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Who Represents Who

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Clifford Chance has equal strength in bank financing transactions and capital markets financing, including portfolio securitization and enhanced equipment trust certificate (EETC) offerings. On the bank side, Zarrar Sehgal acted for Goldman Sachs as arranger in a number of ABS transactions involving sellers such as Apollo Aviation Group and Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. John Howitt led a team that advised GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) on a deal with Cassie de dépôt et placement du Québec to establish a $2bn global aircraft financing platform. In the leasing space, the group is well known for advising operating lessors, and recently assisted Avolon Holdings with its acquisition of CIT Group’s aircraft leasing business. Other key figures include Emily Wicker, who has been involved in a major airline bankruptcy, and Patrick O’Reilly.

Trusted Advisor - with Finnegan

IP specialist Finnegan detail how their collaborative approach makes for a unique culture which is designed to allow them to work with clients in a way which is cognizant of the challenges facing all companies today.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP acts for investment banks and major aerospace companies in aircraft ABS deals, and has also handled standout bank finance transactions and M&A in the leasing industry. Drew Fine, who heads the New York-based department, recently acted for the underwriters in connection with Blackbird’s $800m ABS notes offering of 19 aircraft leased to a portfolio of lessees, which was the first ABS offering to achieve a AA-rated tranche. Jim Pascale has advised bank-side clients as initial purchasers and lead arrangers on multiple EETC offerings. The team also acted for AerCap in relation to its $2.25bn aircraft acquisition warehouse facility with Credit Suisse, which was the largest-ever warehouse facility for an aircraft leasing company. Helfried Schwarz is another key contact. Hugh Robertson retired in 2017.

Vedder Price is recognized as having ‘one of the best aviation finance groups in the US’. The sizeable team handles the full spectrum of aviation finance, with notable expertise in advice to export credit agencies. Chicago-based partners Geoffrey Kass and Adam Beringer acted for Castlelake in relation to a $785.5m ABS issuance. In the leasing space, New York-based Cameron Gee advised Intrepid Aviation on a leasing transaction with Turkish Airlines involving seven wide-body aircraft. Dean Gerber in Chicago acted alongside the New York-based Mehtap Cevher Conti on a major fleet restructuring, while Jeffrey Veber (also based in New York) acted for multiple lender clients in relation to two large debt facilities. Other key figures include Raviv Surpin in Los Angeles; Mark Ditto and Michael Draz, who were made shareholders in the Chicago office; and Robert Hankes and John Bycraft in Chicago.

For many, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is ‘a top choice for operator and borrower-side work’. Headed by John Curry, the ‘elite’ team in New York has extensive experience covering the full range of aircraft-related transactions and acts for several of the most active airlines in the US, including American Airlines, for which it has handled a number of sale-leaseback transactions and aircraft restructurings. Curry also assisted American Airlines with the first-ever JOLCO to be utilized by a US airline. Counsel Jaeyong So acted as aviation counsel for CHC Group in relation to its US Chapter 11 proceedings. Brian Liu joined the team from Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP in 2017.

Holland & Knight LLP fields ‘an active and engaged team of lawyers’ that are ‘recognized worldwide’ for their work in aircraft securitization and debt financing, repossessions, restructurings and aircraft sales and leasing transactions. Fred Bass and San Francisco-based William Piels acted for Aviation Capital Group on a $250m portfolio sale involving a bridge loan to an ABS offering. Phillip Durham advised BBAM Aircraft Management on the sale, leaseback and financing of eight narrow-body aircraft in a transaction with Lion Air and its affiliates in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Also recommended are New York-based John Pritchard as well as Nathan Leavitt and Brian Daigle in San Francisco. Carrie Friesen-Meyers made partner in the San Francisco office in 2017.

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP regularly handles large portfolio acquisitions and leasing transactions. Indeed, James Tussing has assisted clients such as Apollo Aviation Group and AWAS (now DAE) with high-value portfolio sales transactions and cross-border leasing. Working in conjunction with its global network, the New York team has acted in a number of market-firsts. Sean Corrigan advised Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Development Bank of Japan on US aspects of the first financing transaction to employ an aircraft finance insurance consortium structure in lieu of a US Ex-Im Bank guarantee. Similarly, the New York team has been involved in a market-first structured lease transaction and also assisted an Asian investor with the formation of a multibillion-dollar joint venture, which involved complex cross-border regulatory issues.

White & Case LLP’s global asset finance group has unique expertise in complex structured lease transactions and has been involved in a number of market-firsts in 2017. The New York-based Michael Smith advised ING Capital on a landmark financing transaction with Korean Air Lines, which was the first aircraft finance structure to utilize commercial non-payment insurance as an alternative to a US Ex-Im Bank guarantee. In another highlight, the Miami-based Christian Hansen assisted Aeroméxico with the first JOLCO financing structure to be used by a Latin American air carrier. The team has also handled portfolio purchase transactions for clients such as Apollo Aviation Group and advises corporates and financial institutions on aircraft fleet issues in relation to airline bankruptcy and restructurings. Los Angeles-based Richard Smith is another contact in the department.

Primarily based in New York, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP’s aviation finance team advises lessors, fund managers and equity and debt issuers on finance and leasing transactions. John Hoyns advised United Continental Holdings on a number of capital markets issuances, including a public EETC offering and a $300m bond issuance. Hoyns also acted for the client as borrower’s counsel in connection with a $3.5bn syndicated credit facility. In the Washington DC office, Steven Chung counseled Blackbird Capital I on an $800m aircraft lease securitization. Chuck Samuelson assisted AerGen Aviation Finance with the establishment of a joint venture to acquire and lease aircraft, while Ken Lefkowitz acted as borrower’s counsel to Stratos in relation to a $600m revolving credit facility to finance and refinance certain aircraft acquisitions.

With a ‘deep bench’ and a ‘history of providing consistently high-quality service’, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is regularly called on to handle complex transactions and has demonstrable expertise in emerging market transactions. ‘A seasoned expert’, Timothy Lynes has experience of fractional ownership agreements and recently advised Citibank on a number of aircraft and engine sales. Lynes also acted for Embraer alongside Tom Healey in the renegotiation of various leases and fleet purchase agreements in connection with Republic Airways’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Out of New York, Stewart Hermanworks like crazy for his clients’; he acted for a US fund manager on several acquisitions of aircraft on lease in multiple emerging market jurisdictions. Jane Cavanaugh is another key contact. All lawyers are based in Washington DC unless stated otherwise.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP acts primarily for bank-side clients in bond and bank financings and EETC offerings, but also handles portfolio sales and purchases and structured lease transactions. Jonathan Goldstein advised Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on a syndicated loan facility, and also acted for the depositary and liquidity provider in connection with a series of EETC issuances. Department head Mark Lessard advised Mizuho Securities on GECAS’s highly publicized $709m Labrador Aviation Finance securitization. Lessard also acted as arranger’s counsel in relation to the structuring of a JOLCO with American Airlines, which was the first JOLCO financing for a US airline. Other key figures include Charlotta Otterbeck, who acts for SunExpress, among other clients.

Arnold & Porter regularly handles structured portfolio and leasing transactions for corporate airlines and leasing companies. Senior counsel Michael Mulitz has experience in negotiating unique EETC structures. Mulitz also recently advised Wheels Up Partners on a number of financing and related leasing deals. Henry Morriello has particular expertise in capital markets transactions and has assisted clients with the establishment of financing platforms for planes, helicopters and other transport equipment. In the Chicago office, William Fellerhoff has experience of aircraft securitization and Daniel Hartnett focuses on portfolio transactions for fund managers. New York-based Lawton Camp is another key contact.

The aviation team at McGuireWoods LLP specializes in finance, lease and sale-purchase transactions involving corporate aircraft, and also advises capital managers on dispositions of commercial aircraft portfolios. The Charlotte-based group is led by Patricia Hosmer, who has deep-seated experience of fractional ownership arrangements and was involved in multiple structured purchase transactions for banks and corporate clients. David Whelpley is another key figure in the team. In 2017, the firm was joined by Peter Szurley7 in San Francisco and Gregory Walden in Washington DC, from Chapman & Cutler LLP and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, respectively. Anna Reimers left the firm for an in-house role at Genesis Aircraft Services.

Reed Smith LLP’s New York-based aviation finance department was significantly strengthened in 2017 with the arrival of Elizabeth Evans from Dentons. Evans is engaged by capital corporations and aviation and leasing companies and assisted a client with the high-value sale of two wide-body Boeing aircraft. Richard Tannenbaum specializes in credit risks associated with aircraft transactions and has advised Global Jet Capital and Bank of America Leasing on dozens of corporate aircraft restructurings and default workouts. Robert Vilter is another contact in the department.

Winston & Strawn LLP handles aircraft portfolio sale-purchase transactions and aircraft securitization for a variety of deal participants. Chicago-based Michael O’Brien acted for Bank of Montreal, as agent, in connection with a $290m syndicated credit facility for a major US transportation company, which was secured by freight aircraft among other aviation equipment. In the capital markets space, the team has advised liquidity providers such as BNP Paribas and Natixis on multiple securitized aircraft portfolio ABS transactions. Other key figures include Deepak Reddy, who joined the department from Dentons in 2017, and Peter Morgan. All lawyers are based in New York unless stated otherwise. William Bowers retired in 2018.

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