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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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Who Represents Who

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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