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Clyde & Co LLP’s ‘excellent, responsive and pragmatic’ team provides ‘quick response times, expert knowledge of the insurance industry and a fair and practical approach to fees’. The firm has notable expertise in Part VII transfers, and has recently advised a number of clients including Riverstone, Markel Insurance and Covéa Insurance on insurance-related business transfers, restructuring issues and corporate compliance. The group also has significant multijurisdictional expertise, and often advises on matters involving a large number of policyholders; a recent example included handling a transfer involving Covéa Insurance, where the reorganisation involved the transfer of over 600,000 customers. Andrew Holderness heads the practice, and the ‘focused and perceptive’ Ravi Masaon has substantial expertise in the life and non-life sectors.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s practice ‘scores high on all fronts’, advising a range of finance companies, brokers, and insurance and reinsurance companies on UK and EU regulatory regimes with regards to restructuring, tax issues and insolvency. The team acts for the provisional liquidators and scheme administrators of the Independent Insurance Company on the formulation of a ‘cut off’ scheme of arrangement, a scheme sanctioned in the High Court in July 2015, and is also advising Close Brothers on the insolvency of Gable Insurance, a Liechtenstein-based insurance company whose business provided policies to customers in the UK. Other highlights included acting for Close Brothers on premium finance matters arising out of the insolvency of Enterprise Insurance Company in Gibraltar. Financial Services Compensation Scheme, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Towergate Insurance are also key clients. Laurence Elliott heads the team, and has extensive experience advising on debt restructurings, workouts and insolvencies, most notably in the financial services and energy sectors. Geoffrey Maddock, who is the other name to note, focuses on non-contentious work in the insurance sector.

Mayer Brown International LLP has ‘a strong traditional insolvency practice’, which is ‘particularly good in restructurings and insolvency-related litigation’. The team has notable cross-border capabilities with particular depth in Asia, Germany and the UK, and has advised on several schemes of arrangement and insolvency disputes involving multiple jurisdictions. Clients include a mix of financial institutions, pensions trustees and other counterparties, and the team also has a strong track record in broker insolvency matters. Highlights included advising the provisional liquidators of ACAL Underwriting, which was placed into run-off following losses resulting from unprecedented natural catastrophes in the Asia Pacific region; assisting Beazley with the return of the group’s management from Ireland to the UK by means of a scheme of arrangement; and acting for Assured Guaranty on the restructuring aspects of its acquisition of MBIA UK, a legacy financial guaranty insurance company. Devi Shah heads the team and ‘is good at identifying commercial solutions’, and of counsel Alexandra Wood is ‘a very strong lawyer who is good on detail’.

Norton Rose Fulbright provides ‘an extremely positive level of service’ and ‘has a great knowledge of the insurance industry’. The team is noted for its strength in cross-border insolvency, and the restructuring group advises on the full spectrum of work including liquidation, alternative business structures, cross-border mergers and the establishment of UK businesses. Recent work included advising Towergate Insurance on its £41m sale of the Broker Network and Countrywide Insurance Management to a buyer entity, a transaction done as the next step following the client’s financial restructuring and recapitalisation, and assisting Enstar Group with the purchase of RSA’s legacy business. James Bateson heads the team, and has substantial expertise in regulatory and transactional matters. Other key figures include Bob Haken, who has a notable focus on discontinued insurance businesses, Maria Ross, who specialises in corporate finance matters, and Nicholas Berry. Prudential, XL Catlin and Charles Taylor are also active clients.

RPC has a strong track record across all insurance-related insolvency matters including Part VII transfers, exit mechanisms, Lloyd’s corporate member restructurings and schemes of arrangement. The firm has also had an increasing presence in the run-off field, and regularly advises its run-off, broker and general insurance clients on the implementation of Solvency II. The team recently acted for Carter Backer Winter LLP as liquidators of Fenton Insurance Company, assisting with its voluntary liquidation as an alternative to a scheme of arrangement, and are also advising Western Pacific Insurance following its insolvency as a result of the Christchurch earthquake, advising on insurance losses and possible commutation of reinsurance liabilities. Matthew Griffith and Vivien Tyrell co-head the practice, which saw the arrival of legal director James Phythian-Adams from Sidley Austin LLP in 2016.

The ‘top-notch’ team at Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP has ‘an impeccable understanding of structured insurance transactions’ and ‘provides advice which is highly specialised and to the point, with a good balance of both risk protection and commerciality’. The firm has been involved in a number of high-profile insurance restructurings, and is well-placed to advise on domestic and cross-border issues on both the general and life assurance side. The group also has significant expertise in advising financial sector clients and acting liquidators, some key names including Barclays, Washington Mutual and MF Global. Highlights included acting for KPMG as judicial managers to British American Insurance Company Barbados, part of the insolvent Eastern Caribbean British American Insurance Company insurance group, and advising the directors of The T&N Asbestos Trustee Company on various matters including the commutation of an insurance policy, and an arrangement with the company’s US counterpart. Key practitioner Alexander Wood is ‘very technical’, and his ‘know-how of English law, particularly in schemes of arrangement, is outstanding’. The ‘client-focused and commercialAndrew Wilkinson is also noted.

Cooley (UK) LLP provides ‘an excellent and committed service’, and the team is ‘highly responsive’ and ‘clearly understands the context of each matter, offering swift and sound advice’. The firm has recently assisted with various schemes of arrangement, most notably within the financial services sector, and also handles regulatory and compliance matters associated with insolvencies and restructuring activity. Highlights included advising Rollings Butt as administrators of Mediterranean Re on all matters arising from the latter’s insolvency, including obtaining a worldwide freezing order against one of its former directors. Practice head Jonathan Yorke has particular expertise in insolvency matters within the financial services sector, and John Clark, who is a recent arrival from Mayer Brown International LLP, is ‘an excellent commercial lawyer who provides sound advice’ and is ‘aware of how best to act to protect the client’s interests’. Emily Farrington is another key name.

Hogan Lovells International LLP has a strong track record in advising life and non-life insurers and reinsurers, Lloyd’s participants, banks and intermediaries on the full range of insolvency issues, and the team has increasingly advised on transactions to ‘insolvency proof’ certain structures before they are put in place. The firm regularly advises on cross-border matters spanning the US, Europe and Asia, and has notable expertise in Hong Kong and China-related issues. Highlights have included assisting the scheme administrators of OIC Run-Off and The London Overseas Insurance Company, and advising on High Court-sanctioned schemes of arrangement that aim to facilitate all determination and payment of the creditor’s claims. Joe Bannister heads the practice.

Pinsent Masons LLP provides ‘excellent value for money’, and has notable expertise in Part VII transfers, restructurings and exit strategies involving asset segregation. The cross-border practice also has significant experience across the Middle East, working closely with its Qatar office to advise on insolvencies in the Doha and Dubai insurance markets. Highlights included advising Reliance Mutual Insurance Society on a major project involving life insurer demutualisation and sale to US-based private equity investors, followed by a Part VII transfer involving £1.9bn worth of assets, and handling a range of insolvency issues on behalf of Allianz, Canada Life, Royal London and Zurich, among others. David Heffron jointly heads the practice with Nick Bradley, who has significant experience in the insurance legacy and run-off field, and has been involved in various legacy business projects on behalf of major insurers. Richard Williams, Colin Read and Claire Massie are also names to note.

The ‘experienced practitioners’ at Sidley Austin LLP have significant experience in all phases of run-off, from inception to completion and the release of capital. The team also handles intra-group reorganisations, most frequently by way of Part VII and cross-border business transfers, along with schemes of arrangement, net-worth maintenance and guarantee agreements. Highlights included advising Catalina Holdings on its acquisition of AGF Insurance, a target company with total assets of £270m, from Allianz; assisting various clients with legal and regulatory matters related to their involvement in the Lloyd’s market; and advising on changes in FCA and PRA requirements in relation to group reorganisation and restructuring. Martin Membery heads the practice, and Adriana Cotter is ‘extremely diligent, thorough and considered in her work, always driving the matter forward, coming up with new ideas and making sure they are delivered upon’. Other key active clients include Genworth Financial, United Services Automobile Associate and Arch Insurance Group.

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Legal Developments in London for Insurance: insolvency and restructuring

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces

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