The Legal 500

Clifford Chance

United States

Top-tier recommendations


  • United States: Real estate and construction > Real estate

Latin America: International firms

Top-tier recommendations

United States: Finance

Within Asset finance and leasing, Clifford Chance is a first tier firm,

The ‘excellent’ practice at Clifford Chance in New York has an abundance of market-leading partners. Overall, ‘the depth of knowledge at this firm, given the wide array of transactions in which it is involved, is unparalleled’. The group’s standing in the market reflected in its workload, which has recently included advice to Avolon on its $636m asset-backed securitisation (ABS) for its newly established special purpose company, Emerald Aviation Finance; the ABS portfolio comprises 20 aircraft and was the first successful aircraft ABS under Rule 144A in five years. Another highlight was representing LATAM Airlines Group on a $270.9m ECGD-guaranteed bond issue, the first of its kind for an airline. On the underwriter side, the firm acted for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on the public offering of $1.7bn of senior aircraft secured notes issued by GE Capital, the only public corporate bond issue secured by aircraft. The group is jointly headed by John Howitt and global head of transport and logistics Zarrar Sehgal, who is ‘highly responsive and provides excellent legal advice tempered with commercial pragmatism’. Geoffrey White is also singled out as ‘one of the most experienced lawyers in this field’ whose ‘most notable strength is his attention to detail and experience based on a large track record of very complex transactions’. The firm’s capabilities were added to in 2013 following the recruitment of Emily DiStefano from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

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Within Capital markets: debt offerings, tier 4

Clifford Chance’s 50-strong team leverages the firm’s strong international network to act on a range of cross-border offerings. The group’s co-heads are Jay Bernstein and Alex Camacho; the latter, along with counsel Per Chilstrom, advised the initial purchasers and joint book-runners in the issuance of $300m aggregate principal amount 4.9% senior notes due 2023 by Metalsa. Camacho had a particularly busy year that also saw him advise Morgan Stanley, HSBC and Scotiabank as book-runners and initial purchasers of Grupo Idesa’s $300m notes issue. John Howitt and Gary Brooks advised Goldman Sachs as representatives for the underwriters on GE Capital’s $1.7bn public offering of senior secured notes comprising two fixed-rate series and one floating rate. The group is also a trusted adviser to some FIBRAs, a form of Mexican REIT. All named attorneys are based in New York.

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Within Capital markets: equity offerings, Clifford Chance is a third tier firm,

Clifford Chance’s New York-based practice has particular expertise in both REIT-driven offerings and cross-border equity deals, drawing on the firm’s tax structuring capabilities. Larry Medvinsky, Jason Myers, and Richard Catalano advised Empire State Realty Trust in its high-profile $930m IPO, the proceeds of which will be used to cash out existing holders, repay debt and fund future acquisitions. On the underwriter side, practice co-head Jay Bernstein, alongside Andrew Epstein and Donald Carden, advised Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital in its $177m IPO. Practice co-head Alex Camacho represented Bank of America Securities LLC as joint book-runner on Tandem Diabetes Care Inc’s $120m IPO. The practice has been instrumental in shaping Mexico’s FIBRA market and also acts, from its New York base, for foreign issuers and underwriters acting across the world’s capital markets.

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Within Capital markets: global offerings, Clifford Chance is a third tier firm,

Clifford Chance leverages its worldwide presence to act for issuers and managers in both debt and equity offerings, with particular strength in the areas of REITS, covered bonds and healthcare. Lewis Cohen in New York is the key contact; his previous experience includes working in conjunction with the London office to advise Deutsche Bank as arranger on the establishment of a $500m covered bond programme by Panama-based Global Bank; the first issue under the programme, a $200m five year Rule 144A/Reg.S offering, closed in October 2012.

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Within Corporate restructuring (including bankruptcy), tier 6

UK-headquartered Clifford Chance’s US practice excels in creditor-side representations and distressed M&A deals. The firm recently advised Ocwen on its subsidiary’s successful bid and acquisition of the mortgage servicing assets of ResCap. New York-based Andrew Brozman heads the Americas financial restructuring practice and is recommended.

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Within Financial services: regulatory, tier 6

Leveraging its huge international network, Clifford Chanceis able to address a variety of regulatory issues in markets around the globe to coordinate and maintain consistent advice for global businesses’. ‘Highly responsive and effective at identifying solutions’, the firm excels in advising US financial institutions on the implications of foreign regulatory changes on their businesses, as well as assisting global entities with multi-jurisdictional comparative studies. The ‘highly practical’ Nick O’Neill has ‘excellent knowledge of the changing regulatory landscape in both the UK and US’, and is assisting a consortium of international banks with a multi-jurisdictional survey of privacy law and confidentiality obligations around the world. The ‘excellent’ Gareth Old is ‘highly focused and responsive, extremely knowledgeable and great at thinking outside the box’. He recently advised the BBVA on Dodd-Frank and other regulatory matters.

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Within Project finance, Clifford Chance is a third tier firm,

A ‘big player’, Clifford Chance’s six-partner office operates across New York and Washington DC and has a strong track record in global energy projects, with a particular focus on Latin America. Fabricio Longhin led advice to multiple lenders on the $1.2bn financing of Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht’s hydroelectric project in Chaglla, Peru; this was the country’s largest project financing to date and BNDES’ first financing outside of Brazil on a limited recourse basis, which meant complex intercreditor arrangements were required. Lori Ann Bean led advice to OPIC on three renewable projects in Kenya. Practice co-head Christopher McIsaac advised Siemens Financial Services on its market debt investments into multiple US energy project financings. Longhin and McIsaac were also part of a 12-lawyer team advising multiple funders on six separate wind farm projects in Uruguay, awarded as part of the government’s strategy to diversify its energy sources. Bean also advised export credit agencies and multilaterals on four Peruvian wind projects worth $592m collectively. Fellow practice head David Evans and Catherine McCarthy are also recommended.

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Within Structured finance, Clifford Chance is a third tier firm,

With a structured finance practice that dates back to the 1980s, Clifford Chancecompares favorably’ owing to its ‘high industry knowledge’, ‘strength-in-depth of the team’, its ‘well-prepared lawyers’ and ‘very fast response times’. The New York-based group covers securitization and structured products as well as derivatives. It has strong penetration in the CLO market, both on the arranger and asset manager sides, with clients such as Citigroup and C-SAM. It also handles bespoke CMBS transactions; an example of this was advising Northstar on its $227.5m issuance of investment-grade commercial mortgage-backed securities to finance 14 floating-rate transitional loans through dealers led by Citigroup. Practice head Steven Kolyer has a ‘huge breadth of knowledge and takes a very pragmatic and energetic approach to his work’. The firm placed itself at the forefront of the returning commercial real estate CDO market by advising Sandler O'Neill + Partners as lead arranger on Arbor Realty Trust’s $260m commercial real estate CDO. It also has particular cross-border expertise, and the ‘personable and pleasant’ Lewis Cohen ‘makes a good effort to see things from the perspective of non-US parties as need be’. Senior counsel David Yeres is noted for ‘his knowledge on derivative transactions’, and the ‘creative’ Robert Villani and Frederick Utley are also recommended.

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United States: Industry focus

Within Insurance: non-contentious, tier 5

Clifford Chance’s New York-based regulatory and transactional insurance group represents clients in a wide range of areas, including M&A, capital markets, reinsurance, demutualizations and captive insurer formations. The firm has experienced an increase in transactional work, due in part to the recruitment of a number of former Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP partners, including Gary Boss and Joseph Cosentino. Boss and Cosentino are working with a number of the practice’s other partners in representing Jardine Lloyd Thompson in its $250m acquisition of Towers Watson’s reinsurance brokerage division. The group is also advising MasterCard Worldwide on a proposed restructuring of its global insurance operations; representing Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in connection with Eastern Insurance Holdings’ sale to ProAssurance; and advising a large financial services company on its settlement with the New York Attorney General’s office. The group also advised Assurant on its acquisition of Field Asset Services. Other clients include Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and Citigroup.

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United States: Investment fund formation and management

Within Private equity funds, tier 4

Clifford Chance’s European presence makes it a natural choice for US fund managers seeking to navigate AIFMD’s waters, for a client base that includes J.P. Morgan, AQR Fortress and Appian Capital, among others. Other highlights included advising C-III Capital Partners on the formation of its second capital recovery fund, and assisting Appian Capital with the formation of its global mining and metals fund. Leveraging its pan-European capacity, Jeff Berman acted as part of a joint London and New York team advising the IFC on its Russian Bank Opportunity Fund. Berman, Clifford Cone, who made partner in April 2013, and Roger Singer are the key contacts.

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Within Real estate investment trusts (REITs), Clifford Chance is a first tier firm,

Clifford Chance fields a group of 50-fee earners, including 14 partners, which handles REITs work and is equally comfortable acting for the issuer or the underwriter on multibillion-dollar offerings. A three-partner team comprising Larry Medvinsky, Jason Myers and Richard Catalano advised Empire State Realty Trust on its $935m IPO, while another three-partner team, including Jay Bernstein, assisted Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital, a specialty finance company that provides debt and equity financing for sustainable infrastructure projects that increase energy efficiency, on its $177m offering. The burgeoning Latin American REIT market continues to be a source of work, with the team advising on follow-on offerings by two Mexican REITs (known as fibras), collectively raising more than $3.5bn. The firm also advised Colony American Homes, which notably focuses on investments into single-unit family homes rather than commercial real estate, on two offerings totalling $6bn. Other key figures include Andrew Epstein, who acted for the underwriters in a string of IPOs throughout 2013, and Kathleen Werner.

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United States: Labor and employment

Within Employee benefits and executive compensation, Clifford Chance is a third tier firm,

Clifford Chance has ‘an understanding of complex tax rules relating to incentive compensation, and the application of these rules across multiple jurisdictions’. The firm focuses on the treatment of executive compensation and employee benefits matters in M&A transactions. It is advising Jardine Lloyd Thompson on its pending acquisition of the re-insurance brokerage business of Towers Watson. Other clients include Barclays, Empire State Realty Trust and Apollo Asset Management. Howard Adler leads the small but highly effective team that is ‘able to deal with complex matters’. Counsel Robert Stone specializes in ERISA and is ‘technically proficient, aware of evolving market practices and able to deliver practical legal advice’. Both are based in New York. Jeffrey Lieberman has left the firm to join Epstein Becker & Green, P.C..

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United States: Litigation

Within White-collar criminal defense, tier 6

As would be expected from a firm with a well-established global footprint, Clifford Chance is a popular choice for both US-based and foreign companies facing US enforcement issues, and enjoys particularly strong ties with international financial institutions. Illustrating this is the team’s ongoing work (since 2010) for a major global bank in investigations by multiple agencies into possible OFAC sanction violations; a resolution was agreed with no criminal penalty. Other multi-year cases in which the team is currently involved include a major False Claims Act case against a financial institution which involves novel questions concerning the statute of limitations and employer’s liability for employee’s criminal conduct. Edward O’Callaghan is working alongside partners in the London office to represent an individual in FCA investigations into JPMorgan Chase’s trading losses; and again demonstrating the prevalence of international matters, he and David Raskin are assisting partners in Frankfurt with a criminal tax investigation of a client. Both aforementioned partners are based in New York. Other key partners are based in Washington DC, including practice head David DiBari. Export control regulation expert Wendy Wysong splits her time between Washington DC and Hong Kong.

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United States: Mergers, acquisitions and buyouts

Within M&A: large deals ($1bn-5bn), tier 4

Clifford Chance sets the ‘gold standard for responsiveness. Its lawyers are always available, and ready to do what it takes to respond to client needs. They also give practical, business-oriented advice’. The team advised W P Carey & Co on its proposed $4bn merger with Corporate Property Associates 16; and acted for Royal Dutch Shell on the $4.4bn acquisition of part of Repsol’s LNG portfolio in Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Spain, the transaction including plant capacity and supply positions in Peru and Trinidad and Tobago, a 25% stake in a power plant in Spain, and a material LNG marketing and trading operation. It also assisted AEI on the $213m sale of minority interests in Transportadora Brasileira Gasoducto Bolivia Brasil and Gas Transboliviano, the consortium which owns and operates the Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline, to EIG Global Energy Partners; acted for Bridgepoint on the sale of the Permaswage Group, an aerospace component supplier which manufactures couplings for use in civil and military aircraft, to Precision Castparts Corporation; advised American Tower Corporation on the acquisition of a wireless communication sites portfolio from German mobile operator E-Plus, a subsidiary of Dutch operator KPN; and assisted Informa, a leading academic publishing, business information and events group, on the sale of its five corporate training businesses to Providence Equity Partners for up to $180m. Craig Medwick heads the Americas corporate practice. David Brinton ‘provides an excellent level of service. In addition to being technically excellent, he is extremely responsive, and has in-depth experience in M&A and strong energy sector knowledge, and is a very commercial and business-oriented lawyer with an easy-going, approachable style’. John Healy, Sarah Jones, Robert Masella, Benjamin Sibbett and Kathleen Werner are also key contacts. Gary Boss, Joseph Cosentino and Ivan Presant, formerly of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, joined the firm in 2012.

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United States: Real estate and construction

Within Real estate, tier 5

Clifford Chance’s ‘outstanding’ 17-partner department delivers ‘top-quality results’ and has ‘extensive domestic and international prowess’. The group is led by the ‘highly experienced’ Douglas Wisner and includes the ‘first-class’ Ness Cohen. It advised Yes! On its $771m acquisition of 106 manufactured housing communities and related assets from American Residential Communities, and assisted JSRE Acquisitions LLC with the sale of a tenancy in common interest in the retail condominium at the St Regis hotel in New York. Other clients include Almanac Realty Advisors, The Door, CIBC, GEMS Education and Madison International Realty.

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United States: Tax

Within Domestic tax: East Coast, Clifford Chance is a third tier firm,

Clifford Chance is an ‘excellent’ firm, and the New York tax team adds depth and strength to the firm’s global tax capabilities. Practice head Richard Catalano is an ‘expert in real estate taxation’, and the firm has a notable REIT practice as well as strength across capital markets, M&A and investment and fund management. The firm advised AMC Networks on its definitive agreement to acquire the majority of Chellomedia, the international content division of Liberty Global; Philip Wagman advised on tax matters relating to the transaction. Avrohom Gelber is also recommended, and recently advised Morgan Stanley on the restructuring of its private wealth management business in Europe, Asia and the US.

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Within Financial products, Clifford Chance is a first tier firm,

With a wide-ranging practice, Clifford Chance is ‘excellent, and a leading firm in investment companies and alternative investment vehicles. Insurance-related work is a particular specialism; Donald Carden has handled some pioneering work for foreign investors to assist them in operating in the sector in the US in a tax-efficient way. The firm has also been active in the resurgent CLO market, particularly on the issuer side. Richard Catalano, who leads the practice, is active in REITS and has recently advised Empire State Realty Trust and Colony American Homes. Areas of growth, especially in Latin America, include aircraft securitization and international trade receivables matters.

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Within International tax, Clifford Chance is a third tier firm,

The ‘excellentClifford Chance has a solid international tax presence, and the team in New York is an essential element of the firm’s global network. The team provides tax advice to major foreign and domestic companies on capital markets, M&A and investment fund management matters. Richard Catalano heads the group, and the ‘very responsive’ David Moldenhauer specializes in international tax and is an ‘expert in his field’. The firm advised AMC Networks on its agreement to acquire substantially all of Chellomedia, the international content division of Liberty Global; Philip Wagman was the key tax partner in New York. Donald Carden has a wealth of experience, and recently assisted Challenger Life, a publicly traded Australian insurance company, on its entry into the US life settlement market.

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Latin America: International firms

Within Projects and energy, Clifford Chance is a first tier firm,

The Latin America projects and energy team at Clifford Chancedoes a great job identifying the key issues in complex transactions and consistently provides excellent advice and thorough representation’. It ‘is our go-to firm for all major transactional work in Latin America and elsewhere. The lawyers we work with are very knowledgeable and creative. More so than other firms, it is extremely responsive and commercial and it represents good value’. With its international reach, its clients benefit from the firm’s global projects and energy knowledge. It recently assisted Goldman Sachs, as arranger, in respect of a $110m project bond to finance the expansion of the port of Paita in Peru, which is being developed by a consortium comprised by Tertir and Andino; and represented AEI in respect of the development and financing of the 530MW, $700m Fenix combined-cycle power project in Peru, which was financed by a group of commercial banks (including BTG Pactual) and export credit agencies. In another highlight matter, the firm acted for Citi, Natixis, BBVA, BTMU and other commercial banks in an $800m COFACE, CESCE and MIGA backed financing for the Republic of Panama to fund the Panama City metro. The firm also has a thriving agency practice. It advised IDB, EKF, HSBC, Crédit Agricole, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Santander and Banorte on the $693m financing of a 396MW Mareña Renovables wind farm in the state of Oaxaca, which is being developed by Macquarie; and is currently advising IDB, IFC, a syndicate of Costa Rican banks and BNP Paribas, as arranger of the "B bond", in connection with the $1bn, 306MW Reventazon hydroelectric project in Costa Rica, which is sponsored by ICE, the state-owned utility. It is also currently advising IDB and a group of commercial banks in respect of the financing of the $1bn Chaglla hydroelectric project in Peru, which is being developed by Odebrecht; and acting for Centrales Hidrolectricas de Nicaragua, a joint venture formed by Eletrobras and Queiroz Galvao, in the development and financing of a 220MW Tumarin hydroelectric project in Nicaragua. David Evans and Christopher McIsaac co-head the firm’s Americas energy and infrastructure group. The team includes the considerable talents of Lori Ann Bean, Fabricio Longhin, Catherine McCarthy, Chris Willott and Evan Cohen. David Brinton ‘has proven time and again that he can weave through complex multinational transactions and provide high-quality advice’.

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Further information on Clifford Chance

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United States

Offices in Washington DC, New York, and Menlo Park

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