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United Kingdom > London > Real estate > Social housing: finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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  1. Social housing: finance
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

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Addleshaw Goddard is ‘an acknowledged leader’ for social housing finance deals, and ‘has a depth of experience that is simply invaluable’. The team, which has taken on a number of new associates, is best known for advising lenders in the debt capital markets space, and has also acted in refinancing transactions associated with all of the housing sector’s major mergers. Indeed, Lee Shankland acted for all lenders to Genesis Housing Association, Notting Hill Housing Trust and Notting Hill Home Ownership in relation to the mergers of these groups, and the associated refinancing of all legacy debt. Similarly, Nick Barlow advised a consortium of lenders including Abbey National Treasury Services and AIB Group on the refinance of all existing loan facilities to AmicusHorizon and Viridian Housing as part of the merger between these housing association to create the new group, Optivo; the team then advised AIB Group on its new ISDA documentation with Optivo. Capital markets highlights have included Beth Collett advising the joint bookrunners and bond and security trustee on a secured bond issuance by London & Quadrant (L&Q) totalling £500m, and Steve Mackie assisting BlackRock Investment Management with a £100m private placement transaction with Wheatley Housing Group, which marked the client’s second-ever transaction in the social housing sector. Managing associate Geoffrey McGinley is also recommended.

At Devonshires Solicitors LLP, ‘the strength of the team lies in its deep knowledge of the highly regulated environment surrounding social housing’. For some clients, that expertise makes that the team ‘the go-to firm for registered providers’ involved in any variety of fund raising exercises, from debt capital markets issuances and private placements, to borrowing activities from funds and local authorities. Capital markets highlights have included Julian Barker advising Martlet Homes on a £400m A+ rated bond issuance, and acting for Aldwyck Housing Group in relation to a £40m private placement. In the bank lending space, a team including Andrew Cowan advised Your Housing Group on seven new and restated facility agreements totalling £457m. Similarly, Barker and Sharon Kirkham assisted Hyde Housing Association with a £760m refinancing transaction, which involved restructuring debt and various swaps with five separate banks. Further, Gary Grigor advised The Riverside Group on two new facilities and one restated facility with HSBC Bank, Svenska Handelsbanken and Barclays Bank totalling £200m. The firm also has an active property charging practice led by Richard Sharpe and Saghar Roya, which acted for L&Q to help secure two separate £500m bond issuances. Chris Drabble specialises in security-related transactions and heads the firm’s Leeds office.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has one of the country’s largest social housing finance teams and is instructed by lender and borrower clients on the full range of major bank financing and debt capital markets deals. Naomi Roper assisted Plymouth Community Homes with multiple transactions including a £60m private placement with international investors, a £35m revolving credit facility with Barclays Bank and a refinancing transaction with RBS. Banking and finance head Adrian Carter advised Havebury Housing Partnership on the lender consents for its conversion to a community benefit society and assisted the client with a subsequent £270m refinancing deal with a consortium of lenders. Based in the firm’s Manchester office, newly promoted partner Eleanor James advised Catalyst Housing on a £250m bond issuance, which was the client’s first debt capital markets issuance. Additional highlights have included Sarah Gooden acting for Sentinel Housing Association and First Wessex on the funding agreements in relation to the merger of those housing groups to form Vivid Housing; further, the firm’s real estate finance security team handled the related due diligence and title registrations for the transaction. Also recommended are Anna Clark, who has experience advising borrowers and lenders, and Neil Waller, who is based in the Manchester office.

Allen & Overy LLP is ‘among the best firms for corporate and real estate finance, and has excellent knowledge of the housing sector’, which makes the team ‘a great choice for high-value lending and borrowing transactions’. Consultant and practice head Geoff Fuller, who is a key contact for debt capital markets work, advised L&Q and East Thames on a £500m dual-tranche bond issuance, which was the client’s largest bond issuance to date. Similarly, Fuller assisted Clarion Housing Group with the establishment of the Secured EMTN Programme of Clarion Funding. Bank lending highlights have included Greg Brown acting for Places for People Group in relation to the £150m amendment and restatement of a loan and an option to extend by £50m. The firm is particularly well-known for its bank-side instructions, which have recently included Fuller advising HSBC Bank, NatWest and RBC on a secured bond issuance by Affordable Housing Finance, and acting for the joint bookrunners and trustees in relation to a £400m bond issuance by Martlet Homes.

Birmingham-based Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP has been ‘increasingly sought after for complex financing transactions, M&A and group structuring advice’, and though ‘it may not pick up the volume of some of its competitors, the department has become a valued name in the sector’. Ranjit Bassey advised Aspire Housing on a £205m refinancing of its existing loan arrangements, and a team including solicitor Will Allen acted for Pennaf Housing Group in relation to the refinancing of its bank debt and the creation of a more flexible credit agreement. In the capital markets space, Jon Coane assisted a housing group with two private placements, and the team advised WM Housing Group on a £280m public bond issuance. Natalie Singh heads the funding and finance practice and is rated for her ‘pragmatic and forward-thinking’ advice to borrowers. Additional clients include Thirteen Housing Group and Merlin Housing Association. Solicitor Laura Golightly left for Gowling WLG.

Pinsent Masons LLP is known for advising a huge variety of lenders including local authorities and institutional investors, but also advises housing associations on bank lending transactions. The team has particular experience acting for first-time lenders in the housing sector and assisting with the formation and procurement of local asset backed vehicles. In one stand-out matter, department head Sarah Whitty acted for a group of funders including Peterborough City Council, Lloyds Bank and Dexia Credit Local in relation to the merger between Axiom Housing Association and Longhurst Group, which involved a restructuring of the existing facilities with the two housing groups. Whitty also advised HSBC Bank on a £200m loan agreement with Genesis Housing Association. On the borrower side, Edinburgh-based Iain Macaulay acted for Wheatley Housing Group in relation to its £600m syndicated term and revolving credit facilities arranged by RBS, while Birmingham-based Edward Sunderland assisted the client with a £100m private placement with Swiss and British institutional investors.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP advises registered providers, bank lenders and institutional investors on debt capital markets issuances, bank facilities and refinancing transactions arising out of housing association mergers. Department head Louise Leaver advised Hightown Housing Association on the launch of its second retail charity bond, which will issue bonds through London-listed Retail Charity Bonds. Leaver also acted for Hightown Housing Association in relation to a £45m private placement that was purchased by M&G Investment Management. In the bank lending space, Ruby Giblin advised a prominent housing association on the negotiation of a high-value revolving credit facility with a high-street lender, which was secured by fixed charges over existing properties. Conversely, on the lender side, assisted an international bank with the charging aspects of a loan transaction with a housing association. The team has also been involved in some of the market’s recent mergers, where associate Lucy Grimwood assisted Longhurst Group with the negotiation of lender consents for its merger with Axiom. Also recommended are Jill O’Reilly, who heads the department’s charging group, and Patricia Umunna. Senior associate Deborah Rowntree joined the team from Osborne Clarke LLP.

The Cardiff-based team at Clarke Willmott LLP provides ‘commercial and practical advice’ informed by ‘extensive housing sector knowledge’. Finance and securitisation head Vicky Kells advised Optivo on the due diligence and charging aspects of the refinancing of its £450m syndicated loan facilities as part of the merger between AmicusHorizon and Viridian Housing. Kells is also advising a subsidiary of a Welsh registered provider on the acquisition and development financing for a mixed-tenure residential development. On the lender side, Fraser MacRae acted for Triodos Bank in relation to the provision of a mixed-term and revolving credit facility to Cardiff Community Housing Association. Additional clients include L&Q and GreenSquare Group.

Clifford Chance LLP acts primarily for high-street lenders in a variety of bank lending transactions, property charging, debt capital markets deals and restructuring mandates. The team including Angela Shepherd advised HSBC Bank and Lloyds Bank, as arrangers, on the establishment of a £3bn Secured EMTN Programme for Clarion Group. Practice head Alistair McGillivray acted for Barclays Bank in relation to the amendment and restatement of a facility agreement between Amicus Horizon Group, it’s original lenders and Barclays Bank as arranger and facility agent. The department also has experience advising housing associations such as L&Q, which the team assisted with a group refinancing arising from the client’s acquisition of Gallagher Estates. Additional contacts include Paul Deakins and Bruce Kahl, who have experience with debt capital markets transactions.

Bevan Brittan LLP’s ‘strength lies in its broad sector expertise, which enables it to handle a full-range of funding structures’, property charging mandates and housing development programmes. The team is instructed by a range of registered providers, but is especially well-known for it’s public sector work, which has included acting for Warrington Borough Council in relation to the provision of a £100m loan to One Housing Group. Leeds-based department head Hugo Stephens is particularly ‘skilled at forming housing joint ventures where bank or intra-company debt is needed’. In one example, Stephens assisted Together Housing group with the intra-group loan associated with its joint venture to form Together Roof Energy. The team also advised Together Housing Group on ISDA derivative agreements with three of the client’s lenders. David Moore is a recommended senior associate in the London office.

The service at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is ‘on par’ with some of the most active players in the social housing finance space. Headed by Prashanth Satyadeva, the team is a key adviser to Homes England in relation to the housing guarantees programme. Satyadeva also advised TradeRisks as arranger and dealer on a £120m secured bond issuance by Yarlington Treasury Services, which was the client’s inaugural bond issuance. Further, Eleanor Hunwicks acted for GLA Land and Property in relation to the provision of two loans to accelerate the delivery of about 46 affordable units in the Heart of Harrow housing zone.

Dentons has become active in the social housing finance space following its absorption of Maclay Murray & Spens, which brought to the firm Wendy Wilks, who advises REITs, registered providers and banks in lending and finance deals. Standout highlights include Wilks acting for Affordable Housing Finance in relation to the £320m securitisation of loan facilities to a variety of borrowers, and advising Croydon Churches Housing Association on the restatement of loan agreements with RBS, Santander and Nationwide. On the bank side, Stuart Fitzsimmons acted for RBS on the restatement of various loan agreements with registered providers including Angus Housing Association and Kingdom Housing Association. The team also has a presence in Scotland, where it assists The Housing Finance Corporation and Affordable Housing Finance with the property security aspects of loans made in Scotland, as well as England and Wales.

Headed by Chris Brierley, Gowling WLG’s social housing finance team provides comprehensive funding advice to one of the market’s largest housing groups, Sanctuary Housing Association, and also has social housing panel appointments for multiple high-street lenders. In one example, Brierley and principal associate Angela Rawlins acted for Sanctuary Housing Association in relation to its new £75m credit facility and note purchasing agreement with MUFG and BAE Systems Pensions Fund. The team including director Navin Prabhakar also acted for a subsidiary of a social housing REIT in relation to a private placement to refinance a portfolio of social housing assets. Laura Golightly joined the team from Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP.

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Legal Developments in London for Social housing: finance

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