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According to one client, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s five-lawyer team is ‘head and shoulders above anything else in the market’; it ‘works hard to ensure that relationships are built and maintained throughout a transaction wherever possible, easing the pressure of lending money but also smoothing a process that can otherwise be extremely difficult’. The firm provides ‘very commercial’ advice to a predominantly lender-focused client base – including all the UK clearing banks – and handles a mix of real estate, corporate and renewables/energy finance. ‘Highly knowledgeable’ and ‘personable’ team head Jo Canning is praised for her ‘in-depth knowledge’ of real estate financing; she regularly handles work for Hodge Bank, including recently handling a £5.2m development finance deal to Rightacres Property involving a commercial property in the centre of Cardiff. As well as leading the office’s corporate finance team with Canning, principal associate Lowri Gwyn also has a focus on education finance and recently assisted Canning on advising the University of Wales Trinity St David’s on its £50m loan arrangements with HSBC.

Hugh James provides an ‘excellent service’ to lenders and borrowers in the private and public sectors with a particular focus on acquisition, real estate and energy financings. ‘Commercially minded’ team head Dominic Marshall has ‘very strong sector knowledge’. As well as regularly advising the Welsh government on many of its most significant financings, Marshall also has strong ties with numerous major lenders such as RBS and NatWest, as well as challenger banks including Metro Bank; his recent highlights include advising HSBC on the financing provided to luxury wedding company Oldwalls for its £1.8m acquisition of FairyHill Hotel. Robert Morgan is recommended for borrower-side mandates, with an emphasis on advising some of the region’s largest housing associations in the social housing space. Senior associate Rowena Downie is also recommended for her ‘excellent real estate finance work’.

Leveraging its reputation as a ‘first-class’ commercial property firm, Acuity Legal Limited is particularly active in real estate financing deals on behalf of banks, investment managers and developers. Beverley Jones is active across a range of work including acquisition finance and project financing; however she is best known for her work within the healthcare sector and recently advised LifeCare Residencies on the £16m refinancing of a loan facility with Cheyne Capital in connection with LifeCare’s new luxury retirement village in Battersea, London. Damien Cann has been involved in various innovative investments into the housing sector; he recently acted alongside the ‘well-informed and commercialJonathan Geen on the More Homes Bromley bond funded homelessness project. Steve Morris is also well regarded for real estate finance work on behalf of clients including Principality Building Society, Hodge Bank and Aberdeen Asset Management.

Blake Morgan LLP provides ‘reasoned and knowledgeable advice’ to a balanced mix of banks, corporates, charities, public sector entities and SMEs, with a track record on new money deals and refinancings. ‘Very experienced’ team head Meryl Morgan (who ‘really knows the market and has seen it all’) handles a range of transactional as well as regulatory matters, including issues relating to the Consumer Credit Act. Morgan has strong ties with nationwide and local lenders including Santander, HSBC and Hodge Bank, and advised Santander on a £10m refinancing for a property investment company. Other key team members include senior associate Reshma Jogia, who handles a range of secured financing work and regulatory matters, and Geoffrey Reed, who handles financing work within his broader real estate practice.

Led by Christopher Agius, Capital Law LLP’s banking and finance team has begun to diversify its lending work beyond its core property finance specialism to include a growing number of corporate banking mandates. Agius recently advised Hodge Bank on the £4m refinancing of a mixed-use portfolio of 16 properties. Straddling both the corporate and finance teams, the ‘client-friendly and commercialTom Kelleher has strong private equity connections and has been involved in the financing aspects of numerous deals for private equity firms, including acting for a UK-based private equity house involved in an MBO which required both senior debt and mezzanine financing facilities. Property finance specialist Leanne O’Brien is also recommended. Other clients include Finance Wales, Santander and RBS.

The ‘strong and very experienced’ team at Geldards LLP handles a range of new money deals and refinancing work for both lenders and borrowers within the private and public sectors. Team head Karl Baranski (who has ‘proven market experience’ across a wide range of financial products) handles a range of transactional work and has a considerable track record on fund formation matters. Having previously advised Finance Wales on its £150m JEREMIE fund, Baranski is currently acting for it on the creation of a new £135m fund. Baranksi also recently advised Hodge Bank on a multimillion-pound loan facility for the construction and operation of a three-turbine wind farm in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Mike Jeffs has considerable property finance expertise and recently secured the firm’s first instruction from Svenska Handelsbanken, involving the refinance of existing debt secured over several properties and the subsequent transfer of title in the properties into an SPV. Andrew Morris regularly handles corporate finance work. Other clients include Arts Council of Wales, HSBC and Santander.

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Legal Developments in Wales 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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