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United States > Finance > Project finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Project finance: advice to lender
  2. Project finance: advice to sponsor
  3. Leading lawyers

Jointly led by Rohit Chaudhry and Keith Martin, the ‘fantastic’, primarily lender-side practice at Chadbourne & Parke LLP handled several significant matters in 2015. Noam Ayali and Benjamin Koenigsberg advised a syndicate of 25 lenders on a $4.6bn financing - part of which will fund the fifth train at the Sabine Pass Liquefaction LNG export facility in Louisiana. The pair also assisted a 31-lender syndicate with the $11.5bn senior debt financing of the Corpus Christi LNG project in San Patricio County, Texas. Peter Fitzgerald and Marissa Alcala acted for the Department of Energy in connection with loan guarantees of up to $8.3bn made to Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia to finance the 2,200MW expansion of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Burke County. Koenigsberg has been active in the wind energy space: he advised one syndicate, led by Société Générale, on the financing of the Block Island Wind Farm (the US’ first utility-scale offshore wind farm), and another syndicate on a $397m construction loan for a 300MW wind farm in Kay County, Oklahoma. In the solar energy space, Chaudhry acted for Santander Bank as lead arranger and lender in the financing of a 100MW solar project in Kings County, California. The practice’s other clients include GE Financial Energy Services, Macquarie and Investec. Todd Alexander is recommended.

The practice at Latham & Watkins LLP is headed up by the San Diego-based Kelley Michael Gale, who, along with Jonathan Rod and Brett Rosenblatt, advised the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, AIG Asset Management, and the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America on a note purchase relating to the $239m financing of the 102MW Coram Wind Project in California. The firm’s 80 project finance lawyers in the US, and 160 worldwide, means clients can count on someone ‘always being available’. Clients also report that its ‘response times are very quick’ and that it is ‘the best in terms of industry knowledge’. Jeffrey Greenberg advised Union Bank, BNP Paribas, Citibank and GE Capital on financing the construction of the 1,050MW Moxie Freedom Generation Plant in Salem, Pennsylvania. The team also acted for lead arrangers BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole in the financing of the construction of the Middletown Energy Center in Ohio. On the sponsor side, John Sachs and David Penna assisted Deepwater Wind Holdings on the development and financing of the construction of the 30MW Block Island Wind Project, which will be situated off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. Rod and Greenberg acted for Sasol, a South African sponsor, on the first-phase financing of a $14bn petrochemicals complex in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The team also advised Panda Power Funds on financing the $900m construction of the ‘Hummel Station’ in Pennsylvania. Other clients include Bank of America and Morgan Stanley Senior Funding. Since publication, Washington DC-based Eugene Elrod has joined from Sidley Austin LLP.

Mayer Brown’s ‘excellent’ project finance department, headed up by Barry Machlin, is composed of 16 lawyers based in Chicago, Houston and Washington DC, and is praised for its ‘knowledge of Latin American business’. Robert Goldberg and Jeffrey Davis advised the lenders, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and ING Capital, on a $500m credit facility for SolarCity Corporation - the largest of its kind for a distributed generation solar project. The loan will finance over 500MW of solar power systems for individuals and corporations. Goldberg and Davis also acted for a syndicate of structured equity investors (comprising GE Financial Services, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Google and Citibank) on the financing of Balko Wind, a 140-turbine, 300MW wind farm in Beaver County, Oklahoma, expected to produce enough energy to power over 100,000 homes. Also on the lender side, the team assisted BNP Paribas with a $4bn credit facility to finance Sasol’s $8.1bn petrochemicals facility in Louisiana, and acted for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the state of Florida’s $1.75bn issuance of private activity bonds to help finance the All Aboard Florida passenger rail project (this was the largest issuance of such bonds in American history). In the PPP space, Joseph Seliga advised the Texas Department of Transportation on the development agreement for the State Highway 288 toll lanes project in Houston, with Blueridge Transportation Group agreeing to expand the scope of the project such that the total investment value reached $850m.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s ‘very good’ team, led by Daniel Bartfeld, acts on numerous oil, gas and power projects, as well as large-scale infrastructure and telecoms matters. Bartfeld, who is based in New York, advised a syndicate of financiers, including Export-Import Bank of Korea and Korea Trade Insurance Corporation, on the largest-ever investment by Korean lenders in Brazil - a $2.1bn financing loan to Companhia Siderúrgica do Pecém, the operator of a new steel plant in Ceará, Brazil. On the sponsor side, Bartfeld, along with Roland Estevez, assisted Trafigura Beheer with financing the construction and leasing of over 100 transportation vessels to be used on the Magdalena River in Colombia. Eric Silverman handled notable lender-side work, advising Toyota Tsusho on the financing of the $1.08bn Salem Harbor Power Station, and acting for BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole on the $994m financing of the construction and operation of the 896MW Oregon Clean Energy Center, a natural gas-fired power generation facility in Ohio. The team is also involved in the funding of a range of renewables projects, with Allan Marks advising a group of lenders, including Société Générale and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, on a $205m loan to finance the Conejo Solar project, based in the Atacama Desert, which is expected to deliver 122MW of clean energy to Chile’s national grid as well as to local mining operations. Other clients include Citigroup, ING, Banco Santander and Goldman Sachs. William Bice is another key member of the group.

John Estes, Sergio Galvis, Christopher Mann and Inosi Nyatta, all based in Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s New York office, were particularly busy in 2015. Maintaining its impressive track record in sponsor-side work, the team advised Cheniere Energy on the financing of Cheniere’s Corpus Christi LNG export project in Texas. As well as securing a seven-year senior secured term loan worth $11.5bn, the team assisted Cheniere CCH HoldCo II, a Cheniere subsidiary, with the issuance of $1bn-worth of secured PIK convertible notes. On top of the debt financing, the project, which includes three liquefaction trains, required $2.76bn-worth of equity financing, which the team helped Cheniere secure in the form of convertible notes. Of counsel Frederic Rich, another active member of the group, worked alongside Nyatta on some notable matters, including advising Cameron LNG on securing a commercial loan with an uncommonly long tenure of 16 years. The loan was for Cameron LNG’s proposed $10.6bn extension of the liquefaction export capabilities of a regasification import facility in Hackberry, Louisiana. The two attorneys also continued to act for the Australia Pacific LNG project company in relation to its $20bn LNG project on Curtis Island, Queensland, securing an $8.5bn loan facility to further the development. The group also worked on several Latin American projects, with Estes assisting Minera Escondida with securing a $500m loan to expand the Escondida copper project, the world’s largest copper mine by reserve. Werner Ahlers is another name to note.

Based in New York, Arthur Scavone and Christian Hansen are the co-heads of White & Case LLP’s ‘very capable and commercial’ practice, praised for its strength in depth, its ability to ‘meet specialized needs’ and its ‘focus on driving deals ahead’. The department’s capabilities are truly cross-jurisdictional: Ned Neaher and Anna Andreeva assisted European Investment Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim with the $1bn financing of the Negev Energy solar thermal power project in Israel. Elena Millerman and Eric Leicht advised Deutsche Bank Securities, Barclays Bank and BNP Paribas Securities Corp as the lead arrangers of a first lien secured credit facility and a second lien term loan, worth $1.45bn and $260m respectively, to finance Granite Acquisition’s purchase of all of Wheelabrator Technologies’ capital stock. On the sponsor side, the team advised Saudi Aramco on the development and financing of the $8bn expansion of a refining and petrochemicals compound in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia, and also acted for Freeport LNG Development, handling over $14bn-worth of cash equity, mezzanine debt and senior secured debt financing to fund three of Freeport’s Texas-based liquefaction trains. The team’s panel wins include BNP Paribas, Export-Import Bank of Korea and Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Troy Alexander is recommended for his extensive experience, ‘understanding of complex transactions’ and ability to ‘see the complete picture’. Victor DeSantis is praised for his ‘incredible level of experience and poise’ and his ‘practical sense of judgment’. Jason Webber is another key member of the group. Jeannine Acevedo made partner in January 2016.

Allen & Overy LLP’s ‘excellent’ department, led by Kent Rowey and David Slade, who are based in New York and Washington DC respectively, is praised for its ‘superior response times’ and value for money. Slade led on advising the Department of Energy on several matters, including the 400MW Mesquite Solar PV generation facility in Arizona, and Nevada’s 110MW Crescent Dunes solar power generating facility, which contains the world’s tallest molten salt tower. Dorina Yessios advised Guyana Goldfields on the financing of the Aurora Gold Project - Guyana’s first project financing, and, with loans totaling $185m, its largest foreign investment. Other public sponsor clients include the Virginia Department of Transportation - which the firm advised on its first competitively tendered road PPP, and on its attempted privatization of the Port of Virginia - and the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority. On the lender side, Yessios advised Caterpillar Financial, Macquarie Bank, Société Générale and ING Capital on the $200m senior secured financing of the Haile Gold Mine Project in Lancaster County, South Carolina - a project whose total cost exceeds $435m. Sami Mir advised the Export-Import Bank of the US on its $155m loan to Bulgaria Sat EAD for the financing of all aspects of the Bulgaria Sat-1 communications satellite and related ground-control facilities in Bulgaria. The loan also covers the relevant insurance policies. Other lender clients include Deutsche Bank Securities, Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners, Credit Suisse (Luxembourg) and Standard Chartered Bank.

Adam Brenneman, Chantal Kordula, Jeffrey Lewis and Richard Lincer are the key project finance partners at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. All are based in the New York office and are notably strong in oil and gas and transportation projects. Kordula advised Mexico Power and Gas Ventures, TAG Pipelines, and PMI Holdings as joint sponsors on securing a loan worth over $1bn for the construction and operation of the Mexico-based Ramones II Sur pipeline, which will span 180 miles when completed; Kordula also acted for TAG Pipelines Sur on the borrower side of this deal. The Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation is another prominent client, and Kordula advised it on the $1bn financing of the first stage of the construction and development of the new international airport in Mexico City, which is expected to become the largest airport in Latin America. Also active in the power and oil and gas spaces, the team advised the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority - the US’ largest municipal utility - on the financing and development of a $500m offshore gas port project, and acted for Pluspetrol in the multibillion-dollar development and commercialization of the Carnisea gas fields. Other clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BHP Billiton and Aerostar Airport Holdings. The department is praised for its ‘outstanding service’ and Lewis and Kordula are singled out for their ‘very good understanding and experience of projects in South America’.

Clifford Chance’s department is led by Washington DC-based David Evans, Christopher McIsaac, Fabricio Longhin, Lori Bean and Catherine McCarthy, and New York-based Gianluca Bacchiocchi, who recently joined from DLA Piper LLP (US). The team regularly acts for commercial banks in Latin American project finance, advising BESI - Grupo Novo Banco and Credit Suisse on the $274m financing of the Red Dorsal Nacional de Fibra Optica project, Peru’s first nationwide fiber optic network. Longhin assisted JPMorgan Chase, Ficohsa and CIFI with the $145m financing of the expansion of Honduras’ Corredor Turístico toll road. McCarthy advised Natixis and a syndicate of lenders on a cross-jurisdictional matter involving the Seabras-1 submarine cable, a telecoms cable connecting New York and São Paulo. Bean has also been active, advising OPIC, Standard Bank and Nedbank on the financing of Ghana’s 192MW Amandi power plant, and assisting OPIC and IFC with the financing of the 53MW Cap des Biches power plant in Senegal. OPIC is one of Bean’s regular clients, and she also advised it on the $200m financing of a wind power project in Kenya, and on its proposed investment in the 300MW Lake Turkana Wind Project, also in Kenya. On the sponsor side, Evans advised Matelec Group on the financing of the €134m Tobene Power Project, a 96MW oil-fired power plant being constructed in Senegal.

Daniel Mathews, praised for his ‘combination of experience, negotiating style and command of facts’, and Mark Weitzel head Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s department. Commended for its ‘high level of service’, the team is particularly strong on PPP and infrastructure projects, especially transportation financings. Mathews and Young Lee advised IFM Investors on its $5.72bn acquisition of the membership interests of ITR Concession Company, which operates and maintains the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road; this was the largest infrastructure restructuring deal in North America in 2015. As well as advising lenders and investors, the practice is also active on sponsor-side work in the transportation infrastructure space: Lee assisted the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey with all aspects of the privatization of the Central Terminal Building, LaGuardia Airport’s main terminal, while Mathews advised Meridiam Infrastructure, Fluor Enterprises and Star America Fund on their joint DBFMO proposal regarding Maryland’s $2.2bn Purple Line light rail project. The group also handled several renewables projects: Christopher Moore advised Pattern Energy Group on the $199m construction financing for the 150MW Fowler Ridge IV Wind Farm, while Neil Golden assisted EDP Renewables North America with its tax equity investment in a 99MW wind farm in Kern County, California. Blake Winburne, Bradford Gathright and Matt Archer were hired from McDermott Will & Emery LLP in February 2016, while George Humphrey, Giji John and Darrell Thomas joined from Andrews Kurth LLP.

The project finance team at Shearman & Sterling LLP, which is particularly strong in PPP and oil and gas projects, has nine partners spread across New York, San Francisco and Washington DC who focus on projects in the Americas. Gregory Tan acted for an 11-lender syndicate on a $2.2bn debt financing - part of the $5.7bn acquisition of ITR Concession Company, operator of a toll road in northern Indiana. Robert Freedman advised Allianz Global Investors on $700m of private placement bonds that financed part of the purchase. Also in the transportation infrastructure space, Cynthia Urda Kassis handled a $189m loan - provided under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act - for the Department of Transport relating to the $632m I-77 HOT Lanes Project in North Carolina. On the energy side, Tan and Alexandro Padrés advised Citigroup Global Markets, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation as the joint lead arrangers in the $230m financing of the 200-mile Roadrunner natural gas pipeline. Tan also acted for a six-lender syndicate as joint lead arrangers in the $300m financing of a 512MW electrical generating facility in Bayonne, New Jersey. On the sponsor side, Robert Nelson acted for Dow Chemical in the construction and development of the $4bn Dow Gulfstream petrochemicals project in Texas and Louisiana. Other clients include GE Energy Financial Services and Romarco Minerals. Regulatory expert Donna Bobbish joined as counsel from Chadbourne & Parke LLP in July 2015.

Sidley Austin LLP’s practice is headed by Kenneth Irvin in Washington DC, Cliff Vrielink and James Rice in Houston and New York-based Irving Rotter. Praised for its experience, ‘thoughtful work’ and ‘good bench strength’, the group works on a wide spectrum of energy and infrastructure deals. In the telecoms space, Ayaz Shaikh, who is ‘thoughtful, strategic, tough and friendly’, advised Facebook on the development, procurement, construction and financing of satellites and related infrastructure in connection with the social media giant’s initiative to bring internet connectivity to under-served parts of Asia and Africa. Vrielink assisted Partners Group with its investment in the $500m Seabras-1 project, involving the first direct submarine fiber-optic cable between New York and São Paulo. Much of the team’s work is on renewables projects: Timothy Moran* and counsel Philip Corsello acted for AES Solar Power in the development of $400m-worth of solar projects in Hawaii, also advising the client on an $875m tax equity funding - the largest such funding of a solar facility to date. Other clients include Citigroup Energy, Mexican state-owned electric utility Comisión Federal de Electricidad, Macquarie Capital Group and Natixis. The department is singled out for ‘providing great protection to its clients’. Robert Stephens joined the Houston office from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in January 2015. *Since publication, Timothy Moran has joined DLA Piper LLP (US) in Washington, DC. Since publication, Washington DC-based Eugene Elrod has moved to Latham & Watkins LLP.

David Lieberman heads up Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s department, which specializes in renewable energy projects, particularly in the wind space. Lieberman advised the lead arrangers and joint book-runners on an $81m senior secured term loan to Meadowlark Wind to partially reimburse the cost of a 300MW electricity generating facility in Walla County, Washington and Umatilla County, Oregon, and the cost of a smaller facility in Barnes County, North Dakota. Lieberman also acted on several repricings in the wind energy sector, advising one syndicate (which included the New York branch of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ) on the repricing of an outstanding $232m senior secured term loan to Canyon Wind, and assisting a different syndicate with a similar repricing of a $190m loan to Central States Wind. The team is also active on solar projects, acting for the lead arrangers and joint book-runners in a $694m construction loan to Silver State South Solar Power for the construction of a 250MW solar power station near Primm, Nevada. Lieberman advised the lenders, including Siemens Financial Services, on a $31m senior secured term loan to Shafter Solar, the owner and operator of a photovoltaic generating power plant in Kern County, California. Other solar power work included assisting Mizuho Bank with arranging two loan facilities worth a total of $579m for the construction and development of a 250MW photovoltaic electric generating plant in Riverside County, California. The department’s clients include KeyBank National Association, Santander Bank and Société Générale.

Notably strong on financing renewable energy transactions, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s department acted on several impressive matters. Paul Kraske, along with banking partner David Armstrong, handled the financing of SunEdison and TerraForm Power’s $2.4bn purchase of First Wind Holdings and their $2.2bn acquisition of Vivint Solar. Kraske also assisted SunEdison with establishing a $1bn investment vehicle for the development of clean energy projects. Martin Klepper and practice head Lance Brasher advised Enel Green Power North America on its sale of a 49% stake in a 760MW portfolio of renewable energy projects to GE Energy Financial Services, for a total sum of $440m. Another of the team’s prominent renewables clients is Pattern Energy Group, which Kraske advised on securing a $205m credit facility to develop its 122MW Conejo Solar project in the Atacama Desert, and assisted with its $242m purchase of two operational wind power facilities, based in Kansas and Missouri, from Wind Capital Group. The practice also worked extensively on yieldco and tax equity-related matters, acting for a renewable energy company on a sale-leaseback tax equity transaction involving a portfolio of solar projects in Massachusetts.

Ashurst LLP’s practice, which is particularly strong in the PPP space, is headed up by Jason Radford, and is supported by Douglas Bird and Latin America specialist Charles Williams, both of whom are dedicated to project finance, as well as three other partners who regularly handle project financing. On the lender side, Williams and Bird, who are both New York-based, advised lead underwriters JPMorgan and Wells Fargo on the $900m financing of the Pennsylvania Rapid Bridges project - the largest tax-exempt private activity bond-financed PPP project in US history, and Pennsylvania’s first ever PPP. Bird also acted for the investors in connection with a private placement of $60m-worth of notes issued by MAS Georgia LFG for the financing of three gas-to-electricity projects near Atlanta, Georgia. Radford assisted the lenders to Bechtel/Cintra Consortium with the financing options for the I-70 East project in the metropolitan area of Denver. Most of the practice’s work, however, is sponsor side. Williams advised a consortium that included InfraRed Capital Partners on all aspects of the $500m Portsmouth Bypass project, procured by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Radford advised a different consortium, this one including John Laing and Kiewit Development, on all aspects of its shortlisted bid to be contracted for the $2.3bn Maryland Purple Line light rail project.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ‘diligent’ practice, headed by Ivan Mattei and counsel Douglas Buchanan, is commended for its ‘prompt, accurate and commercial’ advice. The team is notably strong in infrastructure and PPP projects, with Mattei advising the Department of Energy on the $1.5bn financing of a solar power plant in Arizona, and, with counsel Armando Rivera Jacobo, on the $1bn financing of a similar plant in the Mojave Desert, California. The team advises several power companies as sponsors: Jacobo and Sarah Fitts acted for Footprint Power on the financing of the Salem Harbor Power Station project, which involved a $600m construction financing loan as well as a $130m letter of credit. Fitts and counsel Michael McGuigan, who is praised for his ‘quick responses, deep knowledge and excellent negotiating techniques’, assisted Marquis Energy with securing a $228m loan for the expansion of its ethanol facility in Hennepin, Illinois; the expansion will make the client the largest dry mill ethanol producer in the US. Transport infrastructure is another area of activity for the practice: Buchanan and McGuigan advised Westfield Group on its redevelopment of the Great Hall Terminal at Denver International Airport and, together with Mattei, acted for InfraRed Capital Partners, Walsh Group, Vinci Concessions, Alstom and Keolis on the development of the Purple Line light rail project in Washington DC. Other clients include Mitsui & Co. and Toyota.

The ‘incredibly responsive’ team at Hunton & Williams LLP is headed by Jeffrey Schroeder. Most of its key partners are based in Washington DC, with the exception of the New York-based Michael Madden. Senior associate Michael Klaus, formerly the lead in-house counsel in SunEdison’s business development group, joined the department in 2015. Schroeder advised Southwest Generation on its $240m refinancing of a portfolio of natural gas-fired plants in the US, and acted for a well-known financial institution in its acquisition of an interest in the Edison Mission Energy Wind portfolio alongside NRG Energy; the portfolio comprises 12 projects across the US. Madden and Gregory Lang assisted Olympus Power with its sale to Aspenall Energies of Grant County Wind, a 21MW Minnesota wind farm. On the lender side, Raj Pande advised Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, and several commercial banks on a $4.37bn senior secured project finance loan, including a letter of credit and working capital facilities, to help fund the construction, development and operation of the first train of an LNG-and-export-facility project on Quintana Island, Texas. The group’s clients include LS Power, Duke Energy, Citibank and Goldman Sachs. It is praised for its ‘helpful, workable suggestions and solutions’.

With the promotion of Jeffrey Kayes in the firm’s San Francisco office, Morrison & Foerster LLP now counts 14 partners and senior counsel among its US project finance team, though practice head Michael Graffagna is based in Tokyo. Jeffrey Chester advised Oak Creek Energy Systems on the financing and sale of a 149MW wind power project in Tamaulipas, Mexico to GS Infrastructure Partners and GBM Infraestructura, constituting the first investment in a Mexico wind project by a Mexican fund. On the sponsor side, Chester and Jana Mansour assisted Apex Clean Energy with securing a $397m construction loan from a six-lender syndicate for a 300MW wind farm based in Oklahoma. Kayes and Jonathan Melmed acted for First Reserve in the purchase of Kingfisher Wind, an Oklahoma wind energy project, for $500m; the project is expected to produce enough energy to power 100,000 homes. The two lawyers handled the construction loan, leverage loan and tax equity aspects of the deal, as well as the acquisition itself. The team also handled several solar power projects, assisting the International Finance Corporation with its investment in Sunpreme. Jonathan Melmed advised National Bank of Canada and SunLife on financing Axium Infrastructure and MetLife’s $450m acquisition of several of Ontario’s solar power plant facilities from Recurrent Energy. Additionally, for the Department of Energy, the team handled the provision of over $1.6bn in loan guarantees to subsidiaries of BrightSource Energy for three solar projects in the Mojave Desert.

The ‘responsive’ team at Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP is led by Jeremy Hushon and Michael Pikiel. Its recently acquired sponsor clients include Aldridge Electric, International Container Terminal Services and OHL USA, while its new lender clients include Lend Lease Investments (US), AMP Capital and John Laing Investments. The ‘constructive’ and ‘commercial’ Pikiel acted for Aldridge Electric as contractor and Aldridge Freeway Lighting as equity investor in the DBFMO aspects of improvements to current freeway and tunnel lighting systems in the Metro Detroit area. This constitutes the first of several proposed PPPs for freeway lighting systems in the US, and was Michigan’s first such project to reach commercial and financial close. Pikiel also advised Citigroup Global Markets and Barclays Capital as the underwriters supporting Blueridge Transportation Group, the preferred bidder for the $800m DBFMO project involving four tolled lanes on Texas State Highway 288. Infrastructure PPP projects are a key part of the firm’s practice; the team also assisted Meridiam Infrastructure, Balfour Beatty Investments and Walsh Investors with their bid to handle the DBFMO aspects of six new buildings for the City of Indianapolis. The buildings, including related parking facilities, will occupy 1.4m sq ft, with the project costing $525m in total. It will be the US’ first PPP project procured by a major city. The team is commended for its ‘strong industry knowledge and experience’, ‘good value for money’ and ‘strong associates and partners’.

The practice at Vinson & Elkins LLP is headed by James Cuclis in Houston. Mark Brazzil advised Noble Energy, operator of the $6bn Leviathan gas project off the Israeli coast, on the development of a floating system for production, storage and offloading. The gas will be sold to neighboring countries, requiring several cross-border submarine pipelines. The Houston-based Kaam Sahely assisted SemGroup with construction and transportation agreements concerning the development, ownership and operation of the $500m Maurepas Pipelines, three new pipelines in the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana. He also acted for Gulf Coast Ammonia, a joint venture between Agrifos and Borealis, in the DBFMO aspects of a $1bn hydrogen-based ammonia production facility in Texas. On the acquisition side, Katy Gottsponer advised Riverstone Holdings on a master transaction agreement with SunEdison, which purchased AES Corporation’s 50% stake in 336MW-worth of solar photovoltaic projects owned by Silver Ridge Power, a company in which Riverstone invested significantly. Regulatory specialist David Andril advised Parallax Services on the financing aspects of the Live Oak LNG project development on the Calcasieu River, Louisiana. Other clients of the department include Goldman Sachs, Clean Line Energy Partners and Brookfield Renewable Energy Group. Since publication, former co-head of the firm's global project finance practice Mark Spivak moved to Baker Botts L.L.P..

Timothy Unger leads the team at Andrews Kurth LLP. Highlights for Unger included assisting Cheniere Energy with the $4.6bn financing of the fifth train of the Sabine Pass LNG project, as well as advising the client on the $1.2bn working capital facility for the project’s first four trains. Also in the LNG space, Unger advised a major equity investor on its investment in Magnolia LNG, a $2.2bn facility being developed in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Mark Thurber was active on pipeline work, assisting Magellan Midstream Partners with the construction and management agreements and pipeline supply agreements concerning a 535-mile pipeline in the US. The department’s sponsor clients also include Energia del Pacifico, which Vera Rechsteiner advised on the financing and development of a 350MW power plant and LNG terminal in Central America. On the acquisitions side, Hal Haltom acted for FourPoint Energy in its purchase of oil and gas assets in Oklahoma and Texas from LINN Energy and Chesapeake Energy. The team is also seen on lender-side work; Rechsteiner advised Banco Agromercantil de Guatemala on a $95m loan to three subsidiaries of Grupo Santander in Guatemala. Giji John and George Humphrey left to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in February 2016.

The practice at Bracewell LLP, praised for its industry knowledge, business acumen, response times and good value for money, is headed up by the ‘bright, creative and business-minded’ Alan Rafte. The team, which includes Thomas Tomlinson, Jessica Adkins and Stuart Zisman, is primarily based in Houston, with the exception of the New York-based Robin Miles. On the borrower side, Tomlinson advised a consortium including Rockland Capital, Chimera Power Holdings and Eagle Point Power Generation on the financing of two gas-fired projects and a wind generation project for $148m. In the solar energy space, Adkins advised Recurrent Energy on a long-term electricity and renewable energy credit hedge that will finance the development of two solar facilities in California. She was also active in wind energy matters, acting for a leading independent wind energy developer on a long-term renewable energy credit transaction to fund a wind project, with overall loan commitments worth $210m; unusually, this was secured by a lien on all the project’s assets. On the lender side, Miles advised a global investment bank as lead arranger and hedge provider on a $35m construction financing for a large gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana. Other clients include Highbridge Principal Strategies, NRG Energy and Société Générale.

Headed by the ‘very capableAndrianne Payson and the ‘practicalJoseph Tato, who is commended for his ‘acute legal analysis’, the team at DLA Piper LLP (US) is well respected in the market for its cross-jurisdictional capabilities. As well as handling transactions in the energy and infrastructure space, it handles the development and financing of all types of power generation facilities. Despite the departure of Nicolai Sarad and Gianluca Bacchiocchi to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Clifford Chance respectively, the practice performed strongly in the project finance space. Tato advised Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on the refinancing of a $725m securitized credit facility for Astoria Energy, the owner of a 500MW gas-fired power plant in Queens, New York. The team assists clients with asset acquisition and disposal; Payson advised Exelon Corporation on its $530m sale of the Fore River Generating Plant, an 800MW gas-fired power plant in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Also active in Africa-based matters, the practice has helped clients with agreements regarding the proposed development and financing of several projects across the continent. In 2015, the practice added Exelon Generation Company to its roster, while longstanding clients include EDF Trading North America, Netherlands Development Finance Company, Covanta Energy and General Electric. Since publication, Timothy Moran has joined the Washington, DC office from Sidley Austin LLP

Foley & Lardner LLP’s department is headed by Jason Allen, Jeffery Atkin and John Eliason, based in Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Washington DC respectively. The team contains 12 partners spending a significant amount of time on project finance matters, and recently welcomed of counsel David Weisblat, a tax lawyer who regularly advises clients on renewable energy projects. On the project finance side, Atkin, along with Jason Barglow, Eliason and senior counsel David Markey, assisted Brite Energy Solar with financing a $200m Morgan Stanley tax equity fund involved in residential solar projects in various US states; the practice also advised NRG Energy on the tax equity financing of a 120MW portfolio of solar projects. Together with David Clark, Larry Bonney, Linda Benfield and Edward Hammond, Allen advised Greenleaf Power on its acquisition of Leidos Plainfield power plant, a $225m biomass project. Atkin, Allen and Hammond acted for Canadian Solar in a $250m loan agreement with China Minsheng Bank, and also assisted it with a $100m senior secured term loan arranged by the Singapore branch of Credit Suisse. Other clients of the department include Goal Zero, Yingli Green Energy Americas, GCL Solar Energy and Integrys Energy. Special counsel Mary Ann Christopher re-joined the team in June 2015, having previously been general counsel at Green Sail Energy. She advises clients on the acquisition, sale, financing and development aspects of major infrastructure projects, particularly in the renewable energy sector.

Led by Melissa Raciti-Knapp and Lisa O’Brien, both based in New York, the practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is strong in PPP work as well as in energy-sector project financing. An expert in Latin American projects, Raciti-Knapp advised lender-side client OPIC on a $140m loan to help finance Avantel’s $253m deployment of a 4G LTE network across six cities in Colombia, including Bogota and Cali. She also assisted KfW IPEX-Bank as lead arranger and underwriter of a loan to finance a $1.5bn steel mill near Osceola, Arkansas; this constituted the largest private investment in the history of Arkansas, as well as the client’s largest investment in the US to date. She advised the same client on the senior financing of the development of the Mississippi Silicon smelter project, the first silicon smelter plant in nearly 40 years to be built in the US. O’Brien also represented several lender-side clients, acting for RBS as administrative agent for the existing lenders on Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners’ $325m sale of the Montreal Gateway Terminals to a consortium led by Fiera Axium Infrastructure. On the PPP side, consultant Bobby Stewart and counsel Adam Giuliano advised the Colorado Department of Transportation on the bid and selection process for the I-70 East Project, funded by the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, the Denver Regional Council of Governments and the fund allocated to the Colorado Department of Transportation by the state of Colorado. Other clients of the team include Kiewit Development Company, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s department, which regularly advises on financing projects in the PPP, LNG, renewables and conventional power spaces, is led by Nicolai Sarad and Michael Reese in New York, and Robert James, who splits his time between San Francisco and Houston. The team has expanded significantly in size, with the arrival of Sarad and New York-based Fernando Rodriguez Marin from DLA Piper LLP (US). Active in the PPP space, the practice advised the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District on energy efficiency projects, renewable generation projects and proposals for major expansion. Michael Hindus handled several renewables deals, advising Dynergy on two wave-energy projects near Morro Bay, California with a total capacity of 450MW. On the wind energy side, Reese and Jane Stein acted for Marubeni on the high-profile multibillion-dollar Atlantic Wind Connection, which will involve a submarine transmission line along 350 miles of the Atlantic Seaboard. James advised Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners on the sale of its interests in a 102MW southern California wind farm. The department’s other clients include Tenaska, Recurrent Energy and Chevron.

The magnitude of some of the matters handled by Baker McKenzie LLP’s US project finance team belies its relatively small size. José Morán leads the team from Chicago, and is supported Mona Dajani, James O’Brien and Michael Smith, and New York-based Clyde Rankin and Mark Tibberts. Significant project finance matters included Rankin’s assistance to consortium leader ICICI Bank with financing the construction of an iron ore facility being built by Essar Steel in northern Minnesota: he advised the lender on a $415m loan to complement the $713m-worth of financing already provided by the consortium and the Export-Import Bank of India. The team’s clients, however, are predominantly sponsors, and are usually involved in renewable energy projects. Rankin acted for EDF Energies Nouvelles on the $240m financing of its 146MW Laberinto solar photovoltaic project, based in the Antofagasta region of Chile; it will be the first club-deal financing of a solar project in Chile that has taken place without the support of multilaterals. On the transactional side, the team advised EDF Renewable Energy on its sale of a 97.5MW wind generation facility in Minnesota to Allete Clean Energy.

King & Spalding LLP’s project finance practice heads, Philip Weems and Ken Culotta, are based in Houston. The team is very active in LNG matters. On the sponsor side, Culotta advised NextDecade on closing an $85m equity financing with York Capital Management Global Advisors, Valinor Management and Halcyon Energy Investors to fund the client’s LNG and pipeline projects in Rio Grande and Rio Bravo respectively, as well as the continued development of the Pelican Island LNG project in Galveston, Texas. Together with Denis Fallon, Culotta also advised Haddington Energy Partners IV LP on a large private placement of equity securities by Fairway Energy Partners; Fairway used the proceeds to convert three subterranean south Houston storage caverns into storage facilities for crude oil. Weems continued to advise Anadarko on all aspects of its $50bn Mozambique LNG export project, including upstream, sales, common facilities and shareholder agreements. The firm also acted for Sadara Chemical Company in all aspects of the development and operation of a $20bn petrochemicals facility. In the infrastructure space, the team assisted Atlanta Falcons Stadium Company with closing a series of financing transactions relating to the construction and operation of a new football stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

David Asmus leads the ‘excellent’, ‘client-oriented’ practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and was joined in the Houston office in October 2015 by newly made partner Peter Hays. The department was also strengthened by the arrival of four new partners in the Boston office: Dinesh Melwani, Stephen Miklus, Nancy Persechino and Marc Reardon, all of whom came from Bingham McCutchen. The ‘proactiveRichard Filosa, also based in Boston, advised Energy Investors Fund on the financing, construction and development of a $1bn 750MW gas-fired power plant in Maryland, and of a 310MW gas-fired power plant in Otay Mesa, California. Filosa also advised Robinson Power on the DBFO aspects of its proposed $650m 650MW gas-fired power plant in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania. Brian Bradshaw, praised for his ‘outstanding commercial knowledge’, acted for Constellation Energy Group on all aspects of the development of a greenfield LNG project in Brownsville, Texas, including construction contracts, LNG sales agreements and equity structuring. The team also assisted SunEdison with the tax equity financing of an 184MW wind project in Maine; this involved the negotiation with a six-lender syndicate of a $360m debt facility. Recently acquired clients include BG Group, Johnston Clean Power and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

Sullivan & Worcester LLP’s department expanded with the arrival of Hayden Baker (formerly of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP) at the New York office, and of counsel Merrill Kramer (formerly of Chadbourne & Parke LLP) at the Washington DC office. The team, led by Elias Hinckley, is particularly strong in renewable energy projects, and advised FLS Energy on an equity investment to finance 200MW-worth of solar projects. On the transactional side, Hinckley and counsel James Wrathall acted for York Capital Management in its purchase of controlling interests in a food-waste-to-energy power plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in a similar plant in Johnston, Rhode Island; total investment exceeded $40m. The two partners, along with counsel Patricia Mundy, advised Commonwealth Bay on its purchase of a 6.3MW Wyoming wind farm. As well as handling acquisitions, the team also assisted Entropy Investment Management with the disposal of seven solar projects to two investment groups. Kramer acted for Saturn Power in the development of two solar photovoltaic projects in Oregon, and, demonstrating the firm’s cross-jurisdictional capabilities, on the financing and development of two greenfield solar projects in Turkey. Other clients of the department include Grid Energy Services, Ogin Energy, Vision Fleet Capital and Ares Capital Management.

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