capital markets deals, although it is best known for its strong Yankee bonds practice. Philip Boeckman is co-head of the EMEA capital markets practice and regularly advises clients in Europe, India and South Africa, frequently acting for leading investment banks such as Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse. His highlights included acting for European Investment Bank in nine multibillion-dollar offerings listed on the Bourse de Luxembourg. He also advised underwriters including BNP Paribas on a $1.75bn offering by the State Treasury of Poland. George Stephanakis is the other EMEA capital markets co-head and his experience includes extensive work for corporate issuers and financial institutions in investment grade debt offerings. Corporate partner Alyssa Caples also handles debt offerings as part of her broad practice. She advised Bacardi on a $450m Rule 144a/Reg S transaction. David Mercado, who acted for initial purchasers led by Credit Suisse in a $4.5bn notes offering, is also recommended.

At DLA Piper, structured finance partner and head of financial markets Martin Bartlam regularly handles debt offerings; he recently advised Hastings Funds Management and Norddeutsche Landesbank on an innovative €60m hybrid bond and loan financing for the Gloghboola wind farm in Ireland. Bartlam’s other highlights included assisting dealers including Goldman Sachs and Nomura with the update of Santander Consumer Bank’s €32bn EMTN programme. Capital markets specialist Ronan Mellon, whose practice encompasses covered bonds, corporate bonds, commercial paper, project bonds, hybrid structures and masala bonds, also played a key role in that deal. Vincent Keaveny has more than 20 years’ experience advising corporates and financial institutions on a broad range of finance transactions including debt offerings, derivatives trades and securitisations. He acts for issuers and underwriters on international DCM transactions, including the establishment and update of debt issuance programmes. Working with Bartlam he advised Banca IMI on its EMTN and structured note programmes. Mark Dwyer, who focuses on DCM and structured finance, advised Mount Street on a series of debt issues including a €59m privately placed note.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is known for the constructive approach its partners take to debt and equity capital markets deals. A key area of expertise in Yankee bonds. John Banes has been a mainstay of the firm’s London office for 23 years and regularly advises the likes of ABN AMRO, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds Banking Group and UBS on SEC-registered and Rule 144A/Reg S offerings including convertible bonds and investment grade debt. Corporate partner Simon Witty advises on public and private securities offerings and his long track record in the DCM space includes deals for ArcelorMittal, Dexia Credit, Abengoa and Société Générale. Reuven Young frequently acts for underwriters and in this role he has played a part in offerings by companies such as Anglo American, Imperial Tobacco and ING Bank. He also handles liability management transactions including exchange offers for large corporates and financial institutions.

Dechert LLP’s London team advises on the full range of international debt and equity transactions, including liability management exercises, and is known for its ability to provide seamless advice on English and US law on public and private debt issues. The firm has a standout practice for capital markets transactions in emerging markets and is well known for its track record of deals in the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean basin, Central and Eastern Europe, the CIS and Caucasus regions, and Central Asia. Camille Abousleiman and Patrick Lyons are the key partners and senior associate Jennifer Buckett is a rising star in emerging markets transactions. The firm’s many highlights included an $850m offering by the Republic of Tunisia, on which the firm advised Banque Centrale de Tunisie. The firm has advised the bank on all Eurobonds it has issued since 2012. The team also acted for the Arab Republic of Egypt on a $4bn multi-tranche sovereign bond issue, which was the country’s largest-ever public bond issuance and the first triple-tranche bond from the African continent. It also advised the Arab Republic of Egypt on a $1.5bn, ten-year sovereign bond, which was the country’s largest ever single-tranche issuance.

Clients are ‘impressed by the diligence, responsiveness and level of knowledge’ at Dentons, which focuses on Islamic finance and debt issuance in growth markets and has a long track record of acting for sovereign entities. DCM specialist David Cohen, who has extensive experience in sovereign debt issues in emerging markets, and associate Gareth Burton ‘provide deep insight and quick responses’. DCM and derivatives partner Matthew Sapte is well known for his work on shari’ah-compliant structures and for his advice to corporate trustees. Corporate partner Nikolas Colbridge focuses on international debt and equity capital markets transactions. Cameron Half, formerly counsel at Allen & Overy LLP, joined as a partner to advise issuers and underwriters on equity and debt offerings. The firm also hired ‘high-quality associate’ Nick Hayday from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP; he joins as a partner. The firm’s diverse workload from 2016 included advising Commerzbank on Lebanese financial institution BankMed’s $500m offering of short-term certificates; acting for the Republic of Ghana on a $750m amortising notes issue; and handling a consent solicitation regarding €600m in outstanding notes for Kazakh state-owned company KazAgro National Management. The firm also acts for Standard Bank of South Africa, mBank and FirstRand Bank.

Hogan Lovells International LLP acts for a wide range of underwriter, issuer and trustee clients from its London office, which works in close collaboration with the firm’s global network to advise on emerging markets deals as well as US and European transactions. Andrew Carey is a key partner in the firm’s international debt capital markets team and has more than 25 years’ experience. His practice encompasses cross-border debt offerings including securities programmes, and both corporate and sovereign bonds. He regularly advises issuers, originators and underwriters on new issuance and bond restructuring. The firm also has a corporate trustee specialist in Kit Johnson. Known mainly for his high yield practice Sylvain Dhennin is also a key figure in Rule 144a deals. He acted in one of the largest-ever reverse Yankee bonds for Brown Forman, which issued tranches of €300m and £300m. The deal was the first Yankee bond to be issued by a US corporate and after the European Union referendum and also the first sterling-denominated deal to close after the vote. Senior associate Jonathan Malim has a busy practice advising on public and private bond offerings, including high yield bonds, on behalf of banks, corporations, multinational organisations and sovereign entities.

Reed Smith LLP’s London team works closely with the other offices in the firm’s international network to assist multinational clients with cross-border deals involving Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia, and its US and English law capabilities make it a compelling choice among issuers, managers and trustees for cross-border DCM deals. Europe and Middle East managing partner Tamara Box leads the structured finance team but also has a key role in debt matters including MTN programmes and convertible bonds. Ranajoy Basu’s practice also covers both DCM and structured finance; he regularly advises on convertibles, sovereign bonds and debt issuance programmes. Daniel Winterfeldt’s arrival from CMS added significant strength in US securities law; he is widely regarded as an expert in Rule 144a and Reg S transactions. Among the firm’s highlights from 2016 was Basu’s work for paying agent Deutsche Bank and security agent Wilmington Trust on a €210m offering by reusable packaging manufacturer Schoeller Allibert Group. The firm also acts for African Bank Limited and Citibank.

Jones Day has a diverse capital markets practice in which partners handle investment grade debt, high yield bonds, equity capital markets and structured finance transactions. Giles Elliott leads both the capital markets team and the corporate group in which it sits. The team includes highly experienced DCM partner Drew Salvest, who acted for state-owned Norwegian electricity transmission system operator Statnett on a $360m private placement of senior notes. Salvest also advised commodity trading house Trafigura on the issuance of notes under its €2bn EMTN programme listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. Further highlights for the practice included a €500m public offering of senior notes on behalf of issuer Fluor Corporation. Working with the firm’s team in Altanta, Salvest also handled a multi-tranche tranche offering of notes in Europe and the US with a total value of $8bn for global consumer and commercial products company Newell Rubbermaid.

Clients appreciate the ‘fantastic response times and access to global partners’ at K&L Gates LLP, where ‘go-to lawyer’ and trustee specialist Sean Crosky is praised for being ‘commercial and straight to the point’. The London team regularly acts for financial institutions, boutique arrangers, corporate issuers, trustees and rating agencies on DCM matters, and its practice includes a dedicated US securities group. Natalie Boyd joined the London office from the firm’s Dubai office and maintains a strong focus on deals in the Middle East. Barry Cosgrave joined as a partner from Shearman & Sterling LLP to advise on debt issuance and restructuring. Mayank Gupta came over from Mayer Brown International LLP to extend the practice’s focus on emerging markets. The firm’s highlights included advising Law Debenture as trustee on issuance with a total value of $87.5m by REA Finance, and acting for Deutsche Bank as trustee on a $100m sukuk. Stephen Moller moved to Fieldfisher.

Macfarlanes LLP is ‘a good alternative to the Magic Circle for smaller DCM matters’. The firm focuses on complex transactions for financial institutions, corporates and investors with a focus on sectors such as infrastructure and housing. Richard Fletcher is ‘an experienced capital markets lawyer who is very bright and pleasant to deal with’. He is the firm’s sole DCM specialist partner but he calls on a broader finance team of partners and associates in the finance practice for support in debt transactions. Fletcher’s highlights included acting for Venn Partners, PRS Operations and PRS Finance as manager, licensee and issuer respectively in the issuance of £265m under its bond programme to finance the construction of purpose-built and professionally managed private rented developments in the UK in accordance with the Private Rented Housing Guarantee Scheme. He also advised Castle Trust on an update to its £1.5bn debt programme.

At Marriott Harrison LLP ‘the level of service is of the highest quality in every area and the team is very pleasant to deal with’. Andrew Williamson and Nils Reid, who joined in 2015 from defunct Scottish firm McClure Naismith LLP, ‘make a great team; their client-management skills are the best in the business’. The firm has a strong presence among corporate issuers in deals up to £50m, though the team of two partners and two associates does handle significantly larger deals on occasion. For example, they handled a $200m secured bond listed on the Irish Stock Exchange Global Exchange Market for Queensway Investments. Clients appreciate the ‘partner-led service from people who are businessmen as well as lawyers’.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP advises on the full range of debt capital markets transactions including sovereign bond transactions, complex emerging markets deals, high yield and UK corporate issuances. It is also a key adviser to trustees on bond offerings and has a broad practice that can advise on UK, US and European securities law from London. US securities partner Carter Brod, head of international finance Bruce Johnston and partner Timothy Corbett are all recommended. In a flagship deal, Brod advised the Republic of Suriname on a $550m Eurobond offering, which represented the first-ever international securities offering in the country’s history. Brod and Johnston acted for Citibank as GDR depositary in the IPO of Romanian oil company OMV Petrom, which involved the listing of 144a/Reg S GDRs on the London Stock Exchange. For lead managers Morgan Stanley and HSBC the team advised on $375m Reg S Eurobond for Mexican national electricity company Comisión Federal de Electricidad, which listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and for which the principal investors were based in China.

Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP has ‘one of the leading practices for US private placements’, though it handles a mix of private and public deals from its London office. The firm advises numerous financial institutions on establishing, maintaining and listing debt and equity issuance programmes, as well as standalone debt offerings. The key names in the team are Brian Bates, whose practice covers private debt and equity placements, bank syndications, high yield bonds and LBO financings; Peter Green, who focuses predominantly on structured finance but also assists clients with the establishment of EMTN programmes; Jeremy Jennings-Mares, who regularly advises on equity-linked structured securities, MTN programmes and cross-border debt matters; and Scott Ashton, who is a key player in the firm’s global private placement practice. Highlights included acting as US counsel for Icelandic company LBI on a €2bn exchange offer. The firm also advised Merrill Lynch International on numerous matters relating to the update of Bank of America’s $25bn commercial paper and certificate of deposit programme, and as lead manager on the issuance of JPY110bn in notes from Bank of America’s EMTN programme.

O'Melveny is singled out for the strength of its issuer-side private placement practice. Clients report that ‘the service is great throughout; the team has strong commerciality in addition to providing advice on technical legal points’, and is noted for its track record in private placements, ‘in which it has good resources, a strong team and good coverage’, says one client. The ‘very user-friendly, supportive and incredibly knowledgeable’ Andrew Weiler, who joined from White & Case LLP as head of European M&A and corporate finance, is recognised as one of Europe’s leading issuer-side advisers in the cross-border private placement market; clients describe him as ‘efficient, responsive and a pleasure to work with, and clearly an expert on his subject matter’. Associate Amy Cheung is ‘excellent throughout the deal process, always available at short notice and very good at explaining complex US deals in plain English’. Highlights for the practice included advising Goshawk Aviation on its $231m debut private placement deal and acting for Severn Trent Water on a $471m deal placed with US investors.

Offering ‘an optimal blend of access to partners and competitive fees’ according to clients Pinsent Masons LLP handles a broad range of DCM matters, but its key areas of focus are on bond finance for projects, education and social housing. The firm is a longstanding adviser to UK clearing banks and also represents institutional investors on large-scale privately placed bond issues, particularly in relation to UK-based issuers raising money in the US private placement market. Head of capital markets Edward Sunderland handles EMTN programmes, private placements, listed bonds and commercial paper financings. Other key figures include Michael Watson, who leads the project bonds practice, Stephen Tobin, who focuses on energy and infrastructure finance, Apicksha Patel, who has ‘first-class technical knowledge and provides excellent support through challenging negotiations’, Grace Hui, who leads on matters for bond trustees, and counsel Sharon Smith, who has 18 years’ experience and regularly handles wholesale and retail bonds. The firm advised HSBC Bank and Bank of New York Mellon Corporate Trustee services on a £370m index-linked bond issue by Aberdeen City Council.


Derivatives and structured products

Index of tables

  1. Derivatives and structured products
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Next generation lawyers

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Allen & Overy LLP is ‘one of the very top firms for knowledge, experience and service’ and it has ‘a deep bench that is a tier above nearly all of its competitors’. Clients remark that the team is ‘plugged into central banks, regulators and all market movements’. The firm is known for its innovative structured finance work and the ability to ‘basically lead the global market from London’ on key issues such as regulation. A prime example is its work on the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) Working Group on Margin Requirements (WGMR) project, which addresses new margin rules for uncleared trades. The firm led that group and is now advising many clients on the implementation of the new rules using its MarginMatrix digital derivatives compliance system. Emma Dwyer, David Wakeling, Guy Antrobus and newly promoted partner Tom Roberts played key roles in the project. There are thirteen derivatives and structured finance partners in the London team, which is led by Tony Drake-Brockman whose practice encompasses all types of structured products and funded derivatives, including credit-linked, equity-linked and commodity-linked securities. Parya Badie plays a key role in the firm’s strategic equity group and advises on structured credit and equity derivatives, insurance capital markets cross-over products such as longevity transactions, and regulatory capital trades; David Benton is ‘excellent, truly one of a kind’, particularly in the credit derivatives space; Paul Cluley advises on structured repo and securities lending, as well as contentious derivatives matters; Richard Tredgett is ‘pragmatic, imaginative and very earthy in his approach’ to regulatory matters; Franz Ranero is active in the CLO market, where the firm has had ‘significant success’; Andrew Sulston advises on equity-linked, fund-linked, credit-linked and forex products for both institutional and retail markets; Daniel Shurman specializes in equity financings and advised Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan on Vodafone’s £1.88bn convertible bond issue; and David Wainer is known for innovative repackaging structures.

The team at Clifford Chance LLP is ‘very responsive, has a good overview of the market and produces excellent documentation, which comes with good value for money and high quality of service’. One clients remarks that it is ‘one of the leading firms for bespoke transactions, thought leadership and document remediation in light of new regulations’. The practice advises on all types of transactional derivatives across multiple asset classes including commodity, equity, credit and interest rates, and collateral and financing structures. It also advises major financial institutions on structured product issuance programmes, including listings and prospectus approvals in all markets. On the retail side, it covers the full range of structured notes, warrants, certificates, funds, market access products, repackagings, OTC derivatives, proprietary indices, insurance products and structured deposits. The firm continues to act as European regulatory counsel for ISDA. Retail and insurance product expert Andrew Coats and Asia-Pacific specialist Paget Dare Bryan are co-heads of the London practice, while the vastly experienced Habib Motani leads the global team. The firm is ‘by far the dominant player in the niche market of balance sheet CLOs, the best firm in this space’ thanks to the ‘clear-thinking, commercial and pragmatic’ Jessica Littlewood and newly promoted Timothy Cleary. Anne Drakeford advises on a broad range of products including OTC fixed income and equity-based derivatives, asset-backed securities, credit and equity-linked notes and synthetic CDOs. Emerging markets and structured credit expert Matthew Grigg, Jeremy Walter and senior associate William Winterton, who advises buy-side and sell-side clients on OTC and exchange-traded derivatives, are also recommended. The team advised arranging banks on the Project Orion €186m synthetic securitisation of a portfolio of corporate loans for an Irish bank. Its clients include HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Linklaters LLP has ‘the best practice in the market and provides the highest level of service’, according to one client who sees the firm as ‘the first port of call for complex, innovative and cross-border deals’. The firm provides ‘the highest possible level of service, fast response times and best-in-class industry knowledge, and has the best business acumen and industry knowledge in the market’. Head of the dervatives team Vinay Samani is ‘one of the most trusted and reliable lawyers in the City; he understands how the market works and what his clients need’, says a client who praises his ‘relaxed and sensible manner’. Also recommended are global head of capital markets Michael Voisin; Deepak Sitlani who is ‘the very best in a very strong team’ and has ‘commercial savvy and deep legal analytical skills’; Paul Lewis who is ‘one of the very best in the market – very bright, very commercial and certainly a person to reach out to on the most complicated and innovative deals’; derivatives specialist Simon Firth; Matthew Monahan who ‘goes above and beyond to make himself available, has a phenomenal work rate and will close a deal even when the odds are stacked against him’; longevity swap expert and ‘universally respected market leader’ David Phillips; key adviser to leading investment banks Toby Gray; and Mark Brown who is ‘a lawyer’s lawyer, hugely experienced and has broad knowledge and attention to detail that make him ideally suited to work on the practical implications of regulatory reform’. Newly promoted Mark Drury is ‘a young partner doing well to find his niche – highly commercial, responsive and flexible’. The team acted for Credit Suisse International in the establishment of the first single-issuer, multi-dealer repackaging programme, and advised ISDA on the industry-wide implementation of initial margin requirements.

Simmons & Simmons ‘has a strong pool of knowledge in the repack business’, says one client who notes that the ‘responsive, commercial and incredibly competitive team gives due thought and attention to all aspects of a new project’. Clients also note that the firm has the ‘breadth and depth to be considered among the market leaders’ and is ‘a clear winner on its combination of experience, quality and costs’. The firm has outstanding depth and breadth in its team, which allows it to have a significant role in market-leading developments such as the establishment of a market standard multi-dealer repackaging platform, on which it advised leading banks including Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley; Sean Bulmer, who ‘provides strong direction and co-ordination on projects, which proceed surprisingly smoothly’, led on the project. Head of capital markets David Roylance is highly regarded for his knowledge of credit derivatives and structured credit products, and advises both arrangers and investors on repackagings, structured notes, synthetic securitisations, total return swaps, repos and securities lending. Craig Bisson is ‘practical and helpful and makes a real effort to get to know his clients’, and is a key adviser to asset managers on derivatives, securities financing and regulation. Paul Browne excels in structured equity-linked and structured fund-linked transactions and is ‘making a huge effort – and succeeding – to get market share’. Clients ‘highly recommend’ Alan Davies and ‘very friendly, pragmatic’ rising star David Toole, who was promoted to partner in 2016. Davies advised Credit Suisse on structured finance components of the $800m notes offering by Demeter Investments. John Davies advises numerous issuers and trustees, Allan Yip is a recognised derivatives specialist, and Michael Dodson relocated to the Bristol office to lead the capital markets team there. Rosali Pretorius, who joined from Dentons, has outstanding experience in financial markets regulation which includes a strong focus on derivatives markets.

Ashurst has ‘partners with strong technical knowledge who are present on deals, which is not the case with every firm’. The firm is a leading provider of advice on structured products platforms and it has a quality client base that includes Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs. The firm also has a prominent asset repackaging practice, recognised strength in all derivatives asset classes, and an in-depth understanding of the changing regulatory environment for derivatives and structured products. Michael Logie leads the team and is ‘strong on structured products’, and recently advised global investment banks on the Consumer Rights Act and its impact on contract terms under their structured products and repackaging programmes. James Coiley and Jonathan Haines, who focuses on OTC derivatives and advises the leading dealers in the market, are ‘key partners in the structured finance space’. Derivatives specialist Adair Gordon-Orr ‘has a very calm approach but good knowledge across a range of transactions and a commercial approach that ensures negotiations do not become too protracted’. Gordon-Orr is a key adviser to major banks o complex asset finance transactions and bespoke credit and market risk transfer matters. Partner Jasmine Tiw, counsel Kerion Ball and counsel James Knight are also recommended. Haines, Ball and Knight played lead roles in a large team that advised Deutsche Bank on the global implementation of margin rules for uncleared OTC derivatives.

CMS has a diverse practice that acts for an impressive client base across the full range of derivatives and structured products. In the longevity risk market, it acts for clients such as Abbey Life Insurance, Deutsche Bank and Swiss Re. In the retail products space, the practice is advising the likes of Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan on retail structured products including notes, warrants and certificates, and advises those same banks on credit derivatives and is also a preferred choice for buy-side and sell-side clients for advice on equity derivatives. Will Dibble acts for investment and retail banks and corporates on derivatives and structured products including wholesale and retail structured product offerings such as credit, equity, fund, commodity and forex-linked products. Jason Brooks advises on credit derivatives and equity derivatives, as well as structured financial products including repos and securities lending transactions. Michael Cavers is an expert on retail products, equity and fund-linked derivative transactions, loan-linked hedging and credit-linked notes. Jason Harding and insurance sector specialist James Parker are also recommended. Mike Munro who is co-head of the firm’s life, pensions and longevity risk team, along with Parker, advised Pension Insurance Company on a £1.1bn longevity swap. The recent merger with Olswang brought in a team that is ‘excellent and really knows its stuff’. Charles Kerrigan is ‘on the ball’ and specialises in real estate and technology sector deals for domestic and international lenders, investors and funds. Ruth Marken ‘combines technical legal expertise with robust commercial understanding’ and acts for lenders, large corporates and funds on technology finance and derivatives. Anne Chitan is also recommended.

Fieldfisher is ‘superb, the partner-led responses are Magic Circle quality without Magic Circle pricing’. The firm has a solid reputation for advising institutional asset managers and is a leading player in the UK prime brokerage market. It has also become a key adviser to long-established hedge funds. Along with its expertise in securities financing transactions and its activity in emerging markets these qualities have made it ‘a well-kept secret in the London derivatives market’. In 2016, it took made a highly innovative move with the launch of Condor ALS, which is designed specifically for the financial services market and offers low-cost solutions for large derivatives and financial markets documentation projects, fixed-price trading documentation negotiation, and data extraction and analytics services. Group head Guy Usher and Luke Whitmore (who is ‘a fantastic lawyer – commercial, pragmatic and responsive’) developed Condor and Chris Georgiou, formerly a partner at Ashurst, came out of retirement to become its CEO. Another key addition to the financial markets and products group was Stephen Moller from K&L Gates LLP, who specialises in structured finance, supply chain finance and securitisation. Dougall Molson, who joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, added further derivatives and structured finance expertise. Edward Miller, Emma Spiers and regulatory specialist Azad Ali are also key members of the team. The firm’s highlights included advising Citibank on the restructuring and novation of finance-linked swaps with a total notional value of £580m as part of a refinancing of London Gateway Port's debt.

At Hogan Lovells International LLP ‘the service is excellent on complex deals that need specialised expertise and legal opinion’. The firm is sought after for its understanding of transactional matters and its knowledge of the changing regulatory environment. Its diverse client base includes leading investment banks such as BNP Paribas and Société Générale as well as development finance institutions such as African Export–Import Bank. The ‘diligent, konwledgeable and tenacious’ James Doyle leads the nine-partner international debt capital markets team and is ‘a great man to have on your side - technically excellent, commercial and reactive’. Structured finance veteran and deputy CEO of the firm David Hudd is ‘incredibly responsive and you always feel that he really cares about the client’. Kit Johnson is a specialist adviser to corporate finance trustees across the full range of capital markets and structured finance products. Clients also praise counsel Neil Kurzon who is ‘always available and knows clients’ securities programmes as well as they do’. The firm’s highlight deals included Doyle’s advice to Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on its structured €50bn EMTN and certificates programme, as well as the establishment of a new warrants programme. He also handled the derivatives aspects of Merkur Offshore’s financing of a €1.6bn offshore wind farm. For BNP Paribas, Hudd acted in the annual update of its €20bn secured structured products programme SecurAsset, under which he also advised on substantial drawdowns.

Mayer Brown International LLP ‘has an excellent team and the quality of its work is consistently good’ says one client, who notes that ‘the firm has not only significant scale and genuine cross-discipline expertise, but also a mindset that builds relationships and a commitment to giving high-quality advice’. Another client views the firm as ‘the very best at what they do if you are willing to look outside the Magic Circle’. Its London team works closely with the firm’s offices in New York, Europe and Hong Kong, which have strong derivatives capability, to provide a global service to clients. The firm has a strong buy-side client base that includes hedge funds, asset managers, pension funds, insurance companies and multinational corporations, and it regularly acts for industry body ISDA. A highlight from 2016 was its work as advocate for banks including BNP Paribas, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase in an external review process by members of ISDA’s credit derivatives determinations committee. On the transactional side, it acted for Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi in novel hedging arrangements for a €500m covered bond issue. Global head of derivatives and structured products and head of banking and finance in London Ed Parker is ‘professional and incredibly knowledgeable in derivatives and regulatory services, as well as pragmatic, approachable and very straightforward’. Clients also recommend US and English-qualified Chris Arnold who regularly advises the world’s leading investment banks on complex derivatives matters and high-profile industry initiatives. Counsels Marcin Perzanowski and Nanak Keswani are also recommended for their in-depth knowledge of structured finance.

Norton Rose Fulbright is known for ‘good response times, a good understanding of the products and reasonable pricing’. It is ‘clearly one of the top firms for derivatives in the UK’, according to one client. It has a broad-based structured finance practice that acts for the world’s leading investment banks on cross-border deals, often with an emerging markets element. Derivatives and structured finance expert Daniel Franks ‘has excellent technical skills and very good product knowledge’. He regularly acts for investment banks such as HSBC and Commerzbank in relation to derivatives, repos, stock lending, collateral, set-off, netting, structured products and regulatory capital transactions. The highly experienced Nigel Dickinson focuses on OTC derivatives, structured products and structured finance transactions for clients such as Citibank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Jonathan Herbst and Hannah Meakin provide market-leading support on regulatory matters. Sandrine Sauvel and David Shearer focus predominantly on securitisation but also handle a broader palette of structured finance matters. A key deal saw Dickinson and Franks advise a large group of global investment banks on a syndicated repurchase transaction that involved a $2bn loan to the Central Bank of Egypt, which then transferred $4bn of collateral to the banks in the form of sovereign bonds issued by the Arab Republic of Egypt in a landmark repo trade for the country. Another significant repo transaction saw the team advised Merrill Lynch International on a €200m notes issuance by an Irish SPV and a reverse repurchase between the two parties. The team also acted for the asset swap trading desk of a leading investment bank on the provision of swaps to Arbour CLO IV Designated Activity Company.

Shearman & Sterling LLP is known for having a partner-led approach to providing English and New York law advice on complex and bespoke structured finance products from its London office. Its client base includes many FTSE100 and Fortune 500 companies and it has notable expertise in equity financing transactions involving equity derivatives and margin loans for both lenders and borrowers. Patrick Clancy is head of the firm’s UK derivatives group and James Duncan is a key partner in the practice. Both focus on a broad range of derivatives and structured finance matters. Leona McManus was promoted to counsel but Ian Harvey-Samuel retired from the firm and subsequently started his own consultancy business. A key deal for the team saw it act for main creditor ABSA Bank and a further group of creditors including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs on the capital restructuring of South Africa non-food retailer Edcon, which involved a debt for equity swap for existing term lenders and noteholders and a conversion of English and South African law governed debt to New York law senior secured holdco bonds. Duncan also advised the providers of hedging including K-Sure and Natixis on the debt financing of the Bahrain LNG regasification terminal project, which involved negotiating new and bespoke hedging provisions in the senior finance documents to cater for both ECA and bank lender involvement. The firm also counts Ardagh Packaging, ICE Clear Europe and UBS among its clients.

Sidley Austin LLP is ‘consistently outstanding compared to the rest of the industry’, according to one client, and ‘is very experienced in dealing with other law firms and ensuring that its clients’ points are considered’. ‘The advice is invariably spot on and the firm has some of the top experts in derivatives and structured products who are extremely prompt in their responses and are able to offer solutions that are outside the box’, says another. Matthew Dening (who is ‘a true expert in this area of law, a pleasant person who can explain very difficult matters clearly’) and John McGrath are ‘both outstanding, always providing technically sound but pragmatic advice that looks beyond the black letter of the law, and tenacious in unravelling complex legacy transactions’. Clients also describe CLO specialist Rupert Wall as ‘a valued adviser who, as well as being hugely bright and intellectual, combines this quite uniquely with an ability to listen carefully to often complex commercial dynamics’. Versatile partners Jason Richardson and Nick Brittain are also recommended. The firm advised Cairn Capital on estsablishing a commercial mortgage debt repackaging programme and on the repackaging of €27.9m in Class A notes. For Fondazione Enasarco the firm advised on matters arising from a defaulted €780m structured product arranged by Lehman Brothers, and for Zenith and its private equity owner Hg Capital the team handled a £400m structured financing as part of the sale of Zenith to Bridgepoint.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP has ‘a practice that is firmly focused on client relationships and is a prominent player in the CLO space’. In the European CLO market, it is the leading counsel to asset managers and is sole counsel to the two biggest global managers Blackstone/GSO and Carlyle. Its structured finance practice extends beyond CLOs and the London team has also been busy with structured regulatory capital investments trades for banks. On the derivatives side, it also handles total return swap structures; currency and interest rate hedging for structured finance vehicles, corporates and banks; and the restructuring of large investment instruments. The team advised Barclays as the lead swap counterparty on the complex £2bn GHG securitisation restructuring, in which the swaps restructuring helped the client to avoid a £635m mark-to-market hedge liability. Jacky Kelly leads the team in London and is best known for her securitisation work, but she has 20 years’ experience across a range of derivatives and structured finance work. She advised Blackstone/GSO on three new CLOs in 2016 with a combined total value of €1.77bn. Brian Maher acted for Apollo Management International as collateral manager on a refinancing of the €337m ALME Loan Funding II CLO. Kelly and counsel Thomas Falkus are advising the US Lehman Brothers Estate on the realisation of its multibillion-dollar international portfolio of structured products and derivatives transactions. Consultant Steven Ong assisted corporate and fund clients including Estée Lauder and Maple Holdings, as well as structured finance clients Hertz and Blackstone/GSO, with managing the impact of new regulatory regimes such as EMIR.

White & Case LLP is ‘always on hand with thoughtful advice’. ‘Not only are the lawyers up to speed on industry knowledge and market standards, but they are also proactive in alerting business and legal teams to industry initiatives and trends’, says one client. ‘Very impressive and thoughtful’ head of structured finance Ingrid York, who focuses principally on derivatives, ‘has superb technical skills and is a robust negotiator’ and is ‘definitely the person you want on your side; she pre-empts any questions clients might have’. The firm has a prominent CLO practice, which acts for arrangers and collateral managers such as BNP Paribas, JPMorgan and Aberdeen Asset Management. The derivatives team handles the structuring, development, negotiation, documentation and restructuring of a broad spectrum of complex derivative products for both investment and hedging purposes. Gavin McLean, who was recently promoted to co-general counsel of the firm globally, remains a strong force in guiding the practice. He has acted as arranger counsel on numerous European CLO transactions and has ‘excellent understanding of that market and the changing regulatory environment in which it operates’. The CLO practice was further strengthened with the arrival of partner Chris McGarry from Ropes & Gray LLP. Richard Pogrel has notable expertise in structured bonds. David Barwise, who advises on deals in Asia, and Debashis Dey, who is active in deals in the Middle East, split their time between London and, respectively, Singapore and Dubai. Associate Richard Blackburn, who advises on OTC derivatives and structured products, is ‘responsive and helpful’. The team acted for Crédit Agricole CIB as arranger and stand-by swap provider for a €720m notes issue by Cars Alliance Auto Loans.

Baker McKenzie’s team has ‘a lot of traction in the market and is building a stronger team’. The breadth of the practice’s scope is shown by recent deals that included advising oncomplex hedging arrangements for large, cross-border securitisations and syndicated debt financings; handling esoteric and bespoke structured derivatives deals that included first-of-a kind structures; and helping clients to implement new regulations in areas such as clearing and margin for uncleared derivatives. The team acts for a diverse client base that includes international financial institutions, multinational corporates, pension fund trustees and clearinghouses. Simon Porter leads the structured capital markets practice, but within that team new hire Phung Pham from Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP leads on derivatives and structured products. Pham’s workload ranges from bespoke structured equity swaps or repo financings to hedging strategies in asset financings, and he works extensively on emerging markets transactions. Chris Hogan works between the London and Johannesburg offices and leads the firm’s African finance practice. He regularly advises clients in the mining, energy and financial services sectors. The firm advised ING on derivatives aspects of the £400m of Salesforce Tower in London.

At Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, ‘all lawyers respond very quickly and show a high level of knowledge’, says a client who highlights derivatives and structured products team head Tariq Rasheed. The firm is a standout advisor on regulatory reforms including EMIR, CRDIV, SFTR and MiFID II. ‘The partners are very hands-on and very adept at implementation on the regulatory side’ remarks another client. Rasheed regularly advises investment banks, funds and corporates on securitised and OTC derivatives. Clients of the practice include Bank Hapoalim, United Bank of Israel and Bank of East Asia. A key highlight was the provision of advice to Goldman Sachs International’s futures business on the reworking of internal and counterparty documentation to reflect changes in regulation, and the negotiation of derivatives clearing give-up agreements and variation margin support annexes. For Deutsche Bank, Rasheed and associates Iman Roy and Mikhail Kleptsov assisted with complex ISDA and FIA client cleared derivatives documentation and clearing agreements with key buy-side clients.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP is ‘one of the real leaders in the CLO market’ and is ‘one of the firms to go to for new and bespoke deals’. It is the leading counsel to CLO arrangers. The firm acted for a leading bank on the €362m Cairn VII CLO, and is advising CVC on two new CLO management entities structured for compliance with US and European risk retention rules. Its structured finance team has ‘real depth of experience across many asset classes’ and is playing an increasingly large role in new areas of the market such as peer-to-peer lending and alternative finance. CLO specialist David Quirolo is ‘a huge figure in the market’. CLO and derivatives specialist Nick Shiren is a key partner in the practice and his workload included the Bosphorus CLO. Shiren is qualified in the UK, the US and in Australia, and he works closely with regulators and industry bodies such as ISDA. Daniel Tobias frequently acts for arrangers, collateral managers and warehouse finance providers in connection with European CLO 2.0 transactions and loan warehouse facilities. Special counsel Robert Cannon has a broad structured finance and securitisation practice acting for arrangers, originators and asset managers. He also has extensive regulatory experience and significant expertise in insurance-linked securities. Special counsel Claire Puddicombe handles many CLO and repackaging transactions.

Dentons has become a more prominent force in the London structured finance market having invested heavily in building out its capability. Working closely with the firm’s strong structured finance practices in New York, Europe and Asia, the London team acts as a key hub for advising rating agencies, banks and corporates including Investec, Credit Suisse, Hyundai Capital and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Its diverse workload includes acting for emerging markets buy-side financial institution and corporate clients on structured equity and credit transactions. Matthew Sapte regularly advises banks and corporates on derivatives and structured finance matters including credit and equity-linked trades and Islamic finance instruments. Edward Hickman, who is co-head of the team, is recommended for structured products, and Mark Cheney for transactions in the energy, infrastrucrure and project finance space. Peter Voisey, who joined in early 2016 from Clifford Chance LLP focuses largely on securitisation but has a broad structured finance practice. Voisey was joined last year by the former head of Clifford Chance LLP’s CLO practice Martin Sharkey, who ‘has industry-leading product knowledge’.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has ‘an approachable team that always makes itself available to discuss critical issues’. The practice focuses on bespoke, complex and multi-jurisdictional deals for both buy-side and sell-side clients. It also has a reputation for innovation in the structured finance space, an example of which is its development of structures to provide leverage to hedge funds and to facilitate the buy-back of distressed debt, alongside interest rate, forex, equity, and commodity and credit derivatives transactions for financial institutions, funds and corporates. Highly experienced structured finance partner Dina Albagli leads the derivatives practice, in which Jake Jackaman handles a broad range of transactions including repackagings, cash flow CLOs, synthetic CDOs, credit funds, securitisations and portfolio credit default swaps. Newly promoted derivatives partner Nick May is ‘an excellent adviser – concise, timely, adaptive and commercial; he consistently delivers reliable, well thought out advice’. In a flagship transaction, Jackaman advised Tideway on the development and financing of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, which included the issuance of structured bonds. He also advised arranger Cohen & Company Financial Limited on amendments to a €500m receivables-backed funding programme.

The team at Latham & Watkins ‘always answers fast and has a very good understanding of the structuring of transactions, which means it can always propose valuable solutions’. Clients praise the firm’s ‘seamless, comprehensive global service and the high quality of its finance practice’. The firm has an impressive client base for structured finance that includes Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, as well as some of the world’s largest private equity houses. Its work includes highly complex and innovative deals such as the €8bn forex forward derivatives hedging transaction that for Air Liquide; corporate partner Thomas Vogel, who works between London and Paris and is ‘business-oriented and can easily discuss with lawyers and finance people to find a solution’, led the deal. The key lawyers in London are Dean Naumowicz, who is widely regarded as a leading light in his field and who last year handled complex margin loan deals for a European bank last year, and new hire Sanjev Warna-kula-suriya, who joined from Slaughter and May as co-chair of the global structured finance and securitisation practice. He advises buy-side clients and banks on global deals involving OTC and exchange-traded derivatives. Counsel Shatha Ali is recommended for advice on transactional and regulatory advice relating to derivatives.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s London-based structured finance, securitisation and derivatives team has one of the leading practice for CLOs, on which it advises managers including PGIM, BlueMountain, KKR and Bain Credit. The firm also has a strong derivatives and hedging practice that handles large and complex transactions in areas such as credit derivatives for some of the world’s leading investment banks. Practice head James Warbey is widely regarded as a leader in the European CLO market and he frequently advises on market-leading and first-of-a-kind CLO transactions. Warbey acted for credit manager KKR Credit Advisors in a large CLO, and for PGIM he advised on a €450m European CLO issued from its Dryden platform. A key highlight for the team was its work for BlueMountain Fuji Management in its capacity as collateral manager and retention note holder on the structuring of a new global CLO issuance platform, which is one of the first to comply with both US and European risk retention rules. John Goldfinch took the lead on that transaction and acted for Bain Credit on also €400m Newhaven II CLO, which was the first euro-denominated CLO to close in 2016; he also acted for Cairn Loan Investments on a €351m CLO.

Reed Smith LLP ‘provides a personalised approach and is willing to find solutions to any problem’. The firm handles significant transactional work for clients such as Investec and Deutsche Bank, and is also a good source of advice on regulatory matters both in Europe and the US. It is also a lead advisor to many trustees on major deals. Tamara Box, who is the firm’s managing partner for Europe & Middle East, leads the structured finance team and has more than 20 years’ experience in derivatives and structured finance. Nick Stainthorpe ‘has huge experience in structured finance and is able to find effective solutions’. He advises on a broad range of derivatives including interest rate and forex hedging for corporates and funds, credit derivatives, equity derivatives, total return swaps, credit-linked notes and other structured securities. Claude Brown has more than 30 years’ experience as a lawyer and banker, and his experience includes credit, forex, equity and commodity derivatives, and structured finance. James Fisher regularly advises corporate trustees on complex derivative transactions. A highlight was Stainthorpe’s work for Carlyle Investment Management LLC on the €500m long-term foreign exchange hedging of a private equity fund. He also advised Deutsche Bank as issuer of credit-linked notes.

Slaughter and May’s team advises on standalone derivatives transactions including the full range of interest rate, forex, equity, bond, index-linked, inflation, energy, commodity and longevity products as well as total return swaps, repos and stock loans. Many of its deals involve equity derivatives, including total return swaps in relation to equity securities. The majority of its work, however, is in the context of large securitisations. Senior structured finance partner Sanjev Warna-kula-suriya joined Latham & Watkins, so the key partner in the team is now Guy O’Keefe, who mainly handles securitisation but whose practice includes a broader palette of structured finance matters. Newly promoted Oliver Wicker who is ‘extremely bright and easy to work with’, plays a key role in advising clients on derivatives and structured finance transactions, many of which are driven by the deleveraging of banks in Europe. Ed Fife handles secured lending and derivatives transactions for leading investment banks and blue-chip corporate clients. Also recommended are Richard Jones and Azadeh Nassiri who, like all partners in the firm’s finance practice, cover a wide range of capital markets and structured finance transactions. The firm is best known for its buy-side practice advising corporates such as Marks &Spencer and United Utilities, but it is also active for banks including Nordea Bank and insurance companies such as Swiss Re.

Travers Smith LLP is ‘an excellent firm that impresses with its ability to concentrate on what is important and not allow deals to be sidetracked’. The firm focuses on buy-side clients including investment managers, pensions schemes, funds, private equity houses, challenger banks and corporates. Clients praise the ‘hard work and dedication’ of Peter Hughes and Jonathan Gilmour who ‘show great attention to detail and have the ability to explain complex issues in a very clear way to the layperson’. Gilmour and consultant David St. Clare Nelson, who specialises in secondary markets trading documents and general banking matters, advised Brown Brothers Harrison on a project to put in place new securities lending arrangements for its $54bn assets under management with 17 banks including Barclays, BNP Paribas and Citigroup. The firm’s other highlights included advising the trustees of Guilbert UK Retirement Benefits Plan on an innovative finance structure and security package as part of the sale of its European operations by Office Depot to Aurelius; and acting for Associated British Foods Pension Scheme in the implementation of a new equity derivatives overlay mandate with BlackRock.

DLA Piper has a team of experienced partners with broad finance practices that include specialist expertise in structured finance. Martin Bartlam is international group head of finance and projects, in which sits the financial markets team that Mark Dwyer leads. Bartlam, who has in-house experience from his time as head of structured products at Calyon in London, advises on international structured deals for arrangers, issuers, investors, sponsors, originators, monolines, credit rating agencies, trustees and servicers. Bartlam recently advised a UK-based multinational bank on the rollout of a bespoke hedging service for its external customers. Dwyer has more than 20 years’ experience in the structured finance and debt capital markets space, and he regularly advises clients from a range of sectors including banking and financial services, private equity, real estate, retail, food and pharmaceuticals. His recent work includes advising an Asian insurance company on cross-border swaps, and a Chinese clothing company on various derivatives matters. Vincent Keaveny is international co-chair of the financial services sector group and has advised banks, financial institutions and corporate clients in the UK and overseas on derivatives, structured finance, securitisation and debt capital markets transactions for more than 20 years. He recently advised a European bank on the annual update of its structured note programme. John Delamere is also recommended.

At Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, ‘the overall service is good, timely and very knowledgeable’. The firm is best known for its representation of buy-side clients, though it has continued to expand its sell-side client relationships. Head of the UK derivatives practice Jonathan Master advises numerous asset managers, banks and corporates on derivatives transactions and regulatory compliance. The ‘incredibly helpful’ Richard Batchelor works closely with new hire Hugo Laing, who joined as a partner from Clifford Chance LLP and who acts for insurers on corporate transactional matters such as longevity transactions that include derivatives and collateral matters relating to pension scheme liabilities. Associate Paul Denham is ‘extremely helpful’ and played a key role in helping the Co-operative Bank with an assessment of the enforceability of netting and collateral arrangements in relation to its multi-jurisdictional derivatives portfolio. The firm acted for acted for a range of clients including Sainsbury’s Pension Scheme, Nomura and Liverpool Victoria on updates to trading documentation to ensure compliance with the new rules on variation margin under EMIR.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has a reputation for innovative structured finance deals. The team is smaller since Simeon Rudin retired and Dougall Molson joined Fieldfisher, but the firm still has a strong bench of structured finance experts. James Grand focuses on derivatives and structured products including pre-contentious issues relating to large-scale closeouts of derivative, loan and securities portfolios and restructurings of structured products. He advised international alternative investment manager Investcorp Credit Management EU Limited on European CLO 2.0 deals, including one offering that was upsized to €413m due to investor demand. The deal exemplifies the strength of the firm’s fully integrated CLO and funds offering in London and New York. Grand also advises numerous financial institutions on bespoke structured credit transactions, including CVA hedging, balance sheet risk transfers and CLOs. Richard Hart has a broad practice that encompasses derivatives, structured products and commodities. He acts for financial institutions, corporates and investors, investment managers and sovereign entities on complex structured equity transactions.

‘The quality and level of service is oustanding’ says a long-standing client of the team at Jones Day. The practice represents a broad range of clients in bespoke and complex structured financings including securitisations and the full range of derivatives products. Edward Nalbantian, whose practice includes both debt capital markets financings and OTC derivatives trades, is ‘extremely good, a fast thinking lawyer who anticipates clients thoughts and intentions faster than his peers’. One client remarks that ‘he has the internal authority to put together a committed team very quickly across the firm’s network’. He assisted Société Générale with the preparation of English law margin collateral security documentation, and also advised Veolia Environnement as vendor loan creditor in the restructuring of Harkland shipping group, which included the termination of structured hedging arrangements. Amy Kho, who regularly acts for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has significant experience in structured finance and OTC derivatives trades including CLOs. Neil Hamilton has a strong CLO practice and also advises arrangers, originators, derivative counterparties, credit support providers, and rating agencies on structured finance transactions. Drew Salvest’s international capital markets practice includes structured finance deals alongside securitisations and debt capital markets offerings.

Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP provides ‘good value for money and timely advice that enables clients to meet internal and regulatory deadlines’. The strength of the firm’s presence in the US gives it a strong transatlantic offering for advice on regulatory compliance, transactions and documentation for futures, cleared and uncleared swaps and structured products. The firm has a highly diverse client base that encompasses broker-dealers, hedge funds, proprietary traders, pension funds, clearinghouses, exchanges, alternative investment managers and CFTC-regulatred swaps dealers. Buy-side adviser David Brennand leads the practice in which Carolyn Jackson has ‘outstanding technical knowledge and can communicate complex concepts in a clear, concise and effective manner to an audience with diverse knowledge and experience’. Nathaniel Lalone and Neil Robson are recommended for their advice on regulatory matters. The Futures Industry Association retained Lalone to advise on cross-border initiatives including legal due diligence to help US futures commission merchants to meet new indirect clearing requirements under MiFIR. The firm also counts LCH.Clearnet, Nasdaq and Karya Capital Management among its clients.

Macfarlanes LLP ‘has an excellent team’ and clients praise Christopher Acton who advises buy-side clients including hedge funds, managed account platforms and proprietary trading houses on prime brokerage, derivatives and regulation in Europe. He advised Hayfin Capital Management LLP on a €110m sale of a portfolio of Spanish loans to Santander. The firm is regarded as a leading buy-side boutique that provides high-quality advice to fund clients on prime brokerage, derivatives, repos, clearing and debt trading. The small structured finance team advises on sophisticated and complex transactions, many of which involve fund-based structures. Will Sykes acts for investment and hedge funds, banks, high-net-worth individuals and corporates in a wide range of derivatives and structured products transactions. Richard Fletcher provides structured finance advice to financial institutions, corporates, fund managers, investors, servicers and trustees.

At Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP, ‘the level of responsiveness is extremely high and the team works diligently, often going above and beyond the call of duty to provide thoughtful and thorough advice’. The practice handles all aspects of the sale and trading of derivatives and commodities and regularly acts in public and private offerings of equity, commodity and credit-linked products. The firm is also a prominent adviser on the use of derivatives as principal protection products in fund-of-funds transactions. Its client base includes the derivatives, commodities and structured products groups at investment and commercial banks, commodity dealers and producers, insurance companies, mutual funds, hedge funds and public corporations. Peter Green focuses on structured credit, structured products and derivatives transactions for banks, issuers and investors. Jeremy Jennings-Mares is ‘knowledgeable and responsive, especially on EU regulatory matters’ and he has notable expertise in OTC derivatives, structured securities and CLOs. The firm’s clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Bank of Nova Scotia.

Senior associate Karen Stretch leads on derivatives in the London office of Paul Hastings LLP. The firm represent a wide range of clients including investment managers, corporates and banks on all types of derivatives matters ranging from stand-alone ISDA schedules and exotic bespoke transactions to structured finance and credit agreement set-ups. Michael Smith, who joined from Ashurst with Diala Minott and Cameron Saylor, has a broad practice that encompasses structured finance, securitisation, capital markets, credit funds and derivatives. All three have significantly boosted the firm’s presence in the CLO market. Their recently closed deals include Euro-Galaxy V BV, in which they acted for manager Pinebridge, and Jubilee CLO 2014-XII BV, on which they advised Morgan Stanley as arranger. Christian Parker specialises in non-real estate structured finance, including the repackaging of financial assets, equity- and fund-linked products. Lorenza Talpo’s practice focuses mainly on securitisation, but she has notable expertise in derivatives that includes the structuring and restructuring of total return swaps and interest rate swaps.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP is ‘a small firm playing at the top table’, according to one client who describes ‘an extremely high level of service’. ‘Sophisticated and responsive’ structured finance and securitisation specialist Stuart Axford is highly regarded and forms a pivotal part of the firm’s extended team in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Frankfurt, which represents financial institutions in large and complex matters including restructuring deals, portfolio sales, SIV formation and liquidation. The firm advised UBS on its global bailout, which included novating and restructuring more than $16bn in derivatives. Axford and investment management partner Simon Firth advised start-up prime services provider PrimeXtend on regulatory matters and the drafting of counterparty prime brokerge documents.

Bryan Cave’s structured finance and corporate trust group was a new initiative for the firm in 2015, and it has continued to build on the expertise of Rachel Kelly and Helena Nathanson. Kelly leads the group and has nearly 25 years’ experience in structured finance, securitisation and CLOs. Nathanson leads on corporate trust matters and has more than 15 years’ experience. The firm has solid lawyers in senior associate Kerry Pettigrew and corporate trust associate Lukasz Napieraj. Counsels Marty Rolle, Ed Marlow and Gohar Lputian provide support in receivables financing and structured finance. The firm counts US Bank Global Trustees, Wilmington Trust, Deutsche Trustee Company, and Bank of New York Mellon Corporate Trustee Services among its clients.

Burges Salmon LLP is a Bristol-based firm that has a strong client base for derivatives and structured product matters. It advises FTSE100 corporates, global brands, investment funds and pension fund trustees on complex transactions ranging from structured equity derivatives for retail funds to the negotiation of ISDA Master Agreements, clearing agreements and regulatory advice. The firm is known for providing a cost-efficient alternative to larger London firms in the structured finance space. Graham Soar is highly regarded as a derivatives specialist, though his practice also incorporates debt capital markets and securitisation, and advised FirstGroup plc on a range of derivatives matters including ISDA agreements, credit support arrangements and regulatory matters. He also acted for the trustees of a national charity in the negotiation of investment management documentation, ISDA trading agreements and derivatives clearing arrangements with a series of relationship banks.

Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP splits its banking and finance group, in which the derivatives and structured products team sits, between London and Paris with partners collaborating closely between the two offices. Together they advise on a broad range of deals including repo transactions, securities lending, structured credit derivatives and asset-backed securities. The firm’s advice covers hedging, regulatory compliance, netting and collateralisation, and its client base includes investment banks, corporates, local authorities and national and international industry bodies. Karine Imbrosciano leads the London team and specialises in OTC trades. She has significant expertise in strategic equity derivatives and the hedging of structured finance transactions. Imbrosciano acted for Europcar Group in the restructuring of €1.3bn of notional hedging transactions in the context of the company’s car fleet securitisation. Another highlight was her work for Natixis on the hedging of interest rate risk in relation to the financing of Henderson Park’s acquisition of Hotel Méridien. Dimitrios Logizidis, who is head of the London banking and finance team, is also recommended.


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Allen & Overy LLP has ‘one of the leading finance practices in the City and is active in complex and high-value deals across the globe’. The firm’s growth markets practice is a central pillar of its global business and London has a pivotal role working with teams in its network of offices and through strong local relationships in Africa, the CEE region, the CIS, Ukraine, southeastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and parts of Asia and Latin America. The cross-practice team brings together market-leading expertise in areas such as debt capital markets, bank finance, project finance, corporate transactions, structured finance and private equity. The firm has a very deep bench in London that includes Lorraine Bayliss, who leads the ECA practice is best known for oil and gas, power and trade finance deals in the Middle East and Africa; Philip Bowden, who is co-head of the global banking team; Greg Brown, who handle syndicated loans, leveraged and acquisition finance, telecoms financing and export finance; Andrew Castle, who handles oil and gas projects, particularly in Africa and Turkey; Michael Castle, whose banking and leveraged finance practice sees him advise on deals in Russia and Africa; and Sanjeev Dhuna, who co-chairs the firm’s busy India group. Also recommended are Sachin Davé, Philip Smith and Jamie Durham, who stand out for debt capital markets in the CEE, Turkey and Africa, and Atif Hanif, who is a leading practitioner in Islamic finance and banking deals in the Middle East. The team’s highlights included advising telecommunications company Eaton Towers on its expansion into countries such as Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Niger. The India group advised a consortium of investors led by AION Capital Partners on the leveraged buyout of GE Capital’s Indian non-bank financial services business. The firm is also advising TAP AG, which is the company behind the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, on the development and construction of the €5bn project.

Baker McKenzie has a reputation as a pioneer in emerging markets and its extensive global network gives it a presence on the ground in the majority of the most active growth markets. The team in London advises many UK-based multinational companies on their emerging markets transactions; more than 80% of the work done by the London capital markets team involves emerging markets. The firm has a particularly strong presence in deals involving Russia and Turkey, but London-based partners are also active in deals across the globe. Among the key names in the practice are head of banking Nick Tostivin who focuses on syndicated lending transactions; leveraged acquisition and infrastructure financing specialist Ian Jack; Marc FÚvre, who advises government authorities, developers, lenders and secondary market investors on all aspects of energy and infrastructure transactions; vastly experienced project finance partner Calvin Walker; head of the London structured capital markets group Simon Porter; energy, mining and infrastructure partner Neil Donoghue, who also leads the firm’s nuclear group; and debt specialist Adam Farlow. Phung Pham, who joined from the London office of Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP, handles derivatives and structured finance deals involving emerging markets. One key deal from 2016 saw Donoghue and Walker advise Korea Electric Power Corporation on the $24.4bn financing of the first nuclear power plant in the Arabian Peninsula. Walker and FÚvre also acted for lenders Bayerische Landesbank and Arab African International Bank on the $126m financing of a 50MW solar plant in Egypt. In Morocco, the team advised Office Nationale D'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable on a $2bn project to develop an 850MW wind farm PPP programme.

Clifford Chance LLP fields multi-disciplinary, cross-border teams that provide market-leading expertise in banking, project finance, commodity and trade finance, structured finance, securitisation, derivatives and both debt and equity capital markets. ‘At the top of its game’, the London finance team serves as a hub for much of the emerging markets work done in partnership with local offices in key jurisdictions; the firm’s Africa practice, for instance, sees the teams in London and Casablanca collaborate closely. The firm also has one of the most prominent profiles for work involving India and Latin America, and leverages its Moscow office to play a lead role in deals centred on Russia, the CIS and the CEE, while its Istanbul office allows it to continue building on its strong track record of transactions in Turkey. The firm’s deep bench includes global capital markets head Adrian Cartwright; banking partner Leonard Cleland, who works in the Africa, Turkey and Greece groups; Titus Edjua and energy, natural resources and infrastructure partner Jeremy Connick who are co-heads of the Africa practice; high yield specialists Michael Dakin and Fabio Diminich; debt capital markets expert David Dunnigan; and banking and finance partner Russell Wells, who is a key member of the India team. A key highlight for the practice saw Wells advise members of The World Bank Group on major financings in Ghana, including acting for the International Development Association as provider of a $500m liquidity risk guarantee in support of the offtake obligations of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, and assisting the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development with three debt guarantees with a total value of $200m for the Sankofa Gas Field project. The firm also acts for EBRD, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and HSBC.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has ‘genuine experience in emerging markets and is one of the top firms for finance transactions thanks to its in-depth market knowledge’. It is a leading firm for energy and natural resources projects with a track record of advising blue-chip companies on deals in Russia, the CIS, the Middle East, India, Africa, South America and Eastern Europe. The firm’s outstanding reputation in the energy and natural resources sectors sees it play a leading role in first-of-their kind transactions and highly complex financings. Recent examples include advising trading house Vitol on a $1.65bn financing for its interest in the $7bn OCTP oil and gas project in Ghana. The project is the first successful, large-scale gas-to-power project financing in Africa and is backed by facilities provided by IFC, United Kingdom Export Finance and a commercial banking group including HSBC, Société Générale and ING. The firm is advising the Government of Nepal on negotiations for the development of six large-scale hydroelectric power projects with a potential value of more than $7bn. Head of the London energy, natural resources and infrastructure finance team Martin Kavanagh, who is also global co-head of the firm’s Africa group, led on both the Nepal and Vitol deals. Alexander Currie has more than 20 years’ experience acting on project financings, acquisitions and disposals of energy and natural resource assets, and on restructuring troubled projects in Russia and the CIS, as well as Europe, Middle East and Africa. Structured and leveraged finance specialist Ian Yeo recently advised on transactions in Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and other African states. Debt capital markets partners Amy Geddes and Andrew Roberts, and banking partner Matthew Job are also recommended. John Balsdon moved to Latham & Watkins.

Linklaters LLP is ‘at the front of the pack for emerging markets DCM work’ and is described by one client as ‘first choice for renminbi bonds listed in London’. The firm has a well-established emerging market practice that is often a first port of call for large corporates and financial institutions, and which has a long track record of innovative and challenging deals in key markets. The firm has a global network of offices but London is an essential hub in many transactions, including sovereign debt deals and complex financings. The team often collaborates with partners in Lisbon, Paris and its affiliated firm in Johannesburg to cover matters across the entire Africa continent. It has a strong presence in the CEE and CIS regions through local offices and resident experts in London, and an India group that is known for its in-depth knowledge of cross-border financings. The firm is also a strong presence in Latin America deals, with the London team collaborating with teams in New York and São Paulo, and is highly respected for deals in Turkey, the Middle East and China. Mirthe van Kesteren leads the emerging markets banking and structured trade finance practice in London and is co-head of the firm’s CIS group. The team includes outstanding partners such as Africa group head Andrew Jones; US securities experts Cecil Quillen and Patrick Sheil, who both handle debt and equity transactions; senior partner and mining industry expert Charlie Jacobs; Elaine Keats, whose extensive international capital markets expertise encompasses debt offerings, convertible bonds and MTN programmes; utilities and infrastructure specialist Ian Andrews; head of the CIS group Daniel Tyrer and Toby Grimstone, who focuses on international banking matters, including syndicated loans and secured financings. 2016 highlights included advising lenders such as African Development Bank (AfDB) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) on the $5bn Nacala Corridor project, which comprises a 900km rail and port development in Malawi and Mozambique, and is currently Africa’s largest infrastructure project.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is ‘an outstanding firm for project and corporate finance transactions; the team really takes its time to get to know a client’s business and financial requirements’ and has ‘in-depth knowledge of markets in Africa and the Middle East’. The firm has had one of London’s most prominent emerging markets practices since the 1970s and remains a key player in some of the most challenging finance deals in growth markets. John Dewar is practice co-head and also leads on Islamic finance; clients note that he has ‘a knowledgeable and pragmatic approach, and always gives clients confidence that their points are understood and will be acted upon’. Clive Ransome ‘steers discussions to the place they need to be and guides parties towards a solution’. Matthew Hagopian and Manzer Ijaz have continued to be busy with deals in Africa. Key figures below partner level include senior associate Chris Taufatofua, who ‘has seen almost every kind of transaction and has a calm and reassuring manner’. Senior associate Oliver Irwin ‘is always close to the detail and is able to take a bird’s eye view and come up with extremely satisfactory outcomes’. Senior associate Seyda Duman focuses on projects, energy and infrastructure and is particularly active in deals in Turkey. The firm hired associates Kilian de Cintre from Winston & Strawn London LLP, Jonathan Roberts from Dentons and Robert Thompson from Linklaters LLP, further strengthening its capability in projects work. Flagship deals for the team included advising the Export-Import Bank of Korea (K-Exim) and commercial banks including HSBC on the $24bn financing of the four-unit, 5,600MW Barakah nuclear power plant in Dubai.

At Norton Rose Fulbright ‘the expertise and experience revealed by the team in each transaction is nothing short of amazing’; clients also note that ‘response times are truly incredible and the attorneys are always so responsive, working out sensible solutions to issues at every stage’. Key strengths include trade and Islamic finance, infrastructure, mining, commodities, agribusiness and energy. Working closely with offices in the firm’s extensive global network, the London team delivers a broad and comprehensive service for emerging markets work. Martin McCann is the firm’s global head of business and ‘is very well respected in the market for getting difficult things done’. He specialises in major financing transactions in the infrastructure and natural resource sectors. Charles Whitney handles complex project financings involving both export credit agencies (ECAs) and multilateral financial institutions. Whitney and Middle East and EMEA power projects specialist Chris Down have ‘great knowledge and experience in energy and electricity generation, coupled with an ability to negotiate and settle both project and finance documentation that is truly astounding’. Clients also praise head of the financial institution international business group Chris Brown, projects partner Mark Berry, finance partners Madhavi Gosavi and Daniel Metcalfe, mining and minerals specialist Raj Karia and trade finance expert Nick Grandage, who are all ‘diligent, experienced and hardworking’. The firm’s merger with Chadbourne & Parke added prominent partner Silvia Fazio to the team. She works between London and São Paulo and acts for banks, private equity funds and corporates on deals involving Brazil. Among the firm’s numerous highlights was its work for the Ministry of Finance of Angola as borrower on a $4.13bn financing for the development of the Caculo Cabaça hydroelectric station, in which the lender was a syndicate of Chinese banks.

Clients of White & Case LLP’s ‘outstanding’ practice single out its ‘knowledge, tenacity, responsiveness and enthusiasm; all in all it is a pleasure to work with’. The firm is widely regarded as a leader in the emerging markets space, thanks in no small part to its extensive global network and its depth of experience in key areas of finance such as banking and debt capital markets. The London team has particular strength in deals emanating from the CEE and CIS regions, the Middle East and Africa. Global head of capital markets Stuart Matty and US-qualified Melissa Butler are highly regarded for cross-border debt matters and are key figures in emerging markets sovereign debt deals. Their recent highlights include acting for joint lead managers Citibank Global Markets, Merrill Lynch and Standard Chartered Bank on a $750m notes offering by the Republic of Ghana, and assisting dealers including Barclays with a $1bn GMTN programme for Access Bank in Nigeria and a subsequent $183m drawdown. Matty and Butler acted alongside US securities partner Ian Clark for the Republic of Mozambique on its $1.9bn of debt restructuring, which included a sovereign bond and two state-guaranteed loans. Head of EMEA energy, infrastructure, project and asset finance Jason Kerr worked on numerous financings in Africa and the CIS region in 2016. Bank finance specialist Christopher Czarnocki acts for both borrowers and lenders and played a key role in the Mozambique sovereign debt deal. Co-head of the firm’s global oil and gas practice Philip Stopford, who regularly handles deals in the Middle East and Africa, ‘has outstanding knowledge of project finance and the oil and gas sector, where his presence, experience and negotiating skills are very valuable’. He handled a $4.4bn financing for Vale in relation to the Nacala Corridor project in Mozambique.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is ‘definitely a strong name for emerging markets DCM work’. The firm has a broad regional focus but is best known for deals involving Russia and the CIS region. The London practice acts mainly for corporate borrowers raising funds in international debt markets, though its funds and derivatives practices are also involved in hedging transactions and its strong energy practice sees the firm act in project finance deals in the oil and gas, power and mining sectors. Russia specialist and head of the international finance group Robert Aulsebrook is noted for his ‘ability to provide top-quality service on a wide range of financing transactions’. He has a stellar list of clients that includes Lukoil, Alfa Bank, VimpelCom and RusHydro. Debt capital markets partner Lisa Hearn and associate Jonathan Pico ‘are held in high regard and have in-depth knowledge of key markets’. The firm’s key deals from 2016 included acting for Lukoil on a $1bn Rule 144a/Reg S offering of notes, in a deal that represented the company’s first Eurobond and the first such offering by a Russian company since 2014. For VimpelCom, Hearn and Daniel Walsh advised on a $1.2bn dual-tranche offering of bonds listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. Another highlight was a $350m Eurobond for Russian real estate company O1 Properties.

Baker Botts (UK) LLP’s team in London focuses purely on emerging markets work, with a focus on the energy sector; for some it has ‘the pre-eminent LNG practice’. In London, the firm has a deep bench of expert lawyers handling the financing of major projects in the energy and natural resources sectors including practice head Rubin Weston, who is regarded as a leading light for emerging markets oil and gas and infrastructure projects. His recent work includes projects in Kuwait and Venezuela. He also advised Russia’s Gazprombank on the $489m financing of a high-density polyethylene plant and a polypropylene plant constructed by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan. Robin Mizrahi is a leading practitioner for power deals, largely in Africa and the Middle East. He recently advised on a renewable energy project in Jordan and a power project in Kuwait. Stuart McIntyre’s clients include leading Russian banks and global development finance institutions. Hamish McArdle’s highlights included major upstream energy projects. Oil and gas partner Mark Rowley heads the firm’s London office and is the lead partner for Quantum Power on a project for the development of the Tema LNG floating receiving terminal in Ghana. In early 2017, the firm hired the head of King & Wood Mallesons’ EMEA energy, infrastructure and resources team James Douglass. Construction partner Stuart Jordan, who handles significant projects in the Middle East and Africa, joined from the same firm.

For some, Bracewell (UK) LLP has ‘one of the most experienced teams in the market in the energy sector and possibly the best team for oil and gas matters’. The firm’s London office has one of the leading practices for the financing of upstream oil and gas companies. 2016 highlights included advising Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration the $1.75bn project financing of the offshore Leviathan gas field, which was underwritten by JPMorgan and HSBC and which has a $10bn offtake contract with Jordan. The firm has also been heavily involved in some of the largest restructurings in the emerging market oil and gas sector; recent work includes advising Petroceltic in connection with a $500m financing secured against the group’s resources in Egypt, Italy and Bulgaria in the wake of the company’s financial difficulties. The team advised the Carlyle Energy Fund, CVC Capital Partners and Neptune Energy on a $2bn debt facility to support Neptune’s $3.9bn acquisition of a 70% stake in Engie E&P International, which is the largest-ever private equity-backed upstream acquisition in the EMEA region. Jason Fox and Olivia Caddy are the standout partners in a team that counts ENI, Actis, Citibank and BNP Paribas among its clients.

Dentons is best known for its capital markets work in emerging markets, though it also has significant expertise in energy, trade finance and project finance. In a standout matter, the London team advised the Republic of Ghana on a $750m sovereign bond issuance, which was combined with two tender offers for outstanding notes; DCM specialist David Cohen led on that deal. The firm’s capital markets team grew in 2016 with the addition of partner Nick Hayday from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, who advises on debt issuances, equity transactions and Islamic finance matters, and whose experience includes deals in the CEE and Africa; and Cameron Half, formerly counsel at Allen & Overy LLP, who joined as a US securities partner to advise issuers and underwriters on equity and debt offerings, and who has a track record of deals in Russia. Infrastructure partner Dominic Spacie acted for Twebaze Development Limited as the preferred bidder on one of the first PPP projects in Uganda, which involves the construction of new accommodation premises in Kampala. Paul Holland is head of the London banking team and is also a member of the firm’s Islamic finance group. Energy finance expert Tim Pipe is active in deals involving Russia, the CIS and Nigeria. Celia Gardiner is recommended for structured trade and commodity finance. Also recommended are private equity partner Nicholas Plant, senior projects lawyer John Woolley and energy partner Danielle Beggs.

Clients of Hogan Lovells International LLP rate ‘the overall level of service as excellent’. The firm draws on its finance and corporate practices to advise on banking, corporate finance, energy, project finance, equity and debt capital markets transactions. It is a prominent player in India, Africa, Russia, South America and Eastern Europe, where it acts for clients including IFC, EBRD and African Development Bank. DCM partner Andrew Carey and capital markets associate Megan James ‘do an excellent job keeping on top of all the issues; their advice is commercial while also mindful of protecting the client’s position’. Carey and senior associate Jonathan Malim acted for African Export-Import Bank on the annual update of its $3bn EMTN programme, which included a $750m drawdown. Other recommended specialists in the firm’s deep team include export finance partners Andrew Taylor and David Leggott, project finance and infrastructure expert Adrian Walker, private equity specialist Keith Woodhouse, and Richard Tyler, whose practice is dedicated to oil, gas and LNG transactions. Tyler is leading the firm’s international team acting for the Shah Deniz Consortium on a large and complex gas project in Azerbaijan and Turkey. He is also advising the Government of Niger Republic on a $1bn loan facility to support long-term oil sales. The London team also handles financings on behalf of the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund, which in 2016 included a $30m deal to support Ghana Airports Company.

Mayer Brown International LLP provides ‘consistently top-quality service from a strong team with great depth and scope of experience’. The firm is known for handling complex deals in the CEE region, Africa, Turkey and the Middle East, with debt capital markets and structured finance its key strengths. The firm is also a prominent player in the mining sector. Mining partner Ian Coles, infrastructure partner Tom Eldridge and senior associate Danuta de Vries are ‘all very commercial and experienced in the mining sector’. Coles advised Toro Gold on the financing and construction of the Mako gold project in Senegal. Rachel Speight is also a key partner in the mining practice; her recent highlights include advising Standard Chartered Bank, Société Générale, Barclays Africa Group and BNP Paribas as lead arrangers on a five-year loan facility of up to $2.2bn facility for Canadian company First Quantum Minerals Limited, which has seven operating mines and five development projects around the world. Trevor Wood regularly advises on sovereign debt, trade finance, project finance and corporate finance matters in Turkey, and James Taylor handles debt matters including updates to the first global MTN and covered bond programmes set up by Turkish financial institutions. Taylor advised TÃŒrkiye Vakıflar Bankasi on a €500m issuance of residential mortgage-backed covered bonds. The firm’s rising stars include senior associate Doye Balogun.

Shearman & Sterling LLP specialises in complex and high-profile project financing transactions and has built a reputation for first-of-their-kind deals in many growth markets. John Inglis acted for lenders including K-Sure, Standard Chartered Bank, Natixis and ING on a $1bn financing for the development of an LNG receiving and regasification terminal in Bahrain. Inglis, who is deputy head of the firm's EMEA project development and finance group, has more than 25 years’ experience advising lenders, sponsors and other project participants on oil and gas, power and infrastructure development. He is acting for SACE and other lenders on the financing of a modernisation project for an oil refinery in Egypt. The team also advised International Finance Corporation on a $1.7bn corporate financing for Angola LNG. Sanja Udovicic played a key role in that deal and is highly experienced in acting for lenders and sponsors on energy and infrastructure projects. She also acted for Standard Chartered Bank on the $3.4bn financing of the Hassyan clean coal power project in Dubai. Iain Elder is another experienced partner in the project development and finance group; his recent highlights include acting for SMBC on behalf of the lender group backing the $1.15bn development of a combined heat and power facility at the Fadhili Gas Complex in Saudi Arabia. Counsel Paul Simpson, who worked on the Bahrain LNG deal, is also recommended.

Simmons & Simmons has a well-respected practice that acts on both lender and borrower-side deals, and its strong team of partners draws on specialist expertise in banking, projects, capital markets and funds for emerging markets work. The team in London acts for a diverse range of clients including multilateral development banks such as the International Finance Corporation, EBRD and African Finance Corporation (AFC), as well as leading investment banks; funds such as Resource Capital Funds (RCF) and Orion; and corporates such as Mitsubishi Corporation and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Banking partner Omar Al-Ali, energy and infrastructure expert Adam Cooper and LNG projects partner Andrew Petry are all recommended. The firm significantly expanded its capability in London with the hire of Jen Yee Chan from King & Wood Mallesons, who focuses on funds finance and has experience in cross-border deals involving Africa, Kazakhstan, the Middle East, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine; Simon Moore who was general counsel for projects at Mubadala Development Company in Abu Dhabi; and Cindy Valentine, also from King & Wood Mallesons, who handles private equity deals in Africa. Structured capital markets specialist David Toole was promoted to partner and Adrian Nizzola, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the infrastructure sector, returned to London from the Dubai office. Highlights included advising TEPCO on a $3bn water and power project in Qatar; acting for lenders on the project financing of a bulk liquids terminal at Sokhna Port, Egypt; and assisting Orion Fund 1 with debt financing arrangements in relation to copper offtake from Ongopolo’s Tschudi open pit copper mine in Namibia.

Clients of Charles Russell Speechlys LLP are ‘very pleased with the quality of advice, responsiveness and cost’ and note that ‘the lawyers have strong commercial acumen’. They also praise the firm’s ‘strong experience and good connections in local markets, which allows the team to navigate local law issues with ease’. The firm acts on a mix of mid-market and big-ticket deals and is best known for advising on investments in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean, particularly in financial services, retail-sector real estate projects, infrastructure and agribusiness. Its experience covers the full range of debt, equity and property finance transactions for private equity firms, corporates and banks. Adrian Mayer is ‘a consummate relationship partner and is very attentive and commercial in his approach’. Jon Bond is ‘very knowledgeable on the finance side and a tough negotiator who acts in his clients’ best interests’. Corporate partners John Fletcher and Hamish Perry are also recommended. Perry advised The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on a $65m project to select the country’s second mobile network operator. Another highlight saw the firm advise Actis LLP on the disposal of a group structure in Mauritius and Nigeria to Abraaj Group.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is praised for its ‘focus on high-end and complex transactions’, and for its longstanding commitment to emerging markets work, which has helped it to carve out a prominent role in English law transactions in markets such as Russia, the CEE, the Middle East, Africa and India. Its clients include large sovereign wealth funds and state-owned enterprises. The firm’s partners have a multi-disciplinary approach and each advise on a range of finance matters, but many have a specific geographical focus. Tihir Sarkar is the key figure for emerging markets M&A and the London finance team has dedicated Russia specialists in David Gottlieb, Raj Panasar and finance and restructuring expert Polina Lyadnova. Panasar also works on deals involving India along with litigator Sunil Gadhia and senior India consultant Shreya Lal Damodaran. David Billington leads on Africa-related finance matters. 2016 highlights included advising Qatar Investment Authority on its acquisition of a stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft, which was financed by a €5.2bn margin loan from Intesa Sanpaolo and a consortium of Russian lenders. The firm also acted as counsel to the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation in connection with the $1.25bn re-opening of its May issuance of bonds, which were sold to institutional investors.

Dechert LLP’s London emerging markets team advises on the full range of international debt and equity transactions, including large liability management deals. The practice’s English and US law capabilities enables it to play a significant role in both public and private 144a/Reg S issuances including high yield and investment grade bonds, as well as SEC-registered offerings. Its capital markets team handles a range of deals in the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean basin and the CEE and CIS regions. In recent years it has acted in debut bond issues in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Morocco and Oman, with prominent roles for both underwriters and issuers in sovereign bond offerings. In 2016, it acted for the Arab Republic of Egypt on issuances with a total value of $4bn under the country’s global MTN programme, and a private placement of a further $4bn of notes. Camille Abousleiman and US securities partner Patrick Lyons were the key lawyers on both deals. Abousleiman also advised Russian financial institutions VTB Capital and VTBBank on the $3.6bn refinancing of India-based group Essar, which has a diversified portfolio of assets in the energy, steel, ports and telecoms sectors. Another highlight was Lyons’ work for the Central Bank of Tunisia on euro- and dollar-denominated bond issuances.

Latham & Watkins is ‘a first choice for debt deals in the emerging markets space’. The London team is central to the firm’s presence in that market and has a strong track record of deals in Russia and the wider CEE region, though its pipeline of transactions sees it active in a wider range of jurisdictions. Debt specialist Lene Malthasen has extensive experience of in Rule 144a issuances and liability management transactions in Russia, the CIS, the Middle East, Southern Europe and Asia. David Stewart is ‘particularly strongly recommended’; he recently acted in matters in Mozambique, Croatia, Egypt and Ukraine. Counsel Ed Kempson is also recommended. Highlights included acting for the Republic of Mozambique on a landmark exchange offer to holders of loan participation notes due 2020 for notes with longer maturity. The team also assisted dealer managers JP Morgan and VTB Capital with the exchange of $750m in loan participation notes issued by Mobile TeleSystems PJSC. John Balsdon’s arrival from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP added significant oil and gas expertise as well as a track record of significant deals in West Africa.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP has a very active London-based international finance team that advises both borrowers and lenders on complex, multi-jurisdictional deals in emerging markets, including private placements, structured finance, fund finance, and restructurings. Head of international finance Bruce Johnston regularly acts on transactions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa involving acquisition finance, leveraged finance, project finance, trade finance and asset-backed lending. He also plays a role in significant energy and infrastructure deals. Carter Brod is highly regarded for his advice to corporates, banks, governments, investment banks and investors on capital markets transactions including Eurobond issuances, MTN programmes and convertible bonds. Thomas O’Connor and Amanda Jennings are also recommended. In 2016, Brod and Johnston advised investment company China Jianyin Investment on the redemption of €350m in outstanding high yield notes of SGD Pharma in connection with its acquisition of the company. Johnston also advised the Sistema group of companies on a €383m secured facility. O’Connor assisted US insurance companies with financing negotiations concerning the purchase of notes from a Mexican real estate investment company.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP regulary acts for leading investment banks, emerging market private equity funds and strategic investors on transactions in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. The London team is known for its in-depth knowledge of banking law and regulatory regimes in emerging markets. Peter O’Driscoll leads the firm’s emerging markets group and has extensive experience of M&A, private equity and capital markets deals in Africa. Weyinmi Popo is ‘pragmatic and responsive, with a good sense of what the client needs’; he has in-depth experience of markets in Anglophone Africa. Peter Roberts, who leads the firm’s global oil and gas practice, recently acted for Maersk Oil & Gas on projects in western and eastern Africa including the development of the Locichar to Lamu crude oil export pipeline in Kenya. He also advised Tullow Ghana Limited on the sale and transportation of gas from its offshore fields, which involved negotiating first-of-their-kind contracts in Ghana. Also recommended are Anthony Riley, who stands out for deals in the energy and renewable energy sectors, and midstream oil and gas specialist Collin Graham.

Reed Smith LLP has a broad emerging markets finance practice that handles debt and structured finance, among other matters. Clients ‘have nothing but positive things to say’ about ‘professional, personable and committed lawyers’ Ranajoy Basu and senior associate Priya Taneja, who are ‘always timely in their responses and willing to work hard to build new deal structures from the ground up’. Basu advised Bank of India on financing with a total value of $1bn for Videocon Hydrocarbon Holdings. Managing partner for Europe and the Middle East Tamara Box has a track record of novel and cutting-edge capital markets transactions in Europe, Russia, southeast Asia and the Middle East. Litigator Gautam Bhattacharyya leads the firm’s busy India group; Leon Stephenson focuses primarily on corporate banking and finance transactions, particularly leveraged buyouts and acquisitions in the CEE region; Jonathan Solomon’s structured trade and commodity financing practice sees him active in emerging markets transactions; and senior associate Agnes Molnar handles cross-border structured deals, funds financing and non-performing loans transactions. Roy Montague-Jones left the firm. Highlights included acting for trustee Citibank on the $800m bond issuance by Nigerian mobile telecommunications company IHS Netherlands, which was the largest high yield bond issued in Africa.

Trinity International LLP is a niche law firm that specialises in corporate and finance transactions in emerging markets. The boutique practice is ‘very responsive and has strong industry knowledge, as well as good relationship-management skills’. Six partners, five senior legal consultants, four counsels and six associates spend the vast majority of their time on emerging markets deals, largely in the power sector. ‘Excellent finance lawyer’ Simon Norris, Paul Biggs and Kaushik Ray are all ‘flexible and proactive’. Jennifer Gladstone is ‘a phenomenal lawyer and a great project manager who is smart, hardworking and always goes beyond the call of duty’. Fiona Gulliford joined in 2016 from Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP where she led the London project finance practice. The firm’s key deals included advising lead arrangers African Development Bank, Standard Bank of South Africa and Nedbank, as well as lenders including European Investment Bank, on a €425m project to build a 310MW wind farm in Africa. The deal represents the largest single private sector investment in Kenya.

Ashurst has a long list of partners with experience in emerging markets financing and capital markets transactions. Debt and equity capital markets specialist Francis Kucera has wide-ranging expertise in international securities work, with a particular emphasis on financings in Eastern Europe and the CIS region. Corporate partner Sergei Ostrovsky leads the firm’s Russia and CIS practice and advises on debt and equity deals, fundraisings and M&A transactions. Cameron Smith specialises in infrastructure and energy projects in both the UK and emerging markets. He has a particular niche in waste, biomass and tidal projects and a track record of deals in Africa and Asia. Joss Dare is recommended for transport and infrastructure projects including rail, ports, roads, airports, health and education developments in the MENA region and India. Richard Gubbins has more than ten years’ experience in corporate finance deals in India. Global head of utilities David Wadham has advised on projects in the Middle East and North and sub-Saharan Africa, and his practice encompasses gas, coal, oil, solar, wind, tidal and nuclear power projects.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP continues to grow its standing in the energy sector, particularly in the power, renewables, infrastructure and oil and gas sectors. It also has significant expertise in the mining sector, with Alexander Keepin growing that practice’s presence in Africa along with litigator and head of the firm’s Africa group Segun Osuntokun. Deepa Deb heads the India group; his experience covers commercial real estate including office, retail, hotel development and investment acting for domestic and foreign companies, developers, institutions and funds. Head of energy and natural resources Adam Dann, who is also head of finance, handles a steady pipeline of transactional oil and gas sector work in emerging markets. Head of banking Emma Howdle-Fuller is also recommended. Keepin advised a sovereign wealth fund on its $100m subscription as part of a larger fundraising by Kenmare Resources, which operates the Moma titanium minerals mine in Mozambique. He also acted for Ncondezi Energy, which holds a large coal resource in Mozambique, on an agreement with Shanghai Electric Power Company to develop coal-fired power generation capacity in the country’s Tete province.

Bird & Bird LLP remains an active player in finance transactions in the CEE, the CIS and Southeast Europe, and it has expanded its coverage to include deals in North Africa and Asia. The ‘responsive, innovative, sharp, business-oriented and very patient’ Andrew Hallgarth is the lead partner; clients describe him as ‘incredibly knowledgeable, having vast experience across sectors, jurisdictions and financing instruments’. Hallgarth and banking partner Isabel Evans advised Elisa OYJ as lender on the forward funding arrangements for the €151m acquisition of Estonian cable TV operator AS Starman. Evans also advised the Greater Amman Municipality in Jordan on an innovative €102m loan structure provided by the EBRD to fund the development of an eco-friendly city. Another key deal saw the team act for Beechbrook Capital in a €17m investment in a Bulgarian target company.

DLA Piper fields a number of experienced projects partners in London including Charles Morrison, who is a key figure in the energy and infrastructure finance team, and widely regarded as an expert on energy matters, particularly in the oil and gas sector. He recently advised integrated energy company Victoria Oil & Gas on a complex farm-out arrangement with Africa-focused oil and gas exploration group Bowleven in relation to a production-sharing contract for the Bomono Block in Cameroon. Nigel Drew’s broad finance practice includes bank and bond deals for the financing of international infrastructure projects. He has a strong track record of road, rail and airport projects in Africa and Eastern Europe.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s London office has more than 20 years’ experience advising clients investing and operating in India, China, Latin America, Russia and Africa on deals including M&A, joint ventures, private equity investment, direct investment and capital markets transactions. Geoffrey Burgess advises on a range of projects in Africa, India, Russia and the CIS region. He recently acted for Russian airline Aeroflot on the negotiation of an operating lease for six A321 aircraft from Chinese lessor ICBC Leasing. He also acted for CHC Restructurings in various fleet restructuring arrangements with lessors, lenders and manufacturers. The anchor lessor transaction involved 42 helicopters from Milestone and a committed $150m financing facility for additional equipment. Capital markets partner James Scoville has extensive experience in listings on the London Stock Exchange for corporates based in Russia, China and many other emerging markets. Counsel Vera Losonci, who is dual qualified in US and English law, is a recognised expert in both debt and equity transactions involving issuers in Russia and other emerging markets. She regularly advises on IPOs, tender offers, exchange offers and transactions involving depositary receipts.

Fieldfisher has one of the largest teams in London dedicated to Russia and the CIS region, and has an emphasis on transactional and regulatory matters. Its clients range from entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals to international investment banks and large, blue-chip and LSE-listed companies based in the CIS. The firm also advises on deals in Africa and the Middle East. Matt Hinxman is a project and asset finance specialist with a long track record of advising sponsors and lenders on major financings in the energy and natural resources sector across Eastern Europe and Africa. Banking and asset finance partner Andrew Evans leads the firm’s finance team and has a diverse practice that encompasses technology, asset finance, loan and equity bridge deals in emerging markets. Other key figures include Philip Abbott, who has a diverse bank lending practice; Oliver Abel Smith, who handles commodity and trade finance deals; Alex Campbell, whose experience includes hotel development and asset finance transactions; and Nodir Sidikov and head of the CIS group Arik Aslanyan, who handle cross-border corporate and finance matters. The hire of Jayne Backett from Mayer Brown International LLP added significant skills in debt finance, particularly in the real estate sector. Sidikov and Hinxman acted for state-owned oil and gas company LMG Kashagan in a $1bn crude oil prepayment deal.

Michelmores LLP is ‘very commercial and provides hands-on advice with good knowledge of the market and its key players’. The firm, which delivers ‘outstanding value for money and the service often exceeds expectations’, has a growing boutique emerging markets practice that represents a diverse range of clients including state-owned development finance institutions, private equity funds, sponsors, developers and investors. It focuses predominantly on low- to mid-market deals in agribusiness, forestry, financial services, micro-finance, energy, renewables and real estate. Corporate finance specialist Joe Whitfield (who has ‘excellent commercial understanding as well as legal strength and experience’) leads the team. He has more than 20 years’ experience working in emerging markets deals and benefits from his time as general counsel at CDC Group, a development finance institution owned by the UK government that supports the building of businesses throughout Africa and South Asia. Associate Harry Trick (who is ‘responsive, thorough and has the ability to execute efficiently and precisely’) works on debt and equity capital markets deals and private equity investment transactions in emerging markets. The team was strengthened by the recruitment of banking partner Asheesh Das from McGuireWoods London LLP. Highlights included advising charitable foundation Gatsby on establishing Msingi, an East Africa fund to foster growth in high-potential industries.


High yield

Index of tables

  1. High yield
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is ‘really excellent – the team has very good technical knowledge combined with practical and pragmatic advice’. The firm has a longstanding track record of handling precedent-setting deals for issuers and underwriters, and remains ‘a force to be reckoned with in the high yield market’. Philip Boeckman ‘always makes a big difference to what clients are able to achieve and adds real value; he is well regarded by clients and the banks with which they work’. Boeckman, Alyssa Caples and George Stephanakis, co-head of the firm’s EMEA capital markets practice, are all ‘astoundingly good’. The team advised initial purchasers led by JPMorgan on a €471m 144a/Reg S offering of senior secured notes by BiSoho that were used to fund the acquisition of apparel and accessories retail group SMCP. Another highlight saw it act for Credit Suisse on the €230m offering by private equity portfolio company Garfunkelux Holdco to fund the acquisition of DC Holding. Its work on the issuer side included a €435m senior secured bond offering by BMBG Bond Finance. Joel Herold moved to the firm’s New York office.

Latham & Watkins is ‘second to none’ and ‘provides very good service from a deep bench of partners and associates’; according to one client it is ‘the go-to firm for tricky deals’. The firm has the largest presence of any firm in the London high yield market and acts for investment banks, corporates and private equity houses. The London team consists of nine partners and one counsel, among which clients single out Richard Trobman and Jennifer Engelhardt for their ‘great client service’; Jocelyn Seitzman, who is ‘friendly and pragmatic, great at working on both sides’; Francesco Lione, who is ‘very knowledgeable and has a pleasant manner’; and Tracy Edmonson, Brett Cassidy and Scott Colwell. Ekin Akar was promoted to partner in early 2017. Highlights included acting for initial purchasers such as Credit Suisse Securities, ABN AMRO Bank and BNP Paribas on Ziggo’s innovative financing structure for a joint venture with Vodafone in the Netherlands, which included high yield tranches of $2bn, €775m and $625m. The firm also acted for banks including JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank as initial purchasers of Numericable’s $5.19bn offering, which was the largest single high yield tranche ever issued to date.

‘An excellent firm in the field of high yield’, Shearman & Sterling LLP’s clients praise ‘the creativity of its partners and its consistently strong team’ in addition to ‘its ability to understand critical commercial points and not get carried away with legal technicalities’. The firm maintains a strong market share in London thanks to its team of vastly experienced partners, which acts for a diverse client base that includes issuers, sponsors and underwriters. Apostolos Gkoutzinis is ‘a great salesman – creative, efficient and available’. ‘Very technical and creative lawyer’ Marwa Elborai is ‘pragmatic and hands-on, with great leadership skills and an excellent work ethic’. US-qualified Jacques McChesney is a longstanding expert in high yield acquisition finance and bond issuances. Highlights for the firm included acting as US, English and French counsel for the initial purchasers of a €520m bond issue by Autodis; assisting ARD Finance on its offering of senior secured toggle notes in tranches of $770m and €845m to fund the redemption of existing PIK notes; and acting for JPMorgan Securities, Citigroup Global Markets and Eurobank Ergasias on the €250m offering of senior secured notes by WIND Hellas parent company Crystal Almond. The firm also acted on significant deals for clients such as Barclays, ING Bank and Goldman Sachs International.

‘The leading player on the sponsor side’ according to clients, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is ‘fantastic; the quality of the team and the work is excellent and the lawyers act as real partners for their clients’. The firm is regarded as ‘energetic and driven to get the deal complete’ and is a key adviser to issuers and initial purchasers. The firm was one of the pioneers in the European high yield debt market, and continues to be a prominent player; in 2016, the London team completed 12 high yield bond offerings that raised a combined total of more than $7bn. Among these deals were several for NXP Semiconductors, including a $1bn Rule 144a/Reg S offering to redeem the company’s existing senior secured notes. ‘Top operator’ Nicholas Shaw led those transactions and is highly recommended along with London managing partner Gregory Conway, Gil Strauss and Carol Daniel, who is ‘very strong, extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of high yield and quick to understand what clients need’. The firm also acted for Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs as initial purchasers of NH Hotel Group’s €285m offering. Newly promoted counsel Wim De Vlieger has a corporate practice that encompasses high yield debt issues for clients such as TDR Capital. Alvaro Membrillera joined Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Allen & Overy LLP ‘rates very highly in the high yield market’ and is noted for its ‘good industry knowledge and commercial advice’. The firm has four partners in London: global high yield co-head Kevin Muzilla, Jeanette Cruz, Matthias Baudisch and Jake Keaveny are all seen as standout performers. In 2016, the firm was among the most active advisers to European high yield underwriters and issuers, playing a role in transactions that generated approximately €9bn in aggregate gross proceeds. The practice works closely with the firm’s strong leveraged finance teams in London and New York. Senior associate John Kicken also plays an active role the London team’s key deals. Last year, the team acted for Deutsche Bank, HSBC and BNP Paribas in a re-pricing and add-on transaction for a €660m financing provided to Blackstone to fund its acquisition of Armacell. Another highlight saw the firm act for Perstorp Holding on a $1.2bn four-tranche, cross-border issuance of debt to refinance the company’s existing notes. The firm also acted for Ukrainian mining and steel company Metinvest on the restructuring of $1.125bn in high yield bonds.

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP has a long track record of successful deals for sponsors and issuers in the high yield market. In London, ‘experienced partners’ James Robinson and Anthony Tama, as well as ‘a strong team of associates’, have a prominent position in the market. The London team played a key role in many high-profile transactions in 2016, which included advising joint bookrunning managers Citigroup, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Securities on a $1bn Rule 144a offering of senior notes by Ardagh Packaging Finance and Ardagh Holdings USA, which were used to refinance existing indebtedness. The team also acted for the initial purchasers of a multi-currency offering by Ardagh, which consisted of $500m in senior secured floating rate notes, and tranches of €440m and $1bn in senior secured notes. Acting again for initial purchasers the team advised Deutsche Bank, CaixaBank and others on a $500m notes offering by Gestamp Funding Luxembourg.

Clifford Chance LLP has a team of two partners and two counsel that is praised by clients for having ‘the strongest private equity focus of the Magic Circle firms’. The practice, which advises on corporate issuances and restructurings, handles New York law-governed Rule 144a deals, but places a heavier emphasis on European deals sold to European investors, particularly involving issuances in Eastern Europe. Partners Fabio Diminich and Michael Dakin were joined in 2016 by counsel Andrew Kelly, who relocated to London from Hong Kong to support the high yield team. The firm also promoted Claudia Kim to counsel. Highlights included advising a bondholder committee on the €19.5bn restructuring of clean energy conglomerate Abengoa, in which Dakin advised on the restructuring of the company’s 11 high yield bonds. Diminich and Kim acted for laboratory services company Synlab Bondco on its €940m new issuance; the team advised the same client on a €190m private placement. In 2016, the firm also handled significant matters for clients such as Cinven, Deutsche Bank and Inmarsat Group.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is ‘certainly getting more traction in the high yield market and has a great platform across Europe’. Co-head of the European leveraged finance group Ward McKimm, who has built the practice’s standing significantly since he moved from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP in 2015, is ‘a great hire for the firm, which is steadily building its reputation in the high yield market’. He joins a team that includes US securities partner and ‘great lawyer’ Simone Bono; Andrew Hagan, who acts for issuers, sponsors, underwriters, investors and other parties on a broad range of SEC-registered and exempted transactions, including high yield bonds; and ‘terrific lawyer’ Denise Ryan, who has an active cross-border leveraged finance practice. Associate Gordon Houseman also plays a key role in the team. Highlights included advising sponsor CVC and issuer Dry Mix on a €150m senior secured notes offering; acting for Hellman & Friedman on the financing of its acquisition of TeamSystem, which included a €450m notes issuance; and assisting Carlson Travel with a $1bn financing to fund the redemption of existing notes.

Kirkland & Ellis International LLP ‘provides absolutely first-rate service with intensity, client attention, thoroughness and added value in tactics when it comes to negotiating’. The firm has one of the most prominent issuer-side practices in Europe and acts for a broad range of sponsor clients. Head of the London capital markets practice William Burke ‘has phenomenal knowhow in high yield and is ÃŒber-dedicated to his clients’. Clients also recommend Cedric Van den Borren, who focuses heavily on the French market, ‘superstar’ Matthew Merkle who handles leveraged buyouts and high yield bond refinancings for leading private equity firms, and newly promoted partner Tim Volkheimer. Highlights included advising Carlyle Group and Mydentist on the issuance of £425m in senior secured notes and the private placement of £130m second lien notes for the purposes of refinancing existing debt; acting for Bain Capital and portfolio company Autodis a €520m offering of senior secured notes; and advising Partners Group on the financing of its acquisition of Cerba Healthcare.

Linklaters LLP’s high yield practice is closely integrated with its leading banking and finance practice and acts for underwriters, sponsors and corporate issuers on new high yield bond issuances, restructurings and LBO transactions. Alexander Naidenov, Mark Hageman and US counsel Natalia Sokolova are all highly regarded; their clients include Credit Suisse, PizzaExpress Group and Cerberus. Naidenov acted for Apollo Global Management on a €200m senior secured notes offering, which formed part of a dividend recapitalisation for glass packaging manufacturer Verallia. Hageman’s highlights included debt exchanges and new financings with a total value of a €500m for paper company Norske Skogindustrier. He also acted for key corporate client Cirsa Gaming Corporation on a €450m senior notes issue and tender offer that allowed the company to improve its financing terms. The team also advised the initial purchases including Credit Suisse on a €150m bond financing for Slovenian broadband operator United Group.

Ropes & Gray LLP has a highly experienced team that acts for some of the most frequent issuers in the high yield market, including Altice and Liberty Global. The firm has also extended its portfolio of work for underwriters and played a key role in the €3.5bn refinancing of Lindorff’s debt for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan. Other highlights included advising US cable broadband operator Suddenlink on the issuance of $1.5bn in senior secured notes; assisting French telecoms company Numéricable on a series of financings that included a $5.1bn bond offering; and handling a $1.31bn offering for Cablevision. Jane Rogers is among the most experienced high yield practitioners in the European market and is the firm’s lead adviser to Liberty Global and Virgin Media. Michael Kazakevich handles debt issuances for Altice and is a key adviser to the firm’s underwriter clients. Robert Haak is recognised as a rising star in the partnership having played pivotal roles in innovative structures for clients such as Liberty Global and Ziggo.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP has ‘a client-driven practice that is a strong player in deals under New York law’. The London team acts for issuers, underwriters and initial purchasers on new issuances and bond restructurings. US-qualified team head Chris Beatty and capital markets lawyer and English law specialist Vanessa Blackmore are the firm’s standout practitioners, though it fields a deep team that includes Chris Howard, who regularly acts for banks and financial sponsors; Stewart Robertson, whose industry focus encompasses natural resources and consumer products; and head of the European credit and leveraged finance practice Presley Warner. Last year, the team advised Concordia Healthcare Corp on its $350m high yield offering of senior secured notes as part of the company’s strategic review. Beatty also advised CNH Industrial on numerous deals in 2016, including a $600m SEC-registered notes issuance. The team’s bank clients include Standard Chartered, while corporate issuer clients include Fiat Chrysler and Norske Skog.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP is praised for its ‘fast response times, strong business acumen, good industry knowledge and strong commercial advice’. The firm excels in New York law-governed Rule 144a deals and acts for many corporate issuers, banks and sponsors, as well as handling restructurings for bondholder committees. The seven-lawyer team in London includes head of European high yield Patrick Bright (who is praised for his ‘strong commercial acumen’) and Nitin Konchady, who was promoted to the partnership at the start of 2017. In 2016, Bright acted for Goldman Sachs and Unicredit on the financing of Hellman & Friedman’s €1.2bn acquisition of software provider TeamSystem, which included a €450m senior secured bridge to high yield bond that was privately placed. The team also assisted a committee of senior secured noteholders with the ZAR25bn restructuring of South African clothing retailer Edcon, which involved the issuance of four series of high yield notes, and acted for the lead arrangers and underwriters on the €328m financing of HomeVi’s acquisition of SARquavitae.

White & Case LLP has a team that includes ‘specialists in leveraged finance who handle everything from emerging markets issuance to European high yield’. The firm’s extensive international network puts the US-qualified London team at the centre of work covering a diverse range of jurisdictions and its client base includes investment banks and corporate issuers. Practice head Rob Matthews, Jill Concannon (who regularly advises private equity sponsors), Paul Clews (who handles deals for underwriters) and restructuring and liability management specialist David Becker are all recommended. The firm recently completed a £275m notes offer for Amigo Loans and a £350m issue of senior secured notes for Cabot Financial. On the investment bank side the team advised Goldman Sachs as the initial purchaser on a £77.3m offering by Lake Bridge International. Emerging markets highlights included advising IHS Towers on an $800m offering of senior secured notes, the for a Nigerian corporate to date. The firm also acted for banks including Deutsche Bank on the $1.2bn offering by Studio City Company, which was the largest high yield corporate bond in Asia in 2016.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s capital markets team regularly handle debt, equity and high yield transactions for issuers. Pierre-Marie Boury concentrates largely on US securities law matters, which includes handling high yield transactions, and newly promoted partner Jim Ho is a sovereign debt expert who frequently handles high yield issuances in emerging markets. David Billington’s issuer-side high yield work included acting for Spanish multinational Codere on a £300m offering. Boury and David Gottlieb advised a large group of initial purchasers that included JPMorgan Securities and Deutsche Bank on a €350m offering by Cable Communications Systems, which represented only the second high yield bond by a Romanian issuer. The firm also handled a €250m notes issue for equipment rental group Loxam and a €150m bond issued by Atalian.

DLA Piper has a standout practitioner in US-qualified Tony Lopez, who is head of international high yield and has more than 20 years’ experience in the market. He regularly acts for corporate issuers, sponsors and investment banks on public and private deals across a number of jurisdictions. The hire of partner Andy Kolacki from Latham & Watkins is a sign of the firm’s ongoing investment in the high yield and leveraged finance practice. Lopez played a central role in the refinancing of Corral Petroleum Holdings and Preem, which included senior PIK toggle notes in tranches of €570m and SEK500m. Other highlights for the team included advising Central European Media Enterprises on the redemption of $500m in PIK notes, which was the culmination of three years representing the company as issuer and borrower in a series of complex financing transactions that included two high yield offerings and the issue of convertible notes.

Hogan Lovells International LLP is ‘very good on all counts and the partners are always closely involved at all stages’. Clients describe the practice as ‘dedicated, well-staffed, business-oriented and very responsive’. The firm is a key adviser to corporate issuers and financial institutions on high yield acquisition financing transactions, most notably in the automotive and aviation sectors. European high yield veteran Sylvain Dhennin ‘has long and rich experience and deep knowledge, yet still has a humble and down-to-earth approach’. Counsel Alex Kay joined from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP to focus on high yield bonds, restructuring and liability management. The team is the main adviser to HNA Group on acquisition financing deals, which included the raising of €1.5bn in debt for the acquisition of Swissport Group; the deal involved a €400m senior secured high yield bond. The team also advised underwriters including BNP Paribas and Barclays Bank on an innovative €650m note offering.

Mayer Brown International LLP ‘has extensive experience and high competence in the high yield business and is well connected to the important players in the market’. The practice, which provides ‘extraordinarily valuable support’, features a number of key figures, including head of the European high yield practice Bernd Bohr, who is ‘prepared, technically proficient and very diligent, demonstrating a high degree of dedication, flexibility and team spirit’; and banking partner Robert Flanigan, who is qualified in US and French law and frequently advises issuers and underwriters on Rule 144a/Reg S private placements and SEC-registered debt issuances. They are regularly called on to handles cross-border deals involving Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain and the US. In 2016, the firm advised Progroup on a major high yield financing that included €95m in temporary notes. Another highlight saw the team act for Wepa Hygieneprodukte on the issuance of €450m in senior secured notes.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP has a small team in London that comprises UK and US-qualified lawyers with a strong base of issuer and underwriter clients for public and private deals. Partners Tim Peterson, who leads the team, and Stuart Morrissy and special counsel Trevor Truman are known for their ‘in-depth product knowledge and long experience in the market’. The practice blends traditional high yield debt offerings in a diverse range of industry sectors including aviation, telecommunications, healthcare, energy and manufacturing. Recent issuer-side highlights include a debut $500m debt offering for SMBC Aviation Capital, and a $285m issue of secured notes for Canadian multinational media distribution company Entertainment One. The firm also handled significant deals for initial purchasers, including a $1.25bn offering by Intelsat Jackson Holdings, in which the team advised Goldman Sachs and Guggenheim Securities. Underwriter-side highlights included acting on Arrow Global’s sterling and euro-denominated debt offerings.

‘A go-to law firm that provides excellent service’, Paul Hastings LLP has a respected high yield specialist in Peter Schwartz. His team regularly acts for investment banks, corporate issuers and private credit funds on high yield bond transactions. Associate Edward Holmes also plays a key role in the London team. The firm advised Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Standard Bank and Standard Chartered Bank on a $600m high yield offering by Pan-African Helios Towers, which completed in January 2017. Another key deal saw the team act for EA Partners on its issuance of $500m in notes to provide long-term funding for Etihad Airways and other airlines. Schwartz and Holmes also advised JPMorgan and a group of leading investment banks on cable operator Suddenlink’s $1.5bn offering of secured bonds. Noel Hughes and associate Christianne Williams moved to Sidley Austin LLP

Proskauer Rose LLP is ‘excellent in every way; well versed in market practice and known for clear advice and prompt responses’. Clients rate the firm for providing ‘top-quality service for a reasonable price’ and note that ‘its boutique approach and dedicated partner involvement are outstanding’. The two-partner team acts for a broad range of corporate issuers, banks and asset managers who value its ability to handle innovative structures in UK and US high yield deals from the London office. Maximillian Kirchner is ‘a top-notch lawyer; excellent on the legal side but also able to understand what is happening from a businessperson’s perspective, which is invaluable when trying to close a deal’. Corporate partner Peter Castellon is also recommended. The firm’s recent highlights include a €1bn notes offering for a global corporate issuer based in Europe.

At Baker McKenzie, dual US- and UK-qualified Adam Farlow is a recognised expert in high yield deals and is active in new money offerings, liability management and restructurings.Simon Porter plays a key role on the trustee side and is closely involved in bond restructurings. The firm advised Deutsche Trustee Company on its representation of bondholders in the restructuring of renewable energy company Abengoa, which involved the restructuring of €4bn in outstanding high yield bonds. In another key deal Farlow acted for Ukrainian agricultural company Agroton in a cash tender for $50m in bonds. Other highlights included handling amendments to China South City’s $400m bond issue, and a tender offer for Evraz Group’s $400m in loan participation notes.

Bryan Cave has an exclusive focus on corporate trustee clients and Helena Nathanson’s broad practice includes significant high yield mandates. She advised US Bank Trustees and Elavon Financial Services on the issuance of notes in tranches of €400m and €290m by leading aviation services provider Swissport to refinance its existing debt prior to its acquisition by HNA Group. Another key deal saw her act for Bank of New York Mellon as trustee and security agent in the issues of tranches of $700m and $500m by GTH Finance. Wilmington Trust is another of her key clients.

Jones Day’s young high yield practice in London is part of the capital markets group led by Giles Elliott and acts for issuers, investment banks and investors. Building on the firm’s strong presence in the US market, the firm is gaining traction in Europe thanks to Jonathan Bloom, whose corporate and finance practice emphasises high yield debt offerings and fund-related transactions. In 2016, he advised new client Albacore Capital on the funding of a joint venture with CarVal and Lindorff that involved €350m in new issuance. He also acted for GoldenTree Asset Management on a review of high yield debt investments and assisted Brighthouse Group PLC with ongoing matters relating to its outstanding €220m in high yield notes.

Reed Smith LLP plays a prominent role on the trustee side of complex and cross-border high yield transactions. Tamara Box leads the structured finance group, which includes debt specialist Ranajoy Basu, who advised trustee Citibank on both an $800m high yield bond issue by HIS Netherlands, and a £350m notes issue by Cabot Financial. He also acted for paying agent Deutsche Bank and trustee and security agent Wilmington Trust on a €210m bond offering by Schoeller Allibert Group that involved a complex security package covering nine jurisdictions.

Sidley Austin LLP is ‘excellent, highly commercial and pragmatic’; one client notes that it provides ‘a quite frankly unparalleled service’. The firm made two key hires in 2016: Alan Grinceri joined from Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Noel Hughes joined from Paul Hastings LLP, bringing with him a team that includes associate Christianne Williams. Working with the firm’s strong private equity team the high yield partners are quickly building the firm’s profile in London.

Danny Tricot leads the European corporate finance practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP; he regularly acts for issuers and underwriters, and is ably assisted by high yield specialist James McDonald. Tricot acted for the joint bookrunning managers on a $200m high yield offering by Argentinian company Compañía Latinoamericana de Infraestructura & Servicios that was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. McDonald acted for Reichhold on a €625m unitranche facility as part of its combination with chemicals manufacturer Polynt Group.


Islamic finance

Index of tables

  1. Islamic finance
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Islamic finance clients in London using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Allen & Overy LLP’s London-based Islamic finance team handles the full range of Islamic finance transactions, from capital markets and corporate lending deals to asset-based lending and structured transactions. The team has established a reputation for leading significant matters solely from the London office, and in 2016, department head Atif Hanif advised a consortium of Islamic and conventional lenders as arrangers and financiers on the $1.5bn syndicated term loan facility in connection with Aluminium Bahrain’s Line 6 expansion project for the Alba aluminium smelter; this represents the largest corporate loan in the history of Bahrain. The group was also instructed by a group of Gulf-lenders on the ijara financing of twelve wide-body and eight narrow-body aircraft for lease to Saudi Arabia Airlines. On the borrower’s side, Hanif acted for Saudi Electricity Company on a SAR5bn murabaha facility provided by a syndicate of Saudi banks. The London-team is also strong in the regulatory space and counsel Yusuf Battiwala assisted International Islamic Financial Market (IIMF) and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) with the development of market standard documentation for shari’ah-compliant FX forward transactions. Specialising in Islamic sukuk transactions, Jamie Durham and Salim Nathoo are also contacts in the London office.

Ashurst is instructed by lending and investment banks, asset managers and funds clients and advises across a range of sukuk, murabaha, project finance, real estate, securities and project funds transactions. Abradat Kamalpour, the global head of the firm’s Islamic finance group, also jointly leads the Iran practice and continues to play a significant role in opening the post-sanctions Iran market to international investors. In the funds space, Kamalpour is advising a UAE asset manager with the establishment of a £250m shari’ah-compliant European real estate investment fund, and is also assisting a US fund manager with the structuring and implementation of the first ever shari’ah-compliant credit fund. Another market first, the London team is working alongside the firm’s Chinese partners in relation to the first ever semi-sovereign sukuk from mainland China. Indeed, the team often works closely with its colleagues in Asia and the Middle East, and Kamalpour is coordinating a UK/Saudi Arabian team that is advising a group of US sukuk holders in relation to a sukuk that has entered into litigation in Saudi Arabia; this will serve as a test case for the enforcement by foreign lenders of Saudi borrower obligations in the Saudi Arabian legal system.

Clifford Chance’s global Islamic finance team utilises its on-the-ground presence in all of the most active Islamic financial centres to advise on what are consistently among the largest global shari’ah-compliant transactions. The department’s lawyers have truly been at the forefront of thought leadership, especially in relation to shari’ah-compliance of structured products, including swaps and hedging products. Habib Motani provides ongoing advice in relation to Islamic hedging and liquidity markets and has been instrumental in the ongoing development of standardised documentation for those markets. In the transactional space, the London team regularly works alongside the firm’s Middle East-based teams, but is also perfectly capable of handling significant matters solely from the London office. Indeed, William Glaister has helped lead major cross-border sukuk transactions in conjunction with the firm’s Dubai team, and Leonard Cleland has handled high-value murabaha facilities from London. Dubai-based Qudeer Latif heads the firm’s global Islamic finance practice.

Dentons fields a full-service Islamic finance team from its London office, which handles shari’ah-compliant structures in project finance, asset-based lending, real estate finance and structured transactions, including derivatives and hedging products. The department is co-headed by Matthew Sapte, who specialises in debt capital markets and derivatives and assisted two leading global banks with the update of the SIB Sukuk Company III Limited Trust Certificate Issuance Programme; similarly, he advised the two banks on the establishment of the first sukuk programme for the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector. Sapte also acted for a London investment bank on a $5m shari’ah-compliant loan granted by a Qatari investment bank. Joint London-head Richard de Belder co-ordinates the firm-wide Islamic finance practice across its European and Middle Eastern offices and acts on an ongoing basis for ADBI (UK) in relation to ijara financings for UK real estate, and also provides the bank with regulatory advice. Indeed, with notable expertise in regulatory compliance and shari’ah-compliance for structured products, the group has won instructions from a range of global and Middle Eastern banks. Richard Garvan left the firm in 2016 to become a freelance consultant whileJeremy Cape joined Squire Patton Boggs in 2017.

The Islamic finance team in Norton Rose Fulbright’s London office is active in the transactional and regulatory spaces and has particular expertise advising on shari’ah-compliant sovereign debt issuances. Indeed, in 2016, Farmida Bi, who heads the firm’s European Islamic finance group, acted for the Ministry of Finance for the Government of Pakistan in relation to a $1bn sovereign sukuk issuance, which was offered to US and international investors under Rule 144A/Reg S. She has also been instructed by various international banking clients on high-value real estate transactions. On the regulatory side, Bi is advising a national central bank on the establishment of shari’ah-compliant deposit and liquidity insurance facilities, and is also advising an Asian development bank in connection with Islamic finance regulations in five CIS countries. Mark Brighouse is an active London-based associate in the department. The London team regularly works alongside the firm’s Dubai office, where Mohammed Paracha heads the wider Middle East and Africa Islamic finance practice. Notable clients include Standard Chartered Bank, Emirates Airlines and Islamic Development Bank.

Acting for lender, borrower and investor clients, Foot Anstey’s Islamic finance group has deep expertise in shari’ah-compliant real estate transactions and is among the ‘top firms providing Islamic finance legal services’ in London. Though clients tend to be based in the UK or Middle East, in an initiative spearheaded by legal director Fara Mohammad, the team has sought recently to strengthen its presence in the South East Asian market – a wellspring of Islamic finance activity. In 2016, Mohammad acted for a South Pacific central government in relation to a London real estate transaction, and is also instructed by a Malaysian investment fund to advise on its role in a property investment joint venture. ‘An exemplary team leader’, Imam Qazi heads the practice group and instils ‘confidence in his clients that each matter is being treated with appropriate importance and handled with necessary skill and expertise’. He had a number of instructions from Greenridge Investment Management in 2016, which included advising on the dual Islamic and conventional financing of the £77m acquisition of 3M’s European headquarters in South East England.

Working alongside the firm’s Middle East-based partners, the lawyers in Hogan Lovells International LLP’s London office have found themselves involved in a variety of major Islamic finance mandates. Structured finance specialists James Doyle and Dennis Dillon acted with the firm’s Dubai office on a substantial cross-border sukuk transaction. Similarly, Andrew Flemming, who focuses on real estate finance, has been instructed alongside the Dubai team by clients such as Gatehouse Bank. Robert Fugard specialises in asset-based financing and also has experience of Islamic finance transactions. The firm is instructed by a host of lender-clients and has considerable expertise out of its various Middle East offices. Rahail Ali leads the global Islamic finance practice from Dubai.

K&L Gates LLP has an active transactional and advisory Islamic finance team and is especially experienced in capital markets transactions and structured products and derivatives work. The team has enjoyed a number of successes in 2016-2017, winning several significant lender and borrower clients, such as NMC Healthcare and Qatar Financial Centre Authority, and making some significant hires and team moves. Having relocated from Dubai to the firm’s London office, Natalie Boyd now plays a significant role in the London-based practice and recently advised Citibank as security agent and paying agent in connection with the dual Islamic and conventional $2.5bn project financing for the Dubai Parks and Resorts leisure and hospitality resort. Barry Cosgrave is particularly experienced in Islamic-compliant real estate transactions and has brought a number of new clients to the department following his arrival from Shearman & Sterling LLP in 2016. Jonathan Lawrence leads the department and acted for SriLankan Airlines in connection with a $125m Islamic facility backed by ticket revenue streams. The team regularly acts alongside Amjad Hussain in the Doha office and banking partner Simon Mabin in Dubai.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has an established reputation advising on Islamic-compliant sale, purchase and investment transactions in the real estate sector and also has experience in sukuk issuances and the regulatory aspects of such programmes. The firm-wide Islamic finance practice is headed by Salman Ahmed, an expert in Islamic securities, who works out of the firm’s London and Bahrain offices. In 2016, Ahmed acted for Standard Chartered Bank and National Bank of Oman as joint lead managers in relation to the $76m domestic sukuk issued by MB Holdings – the first high-yield sukuk in Oman. Sarah Gooden specialises in real estate finance transactions and advised 90 North Real Estate Partners, a shari’ah-compliant investment specialist, on the £43m acquisition and financing of a mixed-use retail and leisure property in the UK. Also of note, the firm was one of the first to move into the Malaysian market – the largest international Islamic finance market outside of the GCC – and is instructed by clients such as Lembaga Tabung Haji and Permodalan Nasional Berhad.

Through its London office, White & Case LLP provides ‘excellent service’ with expertise in a number of Islamic-compliant structures, from capital markets and funds work to M&A and project and asset finance. The highly recommended Tom Bartlett leads the London team and acted for Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Company and its Saudi and Chinese shareholders in relation to the $3.1bn conventional facility and $1.6bn murabaha facility to partially refinance funds used for the construction of a Saudi oil refinery. Bartlett also worked alongside the firm’s Saudi partners in Riyadh to advise the lenders, Islamic financiers and US EXIM Bank on the refinancing of the commercial bank facility and Islamic facilities in connection with the Riyadh PP11 IPP. The firm has been investing in its UAE office, having brought on some new practitioners including Claire Matheson Kirton, who joined the firm from Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP in 2016. Further, Debashis Dey specialises in conventional and Islamic capital markets transactions and works between the London and Dubai offices.

Addleshaw Goddard’s London-based Islamic finance practice has experience of shari’ah-compliant real estate and project financing transactions. Specialising in real estate finance, Paul Salsbury is the primary contact in the practice group. He has particular experience in murabaha facilities and has been instructed by clients such as Tabung Haji and Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia.

The Islamic finance group at Clyde & Co LLP is best known for structuring UK Islamic real estate transactions. With instructions from Middle Eastern and UK clients, the team has developed experience in advising first-time entrants into the Islamic finance market, but also acts for some of the more established Islamic banks and investment firms. Department co-head Adil Hussain, who works between the firm’s London and Abu Dhabi offices, advised Natixis’ London branch on a $50m murabaha facility granted to a Saudi fashion retailer. His team is active in the Saudi market and regularly works alongside the firm’s Riyadh partners; indeed, Hussain is acting for KCC Corporation on the restructuring of multiple Islamic facilities kinked to its joint venture vehicle in Saudi Arabia. Senior associate Robert Davy maintains a permanent presence in London and has been instructed alongside the practice head by clients such as British Arab Commercial Bank, Mizuho Bank and Investra Capital.

With instructions from UK and Middle Eastern banks and lender clients, Druces LLP provides ‘a good level of service’ on shari’ah-compliant property finance matters. The team has seen increased deal volume every year since the department’s founding in 2012, and 2016-2017 has been no exception. The ‘friendly and approachable’ Christopher Axford handled a variety of real estate and asset finance transactions for clients such as Bank of London and The Middle East, and was also instructed by a London law firm to advise specifically on the shari’ah aspects of an acquisition of a UK school by Middle Eastern investors. Nicholas Brent and Suzanne Middleton-Lindsley have experience in real estate and property finance, and Simon Pullen has developed a reputation for advising Middle Eastern banks on shari’ah compliant structures in the development finance sector.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is regularly involved in large, complex Islamic-compliant transactions across a number of areas such as project finance, bankruptcy proceedings, corporate lending and securities. Practice head John Dewar has been an innovator in the field since founding the firm’s Islamic finance practice and had deep experience of shari’ah financings in relation to large energy projects. He is advising Arcapita Creditors’ Committee in relation to the Chapter 11 filing by certain Arcapita entities; this represents the first time a US bankruptcy judge approved the Islamic-compliant restructuring of a debtor in Chapter 11 proceedings, and the world’s largest bankruptcy of a shari’ah-compliant institution. Additionally, Dewar acted for Kexim Bank and a number of commercial banks on the financing of the Barakah nuclear power project in Abu Dhabi, which included a shari’ah-compliant equity bridge loan. Senior associate Munib Hussain is another contact in the London practice group.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP has extensive experience in structuring Islamic-compliant lending and real estate transactions for banks, corporates and private clients. In addition to the transactional work, in 2017, the department assisted an alternative funding platform with the creation of an innovative Islamic finance product aimed at the buy-to-let and buy-to-live market. Practice head Mohammed Saqub specialises in real estate investment and development finance and advised Al Rayan Bank plc in relation to a commodity murabaha facility granted to a UK investor and secured over a large portfolio of residential property. Saqub was also instructed by the bank, alongside Christopher von Strandmann, to advise on the £18m murabaha granted to a property income fund and secured over commercial properties in England and Scotland. Nicholas Sanderson also has experience in Islamic-compliant asset and structured finance, and Winston Bell-Gam acts for a range of lender and manager clients across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s Islamic finance group works across the firm’s London and Middle East offices and has advised on Islamic structures in project finance, capital markets, structured finance and funds transactions. Practice head Iain Goalen works between the firm’s London and Dubai offices and assisted a consortium of global lenders as underwriters with a dual bond and sukuk issuance by a Middle Eastern power company. On the real estate side, the department head is acting for a US real estate developer on its debut Islamic finance transaction. Moyn Uddin, who splits his time between London and Abu Dhabi and specialises in capital markets and debt structuring, joined the firm in 2016 while Barry Cosgrave left for K&L Gates LLP. Islamic Development Bank and Wafra Investment are among the team’s representative clients.

Taylor Wessing LLP is well-regarded in the market as a firm capable of handling the gamut of Islamic finance work, from real estate and development financing to capital markets and derivatives. The practice acts on a stand-alone basis, but also in support roles and is well-versed in the framework of various Islamic special economic zones and regulating authorities. Led by Rodney Dukes, the Islamic finance team is instructed by lender-side and borrower-side clients and has been involved in several shari’ah-compliant corporate lending facilities in 2016-2017. Senior counsel Nada Jarnaz specialises in acting for lender clients and is working alongside the practice head to advise an investment manager on the establishment of a shari’ah-compliant investment fund. Dukes and Jamaz have also been instructed by other law firms to assist specifically with the shari’ah compliance in lending transactions. Clients of the department include Amlak Finance and Fortress Investment Group.


Securitisation

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According to one client, Allen & Overy LLP has ‘the strongest securitisation practice in the market’; ‘it continues to provide cutting-edge advice in the field of securitisation and its knowledge of the underlying asset classes and the structures used to securitise them is second to none’. Clients also note the ‘great strength in depth’ of the practice, which has a strong track record of precedent-setting transactions in a range of asset classes including residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, consumer loans, corporate loans, CLOs, auto loans and leases, trade receivables, public sector, project finance and infrastructure. The firm is often at the forefront of market developments; in a standout matter, the team advised Royal Bank of Canada as arranger on Virgin Media’s £125m mobile handset-backed securitisation programme. Tim Conduit was the lead partner on that deal. In another innovative instruction, Sally Onions (who is noted for her ‘client-focused approach and real expertise in complex securitisation transactions’) led the team advising Morgan Stanley and the joint lead arrangers on the £6.1bn Towd Point Mortgage Funding 2016 (Granite 1) deal, which involved a portfolio of residential mortgage loans originated by Northern Rock. The ‘consistently excellent’ team is led by Salim Nathoo, who advised Banco Santander as lead manager on the £600m Motor 2016-1 auto loan securitisation. Other standout practitioners include Angela Clist, who covers all asset classes but is a market leader in covered bonds; Christian Lambie, whose work includes whole business securitisation, structured commercial real estate and CMBS financing; and Lucy Oddy, who acted for issuer Austrian bank BAWAG on its £920m debut RMBS transaction backed by Northern Rock mortgages acquired from UK Asset Resolution. Clients also recommend newly promoted partner Tom Constance.

‘A standout firm in the securitisation market’, Clifford Chance LLP acts for the full range of market participants including sponsors, issuers and originators; arrangers and dealers; trustees, swap providers and servicers; and governments, regulators and rating agencies. Often at the forefront of market developments, its team in London works closely with the firm’s European offices on trade receivables financing, covered bonds and deals based on consumer assets such as credit cards. The firm continued to be involved in a number of market firsts, including its advice to HSBC as arranger on the €648m securitisation of a pool of SME loans originated by the National Bank of Greece, which was the first loan securitisation in Greece since 2007. The firm acted for the same client, in this instance as lender, on the £100m warehousing of NewDay Cards' Amazon and TUI-branded credit card offerings. Kevin Ingram, who is prominent in credit card deals but has a broad securitisation practice, is also recommended, as are Stephen Curtis, who specialises in structured debt financings in the infrastructure, utilities and real estate sectors; Andrew Forryan, who focuses on whole-business, mortgage and real estate securitisation; real estate finance partner Emma Matebalavu, who frequently handles loan portfolio sales, purchases and financings, CMBS and RMBS; receivables financing expert Simeon Radcliff, who focuses on developing markets including Russia and Turkey; head of the China desk Maggie Zhao; and Christopher Walsh, who acts for both arrangers and originators on RMBS, CMBS and covered bond deals. Swaps specialist Jessica Littlewood, who is active in the CLO space, and newly promoted partner Timothy Cleary, who has become a prominent practitioner in synthetic securitisations, also garner praise from clients.

According to clients, Linklaters LLP ‘has dominated the RMBS market for several years and has real strength across all asset classes’. The firm’s lawyers ‘have seen everything and bring clear, measured, commercial advice’. In an illustration of its RMBS workload, the team acted for Cerberus and FirstKey Mortgage on the securitisation of Northern Rock’s mortgage book in the three deals; of those, the £6.2bn Towd Point Mortgage Funding 2016-Granite 1 plc was the largest single RMBS transaction in the European market since the financial crisis and one of the first securitisations to comply with both US and European Union risk retention rules. Andrew Vickery (‘outstanding in covered bonds and RMBS deals’) heads the structured finance group, which includes James Harbach and Adam Fogarty, who are ‘leaders in the field of super-size loan portfolio securitisations’. Julian Davies, who is best known for structured utility bonds and whole-business securitisations, and Mark Nuttall are also highly recommended, as are newly promoted partner Alex Shopov and counsel Reza Taylor, who played prominent roles in the Granite transactions, and counsel William Trotman, who joined from Simmons & Simmons and specialises in RMBS, CMBS and covered bonds. Harbach led a team that advised Greene King on a £340m deal that was the first pub securitisation since the financial crisis. Vickery advised TwentyFour Asset Management LLP on the securitisation of UK buy-to-let loans, including a £300m issuance by Malt Hill No.1. Nuttall’s highlights included acting for National Grid on a £13.8bn whole-business securitisation stapled financing relating to the sale of a 61% share in its UK gas distribution business NGGD to a consortium of long-term infrastructure investors.

According to clients, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP ‘has hired really well over the years; you can feel the quality in the team, especially on highly technical points’. It is viewed as ‘a go-to firm for creative solutions and highly innovative deals, with the ability to lead first-of-their-kind transactions and solve complex problems’. The firm, which leads the market for advising arrangers on CLO transactions, has wide-ranging expertise that has seen it act in a number of market firsts, including the first public securitisation of peer-to-peer loans, the first UK mobile handset receivables securitisation, the first rated Belgian fleet lease securitisation, the first Austrian auto and consumer deal, and the first Danish consumer loan receivables transaction. The five-partner team in London includes ‘excellent securitisation expert’ Stephen Day, who leads on many of the firm’s asset-backed securitisations; US-qualified Jeremiah Wagner, who handles innovative and complex deals, as well as providing advice regulatory matters; CLO specialist David Quirolo, who is ‘everywhere in the CLO market’; Nick Shiren, who focuses on structured finance and CLOs; and newly promoted partner Daniel Tobias, who regularly advises arrangers, collateral managers and warehouse finance providers on European CLO 2.0 transactions and loan warehouse facilities. ‘Rising star’ and special counsel Suzanne Bell is ‘smart, responsive, creative and hardworking’ and is a key member of the firm’s ABS team. Special counsel Claire Puddicombe is also recommended for CLO transactions. Key deals included advising Funding Circle on the $146m securitisation of peer-to-peer loans to SMEs, which represented the first deployment of European Investment Bank funding through a direct lending marketplace to support small businesses. The firm also advised For Emil Frey on a CHF297m auto lease programme. Angus Duncan joined Winston & Strawn London LLP.

Dentons ‘compares well to its peers and is developing a good team with a deep bench that can cover issues in multiple jurisdictions’. One client remarks that ‘both senior partners and associates have strong engagement and provide excellent value for money’. Residential mortgage finance, including RMBS transactions, covered bonds and warehousing transactions, is a key area of focus for the London team, though it is also a prominent player in the auto loan securitisation market and has raised its profile in the market for CLOs. Edward Hickman, who is a leading practitioner for securitisations involving consumer assets such as auto loan receivables, and ‘industry-leading capital markets expert’ Peter Voisey, who ‘manages his resources very well and ensures that the service is always very good’, jointly lead the team. CLO specialist Martin Sharkey, who joined from Clifford Chance LLP, ‘is hands-on and available, and is well supported by a good team of associates’. Clients also single out ‘extremely diligent’ associate Moeen Qayum, who ‘can be relied on to deliver under pressure’. Voisey’s standout deals included acting for Skipton Building Society on the £525m securitisation of prime mortgage loans under its Darrowby RMBS programme, and acting for Morgan Stanley as arranger on a €560m public securitisation of prime mortgage loans. In the CLO space, Sharkey advised manager Barings (UK) on English and US law aspects of its partial refinancing of the Babson Euro CLO 2014-1. Hickman advised Teva Pharmaceuticals on its €750m pan-European trade receivables securitisation.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP combines complex securitisation, structured products and commodities expertise within one team – as a result, its partners are able to handle a broad range of deal types and asset classes. In the securitisation market the firm has an established track record in landmark transactions for both corporates and banks, and its regulatory team is also a market leader in assisting clients with the implementation of new market rules such as EMIR and MiFID. Although the team saw the retirement of Ian Falconer and Dougall Molson’s move to Fieldfisher in 2016, it continues to have leading lights in Christopher Barratt, whose securitisation practice focuses largely on infrastructure and real estate assets, and Marcus Mackenzie, who predominantly acts on infrastructure and whole-business deals. Senior associate Helen Jones focuses on debt capital market transactions and has experience advising initial purchasers and collateral managers on collateralised loan obligations. Senior associate Keshini Rajan has experience in financial asset and real estate securitisations, and counsel Jenny McIvor acts on whole-business and bank/bond financing deals. Highlights included acting for Virgin Money on the £1.2bn Gosforth 2016-1 RMBS and the £1bn Gosforth 2016-2 RMBS, which was the first securitisation to comply with both European Union and US risk retention rules. Barratt also advised Grays’ Inn Holdings on the £100m securitisation of ground rents, which involved a complex structure, collateralised against pre-existing structures and secured over an evolving portfolio of properties. Derivatives partner James Grand also handled significant CLO deals including a €413m deal for Investcorp Credit Management EU.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP ‘provides high-quality advice at all levels’, according to one client. The firm has an experienced team led by Michael Poulton, ‘one of the most experienced lawyers in the market’, who is ‘a first-class structuring lawyer with long and deep experience across all of the product classes within structured finance transactions and who deploys a sensible and commercial approach; he possesses one of the most impressive technical brains in the business’. Jake Jackaman is the other key partner in the team; his expertise covers cash flow CLOs, synthetic CDOs, credit funds, securitisations and portfolio credit default swaps. Jackaman led advice to Tideway on the financing and development of the £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel, which included the £450m issuance of bonds under Tideway’s whole-business securitisation programme. Of counsel Francesca Segurini, senior associate Joy Amis and associate Charlene Kong, who is ‘a thoroughly competent and effective lawyer’, all play significant roles in the practice. Poulton’s highlights included advising arrangers Merrill Lynch International, Citigroup Global Markets and Banco Sabadell on TSB Bank’s second securitisation issuance backed by residential mortgages. The £3bn deal was TSB’s inaugural issuance under Rule 144a and enabled the client to access to the US market. He also acted for Cabot Square Capital on numerous transactions, including the sale of a £120m portfolio of auto hire loans that was funded through a bespoke securitisation-style warehouse structure.

Hogan Lovells International LLP ‘has a constructive and informed approach that is on a par with the Magic Circle’, and regularly handles some of the largest and most high-profile deals in the market. In a standout matter, David Hudd advised the UK government’s Department for Education on its plan to sell £12bn of student loan debt, which will be the first securitisation in this asset class. Julian Craughan (who is ‘helpful, informed and pragmatic in his approach’) acts for arrangers and originators on asset-backed financings and securitisations in numerous asset classes including automotive receivables, marketplace lending receivables, commercial and residential mortgages, and infrastructure assets. Tauhid Ijaz is a highly experienced securitisation partner who regularly advises on portfolio sales and balance sheet management transactions in the commercial and residential real estate, infrastructure, equipment leasing and insurance sectors. US partner Dennis Dillon focuses predominantly on trade receivables securitisations and commercial paper conduits. Kit Johnson advises corporate trustees on a diverse range of structured products. Sharon Lewis, who ‘provides solid and timely advice tailored to clients’ needs’, is also recommended. Other highlights for the team included advising Rentplus on its affordable housing programme, which included a CPI-linked secured note financing programme. The team also acted for a large US financial institution on the £100m securitisation of automotive hire purchase agreements.

Mayer Brown International LLP ‘has a great handle on the key issues that fund clients face when looking to securitise assets; it provides real depth of knowledge, great client and counterparty relationship management, and value for money’. The firm has longstanding relationships with securitisation teams at investment banks such as Lloyds Banking Group, UBS, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, in addition to having a strong private equity and hedge fund client base. Its recent work for alternative investment managers includes advising VÀrde Partners on the only agented CMBS to close in 2016; the £203m transaction was secured against UK commercial property assets and the key lawyers were global co-head of finance Dominic Griffiths and David O’Connor, who is ‘a fantastic adviser with great market contacts; he really helps to get deals over the line with top-quality legal advice’. O’Connor also led the advice to Cheyne Capital Management (UK) LLP as arranger and lead manager on a £101m CMBS to finance Brookfield’s acquisition of the CityPoint skyscraper at 1 Ropemaker Street in London, which was the first public CMBS in 2017. He also acted for Natixis and Bank of America Merrill Lynch on the £261m RMBS issued by Oncilla Mortgage Funding 2016-1 plc. Also recommended are Kevin Hawken, who advises financial institutions on cross-border securitisation and is a key partner for regulatory matters, and senior associates Neal Handa and Noman Ali. Richard Todd joined Fieldfisher

Norton Rose Fulbright ‘builds a team to suit a client’s deal with appropriate levels of experience and ability to ensure that there is ready access to senior practitioners throughout the process’. In addition to its prominence in the residential mortgage-backed market both in the UK and abroad, the firm is developing a strong presence in SME funding, restructuring and covered bonds. Securitisation and structured bond specialist Sandrine Sauvel is noted for her ‘subject matter expertise and ability to be entrepreneurial in identifying new business opportunities’. Sauvel is co-head of the London securitisation team along with David Shearer, who ‘provides calm and measured support even in particularly sensitive and innovative transactions with very tight deadlines; he has excellent market knowledge, an understanding of commercial drivers and the ability to innovate’. Farmida Bi advises numerous banks including Citibank on securitisations and last year acted for Law Debenture Trust Corporation as trustee on a series of bond issues by Ukraine with a total value of $3bn. Other highlights for the firm included acting for originator Kensington Mortgage Company on a £362m RMBS deal; assisting Eurobank Ergasias on updating its €5bn covered bond programme; and acting for the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) on developing financing structures for the SME sector.

Paul Hastings LLP is well known as one of the leaders in the CMBS market, having worked on issues such as A/B structures, IO strips, servicing advances, NAI amounts, and single servicing agreement structures for multi-jurisdictional CMBS deals. The firm has real strength in depth in the CMBS space thanks to Conor Downey, Charles Roberts and Miles Flynn. Lorenza Talpo and newly promoted partner Jennie Dorsaint further enhance that capability. Other key figures include Paul Severs, who is a respected practitioner in the RMBS market, and Christian Parker, who specialises in non-real estate structured finance including structured bond and fund-linked products. Last year, the practice significantly enhanced its offering with the hire of the hugely respected structured finance team of Michael Smith, Diala Minott and Cameron Saylor from Ashurst. Severs recently advised Kensington Mortgage Company on amendments to six of its securitisation transactions to consolidate the holding of the legal title to the underlying loans into one group company. He also advised the same client on the £360m Finsbury Square 2016-1 RMBS. Downey and Parker acted for Deutsche Trustee Company as security trustee and cash manager in regard to the Fairhold single-borrower securitisation of freehold RPI-linked ground rents and transfer fees backed by a portfolio of housing in the UK.

Sidley Austin LLP ‘performs to a very high standard compared to other firms’, according to one client. The firm continues to handles a wide range of European CLOs, CMBS, international trade receivables, auto loans, RMBS, portfolio sales and more esoteric areas such as peer-to-peer lending deals. Graham Penn is co-leader of the firm’s Global Finance group and is a recognised authority on structured finance and securitisation. Rupert Wall is a standout lawyer for ABS and CLO deals, whom one client describes as ‘a subject matter expert with the ability to get straight to the point’; he ‘has a brain the size of a planet and works very well in high pressure situations’. Nick Brittain handles a broad range of servicing, strategic and enforcement issues for CMBS clients. John McGrath advises on contentious and transactional securitisation matters and is currently handling a large deal in the buy-to-let mortgage space. Jason Richardson is singled out for his ‘significant experience in the structured finance space and strong knowledge; he provides tempered advice and innovative solutions’. Richardson has a strong track record of acting for arrangers of CDOs and collateralised funds obligation transactions, for sponsors of asset-backed commercial paper programmes, and arrangers of UK and European CMBS deals. Wall advised Spire Partners on a €360m CLO, while Richardson advised Globalworth Real Estate Investments Limited on a €180m deal secured by commercial property in Romania.

Simmons & Simmons is ‘very commercial and technically able, with an excellent team that, while partner led, is strong throughout’. Clients also remark upon the team’s ‘good value for money and excellent industry knowledge’. The firm acts for leading investment banks, asset managers and emerging fintech clients, as well as government and supranational clients and trade bodies. It is often involved in first-of-their-kind transactions, including the first European marketplace loan securitisation for Funding Circle; this £129m deal was backed by loans originated through the client’s online lending platform made available to UK SMEs. The team also acted for Greensill Capital on a financing transaction arising from the sale of Alcan Aluminium UK to SIMEC Group, in which Greensill Capital bought the rights to future cash flows arising from receivables. Another notable deal saw the firm advise the European Investment Fund on a complex and bespoke synthetic securitisation involving a tranched portfolio guarantee of UK healthcare loans originated by The Royal Bank of Scotland. ‘Hardworking and solutions-oriented lawyer’ Michael Lorraine ‘goes the extra mile for clients and always knows what’s what on any serious legal issue’. James Bresslaw (who worked with Lorraine on the Funding Circle transaction), newly promoted David Toole (who led the transaction for the European Investment Fund), and financial regulatory partner Penny Miller are also recommended. Amer Siddiqui joined from Clifford Chance LLP.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP has a ‘very impressive practice that has moved with the times’ and plays a role in ‘many of the most innovative and complex deals’. The firm is best known for its CLO practice, which accounts for around half of the structured finance team’s workload. It is the leading counsel to asset managers in the European CLO market, and acts for global managers Blackstone/GSO and Carlyle. Co-head of the global structured finance and derivatives practice