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United Kingdom > London > Finance > Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Bank lending – investment grade debt and syndicated loans
  2. Leading individuals

Allen & Overy LLP fields ‘one of the dominant global corporate lending’ practices in the market. The ‘very commercial’ David Campbell advised the lead arrangers including Barclays on the $5bn revolving credit facility to Statoil. The ‘calm and knowledgeable’ George Link acted for the arranging banks on Ferrari NV’s debut €2.5bn syndicated financing in connection with its demerger from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The ‘excellent’ Nicholas Clark (who recently returned to London after a number of years in the firm’s Milan office) acted for the lenders on the $75bn loan facility to finance Anheuser-Busch InBev’s takeover of SAB Miller. The ‘extremely bright’ Melissa Samuel acts for both corporate borrowers and major financial institutions on domestic and international secured and unsecured financing facilities. Stephen Kensell and Trevor Borthwick are also recommended.

Clifford Chance LLP has strength in depth both in London and across its international offices, making it well placed to handle a large volume of corporate lending matters for banks and borrowers. Charles Cochrane advised Jaguar Land Rover on a £1.8bn unsecured five-year revolving credit facility. Jim MacHale acted for Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse on a $5.8bn facility provided to Solvay to enable its acquisition of Cytec Industries. Nicola Wherity regularly acts for the Loan Market Association, which seeks her guidance on primary and leveraged loan documentation. The ‘commercial’ Emma Folds and Michael Bates are also recommended.

At Linklaters LLP, Philip Spittal advised Bank of America, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered Bank as co-ordinators on Jaguar Land Rover’s five-year, £1.8bn revolving credit facility. Other key figures include Mirthe van Kesteren, who is ‘a safe pair of hands’ on emerging markets transactions, and the ‘excellentOliver Edwards. Stuart Thomas, Toby Grimstone and John Tucker are also recommended. Other clients include Barclays, HSBC, Glencore and UBS.

For some, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is ‘a clear market leader’ for its work with borrowers on investment grade deals. Martin Hutchings has handled corporate treasury work for clients including BT and Hikma, and recently advised Intercontinental Hotels Group on its $1.27bn revolving working capital and acquisition facility provided by a club of 11 lenders. Alex Mitchell, Christopher Davis, Neil Falconer and Sean Lacey are also recommended.

Slaughter and May is best known for its borrower-side lending capability. Matthew Tobin has handled numerous refinancings for corporates including Ocado, which he advised on the amendment and extension of its existing unsecured revolving facility. In addition to acting for its blue-chip corporate client base, the firm also continues to handle an increasing flow of work for banks, which praise the practice’s ‘responsive and thoughtful advice on complex structured lending’. The ‘commercial and knowledgeableMiranda Leung and ‘extremely bright and hardworkingEdward Fife handle a mix of bank and borrower-side work.

Headed by the ‘level-headed and solutions-oriented’ Nicholas Moore and the ‘commercial’ Tim Rennie, Ashurst’s investment grade lending practice provides a ‘responsive and knowledgeable service’ to an array of corporates and lenders including HSBC, Informa, RBS and Xchanging Plc. Moore recently advised Lloyds Bank as coordinator on a debut £150m syndicated club facility to RPS Group, while Rennie advised the lenders on the financing of Kier’s acquisition of Mouchel. Nick Wong has ‘deep knowledge’ of the insurance financing space. Lee Doyle, Mark Vickers and the ‘commercial and client-oriented’ Martyn Rogers are also recommended.

Nick Tostivin leads the ‘responsive and pragmatic’ team at Baker McKenzie LLP, which is noted for its ‘great market knowledge and exceptional service’ to lenders and corporates. The practice’s expertise covers a broad range of financings, ranging from short-term unsecured loans to global facilities involving multi-jurisdictional collateral, bilateral loans, syndicated loans and participations. Paul Hibbert (who is ‘excellent at infrastructure financings’) recently advised RBS on the financing of Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners’ acquisition of Wightlink ferries. Working alongside several offices including France and Turkey, Lynn Rosell Rowley advised Equinix on multi-jurisdictional financing, international due diligence and post takeover restructuring issues arising from its $3.6bn takeover of UK company, TelecityGroup plc, by way of scheme of arrangement. The ‘experienced and responsiveSebastien Marcelin-Rice is also recommended.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s ‘commercial’ team provides ‘a world-class service’ to borrowers including EasyJet, Royal Mail and Stagecoach. Kristen Roberts recently advised Capita plc on a £600m revolving facility. In an illustration of the team’s energy sector strength and reserve-based lending prowess, Thomas Bethel recently advised a group of 23 international lenders on a $4.3bn financing facility to refinance Lundin Petroleum’s existing reserve-based lending facility. The ‘authoritative yet easy-going’ Ewen Fergusson and the ‘approachable and commercial’ Malcolm Hitching are also recommended.

Although best known for its mid-market leveraged finance expertise, Hogan Lovells International LLP also handles a significant amount of investment grade work for both lenders and borrowers. As part of her wide-ranging practice (which includes general leveraged financings), the ‘commercial and pragmaticPenny Angell handles insurance company financings, and recently advised a bank on an unsecured bridge facility to Swiss Re Life Capital for its acquisition of Guardian Holdings Europe. Andrew Taylor is regularly involved in emerging markets mandates and recently acted for Natixis and ING on the provision of a $530m pre-export facility to Uralkali.

The ‘attentive’ and ‘knowledgeable’ team at White & Case LLP provides a ‘solutions-oriented’ service to banks and corporates including Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Aliaxis Group. Jeremy Duffy (who attracts praise for his ‘sensible and robust advice’) recently advised Aliaxis Group on its €680m revolving facility, and Christopher Czarnocki recently advised Puma Energy on its $1.25bn revolving facility. Other recommended partners include the ‘excellentRobert Bennett and Lee Cullinane.

Headed by the ‘knowledgeable and helpfulEmma Howdle-Fuller, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s seven-partner team displays ‘outstanding technical and commercial expertise’ for banks and borrowers including Tesco, Goldman Sachs and Lloyds Bank. Derek Hrydziuszko has handled numerous mandates for Barclays, including on the provision, alongside RBS, of a £100m secured term loan and revolving credit facility to Restore plc. The ‘proactive and enthusiasticDaisy Reeves is also recommended.

CMS provides a ‘commercial, responsive and pragmatic’ service to UK clearing banks including Lloyds Bank, RBS and Barclays, as well as a growing roster of borrowers such as Value Retail and Mountain Warehouse. Neil James and Alex Patience advised RBS and HSBC on an innovative £158m financing which involved a hybrid ABL, revolving and term loan facility. Patrick Donegan, Mark Moseling and Peter Crichton provide ‘strong and knowledgeable advice’, and Ted Harrison is ‘very knowledgeable about insurance-related financings’.

Key figures at DLA Piper include Julie Romer, who provides ‘practical and robust solutions’ and recently advised a group of banks (including Barclays) on a £90m revolving facility to Just Eat; and Philip Butler and the ‘hugely knowledgeable’ David Miles, who handle traditional debt products as well as mandates in the alternative lender space.

Dentons’ four-partner syndicated lending team has a very strong reputation among banks, particularly for emerging markets work. Isaac Felberbaum leads the practice and acted alongside the ‘excellent’ Robert Spedding for a lending syndicate on a $1.7bn revolving facility to Israel Chemicals. The team is also renowned for its work for lenders on facilities to Turkey’s largest financial institutions.

At King & Wood Mallesons, the ‘commercial and pragmaticIan Borman recently represented AA plc on the £1.1bn refinancing of its existing debt package. Robert Andrews and Jeremy Cross handle fund finance work as part of their broad banking and finance coverage.

Strengthened by the arrival in February 2015 of the ‘pragmatic and commercialAlex Dell from DLA Piper, Mayer Brown International LLP advises lenders on structured/ABL transactions. The ‘superbGraham Wedlake represented CF Lending on the restructuring of an existing €125m securitisation-lite receivables financing facility provided to the International Automotive Components Group. Dominic Griffiths effectively combines bank and structured finance expertise and is recommended alongside the ‘intelligent and experiencedNigel White and ‘detailed and commercial’ Trevor Wood.

At Norton Rose Fulbright, team head Michael Ings specialises in corporate and syndicated lending for telecommunications and media operators, and also handles telecoms deals in Africa for banks including Standard Bank and Standard Chartered Bank. James Dunnett has a strong reputation in emerging markets and Michael Black has ‘a significant depth of knowledge in the ABL space’.

Pinsent Masons LLP benefits from strong ties with the UK clearing banks and is able to utilise its regional offices to handle mid-market corporate lending and syndicated work. ‘Excellent’ team head Martin Bishop has been handling a raft of work for HSBC including advising it on a £115m RCF to St Ives Group. Other key figures include Liam Terry, who is well regarded for corporate lending work; ‘commercial and constructive’ Birmingham-based ABL expert Edward Sunderland; and real estate finance partner William Oliver.

Reed Smith LLP’s Nicholas Williams advised the Côte Restaurant Group on the £78m refinancing of its credit facilities. Ben Davis has significant traction with alternative capital providers including Crescent Capital, which he advised alongside Lloyds Bank on the £33.5m unitranche and revolving facilities to support the refinancing of Interfloor. Leon Stephenson is recommended for fund finance and general bank lending.

Ropes & Gray LLP’s multinational corporate client base, which includes Altice and Liberty Global, regularly calls on it to handle acquisition finance and corporate lending matters. Benoit Lavigne advised Altice on $550m and €300m incremental loans. Matthew Cox has ‘expansive market knowledge’, and is recommended alongside the ‘very experienced and skilled’ Maurice Allen and Mike Goetz.

Now headed by US-qualified Ronan Wicks following his relocation from the firm’s New York office, Shearman & Sterling LLP has been particularly active advising banks and borrowers on refinancings. In an illustration of the firm’s ability to leverage high yield expertise and bring it bear on European loan provisions, dual US and UK qualified partner Peter Hayes advised the underwriters on the refinancing of Virgin Media’s existing £1.2bn debt. The ‘technical and commercialCaroline Leeds Ruby advised ENCE Energía y Celulosa on its recent combined €340m bank and bond financing to replace and redeem existing facilities. Iain Goalen and the ‘tough but fairAnthony Ward are also recommended.

At Simmons & Simmons, Simon Thrower advised Rentokil Initial on its syndicated banking facilities, including a £315m revolving facility for general corporate purposes and a £300m term loan facility related to its acquisition of Steritech Group. Based out of Bristol, the ‘detail-oriented and responsive’ Alistair Hill has a broad finance practice that includes receivables-backed financing work for Shawbrook Bank. Simon Middleton and John Sayers are also recommended.

Led by ‘seasoned professionalZoe Ashcroft, the ‘diligent and client-focused’ team at Winston & Strawn London LLP advises lenders and corporates across a range of financing work, with a particular focus on energy mandates in Africa.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP handles a raft of mid-market corporate banking work on behalf of UK clearing banks including HSBC, as well as a growing list of borrower-side mandates. Amanda Gray leads the team, which was strengthened by the arrival in September 2015 of Angus Gill from Hogan Lovells International LLP.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s Robert Aulsebrook is ‘one of the best for Russian work in the City’ and regularly handles financing work for LUKOIL including a spate of recent corporate facilities totalling more than $1.6bn. Fred Heller is also recommended.

Spearheaded by the ‘experienced and insightfulJason Fox, Bracewell (UK) LLP provides a ‘world-class’ service to lenders and borrowers in the energy sector across a range of reserve-based lending and bank debt financings. The ‘commercial and focusedOlivia Caddy is also recommended.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s five-partner banking and finance practice has the expertise and credibility in the market to handle a range of high-profile cross-border mandates for multinational corporates including Fiat and Goodyear. The ‘superb’ Andrew Shutter advised Greece on a €7.16bn bridge loan from the European Union under the European Financial Stabilisation Fund, and assisted ArcelorMittal with the establishment of a $6bn revolving credit facility. Polina Lyadnova and Glen Scarcliffe are also recommended.

At Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Thomas Budd handles corporate lending and syndications as part of his broad-ranging finance practice.

At Greenberg Traurig Maher LLP, the ‘commercial and pragmatic’ Emma Menzies regularly works alongside practitioners throughout the firm’s global network on cross-border general syndicated financing work for borrowers including Nomad Foods, Igloo Food and Rentokil.

Leveraging its European and US offices, Jones Day’s broad-based London finance group has a strong pedigree in cutting-edge leveraged and investment grade financing products, including post-IPO “crossover” financings, as well as European and US-style financings. Paul Simcock advised Alcentra on the refinancing and dividend recapitalisation of The Mountain Warehouse Group and The SimplyBiz Group.

Led by the ‘excellentChristopher Lawrence, Macfarlanes LLP’s seven-partner team provides a ‘knowledgeable and commercial’ service. The ‘smart and responsiveKirstie Hutchinson advised ITE Group on the amendment and restatement of £100m term and revolving facilities with Barclays Bank and HSBC Bank.

At McGuireWoods London LLP, the ‘responsiveMarc Isaacs advised Fifth Third as lender on a £485m term and revolving facility to Acteon Group. Isaacs has also represented Bank of America in numerous deals.

At Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP, ‘outstanding’ and ‘personable’ team head Phillip Slater recently advised Just Eat on its £90m senior debt raising following its recent IPO. Slater also handles a range of financing work for investment grade corporates including Telecity, and the practice has benefited from the firm’s strong Asian presence to handle numerous lender mandates for Japanese banks including Aozora Bank.

While it is best known for its sponsor-led leveraged finance offering, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP also handles corporate lending for borrowers including Euro Garages, which Stephen Short advised on a new £745m senior term and revolving credit facility to refinance its existing debt facilities. The ‘very talented’ Antti Pesonen advised Ideal Shopping Direct on its recent senior credit facilities.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP’s Clive Wells advised Ball Corporation on the acquisition financing for its proposed takeover of Rexam PLC, which includes a $3.3bn multi-currency revolving credit facility and a £3.3bn bridge term loan facility.

At Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, ‘thorough and commercial’ team head Presley Warner has a strong reputation for borrower-side mandates and recently advised Ferrari on its €2.5bn syndicated loan facility with a group of ten bookrunner banks. Although better known for his restructuring capability, Christopher Howard also handles investment grade mandates for corporates and banks.

Although best known for its mid-market sponsor-driven leveraged finance work, Travers Smith LLP continues to handle an increasing flow of lender-side mandates, particularly concerning funds financing and financing to non-bank financial institutions. Charles Bischoff advised Investec Bank on a £15m revolving facility to fund investments made by Downing.

At Bird & Bird LLP, the ‘impressive’ Andrew Hallgarth has ‘a wealth of experience and knowledge’ of working with development banks. The ‘commercial’ Trystan Tether heads the team.

At Bryan Cave, dual US and UK qualified partner Marty Rolle advised Scotiabank (Ireland) on a £100m unsecured revolving facility to Alliance Trust.

Led by the ‘commercialRichard Leeming, Burges Salmon LLP’s eight-partner team has significant ‘depth of knowledge’ acting for banks in mid-market transactions within the renewables and real estate sectors. The firm also handles general lending work for corporates including National Express Group and First Group.

At Fieldfisher team head Philip Abbott recently advised Merkle Group on a $250m acquisition and working capital facility provided by a consortium of US banks.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP’s Jons Lehmann is noted for his ‘knowledgeable and responsive’ service, which covers a broad spectrum of mandates including structured and investment grade finance. The arrival in September 2015 of Stuart Brinkworth from Hogan Lovells International LLP has strengthened the team, particularly for leveraged finance.

Led by Kirsty Barnes, the ‘technically excellent’ 11-partner banking and finance team at Gowling WLG is well regarded in the mid-market, where it advises on multi-currency secured and unsecured domestic and cross-border investment grade matters. Barnes recently advised Virtus IMH on the amendment of its £50m syndicated facility agreement with Deutsche Bank.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP’s practice excels at cross-border financings, and regularly works with practitioners from the firm’s global network. Working alongside colleagues from Moscow, Bruce Johnston advised Natixis on a $750m pre-export finance syndicated facility to EuroChem. The ‘very commercialThomas O’Connor is recommended for his private placement work for US institutional investors.

At RPC, ‘commercially focused’ team head Sukh Ahark handles financing work for corporates including Sports Direct and Dialog Semiconductor.

Stephenson Harwood’s banking and finance team handles syndicated corporate lending, fund financing and acquisition finance as part of its broader remit. ‘Knowledgeable and supportive’ team head James Linforth is recommended.

At Wedlake Bell LLP, team head Hilary Platt has ‘extensive knowledge of the debt financing market’.

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