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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Praised for its β€˜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, β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜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. β€˜Excellent’ team head Mike Davison has β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜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 Β£80m multi-currency ABL facilities provided to Anglia Maltings Group for working capital and acquisition finance purposes. The β€˜very commercial’ Simon Boon is, according to one client, β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜very experienced and commercial’ team at Irwin Mitchell benefits from β€˜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 β€˜vastly experienced and knowledgeable’ Andrew Watson and β€˜pleasant, knowledgeable and responsive’ Birmingham-based senior associate Natalie Barnes recently advised Investec Bank on the Β£24.5m ABL facility to facilitate the buy-out of Fresh-Pak Chilled Foods. The β€˜experienced, commercial, friendly and responsive’ Birmingham-based Jon Bew provides β€˜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 Β£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 β€˜user-friendly’ team at Norton Rose Fulbright β€˜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 β€˜business savvy advice which is framed in the context of real world judgement and analysis’. β€˜Responsive and client friendly’ team head Michael Black is noted for his β€˜all-round excellence and understanding’, which β€˜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 β€˜responsive and approachable’ team at Squire Patton Boggs has a β€˜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 β€˜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 Β£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 β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜very hands on’ Edward Sunderland and assisted by practitioners spread across the regional network, including Leeds and Manchester, Pinsent Masons LLP is β€˜highly experienced in the field’ and β€˜whether acting for borrower or bank, is focused on getting the deal done and not arguing points for the sake of it’. Sunderland β€˜knows the ABL product and market inside out’, and with assistance from β€˜excellent’ Manchester-based senior associate Tim Fearn recently advised RBS, HSBC and Barclays on the provision of Β£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 β€˜absolute star’ Georgia Quenby, the β€˜responsive and thoughtful’ one-partner team at Reed Smith LLP provides a β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜responsive and approachable’ two-partner East Anglia-based team has a β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜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 β€˜detailed knowledge of the industry’, Bermans provides β€˜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 Β£20m receivables facility to Thinksmart alongside a facility provided by Santander Bank. The β€˜very experienced’ Ian Munford has β€˜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 β€˜value for money approach to debt collection litigation’.

Michelmores LLP provides a β€˜high level of service’ to borrowers and lenders across the gamut of receivables and invoice discounting mandates. Chris Willison is β€˜second to none’ and provides β€˜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.

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