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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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The 'very strong' team at Mayer Brown International LLP remains a leading player in the market and acts on behalf of a balanced roster of funds, banks, sponsors and borrowers. Able to leverage the product expertise of lawyers in the US team, the team excels at handling cross-border mandates, often in the context of a deal where the asset based lending (ABL) product sits alongside other debt. The team is at the vanguard of developments in the industry and is consequently viewed as a 'safe pair of hands' on novel, less commoditised deals. It is also picking up a significant flow of work for alternative finance providers which are increasingly implementing ABL structures to finance deals; the 'excellent' Dominic Griffiths recently advised Channel Capital Advisors in its capacity as arranger, programme manager and placement agent in a private debt placement backed by short-term trade receivables for a leading Belgium-based global diamond company. Alex Dell also has a 'fantastic reputation in the market' and alongside Simon Fisher acted for Hayfin Services, as agent, in a syndicated ABL facility with German clothing retailer, NKD Services (the borrowing base comprised inventory in over 300 retail outlets and stores in Germany and trade receivables including credit card receivables). Senior associate Charles Thain  is also recommended. Other clients include Barclays, Citibank, TPG Capital and HSBC.

Benefiting from 'in-depth sector experience', and a significant 'market presence' which includes practitioners spread out across London, Manchester, Leeds, and most recently Scotland following the merger with HBJ Gateley, Addleshaw Goddard provides an 'excellent level of service' to the ABL arms of mainstream banks including HSBC and Clydesdale Bank, as well as independent entities including Leumi ABL and PNC Business Credit. Manchester-based Simon Prendergast has broad expertise in the space including across syndicated ABL and receivables finance facilities, off balance sheet receivables purchase facilities and supply chain finance; he recently represented RBS Invoice Finance on a £50m ABL facility (comprising receivables, inventory, property and plant and machinery facilities) to Halewood International, a UK-based manufacturer and distributor of alcoholic drinks and beverages, for the purpose of refinancing its existing facilities, providing working capital and funding future acquisitions. Prendergast has also been active in the development of receivables and ABL products connected to the UK unitranche market and was recently involved in a landmark transaction when he advised RBS Invoice Finance on a super senior receivables finance facility to Oscar Mayer - in what was notably the first occasion on which a UK ABL market deal had been funded simultaneously by a super senior ABL facility in combination with a unitranche facility. Lauded for his 'willingness to go the extra mile to get the deal done', team head Mike Davison 'has first-class knowledge of the ABL sector and documentation' and is thereby well placed to handle both mid-market domestic deals, as well as bigger ticket mandates where the ABL product is part of a wider financing package. 'Very impressive' Edinburgh-based banking partner Euan Cluness regularly handles ABL transactions in the whisky industry, in particular, including his recent work for PNC Business Credit and Bank of Scotland in their provision of an £80m ABL facility to Ian Macleod Distillers. The team was also strengthened on the transactional front by the arrival in October 2017 of managing associate Lauren Priest-Stephens from Squire Patton Boggs, while for ABL-related litigation work Harold Brako and Ben Lowans are recommended.

Aided by a broad national network, the 'responsive and pro-active' team at DLA Piper is deeply entrenched into the ABL ecosystem as a result of the strong ties it has forged with the ABL arms of clearing banks and alternative credit providers, who are increasingly active in the space. The recent retirement of Simon Boon and the departure of Lorinda Peasland to Harneys was offset somewhat by the arrival of Steven Geerlings from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in September 2017, who has a focus on pan-European ABL mandates. The 'knowledgeable and commercial' Joseph Frew and Sarah Day co-head the team from Manchester and Leeds respectively and are both active across the gamut of ABL transactions including as they relate to the funding of working capital, refinancing and acquisition finance. Frew recently acted for Searchlight Capital Partners and Duke Street Private Equity portfolio company Ardent Hire Solutions on the refinancing of the company's existing indebtedness (a deal which effectively showcased the use of ABL financing techniques for large plant hire businesses). Birmingham-based partner Stephen Bottley and senior associate Ben Tumelty are 'technically very strong but also highly personable' and regularly handle ABL transactions as part of their broad-ranging banking practices. The 'pragmatic and customer oriented' Richard Usher also has expertise at ABL techniques at the nexus of structured finance, while Manchester-based Christopher Roberts  and Ben Johnson  regularly handle ABL work in the context of restructuring and litigation, respectively. Clients include ABN Amro Commercial Finance, Lloyds, RBS Invoice Finance and Shawbrook Bank Business Credit.

The 'efficient and personable' team at Irwin Mitchell is 'extremely knowledgeable' and provides a 'responsive and cost-effective' service to an impressive range of clients including ABN Amro Commercial Finance, Hitachi Capital, Investec Bank and Arbuthnot Commercial Asset Based Lending, across the full spectrum of transactions, as well as advice on product development, litigation and restructuring/insolvency. Birmingham-based partner Jon Bew has 'vast industry knowledge' and regularly teams up with 'impressive' senior associate Natalie Barnes; Barnes and Bew recently advised core client Shawbrook Bank on a £45m refinance and syndication with Wells Fargo of the Arlington group of companies as part of the acquisition by Arlington of Magal Engineering. The 'excellent' Andrew Watson is also recommended and in his role as national head of banking and finance regularly handles ABL, invoice finance, inventory finance, supplier finance and distribution finance matters. The team is rounded out by Stephen George, who has significant experience advising on restructuring and insolvency issues in the ABL market.

Able to leverage the firm's vast international network, Norton Rose Fulbright's particular sweet-spot is in relation to handling major cross-border bilateral and syndicated deals. 'Superb' team head Michael Black has particularly strong ties with North American lenders including JP Morgan and Wells Fargo and regularly acts for them as arrangers in the context of syndicated transactions, whereby ABL debt forms an integral part of the capital structure. For example, Black recently acted for Wells Fargo as arranger of a £150m ABL facility for the Pattonair group as part of a capital restructuring undertaken by Exponent (the private equity owner) as a precursor to a sale of the group. Black also regularly handles cross-border mandates with complex inter-creditor arrangements involving ABL facilities sitting alongside other debt products, including his recent work for JP Morgan on the provision of a $350m term loan and a $300m asset-based working capital facility (sitting alongside a $350m bond issuance arranged by Citibank) to facilitate the capital structure for the Huntsman Corporation after it spun off its pigments and additives business as a separate group under new parent company Venator Materials plc. Senior associates Alex Dunn and Helen Masri are also recommended.

Led out of Birmingham by the 'excellent' Edward Sunderland and also including significant coverage across the firm's Leeds, Manchester and Scottish offices, Pinsent Masons LLP has a 'good understanding of the ABL industry' and is thereby able to provide a 'very commercial service' to an impressive range of banks, alternative capital providers and borrowers including Barclays Bank, RBS Invoice Finance, Arran Isle and Lloyds Bank Commercial Finance. Praised for his 'pragmatic and flexible approach', Sunderland handles both bilateral and syndicated facilities for lenders including his recent representation (with assistance from 'efficient and prompt' senior associate Victoria Baker) of HSBC Invoice Finance and Wells Fargo on the £120m provision of ABL facilities to Nisa Retail. On the borrower side, Sunderland recently worked alongside other financing practitioners at the firm to advise Alinda Capital Partners on the ABL piece of its £48m acquisition of Kelling Group, and also represented Gowrie Group (trading as B&S Group) on its £85m ABL facility with a lending syndicate including HSBC Invoice Finance, Lloyds Commercial Finance and BNP Paribas Commercial Finance. Birmingham-based Amy Flavell and Manchester-based James Cameron are regularly involved in recoveries work within the ABL sector.

'Very visible in the market', Squire Patton Boggs provides an 'excellent service' on behalf of many of the the bank-owned asset-based lenders and many independent UK market participants, as well as an increasing number of US asset-based lenders operating in Europe. Leveraging a wide-ranging international network that includes finance practitioners in the US and Europe, the team excels at handling multi-jurisdictional mandates. Paula Laird, who has a 'deep knowledge of ABL issues and an excellent understanding of the needs of borrowers and lenders', led a cross-office team on behalf of Gordon Bothers on the provision of a syndicated ABL facility to the Fabergé Group. The 'excellent' Andrew Knight also has a strong reputation in the market and recently advised PNC Business Credit on a £30m ABL facility to premium wine and spirits wholesaler Enotria & Coe. The team is rounded out by the expertise of Gareth Timms on the litigation front and Cathryn Williams for restructuring matters. Clients include ABN AMRO Commercial Finance, Bank of America, Shawbrook and JP Morgan.

Jones Day has relatively high market visibility, particularly in relation to borrower side mandates. Andrew Rotenberg is 'very well-known in the market' and is regularly involved in highly structured cross border mandates often involving an ABL component. As well as new money financings, Rotenberg is also often involved in ABL-related refinancings and restructurings.

Led out of the firm's Norwich office by the 'approachable and effective' Zak Virgin, Mills & Reeve LLP has strong reputation in the domestic market, particularly among independent funders, but also on behalf of a growing roster of borrower clients and the ABL divisions of banking clients. Virgin handles a significant volume of work for core client PNC Financial Services, including recently advising it on the provision of ABL working capital facilities to help - alongside unitranche debt - LDC's secondary buyout of Addo Food Group from Vision Capital. Cambridge-based William Roles is also noted for his 'commerciality and industry knowledge'. Other clients include RBS Invoice Finance, ABN Amro Commercial Finance and PNC Bank.

Headed by the 'excellent' Georgia Quenby, following her arrival in January 2018 from Reed Smith LLP, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP 's nascent ABL London offering is well-placed to leverage not only Quenby's own strong ties with lenders including Wells Fargo but also the firm's deeply entrenched ties to the US ABL market. Since her arrival, Quenby has already handled some impressive matters including advising Wells Fargo throughout their financing of Maplin and its subsequent administration, and representing Bank of America Business Capital on the financing of Mood Media and Bantry Bay Capital on its provision of a $70m debt facility to a global market leader in the aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul market. Of counsel Victoria Thompson is also recommended.

With four partners at its disposal, the 'accessible and approachable' team at Bermans has the 'strength-in-depth' to handle a tremendous volume of matters for lenders on domestic invoice finance and receivables finance mandates, both from a transactional and litigation perspective. David Gledhill has 'strong all round knowledge' of the invoice finance industry and is a key member of the team on the transactional side that includes the 'exceptional' Ian Munford and Alex Chapman. Jonathan Berkson heads the firm's ABL litigation offering which also includes senior associate Andrew Henderson.

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