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



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

Next generation lawyers

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With a team of ‘unmatched experts’ that ‘consistently performs at the best possible level’; Addleshaw Goddard is ‘considered a clear leader in the social housing field with a strength in depth that is rare to find’. The group’s impressive lender-side client roster includes Santander and Barclays; department head Lee Shankland advised the latter and six other lenders on the refinancing of all loan facilities to London & Quadrant Housing Trust and East Thames via a new bilateral facility and syndicated facility agreements totalling £3.4bn as part of the borrowers’ merger. Nationwide Building Society, Yorkshire Building Society and the Royal Bank of Canada are also clients. Standout individuals include Steve Mackie, who is ‘held in high esteem’; newly promoted partner Nick Barlow, who ‘provides practical and sound advice’; and Beth Collett, who joined the firm from Allen & Overy LLP and is ‘a formidable person to have in your corner’. Katie Ridehalgh in Manchester and Leeds-based associate Geoffrey McGinely, who is ‘an excellent up-and-comer with clear technical ability’ are also recommended. Chris Drabble joined Devonshires Solicitors LLP.

Devonshires Solicitors LLP’s team has ‘a real can-do attitude and exceptional knowledge’, which ‘places it at the top of the social housing tree’. Julian Barker leads the firm’s banking team and the ‘incredibleSharon Kirkham heads up the firm’s securitisation practice; other key practitioners include ‘great advocateAndrew Cowan, whose ‘style of working and willingness to go the extra mile gives confidence not only in the advice given but in handling the ways forward’; Richard Sharpe, who regularly acts for registered providers; and Saghar Roya, who handles securitisation matters. Recent highlights include advising on the merger of Affinity Sutton Group and Circle Housing Group to create Clarion Housing Group, which included assisting with amendments and replacements to facility and hedging agreements totalling over £3.5m of debt across the groups; assisting A2Dominion Housing Group with the creation of a £1bn Euro Medium Term Note programme and subsequent bond issuance; and advising Trafford Housing Trust on four loans totalling £275m to be used to refinance debt and fund housing developments in Manchester. Tuntum Housing Association, Peabody and Radian Group are also clients. Chris Drabble joined the Leeds office from Addleshaw Goddard.

According to one client, ‘nobody inspires confidence’ like the ‘truly excellent’ team at Trowers & Hamlins LLP, which has ‘a strong understanding of the financing arena and provides clear, concise and practical solutions in a pragmatic way’. The ‘highly knowledgeable’ Adrian Carter leads the banking and finance group, and Katie Dyer heads the security team. Other key names include the ‘incredibly experienced’ Neil Waller in Manchester; the ‘excellent’ Anna Clark; Sarah Gooden, whose ‘pragmatism is astounding’; the ‘outstanding’ Naomi Roper; Melanie Comer, who made partner in 2016; and senior associate Eleanor James, who ‘provides sound and appropriate advice’. In a recent highlight; Roper and Dyer advised Affordable Housing Finance on a £1bn loan from European Investment Bank and subsequent on-lending to 18 registered providers. Other work includes advising Peabody on the restructuring and refinancing of existing loan facilities, and assisting Crestline Investors with a £20m loan to RentplusUK and handling related funding arrangements. Accent Housing, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing and Danske Bank are also clients.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP’s Birmingham-based team is ‘excellent, with exceptional response times, high knowledge levels and approachability’ that makes it ‘a key player in the field’. The group acts almost exclusively for borrower-side clients, including Thirteen Group and Merlin Housing Society; the group advised the latter on borrowing £50m from Affordable Housing Finance and the related securitisation of the loans. The team also advised Stafford and Rural Homes on a major refinancing via a private placement and the restructuring of its existing loan facility; and assisted Greenfields Community Housing with various funding transactions, including the raising of £40m by private placement and the restructuring of its facility with Santander. The ‘highly professional and diligent’ Natalie Singh leads the department, which includes the ‘proactive’ Jon Coane, Jonathan Cox and Ranjit Bassey, who leads the property securitisation team.

Sarah Whitty leads the ‘excellent’ practice at Pinsent Masons LLP, which has ‘an exceptional strength in depth’. Whitty primarily advises lenders and recently worked with Ian Roberts to assist M&G Investments with the development of a new funding scheme with Genesis Housing Association and Linq Partners for mixed tenure housing; acted for the Bank of Scotland, alongside Edward Sunderland, on the restructuring and refinancing of £35m of banking facilities to Port of Leith Housing Association; and, with Stephen Brown, assisted Santander with a private placement by Greenfields Community Housing. Aviva, Nationwide Building Society and Pension Insurance Corporation are also clients. Brown leads the firm’s social housing property due diligence and security team, and Sunderland heads up the debt capital markets and securitisation practice; the team also includes David Meecham, who is the key adviser for Homes and Communities Agency, and Anne Bowden.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP has ‘a strong team with good commercial awareness of the clients’ requirements’, and stands out for its advice to registered providers and large housing associations. Clients include Genesis Housing Association, Four Housing, and Hundred Houses Society, while BAE Systems Pension Funds Investment Management and Longhurst Group are new clients. Andrew Murray (who ‘is an excellent person to have in your corner thanks to his creative solutions and market insight’) led advice to Affinity Sutton Group on its merger with Circle Housing Group. Other highlights included advising London & Quadrant Housing Trust on the £800m regeneration of Purfleet, and James Duncan's advice to First Wessex as investor into a private sector partnering scheme with Eastleigh Borough Council. Patricia Umunna (‘a knowledgeable practitioner’) is also noted.

Allen & Overy LLP’s ‘extremely professional, prompt and precise’ team stands out for its public bond offering expertise. The group recently advised Places for People Treasury on the issuance of £400m guaranteed notes, the issuance of £65m retail bonds and the issuance of $100m US private placement notes, and assisted HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Santander as joint lead arrangers and joint bookrunners with London & Quadrant Housing Trust’s issuance of £300m secured bonds. The Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank, Affinity Sutton Group and Barclays are also clients. Practice head Geoff Fuller has ‘exceptionally comprehensive knowledge and is always able to cut through difficult challenges’ and Greg Brown is ‘helpful and highly experienced’.

At Clarke Willmott LLP, key practitioners include practice head and securitisation expert Vicky Kells, who is ‘efficient, easy to deal with and reliable’; and banking partner Fraser MacRae. In a recent highlight, Kells led advice to London & Quadrant Housing Trust on a £300m secured bond issuance; other work includes negotiating a facility agreement for GreenSquare Group with Abbey National Treasury Services, and assisting Lloyds Bank with an amendment and restatement agreement with Shal Housing to provide additional funding. Other clients include Melin Homes, United Welsh Housing Association, Home Group, Knightstone Housing Association and One Housing Group.

Clifford Chance’s team is ‘professional, proactive and incredibly knowledgeable’ and Alistair McGillivray stands out for his ‘excellent leadership’. Other key names include Angela Shepherd, who is ‘unbelievably reliable’, Paul Deakins, who specialises in bond financing and private placements, and Bruce Kahl who regularly acts for corporate trustees. The firm recently acted for Barclays on the amendment and restatement of a facility agreement with Longhurst Group; and advised Barclays, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland, as the underwriters, on People for Places’ issuance of £400m guaranteed notes. Despina Pantelia retired and Ruby Giblin joined Winckworth Sherwood LLP.

At Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, practice head Prashanth Satyadeva, who also heads the firm’s structured debt and capital markets practice, is ‘the key name for housing financing matters’. Satyadeva recently advised Homes and Communities Agency on a £175m bond funding for London & Quadrant Housing Trust to facilitate the planned building of 16,000 homes, and assisted the same client with a £265m bond issuance to Tipi Properties for the refinancing of two private rented sector tower blocks in Wembley. The team also advised Homes and Communities Agency on a £200m funding to Canary Wharf Group to facilitate the development of four new residential towers, and assisted it with development funding provided to Realstar Group. Eleanor Hunwicks is also recommended.

Bevan Brittan LLP’s team ‘performs well due to its excellent communication skills and detailed sector knowledge’. Jonathan Turner leads the housing group, and other key individuals include finance team head Hugo Stephens, Richard Stirk, who leads the Northern social housing team from Leeds, and Julie Cowan-Clark, who is recommended for security work. The firm’s borrower client base includes Warrington Borough Council and Together Housing Group; Stephens led advice to the latter on the restructuring of seven loans from five lenders as part of its restructuring. Other work includes assisting LiveWire Community Energy with fundraising via private bonds, and handling a loan to Icknield Port Loop for Places for People.

Gowling WLG’s practice head Chris Brierley is handling various matters for key client the Sanctuary Group, including advising on its entrance into a revolving credit facility with HSBC, assisting with the recent transfer of Sanctuary (North West) Housing Association’s work to Sanctuary Housing Association, and handling the transfer of engagements of its Scottish entities Cumbernauld Housing Partnership and Tenants First into Social Housing Association. Pension Insurance Corporation, Iliad Cosgrove and Home Group are also clients. Key figures include tax specialist Lee Nuttall, Angela Rawlins, who regularly handles finance arrangements for housing associations, and Navin Prabhakar. Colin Hurt retired in 2016.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLP’s ‘response times, accuracy of work and quality of advice are excellent and of a high level’. The group, which acts for a mix of lender and borrower clients, is led by Wendy Wilks, whose ‘strong sector knowledge is paired with an ability and willingness to drive a solutions-based approach’. Wilks recently advised a Cambridge-based property company on the development financing of a site acquisition. Other clients include Family Mosaic, Thames Valley Housing Association, The Housing Finance Corporation and Affordable Housing Finance. The group also has substantial experience in its Scottish offices; Susan Kelly in Edinburgh and Gillian Downie in Glasgow are recommended.

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Legal Developments in London for Social housing: finance

  • New ‘ROE Bill’ draft published

    Following from the recent public outcry regarding the lack of ‘transparency’ in the UK property market, a new ‘ROE Bill’ draft has now been published.
    - Hudson McKenzie

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