Asset finance (including aviation and shipping finance) in Hong Kong

Baker McKenzie

With two partners based in Hong Kong and also able to draw upon the expertise of practitioners spread across many key locations in the region, Baker McKenzie excels at handling complex financing and leasing transactions for a broad array of stakeholders. As well as the team's traditional strength on behalf of many Southeast Asian airlines, it has also successfully cultivated strong relationships with numerous prominent PRC-based leasing companies. Dual Hong Kong and UK-qualified partner Allen Ng  has very strong credentials in the market and is regularly instructed by PRC airlines and lessors on high-profile mandates. The 'very experiencedAndrew Lockhart  also has a strong reputation in the region with more of a lender side focus to his practice.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Lockhart and Allen Ng

Testimonials

‘Baker McKenzie can provide a patient work on each case. Allen Wu is an experienced cooperator.’

‘They are extremely efficient and provide the best suggestion. The team also helps clients with case studies after the case finished.’

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Led out of Hong Kong by the 'very innovativeWilliam Ho  and also able to leverage a strong international network (including a sizeable presence in Singapore), Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP provides 'solutions-oriented expertise' to PRC and Hong Kong-based lessors across the full lifecycle of a lessors' business, from setting up a platform, to financing and leasing deals, in addition to trading strategies. Under the guidance of Ho and also regularly featuring input from Jackson Chow  – who joined the firm in the middle of 2016 with Ho following the acquisition of local asset financing boutique William KK Ho & Co – the team has expertise across a myriad of complex structures including JOLCOs, French tax leases and export credit agency-supported deals. Although its primary focus is on the lessor market, the team is also increasingly active for lender and airline clients.

Practice head(s):

William Ho

Other key lawyers:

Jackson Chow; Helen Qian; Clara Lam; Ruby Leung

Testimonials

‘The team is able to support the innovative structures which are beneficial to the aviation industry.’

‘William Ho is heavily involved in Hong Kong tax reform for the aviation leasing industry.’

Key clients

ICBC Financial Leasing

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing

CMB Financial Leasing

CDB Aviation Lease Finance

CCB Financial Leasing

Juneyao Airlines

China Southern Airlines

Juneyao Airlines

9 Air

Donghai Airlines

Haitong UT Leasing

Joyair

Kunming Airlines

Qingdao Airlines

Xiamen Airlines

Zhejiang Loong Airlines

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead English law counsel for ICBC Financial Leasing in a combined: – PDP Financing of approximately $35m; and – continuous transition to a Sale and Leaseback Operating Lease Transaction, relating to four new Boeing 737-8 aircraft.
  • Represented Bank of Communications Financial Leasing on the French Tax Lease refinancing in respect of seven  aircraft.
  • Advised Haitong UT Leasing HK Limited on the purchase and financing of eight aircraft using a Hong Kong platform.
  • Advised Bank of Communication Financial Leasing on the Japanese operating lease with call option (JOLCO) financing of one Boeing B737 MAX 8 aircraft, via a French subleasing structure.
  • Advised CMB Financial Leasing  in the long term secured financing involving a syndicate of lenders relating to the refinancing of six Airbus A 320-NEO aircraft on lease to Indigo Airlines.

Clifford Chance

Although it only has one partner on the ground in Hong Kong, Clifford Chance works in a highly coordinated fashion with practitioners in mainland China, and is consequently viewed as a 'market-leading' practice in the region on behalf of financiers and lessors, in particular. Team head Paul Greenwell has many years' experience handling mandates throughout Asia Pacific and is 'very highly regarded in relation to deals involving a Japanese component'. In addition to handling pure finance work, the team is also very active for lessors on portfolio acquisitions and disposals, the establishment of leasing platforms, and M&A activity in the sector.

Practice head(s):

Paul Greenwell

Other key lawyers:

Hetty Lam

Key clients

Avolon Aerospace Leasing

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing

CDB Aviation Lease Finance DAC / China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co.

CMB Financial Leasing

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Dubai Aerospace  Enterprise

GE Capital Aviation Services

Ping An International Financial Leasing

SMBC Aviation Capital

Air Lease Corporation

Chow Tai Fook Enterprise Limited and NWS Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Avolon on a joint venture with Cinda Leasing (HK) Co., Limited to form Jade Aviation LLC.
  • Advised Chow Tai Fook Enterprise and NWS Holdings on acquiring the interest of Aviation Capital Group in the Bauhinia aircraft leasing JV and the related restructuring relating to financing and servicing arrangements.
  • Advised SMBC AC and Sky Leasing on the incorporation of their respective subsidiaries in Hong Kong with a view to use the Hong Kong entity as their Asia Pacific headquarters.

CMS

Established in January 2017 following the relocation of the 'professional and experiencedTim Elliott from the firm's London office, CMS' nascent Hong Kong asset finance team has already begun to establish some penetration in the local market, primarily within the maritime and offshore sectors. Instructed by the full array of stakeholders including export credit agencies, owners, banks and lessors, the team regularly works alongside its London office which provides additional firepower and expertise on mandates.

Practice head(s):

Tim Elliott

Other key lawyers:

Calvin Leung; John-Michael Chidwick;

Testimonials

‘Tim Elliott is very capable of dealing with complicated structures.’

Key clients

CMIG Aviation Capital Holding Ireland

Cheung Kei Group

Chong Hing Bank

Credit Suisse Asset Management

ING Bank Śląski

Bumi Armada Berhad

Excelerate Energy

ICBC Financial Leasing

GasLog

CCB Financial Leasing

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing

CCB (Asia) Corporation

Brightoil Petroleum (S’pore) Pte

Work highlights

  • Advised CCB Financial Leasing Corporation on the sale and leaseback financing of an FSRU to be chartered by Höegh LNG.
  • Acted for GasLog Partners on the $450m refinancing of five LNG carriers.

HFW

Leveraging the firm's longstanding and overarching transport sector focus, and able, when needed, to tap into the expertise of practitioners based in key jurisdictions such as Dubai, London, Singapore and China, HFW has an excellent reputation in the market across the spectrum of asset finance mandates. The 'excellentJustin Sun heads up the firm's aviation finance team which has been particularly active advising Chinese lessors across the full range of their activity, including in relation to sale and leasebacks, financing and trading. Sun has also been at the forefront of the continued resurgence of Japanese Operating Leases with Call Option (JOLCO) structures to finance deals, including his recent work for AVIC International Leasing on its first JOLCO financing and leasing of one Boeing 787 aircraft. 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 relocation of senior partner John Forrester to Singapore from London has also enhanced the firm's overall offering in the region and has provided a more cohesive offering to clients on deals involving coordination between multiple offices.

Practice head(s):

Justin Sun (Aviation Finance) and Patrick Cheung (Shipping Finance)

Other key lawyers:

Henry Fung; Angie Lo; Daniel Leung; Tatianna Wong

Key clients

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing

AVIC International Leasing

Navios Maritime Acquisition Corporation

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Bank of Communications Financial Leasing on its JOLCO financing of one Airbus A321 aircraft in respect of which there is an operating lease to a Vietnamese airline.
  • Advising Navios Maritime Acquisition Corporation with the swapping of Hong Kong flagged vessels between two facilities.
  • Advising AVIC International Leasing on the acquisition of an Airbus A350-900 aircraft from Ping An Leasing and its related financing.
  • Advised AVIC International Leasing in relation to its first JOLCO financing and leasing of one Boeing 787 aircraft.
  • Acted for AVIC in relation to its JOLCO financing and leasing of one Airbus A350-900 aircraft, which is operated by Ethiopian Airways.

Ince

Combining excellent subject matter knowledge – by virtue of the firm's longstanding focus on the maritime sector – with significant financing expertise, Ince remains a compelling proposition for a 'balanced roster of lenders and borrowers' in the market. Benefiting from practitioners on the ground in mainland China and Singapore, the team is able to provide a coordinated approach on financings impacting upon numerous Asian markets. Gary Wong heads up the Asia shipping finance practice from Hong Kong and oversees a team, that despite some recent turmoil (a result of the firm's well-publicised financial difficulties and subsequent merger with Gordon Dodds), continues to handle a high-calibre of work, across pure financing and leasing mandates, in addition to broader corporate and commercial mandates within the sector. While the firm still maintains a solid pipeline of work for shipowners and banks, the arrival in May 2018 of Janice Lee  from Stephenson Harwood strengthens its lessor offering in light of her ties with many Chinese leasing companies. Managing associate Lorraine Mok  is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Gary Wong

Other key lawyers:

David Beaves; Janice Lee; Lorraine Mok

Key clients

Hamburg Commercial Bank

Work highlights

  • Acted as English and Hong Kong legal advisers of Hamburg Commercial Bank, on the $67.5m secured term loan facility to ten subsidiaries of Jinhui, a Hong Kong-listed shipping company, for the purpose of refinancing ten Hong Kong flagged supramax bulkers.
  • Advised the leasing arm of a major state-owned Chinese financial institution on a sale and leaseback transaction between it and a well-known Greek shipowner.
  • Represented an Australian bank on a refinancing transaction with a well-known Hong Kong ship owner.

King & Wood Mallesons

Strengthened out of Hong Kong by the arrival in January 2019 of the 'technically very strongAshley Wong from Mayer BrownKing & Wood Mallesons' two-partner team is increasingly visible on local aviation mandates. Able to leverage a strong presence in mainland China, and also benefiting from significant aviation finance capabilities throughout the firm's international network of offices, the team is well-placed to handle work for regional and international leasing companies, in particular. The group is particularly adept at utilising highly structured financings on transactions and is thereby capable of providing bespoke and commercial strategies for clients. Although she is active across a broad range of activity for leasing clients, Wong is particularly noted for her 'very strong offering in relation to aircraft trading'.

Practice head(s):

Ashley Wong

Other key lawyers:

Katherine Ke

Key clients

China Development Bank

BNP Paribas

SkyCo International Financial Leasing

The Export-Import Bank of China

Societe Generale

Work highlights

  • Acted for SkyCo on the refinancing of its acquisition of two Boeing 737-800 aircraft on lease to Lion Air.

Mayer Brown

Benefiting from a longstanding presence in the Asian market and also able to draw upon the expertise of lawyers from across the firm's international network, the 'communicative, friendly and professional' team at Mayer Brown is well-equipped to handle work for a diverse range of clients in the  aviation and maritime sectors, from both a pan-Asian and international perspective. Maggie Cheung has close ties with many of the leading international and PRC banks lending into the maritime industry, while co-head Conor Warde continues to generate a substantial amount of work on behalf of PRC-based lessor clients, in particular. At associate level, Dora Ying is gaining market recognition and regularly takes the lead on behalf of banking clients on bilateral and syndicated financings. On the aviation front, Richard Stock heads up a 'strong practice' that is active across the gamut of financing work (for international and Chinese banks, as well as some airlines), as well as on other transactional work including aircraft trading.

Practice head(s):

Maggie Cheung, Conor Warde (heads of shipping finance) Richard Stock (head of aviation finance)

Other key lawyers:

Bill Amos; Dora Ying; Stuart Miller; Evelyn Lok

Testimonials

‘The firm displays a deep understanding of the shipping market.’

Key clients

CCB Financial Leasing

Norddeutsche Landesbank

CM International Financial Leasing

The Caravel Group

ICBC Asia

China Development Bank

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha

The Export-Import Bank of China

ICBC Financial Leasing

Cathay Pacific

Work highlights

  • Lead counsel to CCB Leasing in the lease financing of two cruise vessels to Viking Cruises.
  • Advised Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon in a complex transaction involving: – the sale of a large number (over 6000) components to a service provider – the negotiation and documentation of terms on which the service provider made those components available to Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon in Hong Kong and nearly all of the destinations to which Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon operates.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Although the departure of former team head Jonathan Silver  to Maples Group in August 2019 has undoubtedly weakened Norton Rose Fulbright's shipping finance team in Hong Kong, this is mitigated somewhat by the firm's deeply entrenched client relationships and ability to provide a coordinated service on Asia Pacific mandates by virtue of also having practitioners in situ in key jurisdictions, including Singapore. The scope of the firm's client base is broad and includes shipowners, investors, traditional banks, as well as many of the leading Chinese leasing companies that continue to thrive in the market. As well as handling a consistent flow of conventional debt financing transactions, the team also has the capacity and market knowledge to handle more bespoke and sophisticated matters, including its work, alongside the Tokyo office, for BNP Paribas on what was the first JOLCO transaction to be closed on marine containers for a Chinese financial leasing house (Minsheng).

Other key lawyers:

Georgina Axon

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Work highlights

  • Advised Fortune Lianjiang Shipping, an indirect subsidiary of shipping conglomerate CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping Company, on the $1.2bn financing and delivery of the world’s first converted floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) production vessel “Hilli Episeyo”, under a sale and leaseback agreement between Fortune Lianjiang Shipping as lessor and Golar Hill Corporation as bareboat charterer, supported by Golar LNG Limited.
  • Advised BNP Paribas on the financing provided for a JOLCO transaction in respect of a portfolio of new marine containers manufactured by China International Marine Containers (Group) Ltd.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Under the guidance of the 'excellentPaul Jebely, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP's relatively young Hong Kong aviation finance team continues to generate a significant volume of work for Asian lessors in relation to commercial airlines, as well as for high-net-worth individuals on corporate jet transactions, an area that Jebely himself has a 'fantastic reputation'. 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, and excels at handling complex multi-jurisdictional mandates financed according to US and/or UK law.

Practice head(s):

Paul Jebely

Other key lawyers:

Luca Denora; Sharon Nourani

Key clients

AerCap

Apple Bank New York

Aviation Capital Group

Cathay Pacific Airlines

CHC Helicopter

China Aircraft Leasing Company

COMAC

DVB Bank

Jeju Airlines

IBJ Leasing

Investec

JA Mitsui Leasing

Nedbank

Nok Air

Nok Scoot Airlines

NTT Finance

ORIX Aviation

SEACOR

Showa Leasing

Wings Capital Partners

Work highlights

  • Advised ORIX Corporation of Japan on its $2.2bn purchase of a minority stake in Avolon Holdings from Bohai Holdings (a subsidiary of the HNA Group).
  • Assisted a major lessor in the remarketing of four Boeing 737-800 and their sale to a major US leasing company.
  • Advised JM Aircraft Solution as purchaser of two 737-800 aircraft from Norwegian Air Shuttle and subsequent sale to Fly Gangwon.
  • Advising Wings Capital Partners as lead transaction counsel on an operating lease transaction involving the recovery and re-leasing of an aircraft to a major legacy airline.

Reed Smith Richards Butler

With two partners in situ in Hong Kong and also able to leverage the experience of lawyers spread across key maritime jurisdictions throughout Europe, North America and Asia, Reed Smith Richards Butler is well-placed to advise clients across financing, leasing and corporate/commercial work within the sector, both in terms of pan-Asian mandates, as well as on international deals involving a significant Asian nexus. As well as regularly handling commercial financing in the sector (incorporating both bank debt and accessing the capital markets), the team is also well-versed at handling export-credit supported transactions. Team head Peter Lee has an excellent reputation in the region, particularly on behalf of Chinese owners which he regularly advises on sale and purchase and financing of second-hand tonnage and newbuildings. Associate Belinda Lee is also recommended and handles a balanced array of new money financings and restructurings on the creditor and debtor side.

Practice head(s):

Peter Lee and Chris Tang

Other key lawyers:

Belinda Lee

Stephenson Harwood

Headed out of Hong Kong by Hongkai Zhou, and also benefiting from an international network which includes key Asian offices in Singapore and Shanghai, Stephenson Harwood's shipping finance team is well-placed to advise a 'balanced roster of borrowers and lenders' on new money and restructuring deals in the region and beyond. The scope of the firm's work in the sector runs the gamut from syndicated and bilateral debt financing on behalf of international banks (in addition to work for lessors), through to advice for investors, including private equity sponsors and hedge funds, which are increasingly active in the maritime market. The 'very capableElton Chan is also recommended for his work for owners and banks on debt financing mandates, as well as for investors seeking to realise value in the sector. The 'highly technicalSimon Wong leads the office's aviation finance team that is noted for the 'strong service' it provides to borrowers and lenders on the financing of commercial aircraft and corporate jets. The team has also recently handled a significant amount of work for Chinese leasing companies.

Practice head(s):

Hongkai Zhou (Head of Shipping Finance) and Simon Wong (Head of Aviation Finance)

Other key lawyers:

Roy Chan; Elton Chan; Jessie Chen

Testimonials

‘The team has extensive aviation finance experience, with familiarity across various transaction structures and different transaction entities.’

‘The firm provides a very commercial service to clients and does not become entangled in negotiating arcane points that add no ultimate value to the matter at hand.’

Key clients

China Development Bank

Cinda Financial Leasing

Everbright Fortune International Leasing

ICBC Financial Leasing

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

JIC Leasing

Spring Airlines

The Export-Import Bank of China

Work highlights

  • Advised a Hong Kong-based private equity firm as lender on a secured term loan yacht finance facility in respect of a 58-metre 2013 Italian built superyacht berthing in Spain and managed by Burgess Yachts.
  • Advised ICBC Financial Leasing on the sale of two modern very large gas carriers (VLGC) to SPDB Financial Leasing.
  • Advised a private equity fund in the acquisition of three separate lots in Hong Kong for conversion into superyacht repair and servicing facilities.

Tiang & Partners

Established in February 2019, following the arrival of Tejaswi Nimmagadda from King & Wood MallesonsTiang & Partners ' nascent asset finance team is well-placed to execute a range of aviation financing and commercial transactions for Chinese lessors, as well as for international leasing clients and banks handling deals in the region. Nimmagadda excels at handling structured finance mandates, including EETCs and portfolio securitisations and is also able to leverage the expertise of the firm's association with PwC, to effectively handle complex tax-driven products, including JOLCOs.

Practice head(s):

Tejaswi Nimmagadda

Other key lawyers:

Nai Kwok

Key clients

National Australia Bank

Comsys Financial Leasing

SkyCo International Financial Leasing

Haitong International Financial Leasing

Minsheng Financial Leasing

CIB Financial Leasing

SPDB Financial Leasing

China EXIM

CDB Aviation

Haitong UTC Financial Leasing

Work highlights

  • Advising National Australia Bank on numerous matters, including on the restructuring of the financing documents relating to the acquisition and refinancing of a lease between AerDragon and a Chinese SOE airline lease transaction.
  • Advising Comsys Financial Leasing on an innovative six aircraft synthetic structured lease solution for an SOE airline involving both the PRC and Hong Kong tax platforms, in collaboration with Rui Bai Law Firm.
  • Advising SkyCo International Financial Leasing on numerous matters, including refinancing of two tranche senior loans, junior loan and equity loan, with a senior and junior loan arranged by a new financier
  • Acting for a Malaysian listed company on the acquisition of a used Gulfstream G550.

Watson Farley & Williams

Spearheading the firm's work throughout Asia Pacific and also forming an integral part of its international offering (which includes key offices in London, Hamburg and Athens), Watson Farley & Williams' two-partner Hong Kong team provides a 'commercial service' to borrowers, investors and lenders across a range of new money deals and restructurings. Team head Madeline Leong is well regarded by regional and international banks, which are appreciative of her ability to advise on both commoditised debt finance deals, and highly structured tax-driven transactions. As well as regularly working alongside Leong on mandates, Christoforos Bisbikos has also successfully cultivated his own deal flow, particularly for Chinese lessors on matters where there is a Greek nexus. As part of her broad-ranging financing practice, which includes work within the core maritime space as well as related sectors including offshore oil and gas, counsel Valerie Lee has developed a particularly strong reputation on behalf of the leading export credit agencies in Asia.

Practice head(s):

Madeline Leong

Other key lawyers:

Christoforos Bisbikos; Guan Jian; Valerie Lee; Siavush Mokhtar

Key clients

Credit Suisse

ING Bank

BNP Paribas

Bank of China

Standard Chartered Bank

Citibank

CSIC Leasing

ICBC Financial Leasing

CMB Financial Leasing

Bocomm Leasing

Work highlights

  • Advised BNP Paribas as facility agent on a $116.5m loan facility to AVIC International Leasing.
  • Advised CMB Financial Leasing Co on a $180.4m sale and leaseback transaction with Star Bulk Carriers.
  • Advising CCB Leasing on a $132.8m sale and leaseback transaction of two tanker vessels acquired from and chartered back to two subsidiaries of Globe Shipholding, a group of companies maintaining a fleet of crude carrier tankers managed by Almi Tankers.
  • Advised China Huarong Shipping Financial Leasing Company on three pre- and post-delivery leases with Pacific Gas.
  • Advised ICBC Financial Leasing on a sale and leaseback transaction in relation to two newbuild Liberian flagged Tier-III, scrubber-ready VLCCs.