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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Acquisition finance
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Housing a large team of banking practitioners in London and also able to tap into its extensive network of international offices,¬†Allen & Overy LLP¬†has the critical mass and geographical coverage to effectively provide a one-stop shop service to a balanced roster of lenders and borrowers on cross-border deals across the full spectrum of the capital structure. Leveraged finance head¬†Jonathan Brownson¬†recently advised the¬†lead arrangers and underwriters on the¬†‚ā¨2.95bn first lien loan facilities provided to Hellman & Friedman to facilitate its take private acquisition of Nets. Brownson also acted for¬†the lead arrangers, including BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse, on the¬†‚ā¨970m senior facilities to facilitate Partners Group and PSP Investments' acquisition of¬†Cerba HealthCare Group. Trevor Borthwick¬†'s broad ranging finance practice includes acquisition finance matters for both lenders and borrowers; he recently represented a banking syndicate on a $2.7bn facility to support John Wood Group's acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler plc. On the borrower front, the 'outstanding'¬†Melissa Samuel¬†acted for Syngenta on the amendment and restatement of a $5bn target facilities agreement and $1.5bn revolving credit facility in connection with its acquisition by ChemChina. The 'excellent'¬†Philip Bowden¬†handles both leveraged deals and investment grade acquisition finance matters and is a key member of the team that also includes¬†Robin Harvey, who has a private equity sponsor focus to his practice;¬†Nicholas Clark;¬†Timothy Polglase;¬†George Link; Matt Moore¬†and¬†Darren Hanwell¬†. Other clients include Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, RBS, PAI Partners and Providence Equity Partners.

Benefiting from deeply entrenched ties with many banks and private equity sponsors, including Citigroup, HSBC and CVC, and also able to leverage the firm's extensive international network of offices,¬†Clifford Chance LLP¬†is appreciated by clients for its 'excellent service on complex cross-border financings'. The 'experienced and well-respected'¬†Jim MacHale¬†is well-versed at handling both leveraged and investment grade acquisition financings; he recently advised the lead arrangers, including Deutsche Bank and HSBC, on the jumbo $20bn facilities and ¬£1m revolving credit facility, for Reckitt Benckiser on its acquisition of¬†Mead Johnson Nutrition.¬†James Butters has a strong reputation among both lenders and borrowers in cross-border leveraged finance transactions; he recently acted for the mandated lead arrangers, including HSBC and UBS, on the cov-lite financing to facilitate L1Retail's ¬£1.8bn acquisition of Holland & Barrett. The 'vastly experienced'¬†Charles Cochrane¬†recently advised the mandated lead arrangers in relation to the jumbo M&A financing relating to Fortum's ‚ā¨8bn bid for Uniper.¬†On the borrower side,¬†Taner Hassan¬†has strong ties with numerous private equity sponsors and is therefore a regular presence on some significant leveraged finance mandates in the market. Other recommended practitioners include the¬†'technically strong'¬†Emma Folds,¬†Michael Bates,¬†Andrew Husdan¬†and¬†Peter Dahlen.

Benefiting from 'unparalleled bench strength and market know-how from a sponsor perspective', Kirkland & Ellis International LLP provides an 'exceptional level of service, market knowledge and acumen', and is able to 'really push the envelope for borrower clients' gaining very favourable terms for them on many of the most significant deals in the market. 'At the cutting edge of the market and constantly pushing for new technology in the documents', the team is able to handle sophisticated deals across the spectrum of financial products including senior, unitranche, term loan B (TLB) and high-yield debt financing. 'Excellent' team head Stephen Lucas has vast experience in the market enabling him to provide deep insight for sponsor clients on market trends. Lucas recently advised Partners Group on the financing aspects of its acquisition of a majority stake in French clinical pathology lab operator Cerba HealthCare from PAI Partners. The 'uniquely talented' Neel Sachdev has 'an amazing knowledge of the market and stands head and shoulders above most other lawyers at the grid stages and dealing with the banks'. Sachdev handles big-ticket and mid-market mandates for a range of sponsors including Bain Capital and Apax Partners, the latter with which he recently advised on the financing to facilitate its acquisition of a majority stake in UK-based luxury fashion brand MATCHESFASHION.COM. The 'excellent' Christopher Shield handles a raft of work for Advent International including advising it and its portfolio company Oberthur Technologies on the financing for the acquisition, with Bpifrance, of identity and security product maker Safran I&S and the refinancing of Oberthur Technologies existing financing. Michael Steele is also recommended. Other clients include Lone Star, TDR Capital and Apax Partners.

'One of the most active firms in the market',¬†Latham & Watkins' 12-partner team has the 'strength-in-depth to enable it to be efficient and supportive even on projects with very tight timelines'. Benefiting from both bank and high yield bond expertise, the team has the flexibility and all-encompassing expertise to provide a 'very high-quality service' to investment banks and private equity sponsors on deals across the capital structure and is 'very savvy about the latest legal terms and market precedents'. 'Combining outstanding technical skills with best in class negotiating capabilities',¬†Stephen Kensell¬†is regularly engaged in very challenging deals for banks; he acted alongside the 'outstanding'¬†Mohamed Nurmohamed¬†for¬†the lenders on the ‚ā¨2.1bn term loan and revolving credit facility¬†(alongside a bond offering) to facilitate Bain Capital and Cinven Partners'¬†‚ā¨5.4bn acquisition of Germany-based healthcare company STADA Arzneimittel.¬†Jayanthi Sadanandan¬†is particularly active on the sponsor side and recently advised¬†Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners on the¬†first lien/second lien loans to enable the acquisition of Paysafe Group plc. The 'excellent'¬†Sam Hamilton¬†also has a private equity sponsor focus to his practice and as well his regular work for core client Nordic Capital, he also recently advised Leonard Green & Partners on the financing for its ¬£2.4bn acquisition of CPA Global. As well as his regular flow of work for core client Deutsche Bank, the 'very impressive'¬†Christopher Kandel¬†also recently advised Hellman & Friedman on the first lien/second lien loan financing for its tender offer for publicly-listed company Netts, to take the Danish payments company private.¬†Ross Anderson,¬†Ross Pooley¬†and¬†Dominic Newcomb¬†are also recommended.

Benefiting from a vast roster of practitioners focusing on leveraged and corporate acquisition finance out of London and also able to tap into the firm's impressive international network of offices,¬†Linklaters LLP¬†is 'able to staff appropriately on tight timelines' and provide a 'very strong service which is attuned to the latest market developments' to banks, alternative capital providers, corporates and private equity sponsors.¬†Adam Freeman¬†heads up the leveraged finance sub-group at the firm and has strong credentials among many leading banks in the market; alongside¬†Robert Burt, Freeman recently advised the arrangers and underwriters on the complex financing involving TLB, second lien and revolving credit facilities for Blackstone and CVC to fund their acquisition of Paysafe plc. On the borrower front,¬†Oliver Sceales ¬†has handled numerous matters for The Carlyle Group including recently advising it on a ‚ā¨320m European cov-lite TLB facility and¬†‚ā¨80m revolving credit facility to fund its acquisition of Praesidiad from CVC Capital Partners.¬†Annette Kurdian¬†is 'excellent on tricky transactions' on behalf of banks and alternative lenders; alongside the 'experienced'¬†Nick Syson, and on the US high yield front¬†Mark Hageman, she recently advised the arrangers/underwriters¬†(including BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse) on the cov-lite TLB, revolving credit and bridge facility to fund Unilabs'¬†(an Apax Partners portfolio company) acquisition of AeskuLab Holding and Alpha Medical.¬†Edward Aldred¬†and¬†Daniel Gendron ¬†are also recommended.

With nine partners based in London who have a focus on leveraged finance and high yield,¬†Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP¬†has the expertise across the capital structure and across financial products (including TLB, New York-law governed high yield and unitranche)¬†for a 'very balanced array' of banks, alternative capital providers and private equity sponsors. 'At the cutting edge of the market and constantly pushing for new technology in the documents', the team excels in big-ticket cross-border financings where it is also able to leverage the firm's significant European and US footprint.¬† The 'well-respected'¬†Mark Donald¬†handles lender and borrower side work and recently advised the lead arrangers, including Credit Suisse and UBS, on the ‚ā¨505m equivalent first-lien tranche, including a ¬£150m sterling-denominated carve out as well as a ¬£130m equivalent sterling-denominated second-lien tranche to facilitate CVC Capital Partners' acquisition of¬†Corialis. The 'technically brilliant'¬†Chris McLaughlin¬†'finds innovative, commercial solutions to get the deal done'; he recently advised longstanding private equity client, Lone Star, on the¬†‚ā¨435m senior term and revolving credit facilities in relation to its acquisition of the Esmalglass-Itaca group of companies.¬†Tom Richards¬†also has a particularly strong reputation among private equity clients including Advent International, which he recently advised alongside Bain Capital, on the ‚ā¨430m debt facilities put in place to enable the acquisition of Concardis.¬†Reena Gogna¬†is also recommended, while¬†Paul Hibbert¬†is noted for his infrastructure acquisition finance practice. Other clients include JP Morgan, HSBC, Ares Capital Europe, Nordic Capital and Morgan Stanley.

Benefiting from 'an excellent bench both at partner and associate level',¬†White & Case LLP¬†delivers 'decisive and thoughtful advice' to lenders (Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs), corporates¬†(Paysafe Group, Iris Software) and private equity sponsors (CVC, Mid Europa Partners). Able to tap into a global network of offices and also with the ability to effectively deliver on the New York-law governed high yield piece should the need arise, the team excels at 'complex cross-border mandates across the debt spectrum'. Led by¬†Lee Cullinane, the team 'really knows the market and does an excellent job of guiding banks through the process', and as a result of 'having very strong London and New York bank side lending practices which actually communicate with each other, it means they know where the market is at any given time'. In a deal which exemplifies the firm's ability to work in a unified fashion implementing the expertise of numerous international offices of the firm including New York, Paris and Brussels, Cullinane recently acted for the arrangers¬†(including JP Morgan and ABN Amro) on the leveraged financing to facilitate Refresco's strategic acquisition of Cott's North American bottling activities. The 'technically very sound'¬†Jeremy Duffy¬†'knows the market inside out and is a leading light in the European leveraged finance market'. Duffy recently advised a group of lenders in connection with Lonestar‚Äôs ‚ā¨605m acquisition of Spain-based Esmalglass. On the private equity front, in what was¬†the largest ever Sterling unitranche financing, the 'excellent'¬†Martin Forbes¬†represented Bridgepoint on the ¬£425m TLB financing for the acquisition of Zenith. Spearheaded by the 'superb'¬†Gareth Eagles¬†and also with significant input from newly promoted partner¬†Emma Foster¬†, the firm is also handling a significant amount of work in the alternative capital provider space, most notably on behalf of GSO Capital Partners.¬†Colin Harley¬†and¬†Justin Wagstaff¬†are also recommended.

'Prepared to work across a range of deal sizes', from mid-market matters to those at the upper end of the mid-market, Ashurst consequently receives a significant flow of mandates implementing different financial products and is praised for the 'commercial, practical and responsive' service it provides to banks and alternative lenders, in particular. The 'very knowledgeable and experienced' Helen Burton has 'done an excellent job of leveraging her banking relationships to follow those bankers who have set up their own debt funds'. Indeed, the firm is recognised as a 'market leader' in the direct lending space and continues to pick up a significant amount of work for clients including Hayfin and ICG. Ross Ollerhead also regularly handles direct lending work, in addition to more conventional work for banking clients. Ollerhead's diverse practice also includes work for private equity sponsors including Oakley Capital which he recently advised on the financing - funded partially by a unitranche facility provided by Alcentra - to support its acquisition of Schuelerhilfe. Nigel Ward handles conventional leveraged finance transactions as well as in relation to infrastructure acquisition finance matters, an area where Jane Fissenden is also very accomplished. Martyn Rogers, Mark Vickers,  Paul Stewart, Tim Rennie and Ewen Scott are also recommended. Additional clients include RBS, HSBC and Apollo.

Leveraging the firm's excellent corporate client base, as well as a strong roster of private equity clients, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP provides a 'very strong service' to a predominantly borrower focused client base across the spectrum of debt products including European and US Term Loan B and high yield bonds. Alex Mitchell and Denise Ryan recently handled several matters for CVC Capital Partners, including advising it on the debt financing arrangements associated with its respective acquisitions of Sweden-based online travel agency Etraveli and of UK-based provider of IT education and skills, QA Group. Christopher Davis is also recommended and handles a significant amount of acquisition financing work for Cinven. Sean Pierce recently retired.

Able to leverage the firm's strong US offices and also recently enhanced on the high yield front by two notable partner hires from Shearman & Sterling LLP, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP's small 'partner-led' team has a focus on high-profile and complex financing structures for a primarily lender focused client base that includes Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. 'Superb' team head Suhrud Mehta handles a raft of matters for Goldman Sachs including recently acting for it, as part of a syndicate of lenders, on the £425m term facility, £50m term acquisition facility, and £60m super senior revolving credit facility in connection with Bridgepoint’s £750m acquisition of Zenith Group Holdings. Neil Caddy is also recommended for his work on behalf of lenders and borrowers across a range of financial products including cov-lite, unitranche and second-lien deals. Special counsel Miko Bradford is also recommended.

Instructed by an increasingly balanced array of banks (Barclays, Goldman Sachs), private equity firms (Bridgepoint, Investcorp) and alternative capital providers (Albacore), Shearman & Sterling LLP has a good perspective of the market both from a lender and borrower side. Able to leverage the expertise of New York-qualified high yield practitioners on the ground in London, as well as in the US, the team is able to provide a comprehensive - one-stop-shop service to clients across all aspects of the capital structure and are well placed to handle the trend among borrowers to tap the high yield market as well as to seek bank debt to fund acquisitions either in the European markets or in the Term Loan B market in the US. Splitting his time between London and New York, Ronan Wicks recently worked alongside Korey Fevzi to provide advice to Marlin Equity Partners on the debt financing (consisting of a New York law-governed term loan and revolving credit facilities) to facilitate the acquisition of a majority stake in social media analytics company TalkWalker. Dual UK and US-qualified partner Peter Hayes recently also worked alongside Wicks on the representation of Bridgepoint in connection with Element Material Technology's £620.3m bolt-on public-to-private acquisition of Exova. Iain Goalen is recommended for his bank-side leveraged finance work, Mei Lian is noted for her financing work in the context of distressed scenarios, and newly promoted partner Philip Stopford is also recommended.

Although it is smaller than many of those in the rankings,¬†Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP¬†'s banking team has a 'superb reputation in the market' and advises core private equity clients of the firm including Apax and Blackstone on their leveraged finance deals. Many of these matters involve complex financing structures requiring the flexibility to advise on both English and US law and across a range of sophisticated European financing transactions and products, including senior secured loans, second lien, mezzanine and other junior debt, bridge loans and high yield bonds. The 'top drawer'¬†Ian Barratt¬†is regularly at the forefront of the highest-profile leveraged finance matters handled by the team including his recent work, alongside¬†Sinead O‚ÄôShea¬†on the bank debt side and¬†Nicholas Shaw¬†on the capital markets front, for KKR on the financing to fund its ‚ā¨6.82bn acquisition of Unilever Spreads.¬†Antti Pesonen¬†is also a key member of the team and handles a raft of work for Blackstone including recently advising it on the financing to facilitate its acquisition of Joa Casinos.¬†Stephen Short¬†and Shahpur Kabraji¬†are also recommended.

Headed by¬†Nick Tostivin,¬†Baker McKenzie¬†'s seven-partner banking team is regularly engaged in acquisition finance matters for borrowers and lenders¬†on matters encompassing structures across the capital spectrum including senior and mezzanine debt, as well as high yield bonds. Benefiting from a vast international network of offices, the team adds particular value to clients seeking a one-stop shop service on big-ticket cross-border mandates. For example, in a deal which involved significant support from numerous European offices, as well as Hong Kong and South Africa,¬†Lynn Rosell Rowley¬†acted for a syndicate of 14 lenders on the¬†‚ā¨1.95bn debt financing to fund the¬†‚ā¨4.5bn acquisition of Ista International by a Chinese joint venture between CK Infrastructure Holdings and Cheung Kong Property Holdings. The team was bolstered by the arrival in August 2017 of¬†Matthew Smith and¬†Geoff O‚ÄôDea¬†from¬†Travers Smith LLP¬†and¬†Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, respectively.

Able to provide a seamless service on both bank and bond financings, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP¬†regularly handles acquisition finance matters for corporate and private equity clients as a function of the firm's five-partner banking offering.¬†David Billington¬†recently advised pan-European private equity firm Alpha on the financing (involving a combined¬†club deal leveraged loan, and a second-lien PIK financing that was structurally subordinated) to facilitate its acquisition of¬†European insulation materials group Ipcom.¬†Andrew Shutter¬†handles a range of financing work for corporates and private equity sponsors; he recently acted for European equipment rental group, Loxam, in connection with the ‚ā¨795m financing of its all-cash offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of UK listed company, Lavendon plc. Dual UK and Russian-qualified partner¬†Polina Lyadnova¬†excels at advising emerging markets corporates on general corporate lending matters as well as acquisition finance mandates.

Able to leverage the firm's very strong funds brand, both on the formation side and on transactions, Dechert LLP continues to be on the ascendancy in the market since the relatively recent formation of its leveraged finance offering. Focused on advising those in the asset management space, either in their capacity as borrowers seeking to raise finance to facilitate M&A deals, or as direct lenders, the team is praised for its 'top-quality advice and execution' and its 'responsiveness, creativity and industry knowledge'. Described by one client as a 'rare and true rock star of leveraged finance', team head John Markland 'combines deep knowledge of the underlying matter with a commercial aptitude that allows him to effortlessly straddle the principal/adviser divide and deliver superior tactical legal advice'. Particularly strong on the private equity sponsor side, Markland regularly handles work for core client Mid-Europa Partners including recently assisting portfolio company, Moji Brendovi, on a refinancing/recapitalization. The 'excellent' Philip Butler and David Miles 'balance detail and understanding of complexity with commerciality' and both have a 'very strong reputation' for mid-market work in the burgeoning direct lending space. Butler recently advised Ares Management and RBS on a senior debt financing package to support Phoenix Equity Partners’ acquisition of a majority stake in the Forest Holidays Group. Other clients include CVC Credit Partners and VTB Capital.

'Very good across the board',¬†DLA Piper's 'responsive and well-organised' five-partner London team provides 'excellent value-for-money' to clearing banks including HSBC and Lloyds, as well as alternative capital providers such as Ares Management and Blue Bay Asset Management. Also able to leverage the expertise of numerous practitioners across the firm's regional offices, the team receives a significant deal flow in the mid-market.¬†As part of her broad-ranging banking and finance practice,¬†Julie Romer¬†regularly handles acquisition and leveraged finance deals for lenders and borrowers; she recently represented Silicon Valley Bank on the ‚ā¨37.75m funding of TA Associates‚Äô acquisition of ITRS from the Carlyle Group. The 'technically excellent'¬†Mark Dwyer¬†has a 'great commercial sense which enables him to advise on anything from minute details to big picture considerations'.¬†Dwyer is particularly focused on representing borrower clients of the firm on their financing considerations; he recently advised¬†Heineken on the ¬£340m of certain funds facilities in relation to its public takeover of Punch Taverns plc. Andy Kolacki¬†acts for lenders and borrowers in deals utilising both senior and subordinated capital structures, and is key member of the team that also includes experienced consultant¬†Maurice Allen.¬†Philip Crump¬†joined from¬†Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP¬†in September 2017.

In addition to supporting the firm's impressive roster of corporate clients when they require acquisition finance expertise, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's borrower focused practice continues to pick up an increased flow of work from private equity sponsors. For example, the team acted for Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners on the financing related to its acquisition and development of four biomass power plants in the UK. On the corporate acquisition front, Will Nevin (who has 'excellent market knowledge') acted for British American Tobacco on its syndicated loan financing in connection with its high-profile merger with Reynolds. The 'pragmatic and efficient' Kristen Roberts leads the corporate debt and acquisition finance team out of London and is noted for his broad-ranging financing capability (including corporate acquisition financing and sponsor-driven leveraged financing matters) for borrowers and lenders.

Hogan Lovells International LLP 's five-partner team receives a significant flow of mandates in the mid to upper-mid market from a lender focused client base that includes UK commercial banks (Lloyds, HSBC), as well as many of the main non-bank direct lenders including Ares Management, ICG and Hayfin. Although the team is sector agnostic, it has built up a particularly strong reputation for handling the financing of M&A transactions in heavily regulated sectors including insurance. The 'excellent' Matthew Cottis recently acted for a banking consortium, including RBS, HSBC, and ABN Amro, in relation to the acquisition facility agreements to assist the purchase by Phoenix of Standard Life Assurance. As well as her work for debt funds and banks, Jo Robinson also picks up borrower side mandates and recently acted for Claranet on the refinancing of its existing debt and an additional debt package to enable it to fund the acquisition of three IT service providers in the UK, Portugal, and France. Paul Mullen and Penny Angell are also recommended.

Recognised as 'one of the best firms in the UK debt market for medium sized leveraged buyouts', Macfarlanes LLP 's 'exceptional' four-partner team provides 'highly technical and commercial advice' to private equity sponsors, including Inflexion, Alchemy Partners and Silver Capital Partners, and on the lender side, a growing roster of alternative capital providers including Ares Management and Hayfin. The 'quality of its people is consistently excellent at all levels from newly qualified to partner': key figures include 'excellent banking lawyers' Christopher Lawrence and Kirstie Hutchinson. Andrew Perkins is also recommended for his work on behalf of alternative capital providers.

Ropes & Gray LLP provides a 'high-quality, responsive and commercial service' to a primarily borrower-side client base consisitng of private equity sponsors such as Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman, and multinationals such as Cable & Wireless, Liberty Global and Altice. Benefiting from UK and US-qualified practitioners on the ground in London and also able to tap into the expertise of a significant pool of leveraged finance lawyers in the US, the team is well-placed to advice clients across the range of financing products whether it be in relation to New York-law governed high yield, the TLB market or UK-law governed bank debt. Malcolm Hitching and Alexander Robb recently advised Intermediate Capital Group, as part of an investor consortium, on the financing to facilitate the $5.3bn buy-out of Visma. Robb was also involved, alongside Matthew Cox, for Bain Capital on its financing linked to the purchase of a controlling stake in MKM, the UK’s largest independent builders’ merchant’. Although the firm is less active on the lender side, it does handle a significant amount of work for Goldman Sachs. Michael Goetz, Jane Rogers and Michael Kazakevich are also recommended. Benoit Lavigne joined Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Although it lacks the size of some of the firms in the ranking, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP 's three-partner banking team has a strong pedigree on behalf of private equity investors and corporates in relation to the financing necessary to execute their investment strategies. With US and UK-qualified practitioners on the ground in London and also able to leverage the expertise of lawyers across the firm's US offices, the team is able to adapt US financing techniques and terms to the European market and thereby has the flexibility to handle big-ticket cross-border acquisition financings. In conjunction with the New York team, Mark Darley recently advised Cineworld Group plc on the US aspects of the financing of its $5.9bn acquisition of Regal Entertainment Group. Historically Doughty Hanson's go-to finance lawyer, Pete Coulton has recently broadened the scope of his work and as well as handling numerous European transactions for HCP, also recently acted for the private investment vehicles of the Ferrero confectionary group in connection with a $700m credit facility arranged by UniCredit Bank to finance the acquisition of Ferrara Candy Company Holdings. Clive Wells is also recommended.

Fed a steady pipeline of work from the its roster of FTSE 100 and 250 corporate clients, unsurprisingly,¬†Slaughter and May¬†is best-known for its borrower-side financing work. Recent highlights include advising DS Smith plc on the debt financing aspects of its $920m acquisition of Interstate Resources and representing Cineworld Group plc on the UK law aspects of the funding to secure its $3.6bn acquisition of US company Regal. A corollary of the firm's market-leading M&A practice, the firm has developed a particular niche in relation to ‚Äúcertain funds‚ÄĚ public bid finance work and in this regard¬†Ed Fife¬†and¬†Matthew Tobin¬†are advising Compagnie Financi√®re Richemont on a proposed voluntary public tender offer (to be made by a newly formed wholly-owned Italian subsidiary of Richemont) to acquire all of the ordinary shares of Yoox Net-a-Porter Group.¬†Caroline Phillips' broad-ranging financing capabilities encompass debt financing work for private equity sponsors Corsair Capital and Palamon Capital Partners, including advising the latter on the financing to fund the¬†acquisition of a majority stake in Sweden-based Happy Socks.¬†Philip Snell¬†and¬†Robert Byk¬†are also recommended.

Benefiting from deeply entrenched private equity sponsor relationships and increasingly active on the bank side, the 'user-friendly, responsive and commercial' six-partner team at Travers Smith LLP is recognised as 'one of the preeminent firms in the mid to upper mid-market leveraged space'. Praised for the 'intellectual calibre' of the practitioners within the team, one lender client highlighted its ability 'to understand issues from a lender's perspective but always with an eye to ensuring we push for important points rather than more pedantic areas, which will only serve to aggravate the borrower / client whilst adding limited value'. On the borrower front, the 'pragmatic and commercial' Donald Lowe recently advised Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management on the senior debt facilities made available for the purpose of financing its acquisition of Hargreave Hale. The 'unflappable and commercial' Barry Newman acted for WiggleCRC group (an investee company of Bridgepoint) on the financing associated with its acquisition of German bicycle retailer Bike24. Benefiting from a 'wealth of experience', 'very commercial' team head Matthew Ayre advises a balanced mix of borrower and lender clients and is a key member of the team that also includes Charles Bischoff, who primarily acts for lenders including RBS and Shawbrook;  Andrew Gregson; and 'rapidly rising star' senior associate Katie McMenamin.

Addleshaw Goddard is on all the UK clearing bank panels and increasingly active on the borrower side for clients including Inlexion Private Equity and ECI Partners. Laurie Keel and Alex Dumphy are regularly at the forefront of the most significant deals handled by the team with the former recently advising Innovative Bites on the £105.7m term loan and £15m super senior revolving credit facility to fund its acquisition of Hancocks, one of the UK’s leading confectionery specialists. Keel also recently acted for Barings Global Advisers and RBS on the £28m term debt and £1.5m super senior revolving credit facility used to facilitate the sponsor backed acquisition of Thames Valley-based manufacturer Stuart Turner Limited. The firm also benefits from the expertise of a 'strong asset based lending team' including Mike Davison out of London and several other practitioners spread out among the regional offices and has represented clients implementing invoice financing as an alternative to revolving credit facilities in acquisition finance structures. Angus Gill is also recommended.

Benefiting from 'very strong industry knowledge', Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP has a focus on domestic mid-market sponsor-backed and corporate acquisition finance matters for UK clearing banks, private equity sponsors (Clearbell Capital, Apposite Capital) and corporates. Derek Hrydziuszko recently advised J Leon & Company and Ventiga Capital Partners on the £18.2m unitranche facility to help fund its acquisition of Thesis Asset Management. Praised for her 'strong negotiating skills', team head Emma Howdle-Fuller regularly handles syndicated and bilateral leveraged financings as part of her broad-ranging finance practice and is key member of the team that also includes the 'excellent' Daisy Reeves.

As well as generating a substantial amount of mid-market work from the firm's loyal roster of UK clearing banks, CMS 's seven-partner team also continues to pick up a growing array of work for private equity sponsors, including Inflexion Private Equity Partners and Oakley Capital, as well as unitranche lenders such as Crescent Capital.  On the borrower front, Alex Patience recently advised Inflexion on the financing for its buy out of Xtrac Limited. Other highlights included Patrick Donegan 's work for Oakley Capital on the financing to facilitate the acquisition of the assets and operations of the Plesk software business as a carve-out from the Parallels Group.

As part of its broader banking and finance offering, the 'small but focused' team at¬†Debevoise & Plimpton LLP¬†provides a 'top-notch service' to both corporates and private equity firms on acquisition finance transactions. Benefiting from numerous dual US and UK-qualified practitioners in the team, it is well-placed to advise on deals utilising bank debt and New York-governed high yield bonds.¬†Alan Davies¬†handles complex cross-border leveraged finance matters and alongside lawyers from New York recently advised core client¬†Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on the financing aspects (including a $455m senior first-lien facility and a $165m second lien facility) of the acquisition of Carestream Dental. Dual New York and UK-qualified partner¬†Pierre Maug√ľ√©¬† recently advised International Paper Company on the financing to facilitate the $1.8bn combination of its North America consumer packaging business with Graphic Packaging.¬†Thomas Smith¬†is also recommended.

The 'knowledgeable, responsive and practical' two-partner team at¬†Dentons¬†acts for private equity sponsors including Rutland Partners and Graphite Capital, while on the lender side it is picking up a significant amount of work for challenger banks including Metro Bank and OakNorth Bank.¬†Lee Federman¬†recently advised¬†Rutland Partners on its ¬£47.5m super senior and unitranche facilities with Barclays and Crescent Capital for its investment in Aston Barclay.¬†Catherine Astruc¬†is the other key partner in the team; she recently advised the PIK lender on the ‚ā¨110m PIK facility provided to bridge the capital structure on the acquisition of a large cross-border business by a leading European private equity house.

At Mayer Brown International LLP, Andrew Crotty has been very active advising private equity sponsors including Stirling Square Capital Partners and Vitruvian Partners on mid-market transactions; he recently acted for the former on a term and revolving facilities agreement to finance its acquisition of The Magnum Corporation and its subsidiaries. Spearheaded by Alex Dell and Dominic Griffiths, the firm is also well regarded for its 'market-leading asset based lending offering' (particularly on behalf of banks) and often implements this product alongside other debt to facilitate the financing of cross-border M&A deals. The recruitment in June 2018 of the 'excellent' Stuart Brinkworth from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP is a major statement of intent for the firm, particularly in relation to the direct lending space. Clients include Barclays, Citibank, HSBC and Nomura.

Led by the 'experienced' Michael Ings, Norton Rose Fulbright provides 'highly professional and commercially minded advice' to a mix of lenders and borrowers including ING Bank, RBS, HSBC, Qatar Petroleum and Octopus Investments. The practice, while it does not handle the volume of sponsor-backed leveraged deals that many of its higher ranked peers do, it does excel at handling bespoke cross-border acquisition finance mandates, particularly those with a nexus to key areas of firmwide sector strengths including energy, TMT and transport. The 'excellent' James Dunnett recently acted alongside practitioners in the firm's Montreal office for SNC-Lavalin Group on the financing associated with its acquisition of WS Atkins plc. Asset based lending (ABL) expert Michael Black is also a key resource and regularly uses the ABL product as part of the financing package to fund acquisitions for clients including Wells Fargo.

Headed by the 'excellent' Martin Bishop, Pinsent Masons LLP's four-partner team has a strong reputation among UK commercial banks including HSBC, and also regularly picks up work for private equity sponsors such as Sovereign Capital Partners and Lyceum Capital Partners in the mid-market. Senior associate Anais Spacey is 'strong and robust when negotiating with bank-side lawyers', and recently assisted Bishop on the representation of MML Capital Partners on unitranche and super senior revolving credit facilities to finance the acquisition of Computer Services Integration Group. Vanessa Heap often handles leveraged finance work in addition to general corporate lending; she recently advised Sabio Limited (a Lyceum Capital Partners' portfolio company) on the financing to facilitate its acquisition of Spanish company Datapoint Europe. Liam Terry is also recommended.

Almost entirely aligned to the private debt funds space, Proskauer Rose LLP's 'very responsive and commercial' three-partner team has a 'great knowledge of the market' and continues to pick up market share acting for new clients including Alcentra and Intermediate Capital Group, as well as more longstanding ones including Bain Capital Credit and BlueBay Asset Management. The 'pragmatic and commercial' Alexander Griffith is 'very well regarded' among many of the most active players in the space including Ares Management, which he recently advised on the unitranche financing to fund Exponent Private Equity's acquisition of the Leisure Pass Group. Ben Davis has 'a deep knowledge of the market and fights hard for his clients'; he recently advised BlueBay Asset Management on the financing to facilitate Lloyds Development Capital’s acquisition of Pelsis. Faisal Ramzan rounds out the team at partner level, while 'very responsive and commercial' associate Daniel Hendon is also recommended.

Simmons & Simmons ' banking and finance group regularly undertakes corporate-related acquisition finance deals and sponsor-driven mandates for both lender and borrower clients. Praised for his 'superb business acumen', Alistair Hill recently advised GoCompare.com Group plc on the financing for its acquisition of The Global Voucher Group. Simon Middleton handles syndicated and bilateral financings for banks both in the context of general corporate lending as well as for acquisition finance purposes. Middleton is particularly noted for his financing work in the Nordic region.

As well as the firm's strong ties with numerous UK banks including RBS and Lloyds, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP also handles a significant amount of mid-market borrower side mandates, an area that was enhanced by the arrival of Chris Hastings  from Ropes & Gray LLP in June 2017. Hastings has ties with numerous private equity sponsors and is active both on new money deals as well as in relation to financings to support distressed investments; he recently acted for Beech Tree Private Equity on the financing to facilitate its acquisition of a controlling stake in Redstor. Team head Nick Swiss is also recommended, while the 'excellent' Indraj Mangat excels at energy and infrastructure-related acquisition finance mandates.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP provides a 'thorough and commercial service' to borrowers and lenders across the spectrum of the capital structure, often in the context of cross-border transactions. Although the firm lost Stuart Brinkworth to Mayer Brown International LLP, it still has several practitioners based in London who have a significant acquisition finance focus, including the 'very pragmatic' Johns Lehmann. Recent highlights include advising Permira Debt Managers on the £46m financing of MML Capital Partners' acquisition of Computer Systems Integration Group.

Although it was considerably weakened in February 2018 by the departure of Stephen Gillespie for a role in-house at a private equity firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP still has some capacity in the leveraged finance space, most notably on behalf of corporates and private equity sponsors. Recently promoted partner Amy Kennedy handles acquisition finance matters as part of her broad-ranging finance offering; she recently acted for Liberty Hall Capital Partners on its $135m acquisition and financing of UK-based Dunlop Aircraft Tyres. Thomas Budd is also recommended.

Supported by strong and well-established offerings out of Bristol and Reading, Osborne Clarke LLP 's seven-partner banking team handles  general corporate lending and acquisition finance matters for a balanced array of borrowers and lenders. Particularly strong in areas of sector strength for the firm as a whole, for example, the team is regularly engaged in transactions within the technology space and has developed a particularly strong reputation in relation to handling fin-tech related financing work. Dominic Ross, Ben Truman and Akmal Ghauri all regularly handle acquisition finance work as part of their respective broad-ranging financing practices. Clients include RBS, HSBC, Santander, Caledonia Investments and Phaedon International.

While it lacks the bench strength - particularly at an associate level - of many of the firms in the ranking, the 'responsive and constructive' team at Paul Hastings LLP 'demonstrates a strong knowledge of the market' and is picking up some high-quality mandates from investment banks, direct lenders and private equity sponsors. The 'outcomes-focused and constructive' Luke McDougall  'is excellent at achieving consensus among stakeholders, while also protecting his clients' position'; he recently advised Permira Debt Managers in relation to financing for the acquisition of UK professional services business Third Bridge by IK Investment Partners. The 'smart and pragmatic' Richard Kitchen is a 'good person to have involved in a complex deal' and alongside McDougall recently advised Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, as arrangers, in respect of the financing for the recommended public-to-private acquisition by Advent International of Laird plc for approximately £1bn. Other clients include BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Blackrock.

Taylor Wessing LLP advises borrowers and lenders - including an increasing number of private equity sponsors - on mid-market acquisition finance mandates. Team head Martin Yells is regularly involved in the most significant mandates handled by the team including his representation of Hilton Food Group plc on the complex financing arrangements to facilitate its £84m acquisition of Icelandic Group UK. Yells also acted for Rutland Partners on the £34.5m secured debt financing for its acquisition of the Armitage Pet Care group. The team also excels at handling the financing of M&A matters within the technology sector. Other clients include Santander, HSBC and Investec.

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