Baker McKenzie's 'outstanding' three-partner aviation finance team generates a significant amount of work for regional and PRC-based lenders and borrowers, which are appreciative of the firm's 'in-depth knowledge and experience' across a variety of leasing and finance structures, as well as its ability to advise on English, Hong Kong, and PRC law. 'Deeply experienced' team head Andrew Lockhart has 'seen it all before' and provides 'prompt and professional advice' to international/Chinese banks and lessors across a range of financings and leasing transactions. 'Experienced, professional and proactive' Hong Kong and UK-qualified partner Allen Ng is a fluent Mandarin speaker and is particularly well-versed at advising Chinese airlines and lessors across a myriad of mandates, including ECA-backed financings and tax-based leases.
Asset finance (including aviation and shipping finance) in Hong Kong
‘It is a professional and efficient team that has in-depth knowledge and experience in the aviation area and provides valuable advice during the documentation stage.’
‘They provide a full range of service, as they have experts in almost every area and in various countries. Therefore, any comments we need will be promptly provided. Accuracy and speed advice are important for us.’
‘The experienced and professional Andrew Lockhart provides prompt and professional advice.’
‘Andrew Lockhart leads the Hong Kong team of aviation finance professionals. Andrew’s experience is coupled with a cadre of junior associates that handle the heavy lifting.’
‘Allen Ng is very experienced, professional and proactive.’
Led from Hong Kong by the 'focused and thoughtful' Paul Greenwell and supported by asset finance resources in key locations throughout the region, including mainland China, Japan, and Singapore, Clifford Chance provides a 'ruthlessly efficient service' for lessors and banks in Asia specific cross-border aviation finance matters. Greenwell has 'unrivalled experience on PRC and Japanese matters', often incorporating complex leasing and finance structures. Able to draw from the firm's broader corporate, restructuring, funds, and antitrust competences, the team also stands out for its ability to seamlessly resource complex multi-disciplinary mandates, including big-ticket Greater China-related lessor M&A transactions. Other work includes assisting international lessors to establish a presence in Hong Kong and advising lessors in distressed/restructuring scenarios (of particular recent relevance in light of the huge economic impact the Covid pandemic has caused to the airline industry).
‘The team offers absolutely first in class service, and connects seamlessly with the broader Clifford Chance network.’
‘The go-to aviation team in Hong Kong, has unrivalled experience on PRC and Japanese matters.’
‘The whole team is ruthlessly efficient and really drives deals.’
‘Paul Greenwell is focused, thoughtful, dedicated and hands-on.’
‘Paul Greenwell and Jeffrey Ip have great attention to details and are very responsive.’
‘Hetty Lam is a rising star.’
‘Joe Osgerby-Lacey has decades of rich experience in aviation, financing and banking.’
Air Lease Corporation
Avolon Aerospace Leasing Limited
Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.
CCB Financial Leasing Corporation
CDB Aviation Lease Finance DAC / China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprise Limited and NWS Holdings Limited
Clover Aviation Capital Company Limited
CMB Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise
Jackson Square Aviation
GE Capital Aviation Services Limited
SMBC Aviation Capital Limited
- Advised on the formation of a global aircraft leasing and asset management platform based in Hong Kong.
- Advising various major international operating lessors and financial institutions on contingency planning and strategic advice in relation to their exposure to a number of HNA group airlines, including Hong Kong Airlines.
- Advising various PRC lessors in relation to global airline and manufacturer default, dispute and insolvency matters in the PRC, Japan, Germany, Denmark, Iceland, South Africa, the UK, Australia and the US, including with respect to the Boeing 737 MAX programme and the HNA group of airlines.
Although CMS' Hong Kong asset finance team remains relatively compact, under the guidance of Tim Elliott, since its establishment in January 2017, it has continued to increase its market penetration for local lessors and owners, as well as advising international entities on mandates with an Asia Pacific nexus. Elliot splits his time between the local office and London, and indeed a significant proportion of the work handled by the team involves a collaborative effort between offices. Although it does handle some traditional shipping finance work, the team's sweet-spot lies in relation to the financing of complicated energy and offshore-related vessels, including LNG carriers and floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) units.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team provides knowledgeable and responsive advice.’
‘Tim Elliot and Katherine Huang are good at responding to the issues in financing transactions.’
Bumi Armada Berhad
CCB Financial Leasing Corporation Limited
GE Energy Financial Services
Hammonia Reederei GmbH & Co. KG
ICBC Financial Leasing
- Advising CCB Financial Leasing Corporation Limited (CCBFL) in respect of the $206m sale and leaseback financing and delivery, of the FSRU “Höegh Galleon” to be chartered to a Bermudan incorporated affiliate of Höegh LNG.
- Advising CCBFL on the $175.5m ten-year sale and leaseback financing of two Norwegian-flagged LNG carriers to be chartered to affiliates of major Norwegian shipowner Awilco LNG AS.
HFW's 'very responsive and conscientious' eight-strong team has the resources and expertise to provide a well-rounded service to borrowers, lenders, and investors across the spectrum of transport finance and leasing mandates. 'Very responsive' aviation finance team head Justin Sun has 'rich experience in aircraft financing' and continues to regularly advise PRC-based lessors across a range of sophisticated leasing and finance transactions, including in relation to JOLCO structures. Although new money deals have been much scarcer in the wake of Covid 19, Sun has remained busy, particularly advising on lease restructurings and debt refinancing work. Led by Patrick Cheung , the shipping practice is also active on the lessor side, although it is perhaps best-known for its borrower practice, which includes work for many leading owners and operators.
‘The very professional and conscientious team provides a very strong service.’
‘The firm is very familiar with the aircraft leasing market.’
‘Justin Sun has rich experience on leasing transactions.’
‘The very responsive Justin Sun really understands his clients’ needs.’
‘Whitney Chan provides high-quality advice.’
‘Lorraine Chiu stands out as an efficient and reliable associate.’
Genting Hong Kong Limited
Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co Ltd
ICBCIL Aviation Company Limited
AVIC International Leasing Co., Ltd
- Advised Genting Hong Kong Limited on its $900m sale and lease back transaction of m.v. “Genting Dream”, a 2016-built cruise ship.
- Advised Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co Ltd on its $470m JOLCO financing of 5 aircraft on lease to an Mexican airline.
- Advised ICBCIL Aviation Company Limited on its approximately $154m portfolio financing of four aircraft covering seven jurisdictions.
Combining vast maritime industry sector knowledge, with expertise at the leading-edge of leasing and finance structures, Ince remains a popular choice among a fairly balanced roster of owners, lessors, and lenders. Team head Gary Wong typifies the varied work handled by the practice, and regularly advises international/domestic banks and owners across a myriad new money and restructuring mandates. Janice Lee has an excellent reputation among PRC-based lenders and lessors; she recently advised CMB Financial Leasing, as one of the participating lessors, in a high-profile syndicated sale and leaseback transaction. Managing associate Lorraine Mok is also recommended.
Taiping & Sinopec Financial Leasing
CMB Financial Leasing Co Ltd
CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping Company Limited
China COSCO Shipping (various subsidiaries)
- Advised CMB Financial Leasing Co Ltd as one of the leasing parties (in what was the first ever syndicated leasing transaction in history) regarding the sale and leaseback of the cruise ship Genting Dream, which raised $900m for Genting.
- Advised Hong Kong-listed company, CSSC, on a sale and leaseback transaction of four new built 86k CBM liquefied gas carrier through its wholly owned Singapore SPVs at a total estimated charterhire of approximately $377m (including estimated lease interest of approximately $92.9m).
- Acted as the leading counsel for Taiping & Sinopec Financial Leasing, on a $126m sale and leaseback transaction of three oil tankers with NYSE-listed Belgian shipowner Euronav.
King & Wood Mallesons
Forming an integral part of the firm's overarching Greater China asset finance offering, that includes a huge presence throughout the PRC, King & Wood Mallesons's two-partner Hong Kong-based team is regularly instructed by Chinese lessors and banks across a range of aviation financing mandates, from bespoke and complex heavily structured mandates, through to more commoditised sale and leaseback mandates. Led by Ashley Wong, whose versatile practice includes work for airlines as well as investors/capital providers, the team also acts as an important bridgehead for international participants looking to access the Asian financial markets.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team provides a meticulous and efficient service.’
‘Provide professional legal advice on aircraft financing, and deal with customers’ questions seriously and responsibly.’
- Advised the Bank of China Limited, Macau Branch on lending facilities to two SPVs of China Asset Leasing Co. Ltd. for the purpose of refinancing the acquisition and leasing of two aircraft it owned.
Benefiting from a longstanding presence in the Asian market and also able to leverage the expertise of lawyers from across the firm's international network, Mayer Brown provides a 'very slick service' to an eclectic mix of clients in the aviation and maritime sectors, from both a pan-Asian and international perspective. On the aviation front, Richard Stock heads a 'seasoned team of professionals' that have 'extensive experience across Asia' for banks and numerous high-profile local airlines, enabling it to provide a balanced perspective across a range of operating lease, sale and leaseback and tax-based leasing products, as well as secured debt financings. On the shipping front, the 'very impressive' Conor Warde continues to handle a wide range and volume of work for PRC-based lessors, while the 'excellent' Maggie Cheung has an excellent reputation for international lenders and Chinese institutions, including work on structured loan facilities. Senior associate Dora Ying is also recommended.
‘Very experienced and professional in shipping finance.’
‘Mayer Brown’s Hong Kong aviation practice has developed a deep knowledge of the business jet realm and various financing structures.’
‘The lawyers we have worked with at Mayer Brown’s Hong Kong office stand out compared to other firms on several features, including: (i) excellent knowledge of the business jet realm and key stakeholders underpinned by a longstanding industry experience, (ii) drafting quality and (iii) speed and reliability of execution.’
‘Maggie Cheung provides excellent legal advice and drafting of structured shipping loan facilities.’
‘The team, led by Richard Stock, is staffed with seasoned aviation professionals. The team’s strength is its extensive experience in Asia. Further, the team is truly multicultural with members speaking a variety of languages and from a variety of backgrounds.’
- Advising a Hong Kong-based airline on the aircraft-related elements of the acquisition of a local low cost carrier airline.
- Advised a leading Hong Kong-based airline on a sale and leaseback transaction involving six Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
- Advising a Hong Kong-based low-cost carrier, a Hong Kong-based cargo airline and an Asian Pacific flag carrier on three separate flight hour engine Power-By-the-Hour arrangements with terms of up to 12 years.
Regularly picking up commercial aviation financing work from lessors and banks on Asia-related matters, as well as on deals in as far afield as Africa and the Middle East, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP's 'commercial and practical' four-strong team adds particular value to clients on complex, often highly structured deals. New York and UK law-qualified team head Paul Jebely is well-placed to advise on debt financing structures governed under UK and US law. As well as his investor/lender side commercial aviation finance practice, Jebely is also noted for his work on behalf of high-net-worth-individuals in the private aviation market. The team is also able to tap into the resources of a significant global network, that includes highly rated practitioners based in London and the US. Since publication, Eugene Yeung joined K&L Gates in May 2021.
Other key lawyers:
‘I really appreciate their professionalism, creativity, and excellence in drawing up complex contracts.’
‘The team provides commercial and practical advice.’
‘Regarding the last contract that they prepared for my company: this is the first time in my life that I get compliments from my customers regarding the quality and clarity of a contract! An excellent team!’
‘The responsive Paul Jebely is a thought leader, not a follower.’
Absa Bank Limited
Apple Bank New York
Aviation Capital Group
Cathay Pacific Airlines
China Aircraft Leasing Company
Chishima Real Estate Co., Ltd.
Development Bank of Japan
DVB Bank SE Singapore
iStrings Aviation Capital
JA Mitsui Leasing
Nok Scoot Airlines (JV between Nok Air and Scoot Airlines (a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines))
Tokyo Century Corporation
Tokyo Star Bank
Wings Capital Partners LLC
Reed Smith Richards Butler
With several partners based out of Hong Kong and also able to draw upon the expertise of lawyers spread across key maritime jurisdictions throughout Asia, Europe, and North America, Reed Smith Richards Butler is able to provide 'effective business solutions' to an eclectic mix of stakeholders across a range of cross-border financing, leasing and commercial activity in the shipping and offshore space. Peter Lee and Chris Tang co-head the team and both benefit from strong ties with PRC-based owners, lessors, and banks, ensuring that they have significant engagement across a range of commercial and export credit-backed financings and leasing transactions. At an associate level, Belinda Lee is also a key member of the team, by virtue of her expertise for financial institutions and owners in ship financings of new buildings and second-hand vessels, from a bilateral and syndicated loan perspective.
‘The team is experienced and familiar with the market, and can provide timely and effective business solutions.’
Benefiting from vast industry knowledge, as well as deeply rooted ties with many of the most active regional and international financiers, lessors, and operators, the 'superb' team at Stephenson Harwood is regularly engaged in the highest-profile aviation and maritime financing mandates in the market. The firm's robust ties with leading PRC-based lessors, including ICBC Financial Leasing, generate a huge amount of work for the aviation team that is headed by the 'excellent' Simon Wong. Although traditionally most of this work has been on the new money front, often involving complex leasing structures, including JOLCOs, in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, the team has been particularly busy assisting lessors on a slew of aircraft repossession and restructuring transactions. Hongkai Zhou leads on the shipping front, and as well as advising on conventional commercial debt financing and leasing matters, also has a strong reputation in relation to export credit-backed financings. Elton Chan is recommended across a range of debt financing mandates for owners and lenders, as well as on distressed asset sales and investments.
Other key lawyers:
ICBC Aviation Leasing (also known as ICBC Financial Leasing)
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
China Development Bank
Cinda Financial Leasing
The Export-Import Bank of China
Everbright Fortune International Leasing
Minsheng Hong Kong International Leasing
China Development Bank Financial Leasing
Compnia Sud Americana de Vapores (“CSAV”)
Guodian Shipping (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd
ICBC Financial Leasing Ltd.
Michharry and Company Nigeria Limited (“MCN”).
The People’s Insurance Co of China (Hong Kong) Ltd
CMB Financial Leasing Ltd.
- Advised Industrial Bank Financial Leasing (aka CIB Leasing) in relation to the refinancing of five Bombardier Q400 aircraft on lease to Indian airline, SpiceJet. The financing transactions involved two export credit agencies respectively: two aircraft are financed by Export Development Canada (EDC) whereas the other three aircraft are financed by The Export-Import Bank of China. The latter was one of the first, if not the first EDC deals with PRC lessors.
- Advised ICBC Financial Leasing in a sale and lease back transaction with Asiana Airlines involving five Airbus A350-900 aircraft and five Airbus A321neo aircraft. ICBC Financial Leasing also provided pre-delivery financing for the five Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
- The shipping team in Hong Kong and Shanghai advised CMB Financial Leasing to strike a leasing deal for five 15,000 TEU containerships that the French carrier CMA CGM is ordering in China from China State Shipbuilding Corporation. These vessels form part of CMA CGM’s mega newbuilding project worth over $1bn.
Tiang & Partners
Led by Hong Kong, UK, New York, and Australian-qualified partner Tejaswi Nimmagadda, Tiang & Partners' asset finance practice is focused squarely on aviation-related matters, with work spanning a wide range of new money financings and restructurings for lessors, banks, and alternative capital providers. Although it is in its infancy, the small four-strong team punches above its weight and is able to effectively leverage vast tax and deal team resources within the firm's broader alliance with accountancy heavyweight PwC.
National Australia Bank Limited
Minsheng Financial Leasing
SkyCo International Financial Leasing
China Export Import Bank
Comsys Financial Leasing
CIB Financial Leasing
SPDB Financial Leasing
China Development Bank
Haitong UTC Financial Leasing
Korean Development Bank
Benefiting from a dedicated sector focus and also able to leverage experts based in other key international maritime centres, Watson Farley & Williams's three-partner shipping finance team is 'very well recognised in the market', and has the underlying industry and financing knowledge to be able to handle the full range of mandates, from relatively conventional debt finance mandates through to heavily structured tax-driven financings. Under the guidance of the 'vastly experienced' Madeline Leong, the team is regularly at the forefront of the highest-profile Asia-related new money and refinancing transactions for Chinese lessors and banks. Christoforos Bisbikos has been increasingly active advising Chinese lessors as capital providers to Greek shipowners, in light of the growing contraction of some of the more traditional banks that previously had a greater prominence in the space. Counsel Valerie Lee has a particular niche advising maritime restructurings involving Asian export credit agencies (ECA). In January 2021, the firm announced the hire of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP's aviation team in Hong Kong. Led by William Ho and the 'meticulous and responsive' Jackson Chow, the team includes Senior Associate Carmen Chien, Associate Alfred Yu, and Legal Manager Vivienne Zhao.
Other key lawyers:
‘The professional and efficient team is able to provide effective solutions.’
‘The team has deep legal and commercial insights into aviation financing products.’
‘The meticulous and responsive Jackson Chow has decades of rich experience in aviation, financing, and banking, and is a veteran of the industry.’
DNB Bank Singapore and Oslo Branches
Bank of America N.A.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Export-Import Bank of China (“CEXIM”)
Credit Agricole Asia Shipfinance Limited (“CA”)
China Merchant Bank Financial Leasing (“CMBFL”)
China Merchants Commerce Financial Leasing Co., Ltd (“CMCFL”)
ICBC Financial Leasing
Pacific Basin Shipping Limited and PB Vessels Holding Limited
- Advised CMBFL on a US$415.6m sale and lease back transaction of 20 chemical tankers with Stolt Tankers, the proceeds of which were used to refinance certain debt secured on the vessels
- Advised a consortium of lenders on a US$193m syndicated loan facility to partially refinance the acquisition by subsidiaries of CMB Financial Leasing (“CMBFL”) of the two largest container vessels in the world with a record-size carrying capacity of 23,000 TEU – the MSC Gülsün and MSC Samar – built by Samsung Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. and bareboat chartered to a subsidiary of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Corporation.
- Advised MUFG Bank, Ltd , Hong Kong Branch and Standard Chartered Bank, Tokyo Branch on a US$185.2m Japanese operating lease financing in respect of two 13,000 TEU container vessels for Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co. Ltd. The vessels were sub-chartered to AP Moller Singapore Pte Ltd, with sub-charter guarantees from Maersk Line A/S.