Firms To Watch: Asset finance

Dentons Ireland‘s practice was launched in January 2021 following the hire of the highly regarded Mairéadh Dale  from A&L Goodbody LLP.

Asset finance in Ireland

A&L Goodbody LLP

A&L Goodbody LLP has one of the largest teams in the market with an outstanding reputation in aviation finance, notably in asset-backed securitisation structures. In recent years, the Dublin team has focused its efforts on developing connections to China and augmenting its Chinese client base, including Chinese lessors. It now has a broad and illustrious client base of lenders, lessors and investors in the aviation sector. Marie O’Brien  leads the department and has played a pivotal role in developing the China business group. Seamus Ó’Cróinín  is another leading practitioner in the field and David Berkery has extensive international experience, including in asset backed securitisation structures, restructurings and private equity investments. Maireadh Dale  left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Marie O’Brien

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Duffy; Séamus Ó Cróinín; David Berkery; Maria McElhinney

Testimonials

‘ALG has the premier aviation finance practice in Ireland. Their bench is very deep and Seamus O’Croinin, David Berkery and Marie O’Brien are trusted advisors that approach transactions from a practical view point.’

‘Very engaging, responsive and thorough team of lawyers. Very good fees structure.’

‘They are the top Irish team in the asset finance space. They provide excellent client service and provide clear and concise advise on the most complex topics.’

‘Marie O’Brien is the leader of the team. She is very much in the know when it comes to setting up aircraft leasing platforms in Ireland. David Berkery is another strong partner in the team with several years of practice in London and New York. He is very experienced in joint ventures, structured finance and capital markets.’

‘Marie O’Brien is very approachable and manages her team very well.’

‘David Berkery is a real asset to this team. He is down to earth, pragmatic and sensible. He is also not afraid to challenge how a deal has been structured if he thinks there is a more efficient way of achieving the same result for the client. I feel he is a safe pair of hands for more complex aviation and securitisation transactions.’

‘The asset finance team at A&L Goodbody has had a fantastic reputation for many years. Their depth and experience is bar none. They are involved in many of the novel transactions in the aviation space. They are leaders in their field.’

‘Seamus O’Croinin – extremely knowledgeable on cross-border topics. David Berkery – top-notch at analysing complex issues.’

Key clients

Apollo Aviation LP / Merx Aviation Finance

Voyager Aviation

Macquarie AirFinance

NCB Capital

InterGlobe Aviation

Aero Capital Solutions, Inc

Carlyle Aviation Management

Castlelake, L.P

GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS)

Sky Leasing LLC

Stellwagen Finance

Wings Capital Partners

Thunderbolt III Aircraft Lease Limited

Irish Continental Group, plc

PK AirFinance

Milestone Aviation Group

ING Capital LLC

Sichuan Development Holding

Merx Aviation Finance

ICBC Financing Leasing Company

China Aircraft Leasing Company

Minsheng Financial Leasing

AVIC International Leasing Company

Aergo Capital

ASL Aviation

Chorus Aviation Capital

Airbus

Aircastle

AerGen

Merlin Aviation

Clover Aircraft Leasing

Morgan Stanley

Deutsche Bank

Citibank, N.A.

Credit Agricole

Air Lease Corporation

Sculptor Capital Management

Virgo Investment Group / Zephyrus Aviation Capital

Asahi Aviation

Work highlights

  • Advised GE as Irish counsel on its €30bn combination of GECAS and AerCap.
  • Advised several creditors to Norwegian Air during its Irish examinership.
  • Acted as Irish transaction counsel for Castlelake and Castlelake Aircraft Structured Trust 2021-1 (the issuer) on CLAS 2021-1, which was Castlelake’s seventh securitisation.

Matheson LLP

Matheson LLP has a rounded aviation finance practice with extensive experience in asset backed securitisations and repackagings. The core group is complemented by aviation regulatory specialists and specialised aviation tax expertise. During 2020 and 2021, the firm landed a high market share of big-ticket insolvency and restructuring engagements in the Irish aviation sector; it advised Norwegian Air Shuttle, Norwegian Air International, Arctic Aviation Assets  and associated group companies on the appointment of an examiner to the NAS Group. The firm is also at the forefront of aviation financings led by export credit agencies (ECAs). Rory McPhillips and Stuart Kennedy co-head the aviation finance and transportation group. Stephen Gardiner handles a broad portfolio of work and has recently been kept busy advising new entrants to the Irish market on corporate and owner trustee services. Yvonne McWeeney is noted for her experience advising on the Cape Town Convention particularly in relation to aircraft protocol.

Practice head(s):

Rory McPhillips; Stuart Kennedy

Other key lawyers:

Yvonne McWeeney; Stephen Gardiner

Testimonials

‘Good commercial understanding of corporate trustee risks and security complexities.’

‘The Matheson team is extremely knowledgeable, professional and responsive with regards to its Asset finance practice. They have a depth of knowledge and experience that is at the top of the industry!’

‘Excellent knowledge of the industry and very good network and relationships with other firms.’

‘The firm has scale and depth to provide a full all round service which is invaluable to our company. The specific team has supported us in all aspects from inception and we have a lot of trust in them which is key. Technically they are very strong and also commercially very current in our sector and great at judging the level of hand holding required or not in a given transaction.’

‘Rory McPhillips is highly knowledgeable and has excellent understanding of corporate trustee requirements.’

‘Stuart Kennedy is very responsive and always quick to jump on a call if needed which is always helpful.’

‘Stuart Kennedy in particular and Yvonne McWeeney also are standouts in their legal practices.’

‘Yvonne McWeeney leads an exceptional team of associates and paralegals. All transactions expertly partner led but with an army of competent professionals backing her up.’

Key clients

Aviation Capital Group

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

Castlelake, L.P.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE)

Arctic Aviation Assets DAC

CDB Aviation

Jackson Square Aviation

Tokyo Century

CCB Aviation

Fortress Investment Group LLC

UK Export Finance (UKEF)

Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES)

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. (BoComm Leasing)

CMB Financial Leasing (CMB Aviation)

TUI Travel Aviation Finance Limited/TUI Airlines

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead counsel to Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, Norwegian Air International Limited, Arctic Aviation Assets DAC and associated group companies with respect to the appointment of an examiner to the NAS Group.
  • Advised Dubai Aerospace Enterprise on the establishment of a new, joint-venture aircraft leasing platform in Ireland.
  • Acted as Irish transaction counsel on a $485m aircraft engine securitisation, Thrust 2021-1, an asset backed securitisation by an Irish incorporated joint issuer Thrust Engine Leasing 2021 DAC and a US joint issuer Thrust Engine Leasing 2021 Statutory Trust.

McCann FitzGerald LLP

McCann FitzGerald LLP has a sizeable team dedicated to a full-range of aviation finance transactions, including aviation platforms in Ireland, aviation capital markets transactions, syndicated financing, operating leasing, sale-and-leasebacks, corporate reorganisations, restructurings and aviation M&A. The group has an outstanding reputation in aviation leasing, notably with it advising the majority of  Norwegian Air Shuttle’s aircraft leasing creditors on its recent examinership. Catherine Deane is a longstanding market leader in the sector, while Hilary Marren, Joe Fay  and Georgina O’Riordan are also high-profile aviation finance practitioners. Laura Deignan was promoted to partner in May 2021.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Deane; Joe Fay; Hilary Marren; Georgina O’Riordan; Richard Gill; Colm Fanning; Laura Deignan

Other key lawyers:

Ronan Murphy

Testimonials

‘Vast amount of experience across all manner of mandates. Fully integrated service with seamless offering across the full spectrum of legal issues relevant to the industry (including, without limitation, regulatory and litigation).’

‘Excellent partner involvement. The team members are very experienced negotiators and efficient project managers.’

‘Collaborative team with strong internal communication networks where everyone is up to speed on where matters stand and client’s instructions etc.’

‘Joe Fay stands out as an exceptional practitioner – an all-rounder in terms of legal expertise, commercial acumen, analytical ability and negotiating style.

‘Hilary Marren has worked on all manner of mandates and has a huge amount of experience to draw from.’

‘Hilary Marren – Hilary’s knowledge of the practice area is second to none. As a client, you get a very personalised experience working with her team.’

‘Joe Fay – Joe is a technically brilliant lawyer whose practice area is very diverse.’

‘Ronan Murphy – Ronan is an excellent associate. He is a very efficient and skilled transaction negotiator and project manager.’

Key clients

AerCap

AerDragon Aviation Partners Limited

AerSale Inc.

Aircastle Advisor LLC

Altavair/Guggenheim

Altitude Investors DACf

Apollo Global Management

ASL Aviation

Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi

BBAM Aviation Services Limited

BOC Aviation Leasing

Calliston GmbH & Co. Beteiligungs KG

CDB Aviation Leasing

Challey Limited

CIAF Leasing

CRA Aircraft Holdings LLC

Credit Agricole

Delaware Life Insurance Company

Deutsche Bank AG

Development Bank of Singapore Ltd

DNB Bank ASA

Doric Asset Finance GmbH & Co. KG

DVB Bank SE

Dynam Japan Holding Holdings Co., Ltd

EMP Aviation Ireland Limited

Fexco

FGL Aircraft Ireland (FUYO)

Fly Leasing Limited

FPG Amentum

Genesis Aircraft Services Limited

GTLK Europe DAC

Guardian Holdings Limited

Haitong Financial Leasing

Haitong UniTrust International Leasing

Jackson Square Aviation Ireland Limited

KKR Altitude Holdings L.P.

KLM

Magnetar Capital

MUFG Bank, Ltd

NGF Overseas Aircraft Limited

Nordic Aviation Capital

Odeon International Holding B.V.

ORIX Aviation Systems Limited

Pembroke Capital/Standard Chartered Bank

Raglan Air Limited

Rockton AB

SAIC Holdings Limited

SAS

SATO Aviation Capital

Sculptor Asset Management

Security Benefits Life Insurance Company

Sierra Echo Aircraft Leasing Limited

Sirius Aviation Capital Holdings Limited

Skyworks Leasing (Ireland) Limited

SMBC Aviation Capital

ST Aerospace Resources Pte. Ltd

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Titan Aviation

Trustmark National Bank

Viva Aerobus

Vueling Airlines, S.A.

Work highlights

  • Advised AerCap Holdings N.V. on its definitive agreement with General Electric to acquire 100% of GE Capital Aviation Services, a GE business.
  • Advised a number of aircraft lessors and a secured creditor in connection with the Irish examinership of Norwegian Air Shuttle and certain of its Irish incorporated affiliates.
  • Acted as Irish counsel to AerSale, an integrated, diversified global leader in aviation aftermarket products and services, in its business combination with Monocle Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company.

William Fry

William Fry remains a force in aviation finance with a growing team and a particularly strong record in lender-side engagements. It continues to be active in aircraft portfolio financings and securitisations and has handled key mandates in major insolvency situations, including being engaged as counsel to the examiner of Norwegian Air. The team is also at the forefront of ESG-compliant loans and debt financings. David Maughan has some 20-years experience in aircraft financings and is especially known for representing financial institutions in refinancing Chinese lessor portfolios. Mary Ward is becoming an established name in the aviation finance field, representing lessors, lessees and lenders on aircraft transactions. Fergus Doorly provides additional restructuring and insolvency expertise in this area.

Practice head(s):

David Maughan

Other key lawyers:

Mary Ward; Fergus Doorly

Testimonials

‘Efficient, responsive, flexible.’

‘Knowledgable, personable, engaging with industry peers in a meaningful way not limited to legal matters, but also to the bigger picture of the industry. Negotiate hard for the client without ever being unreasonable.’

‘Customer service. We do not get as attentive service from other firms.’

‘Very strong relationship skills, above and beyond attention, quick turnaround, deep domain expertise, strong network, strong reputation.’

‘Strong commercial knowledge.’

‘Mary Ward and David Maughan are both extraordinary individuals who really care for their clients.’

‘Mary Ward. Key contact, very experienced, engaged and responsive.’

Key clients

Bank of Communications Co., Ltd.

China Development Bank

Credit Agricole CIB

DVB Bank

Goldman Sachs

Goshawk Aviation Limited

Hines Ireland

HSBC

Investec Bank plc

ING Bank

KfW Bank

Natixis

Clover Aircraft Leasing Company Limited (formerly Ping An International Financial Leasing)

Societe Generale

Santander

The Korea Development Bank

Development Bank of Japan

Work highlights

  • Advised Landesbank Hessen Thüringen Girozentrale on Irish legal and tax matters relating to a large secured US dollar term loan facility for a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of Minsheng to refinance the costs associated with the acquisition of a portfolio of aircraft on lease to a South Asia based airline.
  • Advised Credit Agricole on Irish legal and tax matters relating to a large secured term loan facility advanced to a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of AerDragon Partners, the proceeds of which were used to refinance a large portfolio of aircraft on lease to various airlines.

Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox has extensive international aviation finance expertise within its senior ranks and strong tax experience within the team. Rob Murphy has exceptional international experience, a former global head of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP‘s asset finance team and previously general counsel at CDB Aviation, the Chinese aircraft lessor. Caroline Devlin brings leading tax expertise to the aviation finance field with a strong focus on Asian clients and US private equity houses. Laura Cunningham is another with impressive international experience and an emphasis on aircraft finance, leasing and related tax-driven structures. Ruth Lillis' recent work has seen her advise on restructurings arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Practice head(s):

Rob Murphy; Caroline Devlin

Other key lawyers:

Laura Cunningham; Ruth Lillis; Fintan Kerrins

Testimonials

‘The team at Arthur Cox provide invaluable advice to get straight to the point and resolve any legal issue that may arise and highlight the main sections within any agreement that needs to be looked at from a commercial point of view.’

‘The individuals on the team have many years experience in the asset finance space and provide the support and knowledge to help you get the deals across the line in a friendly manner.’

‘We were very impressed by the work quality and responsiveness and efficiency of Laura Cunningham. Always on top of things and always in control, even when deals become complex and hectic. Fintan Kerrins offered excellent associate work.

Robert Murphy – vastly experienced, he has seen and done everything and remains committed and enthusiastic. His knowledge is second to none.’

‘Caroline Devlin is a very experienced practitioner who is always calm, pragmatic and to the point in situations that would phase many peers which make her our go to person in Ireland.’

‘Caroline Devlin is a consummate professional. She is able to leverage her tax and corporate background in this specialised field and bring extra value to clients.’

‘Arthur Cox partner Laura Cunningham delivers smart, thoughtful advice in a timely manner. Laura is responsive and takes her clients’ preferences and objectives into account when delivering concise and sensible recommendations.’

‘Robert Murphy has a stellar reputation within the aviation industry. He has amassed an enormous level of experience and knowledge throughout his career. This is always evident on transactions. Rob is always a delight to deal with and fills us with confidence. Laura Cunningham has excellent technical knowledge and considerable experience in aviation. She is incredibly professional and always accessible to clients.’

Key clients

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Lufthansa

Elix Aviation Capital

Everbright Financial Leasing Co Ltd

Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM)

Flexam Invest

GA Telesis, LLC

Grupo Lomex

HSBC

ICBC

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

JP Lease

Lobo Leasing No MHR (US)

MUFG Bank Ltd

Nona Trade Corporation Limited

Nord LB

Noteholders to Nordic Aviation Capital

Orix

Ping An

Rabobank

SDH Wings

Silicon Valley Bank

Skyco

Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company, Limited

Titan Aircraft Investments

Turkish Airlines

Vallair

Vance Street Capital LLC

Westpac

Worldstar

Work highlights

  • Partnered with Vedder Price to advise Arena Aviation Capital, on the establishment of a $1.5bn aircraft leasing joint venture with Kennedy Lewis Investment Management, a leading opportunistic credit manager.
  • Advised a group of unsecured creditors to Nordic Aviation Capital group on an Irish scheme of arrangement which included a 12-month standstill and deferral of secured and unsecured debt.
  • Advised Aer Lingus on a three-year €150m senior term loan from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).

Maples Group

Maples Group brings an additional international dimension to the aviation finance segment in Ireland, thanks to its strong asset finance expertise in London, Singapore and other key centres. The firm has an impressive client base of airlines, lenders, lessors and investors. Mary O’Neill is an experienced professional in asset–backed securitisations, portfolio asset sales and purchases, and operating and finance lease structures. She frequently works alongside London partner Donna Ager , who brings further international and Irish law expertise to the Dublin practice.

Practice head(s):

Donna Ager; James Kinsley

Other key lawyers:

Mary O’Neill

Testimonials

‘The team is responsive and “knows its topic”.’

‘Mary O’Neill is very approachable and is very responsive on matters of Irish Law.’

‘The Maples Ireland team are very responsive. We work with them for many clients on aviation finance, leasing and trading transactions.’

‘Donna Ager – heads the team, very commercial and straight talking. Experienced in Aviation Finance.’

Mary O Neill – also excellent, very personable and well liked by clients. Runs an efficient team.’

Key clients

Amedeo

Altavair

ABL Aviation

Avolon

Accipiter

Air Asia

Bain Capital

Cross Ocean Partners

Deucalion (MLFG)

Deutsche Bank

Goshawk

Guggenheim

Airbus Financial Services

Avolon Aerospace

Novus Aviation

DVB Bank

Falko

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) Ltd.

Investec Bank

Infinity Transportation

Elix Aviation Capital

JP Morgan

China Exlm

Santander Bank SA

SMBC Aviation Capital

Societe Generale

Sky Leasing

KKR

PIMCO

Flight Lease

Waterfall Asset Management

Volofin

Work highlights

  • Advised Avolon and the issuer group on all Irish and Cayman law aspects of a $620m asset-backed securitisation.
  • Advised Bain Capital Credit, in partnership with Windward Aircraft Management Company Limited as asset manager, on the acquisition of a portfolio of four aircraft, on lease to four different operating lessees.
  • Acted as Irish counsel and Cayman counsel to Sky Leasing on a newly formed aircraft finance and leasing structure for the initial acquisition and leasing 11 new and used aircraft.

Mason Hayes & Curran LLP

Mason Hayes & Curran LLP has an experienced team of aviation finance specialists, covering the full spectrum of transactions in the field. It has particularly strong connections to export credit agencies (ECAs) from around the world, while also being close to a range of bank lenders, commercial airlines, commercial aircraft manufacturers, international aircraft and engine lessors, and aviation investors. The team continues to make a mark in financing restructurings, aircraft lease arrangements, credit facilities, and asset portfolio acquisitions and sales. Chair of the firm, Christine O’Donovan is one of the most high-profile practitioners in the market. Banking partner Barry Walsh provides further senior-level experience in the asset finance segment, with Niamh Caffrey delivering tax structuring expertise. Since publication, David McGovern joined the firm.

Practice head(s):

Christine O’Donovan

Other key lawyers:

Barry Walsh; Niamh Caffrey; Joseph Maxwell; David McGovern

Testimonials

‘For me, MHC’s key strength when compared to other firms is its teams’ reactivity. No matter what the issue is, be it finance related, M&A related or employment law related, they are always very quick and thorough in their response.’

‘The individuals we deal with in MHC are always very professional and knowledgeable on the topics up for discussion. They are excellent communicators and very pragmatic.’

‘Capable practitioners with the ability to put their expertise into the proper context. Pleasant and grounded personalities an additional advantage compared with some of their direct competitors.’

‘The Mason Hayes & Curran asset finance team have extensive experience, knowledge and strong commercial acumen. The team are friendly, proactive and are always available to provide advice. They focus on solutions rather than highlighting problems and provide guidance every step of the way. Mason Hayes & Curran are our go-to firm for legal advice.’

‘Christine O’Donovan uses pragmatic solutions to ensure transactions are closed for both parties’ benefit. Joseph Maxwell is very knowledgeable, efficient and personable’

‘Christine O’Donovan leads an excellent team. She has extensive knowledge about the aviation industry, providing an exceptional service and goes the extra mile in terms of meeting clients’ needs. Christine offers practical advice and is very astute to commercial aspects. She is professional and patient when explaining complex legal issues, taking the time to ensure we are fully informed on all aspects of our deals. The legal advice and support we have received from Christine and her team over the years has been invaluable. I would highly recommend Christine to anyone who is working in the aviation industry.’

‘Christine O’Donovan is extremely reliable and performs even better in a storm.’

Key clients

Airbus Financial Services and affiliates including ATR

Airbus Helicopters

Bpifrance (French Export Credit Agency)

Euler Hermes (German Export Credit Agency)

Export Development Canada

US EXIM – Export Import Bank of the USA

J.A. Mitsui (Japan)

KV Aviation Group (UK & Australia)

SACE (Italian Export Credit Agency)

SMBC Aviation Capital

Willis Lease Finance Corporation

UK Export Finance

Work highlights

  • Advised on a $1.8bn revolving credit facility.
  • Advised on a $336.7m ABS transaction involving a pool of 29 aircraft engines and one airframe.
  • Advised on a three-aircraft financing to Air Austral SA.

Walkers

Walkers operates a well-established team in Dublin, which includes three partners, as part of its wider global practice that offers both onshore and offshore expertise. The Dublin team has achieved growth in deals involving investment funds, including joint ventures with industry players for investments in aircraft and establishing leasing platforms. The group has also worked on a series of headline refinancings and restructurings involving airlines and other aviation sector players. Killian McSharry has been promoted to partner and Michael Caulfield to of counsel, further reinforcing the team’s senior ranks. Since publication, David McGovern left the firm.

Other key lawyers:

Killian McSharry; Matt Hedigan; Caitlín Friel; Michael Caulfield

Testimonials

‘I value the efficiencies resulting from the connection between Walkers’ Asset Finance Team and their corporate services provider, Walkers Professional Services. It means we can run our transactions and corporate authorisation process in a smooth fashion.’

‘Solid team, very thorough.’

‘Walkers’ asset finance team have good strength in depth, are extremely responsive and helpful. They have a great knowledge of the market and understand how to meet a client’s objectives.’

‘The team in Dublin has ample experience as local counsel on cross-border aviation finance transactions. All team members are approachable and constructive.’

‘Killian McSharry is a solid partner in the Asset Finance Team and manages our corporate authorisations and corporate governance in an efficient manner.’

‘Michael Caulfield is very experienced and committed. Cooperation with him is very pleasant.’

‘Killian McSharry is extremely able. He has a great knowledge of the law, combined with ability to deliver required results fast.’

Key clients

AMCK

ACG

Airborne Capital Limited

ALC

Shinhan Investments

Banco Santander

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

CALC

Carlyle Aviation

Castlelake, L.P.

China Minsheng Investment Group

CIT Bank

Citi Bank

Crédit Agricole

Credit Suisse

Deutsche Bank

Druid Leasing

Dunas Capital

Elliot Management

Goshawk Aviation

KGAL

ICBC Leasing

Investec Bank

Marathon

Lease Corporation International

M&G Investments Limited

MCAP

Natixis

Nord LB

Och-Ziff Capital Management

Orix

PIMCO

Sberbank Leasing

Seraph Aviation Management Limited

SMBC Aviation Capital

Standard Chartered

Stratos

UMB

Wells Fargo

Work highlights

  • Acted as Irish and Cayman counsel in connection with the establishment of a $4bn leasing platform by PIMCO and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).
  • Acted as lead counsel for LCI on the establishment of a joint venture helicopter leasing business with Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company Limited; the vehicle launched an initial acquisition of 19 next generation helicopters with a value of $230m.
  • Acted as Irish and Cayman counsel for Bank of China, BoComm and EMP in connection with the $1.6bn recapitalisation of Virgin Atlantic.