Derivatives and structured finance in France
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP is singled out for its 'comprehensive services' and 'excellent level of expertise' and possesses 'unchallenged legal expertise in the French asset-backed securities market'. The team 'stands out for its high-quality work, personal involvement and professional skills, including when it comes to tight deadlines and the execution of complex transactions'; it fields a number of 'extraordinarily sharp' practitioners, who are also 'pleasant to work with'. Able to assist with the full spectrum of over-the-counter derivatives, the group has a strong record in advising on complex matters arising from the changing regulatory derivatives framework. With managing partner Hervé Ekué as practice head of the derivatives department and the 'well-regarded professional' and 'highly efficient negotiator' Fabrice Faure-Dauphin, who 'brings a mix of technical and negotiation skills as well as a commercial perspective to deals', as head of the securitisation and covered bonds practice, the group continues to attract high-profile instructions. Recent highlights include advising BNP Paribas Cardif on the negotiation of collateral French Banking Federation (FBF) documentation regarding non-centrally cleared derivatives in accordance with EMIR requirements. Counsel Clément Saudo is also recommended. Other clients include Barclays, Goldman Sachs International and Nomura International.
Clifford Chance handles the full range of structured finance, including securitisation, repackaging, derivatives and alternative market financing products, and possesses French, English and US law expertise. Jonathan Lewis heads the practice jointly with newly promoted partner Julien Rocherieux; Lewis assisted the European Investment Fund with multiple matters, including the provision of guarantees to the ENABLE funding programme of the British Business Bank and the provision of guarantees to securitisations in Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK in the context of the European Commission and EIB Group's SME Initiative. Other work came from Elior, XPO Logistics and Crédit Foncier. Olivier Plessis made counsel.
CMS fields a 'very proactive, approachable and client-oriented' team noted for its 'no-nonsense approach and the willingness to take the initiative'. Cross-border transactions account for a significant part of the caseload, but the team is also strong domestically. Recent highlights focused on securitisation and French debt funds, as well as on covered bonds and trade receivables. Grégory Benteux, head of the securitisation and structured finance practice, and Marc-Etienne Sébire, head of the capital markets group, 'are both commercial, fully involved and easy to work with'. Benteux advised Société Générale Securities Services on creating a new securitisation fund, acquiring receivables arising from the purchase and financing of vehicles and spare parts by designated German retail motor vehicle dealers. The team also assisted BNP Paribas and Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel with covered bonds issued as part of euro medium-term note (EMTN) programmes. My Money Bank, HSBC and BPCE are also clients.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. provides 'a great platform to handle complex cross-border transactions for French clients' and 'delivers a great service'. The 'responsive', 'dedicated' team is noted for its 'very constructive ideas'. Equity derivatives are the group's mainstay, but it also demonstrates strength in advising on securitisation matters and covered bonds. In addition to assisting Arélia with the derivatives aspects of the new Paris courthouse refinancing, including developing a hedging structure, it also assisted Europcar with the extension of its car fleet securitisation programme, increasing the programme's aggregate amount from €1.3bn to €1.7bn. Arnaud Duhamel, who gives 'valuable input when implementing innovative solutions', and Xavier Chassin de Kergommeaux head the practice. Counsel Laurent Vincent 'always goes the extra mile'. Idinvest Partners, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and Bouygues Bâtiment International also count among the team's clients.
Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP impresses with its 'knowledge of latest market developments and its pragmatism about available business solutions, together with its excellent co-ordination between all offices and teams'. The 'very proactive' group includes Baptiste Gelpi, Vincent Fidelle, Sharon Lewis and Katia Merlini, who 'deserves praise for her judgement, poise, ability to remain calm under pressure and high delivery standards'. Counsel Laura Asbati joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and, jointly with Gelpi, advised LeasePlan on the first public securitisation of lease and related residual value receivables originated by the client's subsidiary LeasePlan France. Lewis assisted AXA Bank Belgium and AXA Bank Europe with the expiration of the MBS waiver, replacing the assets held by AXA Bank Europe with mortgage loans purchased from AXA Bank Belgium and loans granted by Axa Bank Europe to AXA Bank Belgium secured by eligible secured loans, involving a major reorganisation of AXA Bank Europe. Other clients include Crédit Agricole, Edmond de Rothschild and Bred Banque Populaire.
The 'highly qualified and dedicated' team at Jones Day possesses 'very strong derivatives expertise' and fields 'seasoned experts in equity derivatives'. The 'very committed' practice acts for a diverse client roster, and recent highlights include advising Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on amendments to the transaction documents and the €35bn covered bonds issuance programme update of Crédit Agricole Home Loan. Lendix received advice on the creation of its second European Long Term Investment Fund (ELTIF). Alban Caillemer du Ferrage 'is a pre-eminent expert' in derivatives and forms the heart of the practice with 'exceptional professional' Qian Hu and Christine Van Gallebaert, who 'always stays focused' and 'puts herself at the same level of understanding as her clients in order to explain legal issues with simple words'. BNP Paribas, ISDA and new client Tikehau Capital Partners also instruct the team.
Linklaters has a strong practice in securitisation, covered bonds and structured finance, including residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities and project bonds. Patrice Doat is the main contact in the capital market team, which is headed by Luis Roth. In a recent highlight, Doat advised Crédit Agricole on acquiring €1.15bn revolving residential mortgage-backed securities, involving a structure to achieve demutualisation, allowing Caisses Régionales, which granted the loans, to retain all risks and advantages. He also advised Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank as arranger and a syndicate of twelve banks on the €450m senior asset-backed revolving facility for Goldcar's vehicle fleet financing in the context of its acquisition by Europcar. Counsel Cibele Natasha Antunes left for a role in-house at AXA.
Orrick Rambaud Martel's team 'combines very experienced and younger, but dynamic and valuable profiles'. The 'solution-oriented' practice excels in highly structured transactions and steadily deepens its bench, most recently with the promotion to partner of Carine Mou Si Yan and of Adrien Guidet and Judith Rousvoal to of counsel. Practice head Hervé Touraine splits his time between Paris and Geneva and recently advised BNP Paribas and Hachette Filipacchi on the extension of the existing trade receivables securitisation programme. Olivier Bernard is also recommended. Other clients include Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Morgan Stanley and By Way Personal Finance.