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Banking and finance

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  1. Banking and finance
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Who Represents Who

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The ‘flexible and results-orientated’ team at A&L Goodbody is highlighted for their ‘excellent industry knowledge and very good response times’. The group primarily acts for local and international banks and investment firms, but is also experienced in advising borrowers. The group handles a wide range of matters including refinancings, loan portfolio sales, financial services regulatory matters and project financings for a client base that includes real estate, energy and retail sector players. Highlights included advising real estate investment management firm, Tristan Capital, on the refinancing of two retail outlets worth £20m. The team also acted as Northern Ireland counsel for the European Investment Bank on a £150m bilateral loan provided to Choice Housing Ireland Limited to finance a number of social housing schemes in Northern Ireland. Other key clients include Ulster Bank, which the firm advises on significant project financing in Northern Ireland; Bank of Ireland, which the firm assisted with the refinancing of a large property portfolio owned by the McGeown property group; and Danske Bank. The ‘knowledgeable and responsiveJudith Brown heads the team, which includes project finance expert Ciaran McAlinney and Louise Bailey, who are recommended for their ‘proactive attitude to dealing with issues and their commercial approach’.

The ‘highly competent’ finance team at Arthur Cox Belfast attracts praise for its ability to provide a full service and for its ‘high standard of professionalism and excellent response times’. The team acts for traditional lenders such as Danske Bank, as well as investment funds and private equity firms such as Cerberus European servicing, making it a natural choice for distressed debt purchases and refinancings. In a highlight matter for 2016, the firm acted for Promontoria Eagle, a special purpose vehicle established by Cerberus, on a high-value debt restructuring connected to the acquisition of loans from NAMA. Real estate continues to be an active area; highlights included advising Danske Bank on the multimillion-pound financing of Starplan Limited’s acquisition of retail units in Belfast. The group also acted for Nationwide Building Society on a syndicated loan provided to Forest Commercial Limited for the financing of a hotel, office and residential project. The highly regarded Kieran McGarrigle leads the team, which includes associate Colm McElroy.

Carson McDowell’s team, which is ‘quick to respond and reliable’, acts for lenders and borrowers on a range of financings and securitisation transactions spanning the real estate, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors. Housing is a particular growth area; highlights included acting for Bank of Ireland in a £65m facility to the Northern Ireland Co-Ownership Housing Association to provide 2,800 new homes across the region. In an illustration of its refinancing capability, the team acted for Belfast International Airport on the refinancing of its £30m banking facilities with the AIB Group. Other highlights included advising NTR on the financing of wind farm projects, and acting for a consortium of investment funds on the acquisition of mortgage loans and security and the subsequent sale of GE Money’s residual mortgage book in the UK. Recent team changes include the recruitment of Emma Copeland, who joined from John McKee Solicitors in August 2016; and the retirement of Tom Adair in April 2016. Sinead McGrath heads the practice, which includes associates Graeme McKee and Naomi Gaston.

One of the best in the region’, Tughans’ ‘very knowledgeable and commercial’ team acts for a range of banks, investment firms and corporates on corporate finance, restructurings, project finance and property development, among other areas. Highlights included acting for key client Stranmillis Investments on the refinancing of a £30m commercial and residential property portfolio; the team is also advising the same client on equity loan capital and refinancing for a joint venture company, Straben Limited, worth in excess of £24m. David McAleese has been leading for Stranimillis Investments and is recommended for his property and corporate finance and restructuring expertise. He jointly leads the practice with the ‘very organised, responsive and commercialFearghal O’Loan. Other clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which the firm advised on the amendment and restatement of loan facilities, confirmation of securities and revision of corporate guarantees relating to the acquisition of a portfolio of 23 hotels; First Trust Bank, which the firm is continuing to advise on the financing of wind turbines across Northern Ireland; and corporate MJM Damolly, which the firm advised on the financing of the purchase of a retail park in Newry.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s finance practice predominantly acts for lenders, and its client base, which includes Nationwide, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland and Royal Bank of Scotland, represents a who’s who of the major financial institutions active in Northern Ireland. The practice’s expertise spans corporate finance, acquisition finance, debt financing and loan portfolio disposals, and is able to draw on the firm’s wider expertise in real estate, environmental and planning law, as well as litigation, where necessary. Christopher Neill led the team acting for Danske Bank on the £30m asset financing provided to the LacPatrick group to fund the construction of a new manufacturing plant in County Tyrone. In another highlight, Deborah Archer led the advice to HSBC on a £95m financing package to fund Wiggle Group’s acquisition of Chain Reaction Cycles, which was one of the largest acquisition financings in Northern Ireland in 2016. Project finance expert Stephen Cross heads the practice and is praised for being an ‘excellent lawyer with deep industry knowledge’; he led the team advising Royal Bank of Scotland on £94m of facilities to finance the development of Northern Ireland’s first utility-scale solar firm.

John McKee Solicitors attracts praise for its ‘breadth of experience and knowledge’ and for its ‘long history of working with banks and financial services firms’. The group acts primarily for lenders including Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Danske Bank, a new client for the firm. Renewable energy and social housing have been key areas for the firm; Alison Reid and Philip McBride have been advising their lender clients on security issues arising from wind farm options and leases, while practice head Avril McCammonacts for a number of housing association. In a standout transaction for 2016, McCammon led the team acting for Bank of Ireland on a funding package provided to RiverRidge Recycling to support the company’s continued growth strategy and its existing treatment and operations infrastructure. In another highlight for 2016, McCammon assisted Ulster Bank with the financing for the purchase of Open and Direct by insurance group Prestige. Julie Huddleston left the firm in early 2017 and Emma Copeland joined Carson McDowell in July 2016.

The finance practice at Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is praised for its ‘strong business understanding and excellent response times’. The group acts primarily for institutional lenders such as Dankse Bank and Bank of Ireland, but also acts for borrowers; recent highlights include advising Tristan Capital Partners and its JV partner Ellandi on a £37m loan to finance the acquisition of Bloomfield Shopping Centre in Bangor. Lender-side highlights included advising Royal Bank of Scotland on £30m-worth of syndicated development and investment facilities provided to Curlew for the purposes of developing student accommodation. Other clients include Barclays Bank and AIB. The ‘thorough and informative’ Caroline MacLaughlin and Jane Boyd are praised for being ‘efficient and proactive’.

TLT’s well-respected finance team acts for borrowers as well as lenders. Property continues to be a key area of activity, and the firm has been engaged in a number of energy and project financing transactions. In a highlight for 2016, practice head Richard Houliston advised a consortium of Hong Kong-based investors on a £10m mezzanine loan related to the acquisition of a portfolio of properties in Scotland. The group also advised the lenders on a multimillion-pound financing of a wind turbine. Other banking clients include Royal Bank of Scotland. Senior associate Anna Vangrove is another key name.

DWF’s banking and finance team acts for a range of traditional and alternative lenders and has been active in acquisition financing transactions and refinancings. Recent clients include US investment fund, Fortress, and lenders including AIB and Bank of Ireland. Finance expert Ian Stanfield leads the team.

Elliott Duffy Garrett’s ‘thorough and very professional’ team attracts praise for being ‘excellent on urgent matters and good value for money’. Social housing has been a key area of activity for the firm, which has been advising housing associations on a range of financings for property development purposes, with values in excess of £30m. Other clients include Leeds Building Society, Danske Bank and Tennent’s NI. Kevin McVeigh leads the practice, which includes associates Patricia Beckett, Cathy Murphy and John McElrone.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s finance team, which acts for a balanced client base of borrowers and lenders, has been particularly active in numerous refinancing transactions and loan sales. Highlights included advising Fairfield Real Estate Finance on the financing of its £6m acquisition of the Tower Centre, one of Northern Ireland’s largest shopping centres, which involved the purchase of the property from administrators; and advising Sycamore Heights on a £3m mezzanine loan provided to refinance debts owed by Straben Limited to Cerberus Capital Management. Other clients include the Bank of Ireland and AIB Group. Andrew Kerr leads the team.


Insolvency and corporate recovery

Index of tables

  1. Insolvency and corporate recovery
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Insolvency and corporate recovery clients in Northern Ireland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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A&L Goodbody has an ‘excellent’ insolvency practice that has been particularly active in administrations and restructurings in the retail, construction and property sectors in 2016. The firm, which acts for the majority of the Big Four accountancy firms, including KPMG, Deloitte and PwC, is led by Michael Neill and includes associate Sam Corbett, who is noted for his ‘commercial and objective approach’. the team, led by Associate Ross Kane, advised Deloitte as the administrator of The Care Circle and Slemish Homes, on the sale of residential care homes owned and operated by the companies. In another key mandate, Neill is leading advice to the joint administrators of T&A Kernoghan (Holdings) on the sale of the company’s primary asset as well as litigation concerning the construction of a building in Glasgow. The firm is also advising banks including Bank of Ireland on the restructuring and sale of loans. Other clients include Cerberus Capital Management. Louise Bailey is another key partner in the team.

Construction, agri-food and property continue to be active areas for Arthur Cox Belfast’s insolvency team, which is continuing to advise insolvency practitioners and distressed companies in administrations and insolvency litigation. Practice head Kieran McGarrigle has an established reputation as an insolvency expert and has an extenstive track record of advice for the major accountancy firms, including KPMG, PwC and Ernst & Young. McGarrigle led the team advising the joint administrators of Adelie (Ireland) Limited on pre-and-post-administration matters, including challenges made by the landlord of property owned by Adelie concerning the ownership of company assets. In another high-profile matter, the firm advised the trustee in bankruptcy of Derek George Harrison on an ownership dispute concerning an Olympic gold medal winning dressage horse, which concluded in a favourable outcome for the bankruptcy estate.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s varied practice primarily acts for administrators, but also has a track record of advice to company directors and banks on a range of insolvency proceedings, including administrations, voluntary and involuntary bankruptcies, and the appointment of fixed charge receivers. In a major mandate Jeanette Donohoe, who leads the practice, is advising the joint administrators of Schivo, a Londonderry-based aerospace manufacturer and supplier to aircraft manufacturers; this is a high-stakes matter for the region due to the impact on possible redundancies if a buyer for the company is not found. Donohoe also has extensive experience in acting for funds on loan sales; she is leading the team acting for Engage Commercial in the winding up of loans acquired from AIB Bank. Other key clients for include McCambridge Duffy, which the firm is advising on its appointment as liquidator of Hassonzender Limited, owner of the world’s oldest independent department store; Keenan Corporate Finance, which the firm is advising on repossession proceedings arising from its role as trustee in bankruptcy; and Ulster Bank, which the firm is advising on the enforcement of security against a borrower company. Associate Caitriona Morgan is an experienced practitioner and has particular experience in distressed property sales.

Napier and Sons is highly regarded for its insolvency expertise and track record of advice to banks, insolvency practitioners and their respective accountancy firms, as well as individuals. 2016 saw the team advise on a range of corporate restructurings, voluntary and involuntary arrangements, personal insolvencies and cases concerning directors duties. The well-respected Maria Glover, who was appointed to partner in January 2017, has been advising the trustees in bankruptcy in a high-value personal bankruptcy in the agricultural sector, which was particularly complex as it involved the use of dawn raids. Senior partner and voluntary arrangement expert Brigid Napier is another key name. Managing partner John Gordon is best known for his experience in contentious insolvency cases and advice to high-net-worth individuals.

The insolvency team at Tughans attracts praise for its ‘pro-active and professional service’, which it provides to banks, accountancy firms, directors and insolvent companies. The team’s wide-ranging track record of advice covers the appointment of administrators, liquidation proceedings and voluntary insolvency, amongst other areas. Toby McMurray led the team advising Irish Bank Resolution Company on its successful bankruptcy petition against Peter Darragh Quinn, which involved the recovery of assets transferred to a number of jurisdictions around the world. McMurray also acted for Upstream Working Capital, and is now acting for the appointed administrator, in issues arising from the group restructuring of T&A Kernoghan, including advising the administrator on potential litigation. Other clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, KPMG and Bank of Ireland. McMurray jointly leads the practice with Fearghal O’Loan; both garner praise for being ‘attentive, capable, trustworthy and excellent to work with’.

Carson McDowell’s ‘efficient and professional’ team acts for a broad range of clients including accountancy firms (including longstanding client Grant Thornton), lenders (both traditional and alternative) and distressed companies. 2016 saw the firm act on a number high-profile administrations across the manufacturing, hotel and finance sectors. Key work included advising a working capital funder as qualifying floating charge holder, on administration proceedings brought against a Northern Ireland-registered corporate borrower. Other clients include BDO Northern Ireland and First Trust Bank. Sinead McGrath leads the team, which includes Darren Toombs, who is best known for his debt recovery expertise, and associate Graeme McKee, who is recommended for his experience in distressed property sales.

The highly-regarded insolvency team at DWF advises insolvency practitioners, fixed charge receivers and banks on proceedings across the construction and commercial and residential property sectors. Key clients include KPMG, which the firm advised as joint administrators on the administration of entertainment and leisure centre, Odyssey Pavilion in Belfast. The firm also acts for banks including First Trust Bank, Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank. Ken Rutherford is the main contact.

The insolvency team at John McKee Solicitors is well known for acting for banks in the appointment of administrators and advising administrators throughout the formal insolvency process. The firm also advises on the appointment of fixed charge receivers. The property and construction sectors, and the sale of distressed loans, continued to be a focus for the team in 2016. Avril McCammon and Alison Reid are the key partners. Associates Patrice Murphy and Jill Annett are also recommended.

Elliott Duffy Garrett has extensive experience advising administrators and banks on a range of insolvency proceedings, from liquidation to the appointment and of administrators and fixed charge receivers. Highlights for 2016 included acting for Keenan Corporate Finance on the administration of construction company David Patton & Sons; this has involved advising on the appointments of administrators and ongoing advice concerning redundancies and other insolvencies. Managing partner Michael Wilson leads the team, which includes Leo Brown and associate Ian McFarland.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s insolvency practice has been particularly active in the property and construction sectors, and has been advising on the appointment of administrators and fixed charge receivers, as well as liquidation processes. In a key mandate the firm acted for ASM Accountants on the administration of B Mullan & Sons (Contractors), which involved the sale of a large quarry in County Londonderry and complex litigation before the Commercial Court. Other clients include Duff & Phelps, Keenan Corporate Finance and Grant Thornton. Andrew Kerr and Simon Fleming are best known for acting on property-related insolvencies.

Mills Selig is well known for handling corporate and personal insolvency cases; clients include distressed companies, high-net-worth individuals and trustees in bankruptcy. The firm’s recent track record spans multimillion-pound liquidations, individual voluntary arrangements and corporate restructurings revolving around the construction, real estate and professional services sectors. Managing partner John Kearns leads the team and is well versed in insolvency and restructuring proceedings, in addition to being experienced with enforcement procedures. Associate Richard Craig is experienced in leading insolvency proceedings and has acted in multimillion-pound liquidations.


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