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  1. Derivatives and structured products
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Who Represents Who

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Allen & Overy LLP has one of the deepest and strongest structured finance practices in the City, and clients remark that 'the level of service is extremely high; it has fast response times, a very high level of legal and industry knowledge and a proactive approach'. The practice has 13 specialist partners who provide bespoke legal advice and develop innovative technology solutions for the derivatives and structured finance market, such as MarginMatrix, which is a solution for compliance with mandatory variation margin rules. David Wakeling and Tom Roberts were the driving forces behind that project. The firm has since developed Margin Xchange for the mass repapering of derivatives contracts required by new initial margin regulations. In the regulatory sphere, the firm is also leading the way in developments surrounding blockchain applications and virtual currencies. On the transactional side, the firm is involved in the development of innovative risk retention structures; for instance, Franz Ranero acted for Napier Park Global Capital and others in establishing a CLO origination fund, which acts as CLO originator and retention-holder to third-party managers. Tony Drake-Brockman leads the practice and specialises in all types of structured products and funded derivatives, including credit-linked, equity-linked and commodity-linked securities, warrant issues and fund structures. Emma Dwyer is many client' 'our preferred counsel in derivatives and OTC clearing matters; she is extremely knowledgeable and has extremely good industry insight'. A client of Paul Cluley remarks that 'his performance and that of his team on our initial margin project was absolutely stellar; his advice is always very sound, direct and fit-for-use'. Also recommended are Parya Badie for strategic equity matters; David Benton, whose track record includes derivatives matters arising from the eurozone sovereign debt crisis; Richard Tredgett and Daniel Shurman, who advised VTB Capital on structured commodity transactions; Guy Antrobus, who assisted ISDA with updates to initial margin credit support documentation; and David Wainer , whose clients include Morgan Stanley.

Clifford Chance LLP is 'a very strong firm that provides first-rate advice and has a team that is great to work with'. One client remarks that 'its knowledge of loan on loan transactions and public markets work is second-to-none and its work on repack programmes is fantastic'. The practice advises on all types of transactional derivatives across asset classes including commodity, equity, credit and interest rates, as well as collateral and financing structures. The lawyers have extensive experience in the review and negotiation of ISDA master agreements and associated credit support documentation, and the firm has specialists in the documentation of repos, securities lending arrangements and structured and embedded derivative products. Its lawyers also advise leading financial institutions on structured product issuance programmes, including listings and prospectus approvals. The firm is also acting in the retail market for structured notes, warrants and certificates, funds, market access products, repackagings, OTC derivatives, proprietary indices, insurance products and structured deposits. Retail and insurance product expert Andrew Coats and Asia-Pacific specialist Paget Dare Bryan are co-heads of the London derivatives and structured products practice. Habib Motani leads the firm's global derivatives practice. Jessica Littlewood is 'a long-standing practitioner in this space who is up to speed with all regulatory developments and market practice'. 'Innovative and creative thinker' Timothy Cleary  has 'in-depth technical expertise and commercial acumen'. Last year, Anne Drakeford worked on deal-contingent foreign exchange swaps and options documentation for trades in the context of private equity acquisitions and disposals. Matthew Grigg handles structured debt and derivatives transactions, including synthetic CDOs, synthetic securitisations, repackagings, credit derivatives, credit-linked, equity-linked and fund-linked securities, and asset backed securities. Senior associate William Winterton is also recommended for work on counterparty risk management, collateral and clearing issues for both sell- and buy-side clients.

Linklaters LLP is 'the very best in the market', according to one client who remarks that 'for complex, innovative, cross-border work it would be our first port of call'. The firm is 'very good at keeping on top on new regulations its business acumen and industry knowledge are second-to-none'. The firm's prominent position in market-defining issues is evidenced by its work for ISDA on the impact of Brexit on the derivatives market and documentation. Deepak Sitlani and Mark Brown, who is 'hugely experienced and hardworking, and shows very impressive attention to detail', were the main partners involved. Key partner Vinay Samani has more than 20 years’ experience in debt, equity and structured finance transactions, and frequently acts for both financial institutions and corporates. One client describes him as '100% reliable; he understands how the market works and what his clients need, and he marries a relaxed, common-sense approach with in-depth technical knowledge'. Paul Lewis, who is now head of UK derivatives and structured products, focuses mainly on margin implementation for non-cleared derivatives, but also handles matters relating to the application of blockchain and smart contract technology. One client remarks that he is 'definitely the right person to lead the firm towards innovative technology solutions, as he has always been forward-looking'. Lewis and David Phillips advised BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan on new issuance under the markets first single-issuer, multi-dealer repackaging programme. The firm's deep bench of talent includes global head of capital markets Michael Voisin; Simon Firth, who acted for British Business Bank in the provision of guarantees to United Trust Bank; Toby Gray and Matthew Monahan for repackagings and credit-linked notes, who exhibit 'good response times, good knowledge and are willing to co-operate under tight deadlines'; 'very strong partner' and rising star Mark Drury, who is 'solution-oriented and not afraid to tell it like it is'; and counsel Doug Shaw.

Simmons & Simmons' practice is 'flexible, hungry, willing and able to work to tight deadline, and they are a pleasure to do business with'. Another client notes that 'the lawyers are consistently responsive, engaging and proactive, the firm provides good value for money and the team has good strength in depth'. The firm advises buy-side and sell-side counterparties on derivatives matters, acting for leading investment banks, hedge funds and institutional asset managers. In an illustration of its market-leading position for complex repackaging work the team assisted Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Société Générale and BBVA with an initiative to standardise repackaging documentation. Head of the firm's retail structured products group Sean Bulmer handled that matter and he frequently advises on securitised and OTC derivatives, as well as SPV structured finance transactions. Rising star David Toole, who handles OTC and securitised derivatives and structured capital markets products for financial institutions and public-sector organisations, also played a significant role.  He is 'very approachable and personable and has a deep understanding not only of our business but also of the market more generally'. Alan Davies acted for the joint lead managers on the issuance of $750m perpetual fixed spread callable notes by Demeter Investments, which were secured by a facility agreement with Swiss Re. 'Experienced, responsive, flexible and solid' practice head Paul Browne 'has led the firm to the top of the market'. Craig Bisson acts for some of the world’s top institutional asset managers in derivatives, securities financing and regulatory matters. Rising star associate Oliver West 'has established himself in the market and has a solid knowledge base, a great work ethic and is very much one to look out for'. David Roylance retired from the firm.

Ashurst provides 'excellent commercially-minded service that represents very good value for money, particularly when compared to Magic Circle firms'. The firm handles structured products platforms for a stellar list of clients that includes Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. It also has expertise in all key derivatives asset classes including structured credit, strategic equity derivatives and longevity risk, and it has one the leading practices in London for asset repackaging deals. In 2017, the practice acted for Credit Suisse in the update of its structured products programme, which included five multi-product base prospectuses, a programme memorandum and underlying programme documentation. Jasmine Tiw is a specialist in structured products and bespoke proprietary indices, and she handled that matter. Also involved was Michael Logie , who leads the securities and derivatives group. Clients describe him as 'a trusted adviser with great visibility across the market and an excellent manner with his clients; he is always prepared to provide an informed view to assist a client and understands the importance of meeting deadlines'. His primary areas of focus are platforms for the issuance of structured products to investment and retail clients, complex structured products and regulatory matters. Jonathan Haines and counsel Kerion Ball advised numerous lenders on the refinancing of a derivative financing structure through new margin loans secured on Swiss listed shares. Key partner James Coiley and rising star partner James Knight handled a total return swap with a Turkish bank on behalf of a leading investment bank. Adair Gordon-Orr is recommended for complex asset finance transactions and bespoke credit and market risk transfer work.

CMS' practice acts across the full spectrum of derivatives and structured products. James Parker, Mike Munro and Thomas Lockley are considered leaders in the area of pensions and longevity risk. They advise on some of the largest and most innovative transactions in the market for clients such as Abbey Life Assurance Company Limited, Aviva, Deutsche Bank and Legal & General. Last year, Munro acted for Reinsurance Group of America in a £900m asset and longevity risk transaction involving a portfolio of annuity business from UK insurer Liverpool Victoria. Michael Cavers  and practice head Will Dibble are well regarded for their work on retail structured products, on which they advise clients such as Deutsche Bank. Cavers and Dibble also act for JPMorgan on all their retail structured product issuances, including notes, warrants and certificates linked to various asset classes, as well as complex and hybrid structured products. They are also recommended for their work on proprietary indices and associated regulatory compliance matters. Dibble and Jason Brooks are also highly regarded for credit derivatives matters and frequently advise on credit-linked notes and programmes, as well as transactions with embedded credit derivatives. Brooks and Jason Harding advise on equity derivative financings such as collars and margin loans.

Fieldfisher's derivatives group covers all types of underlying  assets and represents a broad spectrum of market participants in derivatives, repo, stock lending and structured products transactions. The firm is regarded as one of the leading advisers to both the institutional asset manager sector and the UK prime brokerage market. It is also highly active in emerging markets and has a busy traded products regulatory practice. In the structured products space, it focuses on bespoke transactions for originators, issuers, corporate services providers, trustees, servicers, swap providers, account banks and investors. A unique feature of the firm is Condor ALS, an alternative legal solutions platform that offers clients a range of customisable and low-cost services for large derivatives and financial markets documentation projects, fixed-price trading documentation negotiation, and data extraction and analytics services. Luke Whitmore and Chris Georgiou are the key names behind Condor. Practice head Guy Usher advised Banca IMI on an uncollateralised securities loan with a major European bank, which involved bespoke trade confirmation documentation. The practice has a deep bench of expertise that includes Edward Miller, who handles netting and collateral issues in derivatives transactions; securitisation and derivatives-based financings expert Dougall Molson; regulatory specialist Azad Ali; structured finance veteran Stephen Moller; and Emma Spiers, whose broad practice encompasses credit, equity and fund-linked transactions.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP 'offers an exceptional level of service - the documents are always turned around quickly and deadlines are respected, but, most importantly, the team’s commercial acumen and knowledge of the markets in which it operates is first-class'. The derivatives practice focuses on high-end, complex and multi-jurisdictional transactions in interest rate, forex, equity, commodity and credit derivatives for financial institutions, funds and corporates. It is also a key adviser on regulatory reform, including clearing and margining rules under EMIR. The practice also handles innovative matters including the development of structures to provide leverage to hedge funds and to facilitate the buy-back of distressed debt. The firm acted for a Russian bank in an equity upside arrangement, which was structured as an equity derivative option under an ISDA master agreement. Dina Albagli leads the derivatives practice and was the lead lawyer on that transaction. She advises buy-side and sell-side clients on transactional matters and also assists financial institutions with regulatory capital and liquidity issues. Nick May 'explains complex issues in a way non-specialists can understand'. Jake Jackaman's practice includes repackagings, cash flow CLOs, synthetic CDOs, credit funds, securitisations and portfolio credit default swaps. He is 'a very smart guy but practical'. Michael Poulton, whose main focus is on securitisation but who has a broader structured finance practice, 'draws on an a great reservoir of experience and responds calmly and rationally under pressure'.

Hogan Lovells International LLP¬†provides 'a superb level of service'. It is 'a top-quality law firm that delivers absolutely excellent value for money', according to one client. The firm has significant expertise in cross-border matters, having many dual-qualified lawyers in London and having a strong¬†presence in transactions in emerging markets, especially in Africa. An example of its high-value work from 2017 is its advice to BNP Paribas on the annual update of its groundbreaking programme for secured structured products through a Luxembourg securitisation company, SecurAsset, and in relation to numerous structured product drawdowns under the programme.¬†'His speed of response, knowledge of our business are unparalleled', says a client of key partner and¬†deputy CEO of the firm¬†David Hudd, who led that transaction.¬†Counsel Neil Kurzon¬†is recommended for his 'derivatives excellence and knowledge of securities programmes' and he also played a central role in that work. Global head of international debt capital markets¬†James Doyle¬†led a team that assisted Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank with its ‚ā¨50bn structured debt issuance programme, on which the London office provided advice on both English and French law. The practice also counts¬†Soci√©t√© G√©n√©rale,¬†Bank of America Merrill Lynch and¬†Jefferies among its clients. Another key facet of the practice is its dedicated trustee team, which is led by¬†Kit Johnson, who continued to¬†to act for Bank of New York Mellon as trustee for Lehman Brothers-related debt last year, which included the unwinding of Lehman Brothers‚Äô synthetic debt repackaging programme.

Latham & Watkins's¬†clients turn to it for advice on bespoke and innovative transactions. It acts for global financial institutions including¬†Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank. It also has a long list of¬†private equity clients for which it handles structured finance work, including Blackstone Group. Recent highlights include acting for¬†Barclays Bank in its capacity as hedge co-ordinator for Wind Tre SpA, in which the practice assisted with the development and management of a hedging strategy in connection with the unwinding of $5.25bn of existing swaps with eleven hedge banks, and the proposed entry into $3bn in cross-currency swaps and ‚ā¨2bn in¬†interest rate swaps with a large hedging syndicate of¬†banks. Newly promoted partner¬†Shatha Ali¬†and associate Polly Ehrman, who¬†handles OTC derivatives and structured finance transactions, notably in equity and credit instruments, were the key lawyers on that deal.¬†Sanjev Warna-Kula-Suriya¬†and¬†Dean Naumowicz¬†are the key names in the practice. Warna-Kula-Suriya acted for Magnetar Financial in its investment in a synthetic securitisation and Naumowicz handled significant private equity margin loan transactions in 2017. The firm's investment in the team sees it climb the ranking this year.¬†Simeon Rudin,¬†formerly of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, joined as counsel. He has considerable experience in strategic equity and structured credit transactions.¬†Jeremy Green¬†and Thomas Cochran¬†both joined as counsel from¬†Goldman Sachs to add expertise in¬†complex OTC derivative and structured capital markets transactions.

Mayer Brown International LLP frequently advises on some of the largest and most complex derivatives matters in Europe for dealers, though it also has an impressive buy-side client base that includes hedge funds, asset managers, pension funds, insurance companies and multinational corporates. Its presence in international deals is due, in part, to the synergy between its London practice and its derivatives capability in New York, Hong Kong, Germany and elsewhere in Europe. This global presence enables it to be at the forefront of regulatory matters, particularly in regard to the impact of US and European regulatory developments such as the Dodd-Frank Act and EMIR. The London practice is also counsel to industry body ISDA on key matters. A highlight deal from 2017 was its advice to BT Pension Scheme Trustees on the implementation of new margin rules under EMIR, which included assisting with compliance issues and negotiating documentation with market counterparties. Global head of derivatives and structured products Ed Parker is 'extremely knowledgeable about ISDA documentation' and worked on that matter with counsel Marcin Perzanowski. They also acted for Zurich Group in EMIR compliance matters. US- and UK-qualified partner Chris Arnold is 'very responsive and knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with'. He recently assisted a leading global bank with the update of documentation for its structured products issuance across all asset classes. Counsel Nanak Keswani is also recommended for work on OTC derivatives, repos and structured products.

Shearman & Sterling LLP is 'responsive, client-focused and good value for money in complex and bespoke derivatives matters', according to one client. The firm has 'an outstanding finance practice' that brings together derivatives and structured finance skills in both English and New York law. This includes a focus on regulatory and tax expertise in the structured finance context. The firm has particular expertise in equity financing transactions involving equity derivatives and margin loans, in which it frequently acts for both lenders and borrowers. The firm frequently handles high-profile and complex deals, which last year included advising Ardagh Group as parent guarantor on an $850m financing agented by Citibank. James Duncan is co-head of the practice and led that transaction. Patrick Clancy is the other practice c-head and clients describe him as 'a very smart guy and makes really complex issues understandable'. He recently handled complex hedging arrangements for the financing of a major energy project in the Middle East. Counsel Leona McManus, who plays a key role in English law derivatives transactions and is active in the equity derivatives space, and associate Sara Couling are also recommended.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP¬†is one of the most prominent players in the European CLO market, in which it is consistently the most active firm on behalf of asset collateral managers. It counts¬†Blackstone/GSO and Carlyle,¬†the two biggest global managers, among its key clients. It is regarded as a innovator in the CLO market, and its recent work included the development of a new originator risk retention structure with Blackstone/GSO, and subsequent work for GSO on turning that structure into the first CLO platform compliant with both EU and US risk retention rules. The firm also handles structured investments in bank assets by funds, thus enabling banks to¬†improve their capital ratios. In the derivatives space, the firm frequently handles total return swap¬†structures for its key structured finance clients, as well as advising on currency and interest rate hedging for structured finance vehicles, corporates and¬†banks.¬†Jacky Kelly¬†leads the practice in London and is co-head of the global structured finance and derivatives group. She handled three new CLOs last year for¬†Blackstone/GSO -¬†Willow Park, Palmerston Park and Clontarf Park - as well as advising on the resets¬† or refinancings of seven others. For Carlyle, she handled CLO matters with a combined value of ¬£1.8bn, and assisted with a private financing by way of a total return swap. Key partner¬†Brian Maher¬†advised Apollo Management International on the ‚ā¨466m ALME Loan Funding IV CLO. Also recommended are¬†Steven Ong¬†and counsel¬†Thomas Falkus¬†who advised corporate and private fund clients on the impact of EMIR on new and existing structured finance transactions.

White & Case LLP¬†has a diverse structured finance practice that includes securitisation, derivatives and CLOs. The firm's global network and presence in emerging markets makes it one of the leading practices in London for work on Islamic derivatives structures. Head of structured finance Ingrid York¬†focuses mainly on derivatives and synthetic structured finance mandates, and her recent work includes for¬†Cr√©dit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank on the issuance of¬†a first-of-kind green capital note, which constituted a¬†$3bn synthetic securitisation relating to the bank‚Äôs portfolio of project finance, asset finance and infrastructure loans.¬†Associate¬†Richard Blackburn¬†has significant experience advising banks and corporations across a broad range of OTC derivatives and structured products, and he played a key role in that deal. For the same client, York also handled the derivatives elements of ‚ā¨830m in new funding for French SMEs through a synthetic securitisation under the European Investment Plan. She also assisted Wind Tre with the hedging of interest rate and cross-currency arrangements with 17 hedging banks in connection with its ‚ā¨7.3bn issuance of high yield senior secured notes. Another standout deal for the practice was its work for¬†hedging banks on cross-currency swap and collateral arrangements in connection with the $850m issuance of notes by Banque Ouest Africaine de Developpement.¬†Chris McGarry¬†leads on securitisation, but frequently advises arrangers, issuers, sponsors and investors on CLOs. With newly promoted counsel¬†Melanie Davies, he acted for placement agent JPMorgan Securities in the ‚ā¨358m¬†Bluemountain Fuji EUR CLO II. David Barwise retired from the practice and¬†Debashis Dey¬†took over the key elements of his practice.

Baker McKenzie advises on complex hedging arrangements for numerous large, cross-border securitisations and syndicated debt financings, as well as in connection with several more esoteric and bespoke structured derivatives deals. The firm's global presence sees it handle transactions involving new clients in a broad range of jurisdictions including Africa, the Middle East and Russia, as well as in specific industry sectors such as energy, mining and infrastructure. Its work in 2017 comprised day-to-day hedging activities for international financial institutions and corporates, as well as high-profile and complex transactions. Last year, the firm acted for Ellomay Capital in the development and financing of Talasol solar electricity facility in Spain. The transaction is one of the first to use a tradeable derivative instrument to hedge the expected price of the electricity generated by a proposed solar facility located in Spain. The key lawyer in that deal was of counsel Phung Pham, who leads the London derivatives practice and advises financial institutions, corporates and state-owned entities on transactions across all asset classes. Also recommended are Simon Porter, who leads the structured capital markets practice and handles structured products work, and is also head of the corporate trust practice, and Chris Hogan, who works between the firm's London and Johannesburg offices.

The newly merged Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP combines expertise in many niche areas of the structured finance market. From the Berwin Leighton Paisner side of the merger the combined firm got its lead derivatives and structured products lawyer Tariq Rasheed, who is 'technically one of the strongest in this area of expertise and he has an ability to explain matters in simple language', and senior associate Iman Roy, who frequently works on matters for Goldman Sachs. From Bryan Cave, the practice benefits from the experience of corporate trust expert Helena Nathanson. and of counsel Marty Rolle . However, securitisation and CLO partner Rachel Kelly  and senior associate Kerry Pettigrew left the firm for McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP. The firm 'makes the transactional and regulatory pieces work seamlessly together', says one client, while another remarks that the lawyers are 'extremely knowledgeable in their field and very user-friendly; their experience is impressive'. Key pieces of work from 2017 included Rasheed's work for Goldman Sachs International on the negotiation of derivatives agreements, including ISDA master agreements, cleared derivatives execution agreements and collateral documentation, as part of a long-term client relationship. The firm also advised many Asian banks including United Overseas Bank and Bank of China on their MiFID II obligations.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP  is 'outstanding in all respects', according to one client. CLOs are a major feature of the practice, which is a leading counsel to arrangers. London capital markets partners David Quirolo, who is a leading light in the CLO market, Nick Shiren and Claire Puddicombe are the key contacts. The firm is also known for its alternative finance and fintech practice, which handles direct lending and SME loans, and it is a prominent adviser in the European peer-to-peer lending market. Jeremiah Wagner leads that group. Special counsel Robert Cannon handles insurance-linked products and one client notes that he is 'super-proactive and always available; his knowledge of ILS structures is unrivalled'. He acted for Willis Tower Watson Securities and Natixis as arrangers and bookrunners in the first catastrophe bond transaction sponsored by French mutual insurer Covéa. Special counsel Assia Damianova specialises in derivatives, synthetic securitisations, regulatory capital relief trades, TRS facilities and also has extensive experience of asset management issues.

At Dentons, 'the service, the pricing and the availability all click into place'. The firm handles all aspects of derivatives work including flow documentation negotiations, clearing, commodities hedging, securitisation swap intermediations and a broad range of plain vanilla and structured emerging market derivatives transactions. Derivatives specialist Matthew Sapte leads the practice and one client describes him as 'reasonable, very accommodating and very knowledgeable', adding that he is 'a calm person to have on a transaction'. He handles a broad range of work including credit-linked, equity-linked, conventional and Islamic derivatives. He recently advised BNP Paribas, as swap provider, on securitisation swaps entered into in connection with notes issued by Bluestep Mortgages Securities No. 4 DAC. He also assisted Investec Bank with its trading relationships with fund counterparties in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Luxembourg. The firm also has a strong CLO practice led by Martin Sharkey. Also recommended are Mark Cheney, who specialises in the development, financing and acquisition of energy and infrastructure assets, and in energy trading; and Peter Voisey and Edward Hickman, who handle structured finance and securitisation. The firm also has greater capacity in trustee, tax and regulatory matters in the derivatives market thanks to the hires of Catriona Lloyd from Linklaters LLP, Alex Tostevin from Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP  and Jonathan Garforth from Allen & Overy LLP.

DLA Piper has a strong practice for US and European arbitrage CLOs, finance platform structuring for new challenger banks with fintech services, international derivatives mandates for multinational financial institutions, and loan portfolio transfers, and it climbs the ranking this year. The firm has 'a deep bench of associates who really know what they are doing', remarks one source. It also benefits from highly experienced partners including global co-chair of finance Martin Bartlam, who recently acted for Natwest Markets in the provision of balance guaranteed swaps into warehouse and securitisation transactions, including the Tower Bridge Funding No. 1 RMBS and the Dutch Property Finance 2017-1 RMBS, through its ATS platform. Vincent Keaveny is international co-chair of the financial services sector group and plays a pivotal role in the practice. He has more than 20 years' experience in advising banks, financial institutions and corporate clients in the UK and internationally on securitisation, derivatives, structured finance and debt capital markets transactions. London head of finance and markets Mark Dwyer is another standout practitioner and his work last year included advising an Asian bank on new ISDA master agreements, electronic trading documentation and a review of its cleared derivatives execution arrangements. Newly promoted partner Bryony Robottom has more than 10 years’ experience in structured finance matters including repo platforms, participation platforms, credit derivatives and securities lending arrangements. Another newly promoted partner, Steven Krivinskas, frequently acts for financial institutions and borrowers and has an increasing focus on transactions in the fintech sector.

Macfarlanes LLP impresses by virtue of its 'in-depth knowledge of derivatives, quick and succinct answers delivered with a minimum of legalese, and terrific understanding of the commercial drivers on both buy and sell sides'. The firm has one of the leading buy-side practices and it continued to attract new clients including BlueDrive Global Investors, CG Asset Management and Seiga Asset Management last year, adding to a list that includes Man Group, Goldman Sachs and Marshall Wace. In a highlight matter, the firm acted for forex and commodities broker Sucden Financial on the creation of a new collateral netting agreement. Buy-side specialist Christopher Acton led that work and he frequently acts for hedge funds, managed account platforms and proprietary trading houses in prime brokerage, derivatives and regulatory matters in Europe. The 'smart, thoughtful and commercial' Will Sykes acts for investment and hedge funds, financial institutions, high-net-worth clients and corporates in financing and trading transactions, focusing on both derivatives and structured products. Senior counsel Rob Daniell 'brings years of sell-side prime brokerage experience to bear and his advice is prompt, clear and concise'.

'The firm has significant experience in more esoteric derivatives transactions', says a client of¬†Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. The firm has¬†one of the leading practices for CLOs, on which it advises leading managers including PGIM,¬†Bain Credit and BlueMountain.¬†John Goldfinch¬†is the key name in the CLO space.¬†He acted for KKR Credit Advisors as investment manager and retention holder in a ‚ā¨410m CLO refinancing, and for¬†Halcyon Loan Advisers as collateral manage in a new ‚ā¨334m European CLO. Beyond CLOs, the firm has a full-service transactional derivatives practice that handles innovative deals.¬†James Warbey, who leads the firm's alternative investments group, acted for a major European investment bank in the establishment of its European loan total return swap programme. He also advised PGIM in a new issuance CLO, Dryden 52, in which Goldman Sachs International acted as arranger and placement agent. The firm also invested in new talent with the hire of¬†Jennifer Ellis, who joined¬†from¬†Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. Her experience moves the firm into the equity derivatives space, and also¬†advises on complex cross-border structured finance transactions with a particular focus on derivatives and structured credit.

Norton Rose Fulbright's structured finance and derivatives practice sits within the capital markets group and is led by Nigel Dickinson and Daniel Franks, who have strong relationships with investment banks and count Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citibank and Commerzbank among their clients. Dickinson acted for a syndicate of investment banks including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Natixis on a $3.1bn loan to the Central Bank of Egypt, which in return transferred $4bn of collateral in the form of sovereign bonds issued by the Arab Republic of Egypt. He also acted for Merrill Lynch International on a repackaging transaction whereby Galaxy Capital Public Limited issued notes under its $50bn limited recourse secured debt issuance programme in respect of bonds issued by Novo Banco. Derivatives specialist Hannah Meakin also played a key role in that deal. A highlight for Franks was his work for a global investment bank on a template for total return swap to maturity confirmation, which involved a synthetic financing arrangement structured as a TRS and with embedded credit-linked mechanics, for use across the EMEA and APAC regions. Franks also advised a commodities broker on EMIR variation margin regulations and the negotiation of ISDA agreements. Derivatives specialist Jonathan Herbst is also recommended.

The structured finance practice at Reed Smith LLP is 'responsive and makes the effort to provide commercially-minded and practical advice'. It 'takes a broad view of complex matters and the advice received is a balanced blend of legal and commercial considerations'. The firm's work spans transactional and regulatory risk, OTC and exchange trading. Claude Brown, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a lawyer and banker, advised a state pension fund on its investment in the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Facility Bond issue, which included the drafting of swap documentation for a national catastrophe risk transaction. He also advised a software and data company on the licensing of its weather derivatives platform in the US. The firm is also a key adviser on regulatory developments affecting the derivatives market. EMEA managing partner Tamara Box leads the structured finance team. Nick Stainthorpe 'has very broad experience, is approachable and finds creative solutions to any problems while balancing legal risks'. James Fisher, who handles both cross-border and domestic structured finance and derivatives, is also recommended. The firm also has one of the leading corporate trustee teams in the City and acts for major corporate trust houses and new market entrants.

Slaughter and May is 'always quick to respond and turnaround times are always achieved', says one client, while another remarks that 'the firm is a preferred adviser for challenging first-principles deals'. The firm's derivatives practice is  best-known for advising corporate treasury departments on a broad range of matters including the negotiation of documentation for general treasury hedging to  complex derivatives transactions and regulatory compliance issues. In support of its M&A practice, it frequently handles equity derivatives, including portfolio total return swaps. The practice also handles equity-backed collar financings, put option financings, stock borrowing arrangements and collateralised repurchase arrangements. A significant part of its practice, however, is focused on the role of derivatives in securitisations and covered bond transactions. Oliver Wicker leads the practice and much of his work has been driven by bank deleveraging in Europe. Ed Fife is 'able to provide succinct advice on all derivative products, including  complex swap repacks, no matter how they has been packaged by the arranger'. He acted for Reinet Funds as borrower in a £250m margin loan transaction. Also recommended are Guy O’Keefe; structured finance specialist Richard Jones; and Azadeh Nassiri , who acts for investment banks, investment funds and corporates.

At¬†Travers Smith LLP¬†'the team is very knowledgeable and helpful,¬†mixing legal knowledge with commercial acumen to offer practical solutions to real world problems'.¬†'The¬†advice is always well thought through and practical', remarks one client. The firm is known for its advice to¬†investment managers, challenger banks, blue-chip pensions schemes, private equity funds, corporates and financial institutions on derivatives, repos, securities lending, investment products and regulatory matters.¬†Peter Hughes¬†is a key partner in the buy-side practice, as is¬†the 'friendly, efficient, responsive, eloquent, and effective'¬†Jonathan Gilmour¬†, who¬†is 'very experienced and good communicator'. One client notes that he 'has a broad knowledge of the market and is able to apply this effectively to explain matters in simple terms'. Hughes and Gilmour acted for Poland's Bank Ochrony Ňörodowiska in organising its EMIR clearing requirements.¬†'Very knowledgeable and responsive' senior associate¬†Vanessa Battaglia¬†is the lead associate for key clients such as¬†clients such as Brown Brothers Harriman and Cheque & Credit Clearing Company. 'Approachable, knowledgeable and commercial' senior associate¬†Joseph Wren¬†focuses on private equity, funds and investment managers clients and is a key contact for 3i, Allianz Global Investors and Bridgepoint.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP focuses predominantly on the representation of buy-side clients and it is a leading adviser to authorised funds on their ability to enter into transactions which are compliant with new regulations affecting the derivatives market. Its client base is made up largely of investment funds and pension schemes, which it assists with trading and hedging matters. The practice acts for numerous banks and building societies in balance sheet management and in relation to the treasury products offered to their customers. A key matter from 2017 was the firm's work for Sainsbury’s Pension Scheme, Liverpool Victoria, Nomura and others on updates to collateral documentation in order to be compliant with the new rules for the mandatory exchange of margin. Key partner Richard Batchelor led that work. With senior associate Paul Denham, he also advised banks, building societies, pension schemes and asset managers on the clearing of OTC derivatives. Jonathan Master leads the UK derivatives practice and he assisted American Express Services Europe and other payment services firms with the application of EU regulations to their trading activities. With principal associate Jamie Dunlop, he advised Deutsche Bank on ISDA master agreements with a range of different counterparties.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is well-known for its work on innovative structured finance deals and it has respected partners such as Richard Hart. His structured products and derivatives practice handles cross-border deals for financial institutions and end-users, as well as investment managers and sovereign entities. His experience covers complex structured equity transactions, frequently in emerging markets, and he has helped to structure hedging solutions for securitisations, leveraged buyouts and project financings. The practice also provides advice on regulatory matters.

The London office of Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP draws on the strength of its US office network to advise on regulatory compliance matters, transactional work and documentation for futures, cleared and uncleared swaps and structured products. Its lawyers 'have become great experts in EU and UK law and they make themselves available at any time; most importantly, they are able to provide a bridge between UK and EU law as it applies to firms in the US and explain the rules in a manner that the US firms understand'. Its clients include hedge funds, proprietary traders, pension funds, broker-dealers, alternative investment managers and CFTC-regulatred swaps dealers. David Brennand is a key adviser to the buy-side of the market and leads the practice. Carolyn Jackson provides US financial regulatory legal advice to a broad range of market participants including commercial banks, investment banks, trade associations and OTC derivatives service providers. Also recommended are Nathaniel Lalone, who is 'able to compare UK and US law and explain the differences in a way that is clear, concise and simple', and Neil Robson for regulatory and compliance advice. The firm counts LCH.Clearnet, Nasdaq and Karya Capital Management among its clients.

Morrison & Foerster LLP provides 'excellent technical support and high-quality documentation' for complex derivatives and structured products, according to one client, who remarks that 'there is good depth in the team and it always meets deadlines'. Vladimir Maly, who has 'excellent knowledge of complex derivatives and derivative financing structures', co-ordinates the firm's global derivatives practice, which covers fixed income, foreign exchange, commodity and, in particular, equity derivatives. While equity derivatives are its prime focus, the practice also handles commodity-linked, fund-linked and credit-linked products. Maly is also a key part of the firm's push into new and emerging areas such as fintech. He acted for Tiberius Asset Management in numerous commodities trading projects, including the development of T-coin, which is a token linked to actively traded metals. Maly and key London partner Jeremy Jennings-Mares, who has a broad skill set that includes structured securities, debt capital markets, receivables financing and OTC derivatives trades, recently advised numerous investment banks on derivatives matters relating to financial regulatory reform, including MiFID II, MiFIR and Basel III. Senior of counsel Peter Green is also recommended for his knowledge of structured credit, structured products and derivatives.

On CLOs,¬†Paul Hastings LLP¬†provides 'a¬†very high level of service with deep industry knowledge, the capacity to involve foreign partners when needed, good advice on commercial terms, and regular regulatory updates'.¬†Diala Minott¬†, who is 'quick to react and has deep knowledge of the regulatory framework and knowhow on the various ways to structure a deal',¬†Cameron Saylor¬†and¬†Michael Smith¬†are the key practitioners in that area, though they also have broader skill sets. Minott acted for¬†Intermediate Capital Group and Arizona State Pension Fund in a ‚ā¨250m fund financing structured as a hybrid facility. She also acted for¬†Intermediate Capital Group¬†in its EMIR-related hedging structuring and cash pooling arrangements, which involved the creation of a¬†Jersey HedgeCo. Former lead derivatives lawyer Karen Stretch¬†moved to¬†Dechert LLP¬†but Smith and Lorenza Talpo¬†have significant expertise in that area.¬†Christian Parker¬†also focuses on¬†structured bond and fund-linked products, and a broad range of swaps, repos, and related products. He acted for¬†CVC Credit Partners in the establishment of a¬†risk retention corporate entity, which will act an investment vehicle offering third-party investors the opportunity to invest in US and European CLOs.

The derivatives practice at¬†Burges Salmon LLP¬†advises major corporates, including FTSE100 companies and funds, among which are National Express and Emirates Group. For transport operator FirstGroup, the firm¬†advised on numerous transactions including negotiation of ISDA master agreements and related credit support arrangements, as well as assisting with regulations such as EMIR. Head of derivatives¬†Graham Soar¬†handled those deals, and he also acted for¬†Premier Fund Managers in ISDA agreements and credit support arrangements with several banks. Key partner¬†Richard Leeming¬†acted for Santander UK in the¬†review and negotiation of¬†ISDA master agreement and credit support arrangements for Wales-based taxi company Veezu in¬†connection with a loan made by the bank to fund the company's acquisition strategy. Soar and Leeming have the support of strong senior associates¬†Katie Allen¬†and¬†Alistair Rattray.  

Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP's¬†derivatives and structured products practice¬†sits in both the London and Paris offices, with partners in each collaborating closely on plan vanilla derivatives transactions,¬†repos, securities lending, structured credit derivatives, structured notes and ABS transactions. Its work encompasses hedging advice for securitisations, covered bonds, corporate and asset financing, real estate financing and project finance. It also handles regulatory, netting and collateralisation matters for¬†investment banks, corporates, local authorities and national and international industry bodies. OTC derivatives and structured products specialist¬†Karine Imbrosciano¬†leads the practice and is dual-qualified in both English and French law. In 2017, she advised¬†Soci√©t√© G√©n√©rale and Natixis on the¬†hedging of the interest rate risk in relation to the refinancing of a ‚ā¨350m portfolio of four hotels managed by Hyatt and owned by the Constellation group. She also acted for¬†A√©roports de Paris Management, Bouygues B√Ętiment International, Colas and Meridiam Africa on interest rate hedging¬†in relation to the financing of the Ivato and Nosy Be airports concession in Madagascar.

Ropes & Gray LLP joins the ranking on the strength of its growing volume of derivatives and structured products work. Its increased standing in the market is evidenced by its appointment as external counsel to SIFMA Asset Management Group's Derivatives Europe Committee, and its growing roster of clients, which now includes Western Asset Management. The firm is a trusted adviser to asset managers, sovereigns and corporates on transactional and regulatory matters in the structured finance market. Anna Lawry is the key partner. She has more than ten years' experience in the derivatives market and frequently advises on OTC or on-exchange transactions, and ISDA, collateral, brokerage, clearing and custody arrangements. She assisted US-based global fixed-income investment firm Western Asset Management Company with the implementation of global margin requirements for OTC derivatives. She also acted for Shire Pharmaceuticals on compliance issues arising from foreign exchange hedging trades. Real estate structured finance partner Partha Pal and senior associate Richard Hanson are also recommended.

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