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Who Represents Who

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Burges Salmon LLP’s banking department is the ‘right kind of fit’ for small and medium size deals, but is also capable of handling large cross-border finance matters. In one particularly high-value deal, the ‘commercial and clear-thinkingGraham Soar advised Bluefield SIF Investments on a £217m refinancing of its portfolio of solar parks. Richard Leeming heads the practice and acted for National Express Group in relation to £450m of new bank facilities, comprising a £350m bridge facility and a £100m general corporate purpose facility; highly recommended senior associate Ed Hobbs also acted on that matter. On the lender side, the department is on the panels of Lloyds Bank, HSBC, RBS, Bank Leumi UK, Santander UK and NIBC Bank. Nathan Curtis advised RBS as lenders on a £45m financing of NTR’s Scotland-based Quixwood Moor Wind Farm. Rachael Ruane also acts for a range of lender clients. Andrew Eaton joined the firm from Travers Smith LLP, while Richard Clark joined TLT.

Osborne Clarke’s banking practice is ‘commercially driven and focused on pushing projects through to completion’. The practice has an extensive track record in acquisition finance and syndicated lending, and also handles corporate finance, real estate finance and project finance matters. It also benefits from the firm’s national and international footprint and has longstanding relationships with high-street lenders. The ‘pragmatic’ Tom Bussy advised Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds Bank and Santander on £160m of new debt facilities to the Day Lewis pharmacy group, and acted for Lloyds Development Capital on the acquisition of the management buyout of ADEY. In the energy sector, practice head and ‘exceptional adviser’ Omar Al-Nuaimi acted for Foresight Solar Fund on the implementation of a £190m refinancing of a solar portfolio; he also assisted Solarplicity with the £115m refinancing of its solar asset portfolio. ‘Knowledgeable’ associate director Deborah Rowntree acted for Lloyds Bank on various term and revolving credit facilities to HPH Commercial Property for the purpose of refinancing existing facilities.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s ‘client-focused’ banking and financial services department is noted for its expertise in energy project finance and real estate finance and advises financial institutions on a variety of structured transactions and regulatory issues. Traditionally, the team has been instructed by lender clients, but has been taking on an increasing number of borrower mandates. The group’s highly regarded head, Julian Kinsey, regularly acts for banks on all areas of debt financing and restructuring, and advised Lloyds Bank and several other lenders in relation to the debt and equity restructuring of Stevens Hatherley Group and its subsequent merger with Clean Linen Group. On the borrower side, Tom Caplen acted for St Monica’s Trust on the negotiation of term loan and revolving credit facilities from Lloyds Bank for the purposes of a real estate development in Keynsham. The ‘diligent and adaptablePhilip Withey advised Hilco Capital on inter-company debt, working capital funding and security issues in connection with the client’s acquisition of the UK business and assets of Staples.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is noted for its ‘great reputation for delivering excellent customer-focused solutions’ and is known for its project finance work, aviation finance and advising specialist lenders in corporate finance transactions. The internationally focused banking group has specialist African and Middle East practices, with Islamic finance capabilities, and is also developing its presence in the Greek and Cypriot markets. ‘Straightforward and concise’ practice head Richard Norton advised Tsokkos Hotels on a €200m term loan facility with Bank of Cyprus, and acted for National Bank of Kuwait on a £6m secured Shari’ah facility over a property development in London. Norton is also the team’s aviation finance expert, and is assisting Gulf Air with a $200m working capital loan secured over IATA accounts. Adrian Mayer leads the Africa practice and handling a number of matters for VC-fund Actis LLP, including an investment in a mixed-use property development in Ghana, and a multimillion-dollar loan for a shopping mall in Nigeria.

Foot Anstey’s team has specialists in acquisition and real estate finance and banking litigation, in addition to having among the best UK Islamic finance practice outside of London, led by Imam Qazi. The ‘approachable and pragmatic’ Will Whitt leads the non-contentious banking team and is acting for Greenridge Investment Management on facility agreements and security and inter-creditor documents related to the £77m acquisition of the 3M headquarters in Bracknell through an Isle of Man SPV. Corporate finance expert Chris White joined the team from Shearman & Sterling LLP and acted for the lenders on the financing of the acquisitions of Brightwater Holidays and Action for Charity by Specialist Journeys. Other key figures include Paul Clark, who is active in the real estate finance space, and Robin Brown, who leads the ‘excellent’ banking litigation team.

TLT regularly competes with City firms and has continued to expand its banking and financial services team, recruiting corporate banking and restructuring specialist Richard Clark from Burges Salmon LLP. The banking department has particular expertise in advising investment-grade borrower clients and is active in the energy and real estate sectors. Known for providing ‘exceptional customer service’, Jon Stewart advised BGL Group on its £130m revolving credit facility and £240m securitisation facilities; he also acted for WHSmith on £240m of revolving credit facilities. On the lender side, Stewart acted for AIB Group UK on £33m of forward funding facilities provided to Empiric Student Property. Gary Roscoe primarily acts for lender clients in the energy sector, such as Aurium Capital, which he advised on multiple renewable energy project finance transactions. Roscoe’s other clients include British Solar Renewables, Triodos Bank and Energy Saving Trust.

Ashfords LLP has substantial experience in real estate and development finance and has noted an uptick in lender-side instructions in 2016. Many of the department’s largest deals contain international aspects; in a notable example, practice head Rebecca Dury is assisting a European bank with the English law aspects of its financing of a group of European property investors, including advising on security over insurance and derivative contracts. In a local highlight, Dury is acting for Exeter Finance on the provision of loans to multiple borrowers for property development and acquisitions. James Heath acted for Lloyds Bank on the acquisition of a shopping centre. The group has acted for a number of lender and borrower clients on the funding aspects of energy projects and care home developments. Other lender clients include Santander and RBS, while its borrower clients include The HAB Group and Targetfollow Group.

Clarke Willmott LLP’s sizeable banking and finance department attracts praise for its ‘strength in depth’. The firm has particular strength in real estate finance and is among the few firms with expertise in agricultural finance. In an example of the group’s real estate finance expertise, department head Roger Seaton advised a leading private bank on the refinancing of two substantial buy-to-let properties for £7.3m and £3.5m, respectively. ‘Diligent and practical’ senior associate Claire Tofts is another real estate finance specialist and Philip Brown has experience of property portfolio refinancing and development finance. Clare Titchener assisted a challenger bank with the security for the refinancing of the former Bridgewater Hospital site. Kirill Bingham is ‘always prepared to go the extra mile’ and is acting for high street banks including Santander and HSBC. Zoe Stollard focuses primarily on construction law, but also handles the financing aspects of construction projects.

DAC Beachcroft LLPstands up well against many other regional firms’ in the real estate finance space, and has experience acting for lenders and borrowers on a variety of property and investment finance matters. Michael Pearce co-heads the banking group and handles a steady stream of property investment work for Santander UK. Pearce is also acting for Lendy Limited, a peer-to-peer funding client, in relation to a number of short-term bridging and development loans. Legal director Simon Pickett is ‘particularly strong’ in real estate finance and property portfolio work. Joint practice head Giles Taylor has more than 20 years of transactional experience and was involved in the negotiation of a high-value facility agreement related to a joint venture for a residential and social care development. Anna Elliott joined the team from Blake Morgan LLP in 2017.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys has a ‘very strong partner-level team’ with specialised contentious and non-contentious banking practices and ‘continues to build a strong tier of associates’. Tim Littler leads the transactional team, which acts for a huge variety of high street lenders and international financial institutions, and also assists the corporate team with acquisition financing and restructuring mandates. Littler assisted a UK corporate with the refinancing by NatWest of existing Shari’ah loan facilities. The ‘practical and timely’ Tim Walker has particular expertise in international transactions and has been acting for lenders and borrowers in Norway for more than 30 years; he is acting for a Norwegian corporate with global operations in relation to a complex debt restructuring. HSBC, Santander UK and Lloyds Bank are among the group’s high street banks clients. Adam Finch leads the banking litigation team and is ‘an excellent tactician and client manager’.

Michelmores LLP’s banking team has strong sector focuses in renewable energy, healthcare and education, and strengthened its banking group in 2016 with the addition of Bristol-based Asheesh Das, who acts for both lenders and borrowers and has particular experience of emerging markets work. Charles Maunder heads the practice and advised Rowe Estates on a £12m facility with Barclays for a restructuring of the client’s property portfolio. Maunder also assisted St Austell Brewery Company with term and revolving credit facilities of up to £45m provided by Barclays and RBS. Sally Rice leads the secured lending team and acts for a variety of high street banks.

The ‘approachable and knowledgeable’ lawyers at Thrings LLP act primarily for lender clients but also act for borrowers in relation to refinancing and investment rounds. Mike Tomlin co-heads the practice and advised a borrower client on the high-value refinancing of senior and mezzanine facilities in connection with a property portfolio. Tomlin also assisted a communications company with the documentation concerning several investment rounds involving debt and equity investments. Simon Hore advised HSBC Bank on a £7m revolving credit facility with a leading national retailer. The team also acted for NatWest on a £2m loan to an operator in the commercial investor sector. Other high street bank clients include Santander UK, RBS, HSBC and Allied Irish Bank. Joint practice head John Davies specialises in commercial banking and investment and is responsible for maintaining the firm’s many bank panel relationships.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) provides ‘good service at a reasonable price’ regarding private loan agreements and bank finance arrangements. It has particular experience in the education, healthcare, charity, pharmaceutical and social enterprise sectors. Robert Collier leads the department’s banking team and acted on the borrower side for HPH Limited in relation to a £14m loan from Lloyds Bank, which was the first loan made under the bank’s green lending initiative. Collier also advised an educational institution on £11m of facility and security agreements provided by Svenska Handelsbanken. Steven McGuigan has extensive experience of secured lending work in the real estate sector and acted for a high street bank in connection with its £1.65m loan to fund the acquisition of additional business premises for Power Electrics Limited. ‘Excellent’ associate Susie Luckman is also recommended.

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Legal Developments in South West for Banking and finance

  • 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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