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  1. Social housing: finance
  2. Leading individuals

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Addleshaw Goddard LLP is noted for its ‘superior all-round package’ and for its lender-side strength-in-depth. The team ‘works tirelessly to support its clients’: standout individuals include Steve Mackie, who is ‘a go-to lawyer for social housing’; Chris Drabble (‘an unsung hero on the property side’); Nick Barlow, whose ‘knowledge is undoubtedly first class’; and practice head Lee Shankland, who is ‘an excellent ambassador’ for the firm in this sector.

Devonshires Solicitors LLP is praised for its teamwork and bespoke service. The practice acted opposite Allen & Overy LLP and Addleshaw Goddard LLP in advising Swan Housing Group on its £250m bond issue and £340m refinancing. Banking head Julian Barker has ‘cutting-edge knowledge of contemporary market practice’. Other key individuals include head of securitisation Sharon Kirkham, senior partner Andrew Cowan (who ‘always pushes to get the last yard in a negotiation’) and Richard Sharpe.

One of the best’, Trowers & Hamlins LLP is praised for its ‘excellent’ industry knowledge and high levels of service. The large team includes London-based partners Adrian Carter and Sarah Gooden, who are ‘very experienced and pragmatic banking lawyers’; and Anna Clark, who is ‘excellent at building relationships’. In Manchester, Neil Waller ‘knows the finance market and key issues’ and senior associate Eleanor James is ‘an excellent problem solver with a growing reputation’. Highlights included advising Affordable Housing Finance plc on two bond issues totalling £402m and subsequent lending to 17 registered providers.

Allen & Overy LLP stands out for its ‘superb’ track record on public bond offerings. Highlights included advising Barclays, Lloyds Bank and RSB as joint book runners, and Prudential Trustee Company as bond trustee, on London & Quadrant Housing Trust’s £250m bond issue. Geoff Fuller and counsel Beth Collett (‘a safe pair of hands’) are also recommended.

Clifford Chance has ‘a small group of specialists, all of whom contribute immensely to our sector’. Real estate finance partner Alistair McGillivray succeeded Despina Pantelia as practice head following her retirement. Other key figures includes capital markets specialist Paul Deakins, who was promoted to partner and ‘beats most people in the room’; and Ruby Giblin, who ‘brings a wealth of specialist experience’. The firm acted for a consortium of seven banks on a £90m loan to Affinity Sutton Homes for the charging of over 1,000 units.

Pinsent Masons LLP is growing in both profile and market share under the leadership of the ‘vastly experiencedIan Roberts, who is ably assisted by senior associate Sarah Whitty. The lender-focused practice acted for Lloyds Bank on the provision of a £30m revolving credit facility and private placement for Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association, which represented a first for the social housing sector.

In an illustration of the innovative work carried out at Winckworth Sherwood LLP, the firm acted for Affinity Sutton Homes on the finance implications of its proposed merger with Circle Housing to form one of Europe’s largest housing associations. Other highlights included advising Hightown Housing Association on an innovative £27m unsecured bond. Key figures include Patricia Umunna, James Duncan and the ‘excellent, calm and very experiencedLouise Leaver.

Birmingham’s Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP has a burgeoning national reputation predominantly acting for borrowers such as Knowsley Housing Trust, which the firm advised on its £195m debt restructuring comprising two bilateral loans and a £90m US private placement. Natalie Singh led on that matter.

Clarke Willmott LLP is ‘great to work with’ and has ‘good, sound knowledge of the sector’. Key figures include securitisation partner Vicky Kells, who is ‘very commercial and efficient’, practice head Sarah Hind and banking partner Fraser MacRae. Clients include Home Group, One Housing and Principality Building Society.

Gowling WLG acts on a wide range of financial structures for clients including Sanctuary Housing Association, Home Group and Circle Housing. Practice head Chris Brierley has a strong track record in the social housing sector.

Wendy Wilks heads the practice at Maclay Murray & Spens LLP, which advises both lenders and borrowers on big-ticket mandates. Key clients include The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC), Affordable Housing Finance plc and Thames Valley Charitable Housing Association.

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Legal Developments in London for Social housing: finance

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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