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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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Noted for its ‘very deep banking practice and extensive network of overseas offices’, Allen & Overy LLP is ‘a prominent fixture in the trade finance market’. The firm’s work in structured finance and emerging markets, coupled with its sector expertise and broad product knowledge, gives it a strong foothold in trade and commodity finance deals across a variety of jurisdictions. Key figures include banking partner Greg Brown, who handles debt financing in numerous emerging markets including Russia, Africa, India, Turkey and the Middle East; Lorraine Bayliss, who leads on export credit agency (ECA) matters and whose diverse deal list includes advising a Norwegian borrower on its capital expenditure programme in Brazil, Colombia and Zambia; derivatives and structured finance partner Richard Tredgett, who regularly acts in structured trade finance deals; counsel Catherine Lang-Anderson, who is a key member of the global trade, commodities and supply chain finance practice and who frequently advises both banks and borrowers; and senior associate Daniel Birch, whose knowledge of derivatives makes him a natural choice for structured commodities transactions. Highlights included acting for Ukrainian steel and iron ore producer Metinvest on the restructuring of $1bn in pre-export financing facilities, and acting for a leading global trade and commodity finance bank as supply chain finance and platform provider in a £350m loan and bond financing for a global corporate. Deutsche Bank, HSBC and ABN Amro are additional clients.

Dentons provides ‘excellent responsiveness and a high level of knowledge in syndicated trade facilities and structured deals’, with clients praising the firm’s ability to deliver ‘clear advice in a timely manner’. The trade finance team, which is now led by Celia Gardiner following the departure of Veronika Koroleva, regularly acts for major institutions on large and complex borrowing base, reserve-based lending and ECA-backed financings. Through the firm’s extensive network of international offices the London team is involved in deals in Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Russia and the CIS. Gardiner leads a team that includes oil and gas specialist Tim Pipe, who stands out for reserve-based lending and pre-export finance; senior associate Ian Clements, who is recommended for cross-border structured trade and commodity finance transactions; Mark Cheney, whose focus on commodity trading and structured transactions in the energy sector is a boon to the trade finance practice; and banking partner Paul Holland, who regularly acts for ECAs. In a standout matter, the team advised facility agent Deutsche Bank on a $1.2bn borrowing base facility for Trafigura Group, and acted for Société Générale on an extension to Trafigura’s $375m syndicated metals concentrates and refined metals borrowing base facility on behalf of. It also assisted facility agent Natixis with the restatement of a $400m borrowing base facility for Trafigura Peru. Among the firm’s other trade finance clients are ING Bank, Rabobank, Vitol and Statoil UK.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s trade and export finance team in London has a strong reputation globally. Partners David Leggott and Andrew Taylor are the key names in a team of ten lawyers who are dedicated to handling trade finance matters for a broad client base that includes key market players such as Afreximbank, Deutsche Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Natixis. The firm’s highly regarded emerging markets practice, which is particularly strong in the CIS and Africa, provides a steady stream of trade finance deals to the core team in London. Leggott has extensive experience advising banks and trading companies on deals covering commodities such as oil, steel, zinc, copper, soybeans and cocoa, and he frequently advises development finance institutions (DFIs). Taylor’s practice covers Europe and emerging markets, where he represents borrowers and lenders including leading development banks. In a key matter, the team advised ING Bank and a syndicate of sixteen lenders on a $1.2bn pre-export facility for Russian potash producers PJSC Uralkali. The team assisted the same client with structuring a €130m borrowing base facility for NLMK Sales Europe. Work for DFIs included advising IFC on a $500m deal as part of its global trade liquidity programme that supports financial institutions with the provision of trade finance in emerging markets.

For some, Linklaters LLP is ‘a preferred adviser on highly structured and complex transactions’. Structured commodity trade finance and restructuring work are the firm’s key areas of focus, where it advises both borrowers and lenders including large trading houses and banks. Mirthe van Kesteren leads the team, which is part of the firm’s global commodities practice, and has in-depth knowledge of the industry and the innovative financing techniques that it requires. Her highlights included advising KAZ Minerals on a $300m facility from Development Bank of Kazakhstan for copper produced in the Aktogay mine. She also advised Barclays Bank on a $950m borrowing base facility with Greenenergy Fuels and others. Toby Grimstone advised Glencore on the €10.2bn joint acquisition of a stake in Russian oil and gas giant Rosneft, which included a complex financing package and offtake agreeements. He also advised the same client on a revolving credit facility from a syndicate of 38 banks. In a further highlight, the team acted on the restructuring of Ukrainian steel and mining group Metinvest, which included the amendment of existing pre-export finance facilities with a total value of $1.2bn.

A go-to firm for structured trade and commodity finance’, Norton Rose Fulbright regularly acts for banks, DFIs, traders, producers, exporters and alternative financiers on complex and innovative cross-border structured financings in the energy and natural resources sectors. Nicholas Grandage is widely regarded as one of the leading lights in the trade finance market; his broad expertise covers all aspects of trade and commodity finance including pre-export and pre-payment facilities, receivables finance, borrowing base transactions and asset-based lending. He acts for numerous banks, trading companies and suppliers on transactions in many jurisdictions around the world and covering a diverse range of asset classes including energy, metals and soft commodities, as well as processed and semi-processed goods. Other key figures include finance partner Daniel Metcalfe, who has extensive experience advising borrowers and lenders on cross-border transactions involving emerging markets; global head of financial services Jonathan Herbst, who is singled out for regulatory matters; Hannah Meakin, also a regulatory specialist; and corporate partner Sean Murphy, who focuses on deals in the communications, media, technology and life sciences sectors. Newly promoted Andrew Wood, who handles structured trade finance deals, and senior associate Richard Wilkes are also recommended. Recent highlights include advising Rosneft on multibillion-dollar pre-payment facilities for the supply of crude oil.

Simmons & Simmons is praised for its ‘good service, good level of business acumen, and an excellent understanding of the client’s business and the market generally, meaning its advice is always commercial and practical’. The firm’s core trade finance capabilities tie in closely with specialist teams for trade, regulatory and disputes. The portfolio of work includes not only traditional trade finance transactions but also innovative areas such as fund formation, risk distribution and sanctions. Its client base includes several major banks and trading houses such as Castleton Commodities and Freepoint Commodities. John Sayers is a leading light in the market; his recent workload includes advice to banks and corporates on transactions in South and West Africa, southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. Omar Al-Ali’s banking practice has a particular focus on trade and commodity finance and Michael Dodson has significant structured finance experience. Rosali Pretorius who specialises in broker-dealer, banking regulation, derivatives and funds, joined from Dentons and now acts in support of the trade finance team. Highlights included advising MRI Trading in relation to its on-boarding of the essDOCS e-bill of lading system, and assisting Castleton Commodities with a $3.3bn senior secured working capital facility and unsecured revolving credit facility.

Sullivan & Worcester UK LLP fields 13 dedicated trade and export finance lawyers, giving the firm one of the largest teams in this area. Standout figures include the ‘hugely respectedGeoffrey Wynne, who ‘excellent value for money and has a great understanding of the issues in the Middle East and in Africa’; Simon Cook, who is ‘skilful, clever and business-oriented’; Mark Norris, who acts for numerous ECAs and is praised for his ‘commercial and user-friendly approach’; Marian Boyle, who joined from Dentons to add skills in insurance and litigation; and senior associate Tom Glinka, who ‘adds a lot of value to all the work performed’. The firm advised documentation agent Deutsche Bank and a syndicate of lenders on the $1.8bn annual pre-export receivables-backed trade finance facility for the Ghana Cocoa Board, and acted for a club of Scandinavian banks on a $400m buyer finance commercial loan to an East African borrower to fund the purchase of telecommunications equipment. Norris also advised Dints International on a vendor managed inventory deal with a large West African gold producer, which was backed by UK Export Finance.

Clients rate White & Case LLP as ‘an excellent firm; its lawyers are pragmatic, responsive and knowledgeable, especially in oil and gas matters’. The firm is particularly well known for innovative deal structures in the energy market, where it acts for banks including BNP Paribas and JPMorgan, DFIs such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and IFC, and major commodity trading houses such as Trafigura. Practice head Christopher Czarnocki has an outstanding reputation in the market for complex cross-border matters. He is ably assisted by Jason Kerr, who is described as ‘an excellent lawyer’; Tom Bartlett, who has extensive experience of reserve-based lending, commodity-based financings and export finance deals; counsel Meredith Campanale, who acts for lenders and sponsors on multi-sourced financings including ECA-backed deals; and associate Gabriel Onagoruwa, who acts for commercial banks, multilateral lending agencies, ECAs and sponsors in international finance transactions. Associate James Hardy also handles pre-export financings and receivables-based structures. The team recently acted for key client Trafigura on a $175m secured Israeli oil borrowing base facility arranged by SMBC and a $450m receivables-backed financing for oil exports from Ghana National Petroleum Company.

A go-to firm for asset-based lending and trade finance deals’, Addleshaw Goddardalways provides excellent advice’ and is praised by clients for its willingness to ‘invest time in building client relationships’. Banking partner Mike Davisonrates very highly; he is extremely well networked in the sector, and his opinion is highly respected’. The firm fields a specialist trade team with wide-ranging expertise encompassing invoice finance, asset-based lending, supplier finance, commodity finance, pre-export finance, repos and structured trade deals. The team also has the backing of a prominent national banking practice and is a strong presence among mid-market players; it is on the panel of all major UK banks. Highlights included acting for HSBC on a suite of facilities for Whitworth Bros Limited in connection with its acquisition of Carr’s Flour Mills, including a £50m syndicated receivables facility and a £15m revolving credit facility. Rising star associate James Tarleton plays a key role in transactions. Head of litigation Michael Barnett and head of financial disputes Mark Gill are recommended for contentious trade finance matters.

Baker McKenzie’s global trade finance practice benefits from the firm’s extensive office network in emerging markets and importing countries, and from a versatile finance team. Frances Okosi, who works predominantly from the firm’s Johannesburg office, oversees the trade finance practice, working closely with the team in London to handle significant ECA-backed financings. Other key figures include finance partner Sebastien Marcelin-Rice, who is active in trade finance deals and advised on a multimillion-euro borrowing base facility for an international construction company; and Nick Tostivin and senior associate Luka Lightfoot, who advised a major international bank on a multibillion-dollar ECA-backed deal for an African commodities producer. Lightfoot also played a key role in the firm’s work for Ukrainian steel giant Metinvest on its restructuring, which included renegotiation of pre-export financing facilities in excess of $1bn.

At Clifford Chance LLPresponse times are excellent and the advice always meets expectations; the firm’s quality is perfect and the marvellous team of associates provides world-class service’, says one client. Another notes that ‘appropriateness of advice is second to none’. The practice handles traditional letters of credit and bills of exchange alongside complex structured trade finance deals, export financings and receivables-based transactions. Leonard Cleland and Logan Wright (who ‘never disappoints’) are singled out, as is senior associate Ashley McDermott, whose practice encompasses energy, mining and metals, and who is rated for his ‘ability to get to the nub of an issue’. Highlights included advising arrangers including Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi on a $519m ECA-backed facility for National Grid North America to finance goods and equipment supplied by Prysmian; and acting for Export Development Canada on an unsecured direct loan to PLC (Indonesia) for the purchase of mobile gas turbine generators.

Clyde & Co LLP strengthened its trade finance credentials with the arrival of Robert Parson, who re-joined the firm from Reed Smith LLP; clients describe him as ‘very knowledgeable in trade finance and international payment instruments, with huge experience in the field’. Experienced senior associate Geraldine Butac, who also joined from Reed Smith LLP, is regarded as a rising star in the trade finance market. Other key figures include vastly experienced consultant Stephen Tricks, who works closely with EBRD on trade finance matters, and consultant Matthew Weedon, whose broad transactional experience that encompasses trade, Islamic, project and asset-backed finance. The firm has an extensive and diverse client base that includes leading global banks, trading houses and corporates. The team is advising EBRD on the impact of sanctions on trade finance deals, and acted for a leading global bank on a $1bn credit facility to secure energy supplies from an oil refinery.

Clients of HFW are ‘particularly pleased with the flexibility and efficiency of the team and the dedication the lawyers show towards client satisfaction’. The firm’s commodities team includes trade finance specialist Philip Prowse, who advises lenders and borrowers on structured financings as well as letters of credit, demand guarantees and supply chain finance. Trade and shipping partner Sarah Taylor, who handles contractual matters as well as litigation, has a track record of handling matters in physical and derivative commodities markets which sees her involved in significant deals in the energy, natural resources, base and precious metals markets. Marc Weisberger, Damian Honey and new recruit Olivier Bazin, who joined from the trade and commodity team at BNP Paribas in Geneva, are also recommended. Prowse recently acted for Synthesis Trade Finance in a multimillion-dollar commodity trade financing deal.

Jones Day focuses on handling big-ticket trade finance transactions, including pre-export, pre-payment, reserve-based lending and commodity trading facilities, for a wide range of financial institutions including Standard Advisory London and Macquarie Bank. Edwin Borrini acts for lenders and borrowers on a broad range of banking transactions that includes structured trades and commodity finance work in emerging markets across Africa and in Brazil, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Drew Salvest is an experienced partner in US and international capital markets transactions, including securitisations, commodities financing and receivables-based deals. In a recent highlight, the team acted for Trafigura on a $5.1bn syndicated revolving credit facility from a syndicate of European banks; it also assisted Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation PLC with $4bn-worth of refinancing and commodity-related deals, and advised British Arab Commercial Bank as lender on a euro-denominated pre-export facility relating to the processing and export of cocoa and coffee from the Ivory Coast. ICBC Standard Bank, EBRD and Bank of China are among the firm’s clients.

Reed Smith LLP is noted for its ‘very high level of customer service and strong results’. The firm focuses on the financing of hard and soft commodities transactions for banks and trading houses, and its portfolio of work includes limited recourse prepayment facilities, borrowing base and warehouse finance structures, repo transactions, pre-export finance, structured supply finance, complex credit support arrangements and secured trade finance deals. Energy and natural resources partner Jonathan Solomon is the key name in the practice; he acts for financial institutions, corporates and traders on a wide range of structured trade, commodity and infrastructure financings. Counsel Ildar Bagautdinov, who focuses on structured and limited recourse financings including structured trade and export financings in emerging markets for banks and corporates, joined from Linklaters LLP. Senior associate Patrick Sutton is also recommended. The firm counts Deutsche Bank, Macquarie Bank and Gerald Metals among its clients. Robert Parson returned to Clyde & Co LLP.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP’s dedicated commodities finance practice acts for banks and trading houses in transactional and contentious matters. It has particlular expertise in mining, metals, soft commodities and energy markets including oil and gas. Joe Levin leads the commodities and upstream finance team and is supported by highly regarded lawyers in senior associate Sarah Lunn and associate Nehal Khan. Lunn specialises in commodity, export, structured, project and asset finance, advising banks, borrowers, owners/operators and commodities houses. Khan’s practice covers international commodities and export finance alongside project, borrowing base and other structured financings with an emphasis on upstream oil and gas transactions. In one of the firm’s standout deals Levin and Khan advised a syndicate of banks including BNP Paribas and ING Bank as lead arrangers on a $1.5bn reserve-based facility for Chrysaor for the acquisition of oil and gas assets in the North Sea. Another highlight saw the firm advise a group of leading banks on a $250m reserve-based facility for Faroe Petroleum to finance the company’s expansion.

Fieldfisher fields ‘a strong team’ that combines ‘excellent and highly responsive service with great industry knowledge’. Trade finance is an integral part of the firm’s banking and asset finance practice, and its workload covers the full range of transactions including documentary and standby letters of credit, export and pre-export facilities, reserve-based lending, bills of exchange, bills of lading and security over goods in transit, borrowing base and receivables finance, factoring and discounting arrangements. The team , which is led by Oliver Abel Smith, was heavily involved in advising bank clients on arrangements to reduce capital requirements in relation to trade finance exposures, and also advised trading companies on commercial trading and commodity finance matters. Abel Smith’s highlights included advising Europe Arab Bank on an innovative structure for its letter of credit and demand guarantee facilities. He also worked with head of finance Andrew Evans to deliver a borrowing base facility for Shawbrook Bank Limited to support the funding of loans for UK SMEs. Project finance specialist Matt Hinxman and mining and natural resources partner Jonathan Brooks are also recommended.

Michelmores LLP is ‘a progressive firm that provides excellent service’. It handles asset-based lending, trade finance and alternative finance matters within a single, cross-department finance and investment sector group. Clients include some of the UK’s largest banks and finance houses, for which the team handles facilities throughout the supply chain, from purchase of goods abroad to trade finance, supply chain finance and receivables financing. Chris Willison, head of banking Charles Maunder, growth markets specialist Joe Whitfield and associate Harry Trick (who acts for funds, financial institutions and social impact investors on debt investments in emerging markets) are all recommended. The team acted for Trade River (UK) Ltd in a receivables facility with ABW to recapitalise its trade finance business. Another key deal saw it handle a multimillion-pound financing for Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation to support solar energy services provider Mobisol’s operations in Tanzania and Rwanda.

Stephenson Harwood’s ‘excellent team’ handles a growing workload of trade finance receivables deals, and is best known for handling ‘technically intensive and heavily structured deals’. David Lacey has extensive experience in structured trade and invoice discounting transactions, acting for both lenders and borrowers. Also recommended are ship and trade finance specialist Neil Noble, who regularly advises on cross-border loan and security documentation and has negotiated a diverse range of structured pre-export financings, and Lisa Marks, who has represented banks and financial institutions for more than 25 years and has extensive experience of handling the financing of assets, receivables and trade debts. Highlights included acting for Santander on a payment service agreement between the bank and French listed company Sodexo.

Taylor Wessing LLP attracts praise for its ‘high level of knowledge’ in asset based lending matters. The firm has a ‘responsive and approachable’ trade finance team in London that handles the full range of transactions from receivables financing and supply chain finance to letters of credit and pre-export financings. The firm has continued to expand its client base; in 2016 it handled mandates on behalf of new clients SMBC and Anglo Pacific Group, in addition to advising longstanding clients including Deutsche Bank, Bank of America and PNC Business Credit. Elisabeth Gaunt leads the team, which includes partner Martin Yells, who is ‘technically excellent and has a common-sense approach’. In a key mandate, the team acted for Anglo Pacific on the $40m financing of its acquisition of a streaming arrangement with Denison Mines relating to a share of revenue from ore processing at the Cigar Lake uranium mine in Canada.

Thomas Cooper LLP has a longstanding reputation for trade and commodity finance, partly due to its strong relationships with international banks. Grant Eldred leads the firm’s finance group and has extensive experience in structured trade finance work; his clients include a number of overseas banks with branches in London. Also recommended are head of international trade and commodities Charles Williams, and Alex Monk, whose recent work includes advice to arrangers on a syndicated $210m prepayment facility to an international commodity trader’s Brazilian sugar export business secured against sugar crops and receivables.

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