Banking and finance in East Anglia
'They have tremendous client-facing skills and inspire confidence in their professional skills,' say clients of the lawyers at Birketts LLP. The firm counts major lenders including HSBC and Lloyds Bank among its clients, though it also has a strong flow of borrower-side work. Its range of niche specialisms includes investment property funding, agricultural finance and acquisition finance. Mark Henry and Andrew Tubb in Ipswich, along with James Allen in Cambridge, are the lead partners. Greg Allan in Norwich, who handles leveraged finance to property development finance, and real estate finance specialist Alex Schaafsma in Cambridge are also recommended.
‘The team at Birketts quickly understands the main issues of the transaction and focuses on representing the cient’s point of view and interest. They have tremendous client-facing skills and inspire confidence in their professional skills.‘
‘My main contact is Alex Scaafsma who is the most accessible and supportive professional partner I have worked with in any firm.‘
Lloyds Bank plc
HSBC Bank plc
National Westminster Bank plc / RBS
One Savings Bank trading as Kent Reliance
Alpha Bank London Limited
Clydesdale Bank plc
Metro Bank plc
Ipswich Building Society
- Advising Thincats on a £10.4m term loan to a borrower in the marine sector to refinance existing debt and acquire property with an additional £1.5m lend one month later. Included expertise from corporate banking, commercial property and shipping. Included taking bespoke security over ships and coordinating with the MCA.
- Acted for Time GB Properties Lendco Limited (as borrower) in relation to borrowing £142m which was used for the repayment of existing facilities with various existing lenders. With more than 20 companies in the borrower group, the transaction involved liaising with the various existing lenders for the release of existing security and redemption of amounts owed to them and drafting/negotiating the relevant finance documents.
- Acted for the bank in the provision of loan facilities to a UK private company for the purpose of the acquisition of a central London mixed-use investment property.
Mills & Reeve LLP's Cambridge office is the hub for a multi-faceted banking and finance practice that handles domestic and cross-border lending, capital markets issuance and niche areas such as real estate finance for borrowers and lenders. Among its clients are banks, debt funds, local authorities and government bodies. Corporate and acquisition finance partner William Roles, who works in both London and Cambridge, leads the practice. Sarah Seed handles finance matters in the not-for-profit sector, Laura Holdaway real estate finance and Norwich-based Zak Virgin asset-based lending. In Cambridge, principal associates Matthew Howling and Frances Churchard are also recommended.
‘The firm provides good consistency for clients from transaction to transaction. It provides high calibre advice and can deal with complex transactions at a price point that is appropriate for mid-market clients. The property finance team is very personable.’
‘Laura Holdaway provides clear, practical advice which shows a clear understanding of commercial concerns and is focused on resolving legal issues.’
‘The team are competent, efficient, cost-effective and communicate effectively to cover for each other very well.’
‘Sarah Seed explains well, identifies key issues and delegates to junior associates appropriately. She adapts her communication effortlessly when speaking to FD or to Trustee; she is never patronising, straightforward and generates action as well as discussion. One of the best partners I have worked with.’
PNC Financial Services UK Limited
Hill Marshall LLP/Marshall Group Properties Limited
University of Cambridge
Mick George Group
Nexus Infrastructure plc
HSBC UK Bank PLC – regional debt finance panel
Arbuthnot Commercial Asset Based Lending Limited
- Acted for AgFe and Reassure in a complex restructuring and £50m refinancing of a portfolio of carehomes owned by a listed REIT.
- Advising the City of London Corporation on the issue of £450m privately placed debt securities.
- Advised Homes England on an infrastructure finance loan of £7m to Keepmoat Homes Limited.
Ashtons Legal in Bury St Edmunds has 'an approachable and practical team that demonstrates strong commerciality'. The firm works predominantly for lenders, with HSBC Bank, Handelsbanken and Clydesdale Bank among its key clients. It focuses predominantly on real estate secured lending, agricultural finance, corporate finance and construction finance, with loans typically in the £2m to £15m range. The 'unflappable, calm and extremely helpful' Ron Clare leads the practice.
‘An approachable and practical team that demonstrates strong commerciality.‘
‘All individuals appear to work to the same practice ethos – good advice blended with commerciality.‘
‘A strong and fully resourced team very ably led by Ron Clare.‘
‘Ron Clare leads the team by example. He has superb knowledge of the property finance sector and immediately gets to the core of any issues. He readily gives his views and opinions and fully explains the issues. An unflappable and calm professional who is extremely helpful. He has our total confidence.‘
Cambridge Building Society
HSBC Bank plc
Clydesdale Bank plc
Sheppey Energy Limited
C Hoare & Co
National Westminster Bank plc
AFP Assets Limited
Abbey International Finance Limited
Pretoria Energy Company Holdings Limited
CBNF Properties Limited
National Institute of Agricultural Botany Trust (NIAB)
R. C. Browne & Co
- Representing Handelsbanken plc in taking over security over an investment property in Ely, Cambridgeshire purchased by one of its investor customers and anchored by an occupational long lease to Lloyds Bank.
- Acting for Handelsbanken plc in the taking of charges over a leasehold office investment in Crewe, Cheshire, and a freehold investment property near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, as security for a loan to the borrower’s SIPP.
- Representing Handelsbanken plc in connection with its taking security over leasehold light industrial premises at Waterbeach, near Cambridge as security for its loan to an office equipment company.
Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds acts for corporate borrowers in increasingly high-value financing transactions. Strong in regional matters, it increasingly acts for London-based and national clients, and it is involved in transactions with cross-border elements. Recent work includes parties in the US, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Libya and throughout Europe. Simon Ratcliffe leads the practice, which counts multinational companies, investors, SMEs and owner-managed businesses among its clients. Partner Andrew Cooper and associate Mark Williams are also recommended.
Applied Design & Engineering Limited
Cipher Surgical Limited
Nexus Underwriting Management Limited
- Provided advice to Applied Design & Engineering Limited on raising new funds from shareholders by way of equity and debt, and on the restructuring of existing shareholder debt, including on a mix of convertible and non-convertible debt instruments.
- Advised Cipher Surgical Limited on significant equity fundraising through the course of 2019, including a significant investment by a US medical industry investor. Advised on the Investment Agreement for the US investor, and on obtaining appropriate shareholder consents and waivers, managing the calling of general meetings, obtaining subscription letters and other documentation from new investors, as well as managing the close of each investment round.
- Acted for the MBI purchaser of Smart Offices Limited, a high-profile and award-winning East Anglian private company that manufactures and sells garden rooms, offices and studios. The transaction included financing of the acquisition, security issues, debt negotiations and a pressurised timeframe.
Howes Percival LLP in Norwich focuses on real estate and development finance, building on the strength of its commercial property and agriculture teams. 'The stability of the team means that they know the historical context of current transactions and understand what we are trying to achieve', remarks one client. Alongside corporate borrowers, the firm counts lenders such as HSBC and Lloyds Bank among its clients. Lead partner Joanna Nicholls, head of real estate Tessa Haskey and Cambridge-based real estate finance specialist Will Stokes are highly recommended.
‘The stability of the team means that they know the historical context of current transactions and understand what we are trying to achieve.‘
‘Scott Smith is always very helpful and Michaela Henson is very knowledgeable.‘
RQ Capital Limited
HSBC UK Bank plc
Lloyds Bank plc
Barclays Bank plc
Santander UK Plc
National Westminster Bank Plc
Bank of Scotland plc
C Hoare & Co
Cambridge and Counties Bank Limited
- Acting for Lloyds Bank in a £1m loan secured against a charity-owned hostel containing 40 bedsit flats.
- Assisted the Clayland Estates Limited and group companies with a number of development finance matters including the financing of two newly acquired sites in Shipdham for the construction of four and seven dwellings respectively.
- Assisted Hundred Houses Society Limited with the refinancing of 26 residential property units with Affordable Housing Finance Plc, a specialist social housing lender.
The Cambridge office of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP plays a key part in the firm-wide banking and finance practice that not only advises some of the world's most active lending banks, but also has a large roster of large corporate borrowers in the healthcare, real estate, retail, education, construction and social housing sectors. The practice led by Helen Drayton, who handles acquisition finance, bi-lateral lending and development finance, works with the London office to assist banks and investors outside of the EEA to enter the UK.
HSBC UK Bank plc
AIB Group (UK) plc
Link ASI Limited
Blighter Surveillance Systems Limited
- Acted for lender HSBC UK Bank on a £20m financing for a franchisee of a well-known restaurant brand to purchase a large number of additional restaurants. This involved drafting and negotiating the facility agreement.
- Acted on behalf of lending bank AIB Group (UK) in respect of a new £22m facility agreement for an existing borrower who is well known in the construction industry.
- Acted for Blighter Surveillance Systems Limited in connection with its venture debt funding from Boost which will provide strategic working capital.
The Peterborough office of Greenwoods GRM works closely with its London-based team to act for banks and corporate borrowers. The firm has created an Inward Investment group that includes dual-qualified lawyers with expertise in German and Italian commerce to handle cross-border investment transactions. Corporate partner Alastair Gunn is the key practitioner in East Anglia, with senior associate Jamie McConnell handling contentious matters.
Other key lawyers:
- Advised Oakham School on a £1.2m refinancing with Barclays Bank.
Steeles Law in Norwich draws on its company commercial, dispute resolution and commercial property teams to act for corporate clients and high-net-worth individuals in banking and finance transactions. The firm is starting to develop a practice focused on start-up companies, catering for their transactional and financing needs. Corporate partner Richard Bailey advises on the guarantee of overdraft and factoring facilities. Head of private client Karen Bacon acts for agricultural clients and solicitor Damian Pitts deals with disputes.
Kingswood Financial Advisers
Highview Network Limited