Derivatives and structured products in London
Allen & Overy LLP has a market-leading practice in all areas of derivatives and structured finance, often playing a lead role in key market developments whether regulatory, technological or structural. 'The firm drafted most of the industry documentation in the derivatives space, particularly so with credit derivatives, so I wouldn't go to any other house for complex credit derivatives work', remarks one client. Its work spans complex financing structures for illiquid assets, portfolio transfers, regulatory advice and a high volume of traditional derivatives and structured finance transactions. It is currently leading the structured financing market for direct lending platforms, it has a busy practice for regulatory capital-driven synthetic risk transfer transactions, and is a key adviser on bank collateralised funding programmes. OTC derivatives regulation expert Emma Dwyer leads the practice. Guy Antrobus is a leading adviser on the implementation of initial margin regulations. Parya Badie is a 'standout partner' for synthetic risk transfer products. David Benton is a pre-eminent market expert on credit derivatives. Among the other leaders in their fields are Paul Cluley, structured products specialist Tony Drake-Brockman, equity finance partner Daniel Shurman; Richard Tredgett who is 'a most knowledgeable and experienced adviser on derivatives-related issues'; and the innovation-focused David Wakeling. Up-and-coming partners Tom Roberts and Suril Patel are also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘The firm drafted most of the industry documentation in the derivatives space, particularly so with credit derivatives. I wouldn’t go to any other house for complex credit derivatives work.’
‘Richard Tredgett continues to be a most knowledgeable and experienced adviser on derivatives-related issues across various asset classes.’
‘The Allen & Overy team will deliver. Parya Badie is a standout partner.’
Deutsche Bank AG
BNP PARIBAS, BofA Merrill Lynch, HSBC, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley
EMEA Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee
NatWest Bank and NatWest Markets (NatWest)
Fidelis Insurance Ireland DAC
Goldman Sachs SPV- Luminis repackaging programme
- Advising Deutsche Bank on the sale of part of its fixed income derivatives business, supporting all legal and tax aspects of the portfolio sales, with support provided by A&O’s London, Frankfurt and New York offices.
- Advised a bank client on a sophisticated crude oil and refined product inventory monetisation structure to achieve an efficient financing solution for the refinery.
- Advised NatWest Bank and NatWest Markets (together, NatWest) in relation to a unique synthetic securitisation referencing a portfolio of UK renewables, which has enabled NatWest Bank to recycle capital and increase its lending to the renewable and sustainable energy sector, helping spur the UK’s move to low-carbon infrastructure.
Clifford Chance LLP 'has the most in-depth knowledge of synthetic securitisation', according to one client, noting that the team is 'always accessible and is able to see all sides of an argument'. As well as having a leading practice for synthetic securitisation and significant risk transfer transactions, the firm is active across the whole waterfront of structured finance, with its work spanning cash CLO and securitised fund financing for large portfolio managers, bespoke structured product programmes for asset managers, structured notes, warrants and certificates, repackagings, proprietary indices, insurance products and structured deposits. It also acts for banks, dealers, asset managers and custodians in connection with the implementation of regulatory margin requirements. It is also European regulatory counsel for ISDA. Innovation is another key strength and the firm has been working with the developers of a distributed ledger technology (DLT) solution for frictionless collateral swaps in the securities lending market. Andrew Coats and Paget Dare Bryan lead the practice. Also recommended are the 'consistently commercial and concise' Jessica Littlewood, the 'extremely detail-oriented' Timothy Cleary who 'loves an intellectual challenge', and versatile partners Anne Drakeford, Matthew Grigg and Faizal Khan. Consultant Habib Motani and, for insurance-linked securities, Will Winterton play key roles in the practice.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team has the most in-depth knowledge of synthetic securitisation. While certain key individuals underpin this, and are always present when required, in recent years they have successfully broadened their bench strength and the quality of more junior associates is high.’
‘I would also note a high level of diversity, certainly by gender, within this team, which makes for a refreshing approach and enables better problem-solving.’
‘The team is always accessible and is able to see all sides of an argument.’
‘Jessica Littlewood has been one of the key players in the synthetic securitisation market since its inception, and is consistently commercial and concise. Tim Cleary is extremely detail-oriented, loves an intellectual challenge, and together they represent a great team.’
‘Clifford Chance is by far the dominant player in the niche market of balance sheet CLOs. It is the best firm I have used in this space. Fees-wise, very reasonable, and very responsive. Because they have such a high market share of this type of transactions they are effectively drafting the market standard.’
‘Jessica Littlewood and Tim Cleary are the main partners I dealt with. They are, in my view, the leading legal authority on synthetic balance sheet securitisations and are probably involved in over 75% of the transactions in the market. They are user-friendly and have very deep knowledge of both the legal aspects and commercial developments in this market.’
Lloyds Bank / Bank of Scotland
Paragon Banking Group
Banco Santander, S.A.
Bank of Ireland
- Advised Bank of Scotland plc as originator on a £1.07bn synthetic securitisation of a portfolio of UK high LTV owner-occupied residential mortgage loan book comprised of 5,674 prime repayment mortgages originated by Bank of Scotland under the Halifax brand.
- Advised NIBC Bank on issuing the first fully ESG compliant European Collateralized Loan Obligation (CLO), €410m North Westerly VI, which further builds on NIBC Bank’s ambition to be a corporate sustainability leader.
- Advised HQLAᵡ and Deutsche Börse on their jointly-developed distributed ledger technology (DLT) solution for frictionless collateral swaps in the securities lending market. The platform launched with live transactions executed by Commerzbank, Credit Suisse and UBS on the Eurex Repo F7-trading system.
Linklaters LLP has enormous bench strength in London across derivatives and structured products. The firm is widely regarded as one of the leaders in derivatives clearing and related regulatory advice, margin requirements for non-centrally cleared OTC derivatives, complex CLOs, synthetic securitisations, balance sheet securitised derivatives, bespoke repackagings, longevity derivatives, fund-linked derivatives, complex equity derivatives and commodity title transfer financings. 'The market knowledge and understanding of the team is far deeper and wider than any other firm, specifically around repack structures', remarks one client. 'Their ability to solve problems and apply knowledge to new situations is exceptional', notes another. Paul Lewis is global head of finance and projects, in which the practice led by Deepak Sitlani sits. Michael Voisin is global head of capital markets. Pauline Ashall and Vinay Samani handle OTC and securitised derivatives; Mark Brown leads the Islamic derivatives practice; Mark Drury's broad practice covers securitised, OTC and exchange-traded derivatives, and cash and synthetic CLOs and CDOs; Simon Firth works on derivatives structuring and documentation; Toby Gray, David Phillips and Matthew Monahan handle repacks and credit-linked notes. Counsels Doug Shaw, Leanne Banfield and Rhian Roberts also play pivotal roles in the structured finance practice.
Other key lawyers:
‘Deepak Sitlani, Mark Brown and Simon Firth continue to be excellent advisers on all matters relating to derivatives. The firm also has a good international network.’
‘The market knowledge and understanding of the team is far deeper and wider than any other firm, specifically around repack structures.’
‘Their ability to solve problems and apply knowledge to new situations is exceptional.’
‘Vinay Samani has tremendous market knowledge and experience. Rarely can you find new problems to which Vinay hasn’t seen solutions that can be adapted before being applied. He is commercial and cares about his clients and not just the legal outcomes, but also the operational and commercial aspects. He leads a very strong team and delegates effectively.’
‘Matt Monahan and David Phillips have wide-ranging capability and share the commercial approach. They are also very responsive to queries when you need help urgently.’
‘We enjoyed working with Linklaters and found the team to be professional, highly organised – especially between US and UK teams – and easy to work with. They were very flexible in regards to business hours, availability, and workload, and have generally acted commercially in building a relationship with us.’
‘We’ve worked primarily with Mark Drury and managing associate Annabel Steer. Both Mark and Annabel are excellent communicators and highly knowledgeable on the subject matter of CLOs. They have been able to provide guidance and insight on market norms for risk retention structures to find solutions that would work for us. They are both highly organised and made documentation review extremely easy by laying out page references and flagging potential issues.’
‘It has hugely impressive market reach and understanding. It provides practical and insightful advice which is totally joined up with both the market-leading derivatives practice and regulatory team. The team is an absolute please to work with, the enthusiasm and commitment is impressive.’
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA)
Sound Point Capital Management
OTC DerivNet Ltd
PGGM Vermogensbeheer B.V.
Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME)
Futures Industry Association (FIA)
International Capital Market Association (ICMA)
International Securities Lending Association
- Advised ISDA on all of its global interest rate reform initiatives.
- Advised OTC DerivNet Ltd, a consortium comprising 14 of the largest swaps dealers globally, on the new LCH SwapAgent Service being provided by LCH Limited.
- Advised Macquarie Infrastructure Debt Investment Solutions on a landmark capital relief trade of a NatWest Markets £1.1bn portfolio of project finance loans in the UK sustainable energy market., the first significant risk transfer transaction to be backed entirely by green assets.
Simmons & Simmons
Simmons & Simmons has 'a top-class team performing at a par with, and often surpassing Magic Circle peers', according to one client who notes that the firm has 'excellent product and and market understanding spanning the breath of asset classes'. It has a deep bench of structured finance lawyers, with 16 partners and a strong team of associates, who assist sell-side investment banks including Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, as well as numerous hedge fund and institutional manager buy-side clients. It is strong across the board in derivatives and structured products, with notable expertise in asset repackaging, retail structured products, IBOR remediation and commodities. 'They have a strong focus on efficient transaction management and all levels of the team go the extra mile to ensure that appropriate and commercial advice is delivered', says client of the group led by head of structured finance and derivatives Paul Browne. David Toole leads the risk sharing and synthetic securitisation practice, while Sean Bulmer advises investment banks on structured products and OTC derivatives. Allan Yip is a key adviser to buy-side institutions. Head of commodities Jonathan Melrose and experienced partner Rosali Pretorius are highly rated for their work on commodity derivatives trading and clearing. Partner Eucharia Bragg, as well as managing associates Marcin Perzanowski, who joined from Mayer Brown International LLP, and Oliver West are highly recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team shows a strong level of product knowledge coupled with industry engagement on technical developments. They have a strong focus on efficient transaction management and all levels of the team go the extra mile to ensure that appropriate and commercial advice is delivered under relevant time constraints.’
‘Oliver West as managing associate shows a relentless commitment to client service, delivering timely and pragmatic advice on a range of matters including the economic, legal and regulatory impacts during the negotiation process.’
‘The team is very available and the advice is always commercial.’
‘The quality of service provided by the team, as well as the breadth and depth of technical skill and talent, rivals Magic Circle firms. The team ethos is understated, and foresight of their business model demonstrates a forward-thinking approach which will hold them in good stead.’
‘The firm has a top-class team performing at a par with, and often surpassing, Magic Circle peers. It provides excellent product and market understanding spanning the breath of asset classes. A close synergy with the excellent regulatory team ensures pragmatic, holistic advice.’
‘Alan Davies is totally unflappable with a solution for any issue. He didn’t just buy the t-shirt, he literally invented it. He is 100% approachable and happy to give a view or a sanity check.’
‘Eucharia Bragg has a great balance between legal “must haves” and operational reality.’
‘Oliver West has excellent market understanding and relationships with the front office. His market insight is valued. He is a real emerging star.’
‘The firm offers world class solutions in a cost-effective, value-add package. The team is highly experienced and I can rely on consistency, a thorough approach and a solid appreciation of commerciality in its advice. I have previously engaged with the top four and find the strengths offered by the Simmons team to be as good as any.’
‘The team is always readily available at short notice and provides accurate and concise advice for the most-part. We have complete confidence in the advice that they provide on often unclear or poorly drafted historic documentation where they are able to understand the commercial rationale for the arrangements to provide relevant advice.’
‘The team is approachable, patient, knowledgeable, intelligent and forward-thinking.’
‘The team is highly knowledgeable about the subject matter and able to communicate complex issues in a way that can be understood by those not as informed about the legal process or financial structures.’
‘Allan Yip is very knowledgeable and gives excellent, pragmatic advice. His advice comes with very good market colour. He is a “go-to” advisor for me.’
‘The firm has excellent technical knowledge and depth of experience delivered within sensible budgets and in a timely fashion. It is clear in its communications and much more capable of flexing its offering to the client’s needs than some of their mid-tier competitors.’
‘Neither our business nor I can function without David Toole – he has gone above and beyond to understand our firm and is always available to assist whenever and however I require. He hones in on transactional issues, particularly for synthetic risk-sharing transactions, with an unrivalled speed and can explain them in an accessible way to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. He is a pleasure to work alongside.’
‘The firm’s defining characteristic versus its peers is a high degree of partner engagement throughout the matter.’
‘The partners at Simmons work together as a proper team – they collaborate behind the scenes to provide a joined up and effective offering. You get a real sense from them that they strive to provide the best service to a client. They have a great team ethos and that makes them easy to work with. They have a solid practice that delivers quality work. I haven’t worked with another firm that has provided such joined up and seamless assistance not just with transactions but to the company as a whole. They act as an extension to the legal team providing quality and commercially driven advice.’
‘David Toole is very dependable, unfazable, pragmatic and good-humoured.’
Crake Asset Management
European Investment Fund
- Advised Credit Suisse on a complex cross-border note issuance linked to a Qatari deposit.
- Acted as lead counsel to the European Investment Fund on its main guarantee mandates supporting over 600,000 SMEs across Europe.
- Advised Crake Asset Management on all derivatives aspects of the largest European hedge fund launch of 2019.
'The firm has a team of lawyers who care about their clients', say clients of Ashurst. 'They are personable and friendly, yet professional, responsive, diligent and commercial in their approach'. It is one of few firms to have a dedicated structured products team that works alongside the derivatives practice. As well as a strong flow of transactional work, the practices handle highly bespoke financing transactions for large investment banks and funds. James Coiley leads on OTC derivatives and repacks, having notable expertise in credit and other fixed income derivatives, repackaging of financial assets, TRS and other collateralised funding structures. Michael Logie leads on structured products across a wide variety of underlying assets such as equities, funds, commodities, commodity indices, foreign exchange and inflation. Also recommended are James Knight, who has a particular focus on corporate equity derivatives; Jonathan Haines, who is known for equity derivatives, longevity risk transfers, repos and stocklending; Kerion Ball who specialises in commodity and corporate equity derivatives; and derivatives specialists James Knight and Jasmine Tiw. Senior associate Daryl Yip also plays a key role in the practice. Christopher Georgiou is also notable for leading Ashurst Advance, which provides process, resourcing and technology solutions to deliver efficient delivery through large-scale repapering exercises and other services.
‘The firm has a team of lawyers who care about their clients. They are personable and friendly yet professional, and responsive, diligent and commercial in their approach. The firm delivers on time and is trustworthy and reliable – a safe pair of hands.’
‘I recommend Michael Logie and senior associate Jeffrey Yow. Michael is especially responsive and pulls in other lawyers from other teams to bring the right expertise and skillset to the table when providing advice.’
‘Ashurst is a legitimate player in the derivatives and structured finance space. You get the impression that the derivatives and structured products team is a key contributor to the overall finance practice rather than an ancillary service as is the case for many firms outside a few from the Magic Circle. This ensures they have good depth of talent and retention. The team has good experience across the derivatives and securities finance markets.’
‘Kerion Ball is a capable lawyer. He is knowledgeable and stays on top of regulatory change and industry documentation initiatives. His work on some recent transactional matters was timely and he was able to bring the full resources of the firm to the table to assist. Kerion is a good sounding board and makes himself available to discuss issues and approaches.’
‘Jonathan Haines is a technically able lawyer who delivers clear and concise advice. Daryl Yip, associate, is knowledgeable and hardworking. He has an excellent grasp of margin documentation issues and is commercially minded in the advice he gives.’
- Acting for Barclays in relation to their Global Structured Securities Programme for the issuance of English, French and Swiss law governed securities and their Retail Structured Securities Programme for the issuance of German and Swiss law governed securities, which were updated to comply with the new Prospectus Regulation.
- Acting for Citi as programme counsel in relation to its $60bn Global Medium Term Note Programme Underlying Linked Notes Base Prospectus, including advising on the Prospectus Directive and for compliance with the new Prospectus Regulation, IBOR adjustment and fallback provisions, the creation of new certificate instruments and the addition of credit linked provisions to the programme.
- Advised Leonteq Securities AG on the restructuring of its German Law Structured Securities Programme for the issuance of English and Swiss law governed securities and for compliance with the new Prospectus Regulation requirements.
The finance practice at CMS is 'very responsive, has a very high level of capability within the derivatives and structured products area and represents excellent value for money'. The firm's palette of work is broad, encompassing retail structured products for leading global investment banks including notes, warrants and certificates; the drafting of their proprietary indices; insurance credit risk mitigation; equity derivatives, repos; structured lending; and regulatory advice. The practice has notable expertise in credit derivatives, including credit-linked notes, credit-linked provisions for programmes and transactions with embedded credit derivative pay-offs. 'His credit knowledge is second-to-none', say clients of practice head Will Dibble who is 'extremely knowledgeable, practical, responsive and easy to deal with'. Jason Harding's broad practice covers debt capital markets, securitisations, CDOs, structured finance and derivatives. Jason Brooks is 'one of the smartest transaction lawyers in the field'. CLO adviser Neil Hamilton and head of debt capital markets Michael Cavers are also recommended. James Parker, Mike Munro and Thomas Lockley are highly regarded in the pensions and longevity risk transfer market.
Other key lawyers:
‘The CMS team is very responsive, has a very high level of capability within the derivatives and structured products area and represents excellent value for money. They are knowledgeable across asset classes, which is particularly useful for a client such as us. They excel at proprietary index and issuance work.’
‘Will Dibble is extremely knowledgeable, practical, responsive and easy to deal with. His credit knowledge is second-to-none.
‘The firm has the ability to provide different alternatives. They are real problem solvers, whereas other firms do not help us to find a suitable solution.’
‘They are business-focused, flexible and available whenever you want.’
‘A hardworking, dedicated team of lawyers who place customer service as their top priority. When we need the team to turn around a piece of work under tight timing, I can trust them to deliver without compromising on quality.’
‘Will Dibble and his team are well-rounded lawyers who possess not only the technical skills but also lovely personalities that make every interaction enjoyable. They are client-focused in their delivery, they put themselves in the client’s shoes and when presenting their work output, their questions and comments are structured in a way that makes it easy for me to understand and respond.’
‘The firm combines strong legal and product expertise with a commercial attitude and an ethos of client care.’
‘Will Dibble is not only an excellent lawyer but also has an exemplary approach to client care. Jason Brooks is one of the smartest transaction lawyers in the field.’
‘The firm has in-depth resources, good availability and an easy atmosphere.’
‘It exhibits in-depth knowledge, patience in explaining issues at hand, good availability and responses.’
‘It has broad expertise across common investment banking business areas encompassing structured products and derivatives.’
‘Jason Brooks is highly responsive and delivers commercially focused work alongside a strong team of associates.’
‘The firm is extremely responsive and delivers market-leading knowledge and value for money. It has real depth of talent – all their associates do good work and you will never get “palmed off” with a sub-standard lawyer.’
‘We like Jason Brooks. He is the most responsive partner we know and is very patient with all of our issues and complexities. He has great product coverage and is very experienced.’
J.P Morgan Securities plc
BrokerCredit Service Structured Products plc
Close Brothers Asset Management
- Advising numerous banks on retail structured product issuances, including hybrid and credit-linked securities.
- Advised a number of banks on their synthetic index business including Benchmark Regulation compliance and third party management arrangements.
- Advised a number of investment managers on the implementation of EMIR including margining, clearing and reporting requirements.
Fieldfisher has a deserved reputation as an innovator in the structured finance market and it brings its experience and insight to bear for both buy-side and sell-side clients. It has a prominent role in advising the institutional asset manager sector, as well as bring a key adviser to the UK prime brokerage market. Its expertise spans repo, securities lending and structured derivative transactions, both in developed and emerging markets, and it has an active traded products regulatory practice. 'The firm punches above its weight in terms of quality', remarks one market source. 'The Fieldfisher practice is unique', says a client who says of the lawyers 'they are reliable, responsible, highly qualified and excellent team players'. The practice led by Guy Usher (who 'stands out for his professionalism, availability and engagement') has continued to invest in experienced talent. In 2020, John Delamere joined from Thor Lion LLP, though prior to that he led DLA Piper’s UK OTC derivatives practice. He brings almost 20 years' structured finance experience. Rashpaul Bahia, who joined from Reed Smith LLP in 2019, acts for financial institutions, trading companies, funds and corporates in relation to commodity derivatives. Newly promoted partner Jenny Warren is also recommended. Edward Miller and Emma Spiers are among the other key partners.
Other key lawyers:
‘The firm is extremely responsive and knowledgable.’
‘Dougall Molson is an outstanding lawyer. He is very bright, quick and commercial.’
‘The firm punches above its weight in terms of quality.’
‘The Fieldfisher practice is unique; they are highly qualified and excellent team players, reliable and responsible. Each of them, starting from the partners and associates are very flexible and participate in challenging negotiations without signs of pressure. They are always helpful and dynamic.’
‘The law-firm is incredibly organised. We have taken advantage of the team’s collective energy and professionalism. This has led to maximum productivity. For instance, our important project on Implementation of Initial Margin phase 4 has been successfully implemented by the Fieldfisher legal team. We have also applied to Fieldfisher to get legal opinions on very complicated matters regarding Brexit and CCPs located in UK and relevant documentation. In the latter case, Fieldfisher was able to involve, in due time, many departments within really tight deadlines, without losing its high degree of professionalism.’
‘The partner Guy Usher really stands out for his professionalism, availability and engagement. His team, too, somehow reflects Guy’s example. Each of them has demonstrated a high level of skill and proactivity. In working together with them we have noted they have shown a high degree of empathy in obtaining results as if they were part of our bank. This was a perfect fusion which led to a great result for our bank.’
Banca IMI s.P.a
Bank of America
Cantor Fitzgerald Europe
Deutsche Bank AG
ICBC Standard Bank Plc
Intesa Sanpaolo s.P.a
Jefferies International Limited
Nomura International plc
Rokos Capital Management LLP
- Assisting the client with the implementation of its requirement under the European Markets and Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) to exchange initial margin with its derivatives counterparties from 1 September 2019. This involved drafting template agreements, negotiating the agreements for the exchange of collateral (including triparty account control agreements and Belgian/ Lux / New York security agreements) with the client’s counterparties (over 800 agreements in total) and advising on regulatory compliance issues.
- Advising a London based hedge fund on all trading arrangements for a new managed UCITS fund launch. This involved negotiating ISDA Master Agreements, prime brokerage arrangements, portfolio swap master confirmations, cross-margining and collateral segregation arrangements for the UCITS sub-fund.
- Advising Cantor Fitzgerald Europe (“CFE”) in connection with the legal documentation aspects of expanding its synthetic prime brokerage business. The work has involved developing template documentation in consultation with various key internal stakeholders, negotiating trading documentation – ISDA Master Agreements, Credit Support Annexes and Master Confirmation Agreements – with CFE’s clients and negotiating the documentation for back-to-back funding/hedging arrangements.
The advice from Hogan Lovells International LLP is 'highly analytical, diligent and prudent'. The firm leverages its global reach and its multi-jurisdictional capability in London to advise on OTC derivatives and structured products across Europe and beyond. It excels in first-of-kind and high-value mandates, including driving forward green financial transactions using derivatives, assisting with IBOR transition and developing technological solutions for repapering exercises. It has a track record of involvement in securitisation and repackaging programmes containing swaps and repos. It is also active in emerging markets, dealing with complex netting and enforcement regulations. Global head of international capital markets and 'super-technical mega-brain' James Doyle is heavily involved in synthetic products, securitised and OTC derivatives, structured repo and securities lending arrangements and repackagings. Key partner Jennifer O’Connell, whose work focuses strongly on structured products designed for the retail market, has extensive in-house experience from her previous role as head of derivatives and structured products at Crédit Agricole CIB. Senior counsel David Hudd, former deputy CEO of the firm, is still involved in the day-to-day work of the practice. Kit Johnson runs the dedicated trustee practice.
‘Hogan Lovells is an excellent law firm for EMTN programmes, flow transactions, French derivatives and French-English cross-border transactions.’
‘Jennifer O’Connell in London knows the notes business and is particularly practical and business friendly.’
‘James Doyle in London is a super-technical mega-brain for all capital markets problems and structuring issues.’
‘The team is very good at explaining how derivatives concepts should be applied to technical insurance issues.’
‘Jennifer O’Connell is a delight to work with, she really takes the time to understand the client perspective and advise in a straightforward manner, making technical matters easily digestible.’
‘The team has legal expertise, a focus on details and a “hands on” approach from the senior partners. The advice is highly analytical, diligent and prudent.’
‘James Doyle is an exceptional professional. He is a market leader compared to the lawyers I engaged with in the past.’
Ahli United Bank
African-Export Import Bank
RiverRock European Capital Partners
Jaguar Land Rover
Bank of New York Mellon
Dekabank Deutsche Girozentrale
- Advised EFL on a synthetic securitisation of an unusual PLN2.1bn portfolio of Polish leasing assets with EIF. The transaction will unlock PLN3.1bn of additional funds for Polish SMEs.
- Continuing to advise BNPP on the annual update of its ground-breaking programme for secured structured products through a Luxembourg securitisation company, SecurAsset S.A., and in relation to numerous structured product drawdowns under the SecurAsset programme.
- Advised RiverRock European Capital Partners LLP, on the establishment of a listed repackaging structure including the launch of an innovative repackaging of fund units to investors.
At Latham & Watkins, the structured finance, securitisation and derivatives practice has a broad-ranging practice built on a core derivatives team that handles structured equity, credit and emerging markets transactions for major financial institutions and corporate and fund clients. It has in-depth knowledge of swaps, options, forwards, repos, stock loans, securitised derivatives and structured notes across all asset classes. Sanjev Warna-Kula-Suriya and Dean Naumowicz lead the practice. Warna-kula-suriya handles cash and synthetic CLOs, as well as OTC and exchange-traded derivatives. Naumowicz has extensive experience advising on a wide range of derivatives and structured products including credit, equity, and commodity transactions. He is also well known for his expertise in shari'ah-compliant derivatives transactions and innovative financial structures in emerging markets. Up-and-coming partner Shatha Ali focuses on transactional and regulatory advice relating to derivatives and has extensive experience in OTC and structured finance transactions across asset classes including rates, equity and credit. So, too, do Jeremy Green and counsel Simeon Rudin. Counsel Thomas Cochran's practice includes CLOs and commodity-related finance transactions.
Mayer Brown International LLP has a large global derivatives practice in which London serves as a key hub. It handles large and complex mandates in the European and global market for some of the the largest users of derivatives in the world. A significant amount of its recent work has focused on regulatory change, with the firm assisting more than 90% of Phase 1 to 3 Dealers with compliance matters. Alongside its busy sell-side practice, the firm also has an impressive buy-side client base comprising hedge funds, asset managers, pension funds, insurance companies and multinationals. The London group also advises a growing number of custody banks including Bank of New York Mellon and Citigroup. It is also active in structured products, notably in synthetic securitisations using credit default swaps. Derivatives specialist Edmund "Ed" Parker (who 'makes difficult concepts easy to understand and is leading in his field') leads the practice, with Chris Arnold taking the lead on structured products. 'Bright and hardworking' senior associate Emma Khoo, who joined from Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP in late 2019, assists banks, asset managers, funds, proprietary trading firms, broker-dealers and insurance firms with compliance and cross-border issues.
‘Chris Arnold continues to be excellent on derivatives, including ancillary areas such as financial sanctions and emerging market issues.’
‘The team work closely with one another, so they know how we, as their client, like to work. They are approachable and always available.’
‘The team is personable and friendly as well as being knowledgeable. They work hard to understand what support we want and how and when to provide it so that the work is really tailored to us.’
‘It is a leading firm in the market. They are knowledgable and fill you with confidence that you are on the right side of the law.’
‘Ed Parker is a brilliant lawyer, he makes difficult concepts easy to understand and he is leading in his field.’
‘Emma Khoo is bright and very hardworking.’
Banco Santander Mexico
Bank of New York Mellon
- Advised Banco Santander Mexico, the leading Mexico-based financial services provider and a subsidiary of Santander, the global-leading, Spain-based financial institution, on the synthetic securitisation of a portfolio of Mexican SME loans through a guarantee structure.
- Advised Bank of New York Mellon on a series of arrangements relating to a Quad Party Account Control Structure for its hedge fund clients, using an Irish Depositary.
'The firm is very pragmatic and technically capable with a high degree of commerciality and common sense', say clients of Norton Rose Fulbright. Heavily focused on transactional derivatives work, though also adept in the structured products space, the firm frequently handles new products and new markets, with work on new securities lending pledge documents just one example. It is also involved in highly innovative areas such as fintech, having advised banks on a new securities lending platform based on distributed lending technology (DLT). Peter Young leads the banking and capital markets group though the lead structured finance partners are Daniel Franks and Nigel Dickinson. Franks advises investment banks on derivatives, repos, stocklending, collateral, set-off, netting, structured products and regulatory capital and funding transactions. Dickinson is an OTC derivatives and structured products specialist known for swap bifurcations, TRS and repo financings, and repackaging transactions. Also recommended are Jonathan Herbst and Hannah Meakin for derivatives, as well as Sandrine Sauvel, David Shearer, Farmida Bi, Nicholas (Nick) Grandage and Peter Noble for structured finance.
Other key lawyers:
‘The firm is very pragmatic and technically capable with a high degree of commerciality and common sense. It is very easy to deal with.’
‘Daniel Franks is technically very good, with the ability to explain very technical points in language that non-lawyers can understand. He is very good with the business.’
‘The firm has a great structured finance and derivatives practice that provides top-quality advice without the Magic Circle premium.’
‘Nigel Dickinson is a true all-rounder in the derivatives and structured finance space.’
‘Daniel Franks is a top practitioner with the ability to see issues that others would not.’
‘The firm has excellent technical expertise.’
‘Daniel Franks is keen to get into the detail in the documents and has excellent technical expertise.’
‘It provides Magic Circle quality product but is less expensive. It is of similar calibre to Linklaters and Allen & Overy, which are the other firms I chiefly instruct for complex derivatives and structured finance work. Nigel Dickinson is the best asset repack lawyer in the market, and has assembled an excellent team – I trust him with my most critical matters.’
‘Nigel Dickinson is fantastic – highly responsive, technically excellent, and we really enjoy working with him. He is very popular with my business as he grasps structural and economic complexities very quickly and proposes innovative commercial solutions, and he is always available. Sean Bruns is a talented and hardworking senior associate with great client skills.’
‘The team is comprised of personable, capable individuals who understand the needs of their clients and apply commercial sense to their exceptional legal analysis.’
‘Nigel Dickinson is an incredibly knowledgeable but pragmatic partner. I appreciate his ability to see straight to the heart of the issues that affect us without getting weighed down in intellectual grandstanding. Every single matter I have worked on with him has received his personal attention, backed by his team of exceptional associates.’
‘Daniel Franks and his team are able to find a good balance and weighting of partner/associate time spent on matters which has meant that we get the benefit of associate hourly rates without diluting partner-level expertise and experience.’
‘Their expertise in the securities financing space is second to none and they continuously demonstrate their ability to find creative and commercial solutions to legally complex issues which might otherwise have impeded progress in negotiations.’
‘Daniel Franks has a rare appreciation and understanding of how his advice will be used by internal in-house functions and is thus able to refine and contextualise his work accordingly, whether this be in a negotiation or opinion setting.’
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Bank of Ireland
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain
- Advising Lendingblock, a cryptocurrency / technology start-up in relation to the establishment of a cryptocurrency exchange platform. The firm advised from the structuring phase through to documentation, and provided strategic, legal and commercial advice throughout.
- Advised HSBC, which teamed up with Allianz Global Investors to wrap trade finance assets into notes, in the first trade finance repackaging initiative of its kind.
- Advised JPMorgan on the provision of perfect asset swaps (bespoke derivatives transactions) to BlackRock European CLO IX Designated Activity Company (the issuer of a collateralised loan obligation).
Reed Smith LLP
The 'very user-friendly and pragmatic' practice at Reed Smith LLP is 'very hands-on, extremely commercial and focused on delivering to deadlines'. Its clients are not only large financial organisations, but also niche debt funds that often originated as private equity fund clients of the firm. Its work consists of a large flow of derivatives work for asset managers and private equity sponsors, as well as netting projects for banks addressing regulatory capital issues. In derivatives, it handles both transactional and regulatory matters relating to both OTC and exchange-traded instruments. It also handles structured finance mandates such as CDOs, structured note programmes, syndicated loans and mortgage-backed securities. EMEA managing partner Tamara Box oversees the practice which has many highly experienced practitioners. Among them are Claude Brown who has been in the structured finance market for more than 30 years; chair of the energy and natural resources group Prajakt Samant, regulatory specialist Chris Borg and Brett Hillis, who all handle commodity derivatives; and the 'smart, approachable and solutions-oriented' Nick Stainthorpe. Up-and-coming partner Sarah Caldwell is also recommended.
‘The team is very user-friendly and pragmatic.’
‘Nick Stainthorpe is very smart, approachable and solutions-oriented. He is great to work with.’
‘Nick Stainthorpe has a lot of experience across a range of products and asset classes. The team is very hands-on, extremely commercial and focused on delivering to deadlines. It is highly pragmatic and very willing to invest time in clients and relationship development.’
‘The team is very responsive, helpful and diligent, especially when working to tight timelines.’
‘James Atkin is the premier expert in the drafting and execution of commercial LNG infrastructure and supply transactions. I first met James when he was on the opposite side of the table and was impressed by his knowledge and skill. Having the opportunity to work with James again was great for the company and myself.’
‘James Atkin provides advice based on detailed reasonable and persuasive research.’
‘James Atkin has long experience in the Asian LNG industry and has always been reliable and responsive to our requests.’
The capital markets practice at White & Case LLP, in which the derivatives and structured products group sits, is 'knowledgeable, pragmatic and commercial', with one client remarking that it has 'excellent technical knowledge and expertise and is supremely capable at handling complex matters'. The practice, which climbs the ranking, handles derivatives for both investment and hedging purposes, interest rate, credit, equity, currency and commodity derivatives, regulatory capital transactions, repurchase agreements, securities lending, synthetic investments and Islamic derivatives. It frequently acts for sovereign, corporate and financial institution clients in developed and emerging markets, both in transactional and regulatory matters. Alongside innovative synthetic regulatory capital trades, it also advises investors, arrangers and issuers on repackaged and structured note issuance and structured note programmes. Practice head Ingrid York is, according to one client, 'absolutely the best derivatives lawyer I have come across in my time'. She is qualified in English, US and Australian law, and she handles the full range of OTC derivatives and structured finance. Debashis Dey, who works in both London and Dubai, has a busy practice in non-performing loans and Islamic financial products. The 'proactive, knowledgeable and efficient' Nathaniel Crowley is among the firm's many strong associates.
‘The team is very knowledgeable, pragmatic and commercial.’
‘Ingrid York as the lead partner is absolutely the best derivatives lawyer I have come across in my time. She not only is a pleasure to work with but has a very good grip or the legal and commercial concerns in the market and applies this to the matter at hand.’
‘Nathaniel Crowley is not like any associate at a Magic Circle law firm that I have come across. He is proactive, knowledgeable and efficient.’
‘The team has a good understanding of our structured note issuance platforms and the ability to deal with transactions quickly and cost-effectively.’
‘Ingrid York has a commercial approach and friendly demeanour.’
‘A very experienced team, with significant focus and attention to detail. It is aware of client needs, particularly in an ever-evolving regulatory environment, and is able to provide best-in-class service.’
‘The firm is able to provide significant focus to its clients, even at the partner level, and believes in a more focused model of legal service.’
‘The lawyers, particularly Ingrid York, are very proactive and will not hesitate to call me up to tell me about legal and market issues that could interest me. So I receive very tailored service. The firm provides consistently high-quality, broad scope capital markets advice and transaction management.’
‘Ingrid York is a fantastic specialist in complex derivatives and synthetic securitisations. She is extremely proactive and results-oriented, very on-top of market practice and the newest innovations. She is very pragmatic.’
‘Laura Kitchen, associate, is a great regulatory lawyer. Very results-oriented.’
‘The firm has excellent technical knowledge and expertise and is supremely capable at handling complex matters. They are also very commercial and offer practical sensible advice.’
‘Ingrid York is exceptionally knowledgeable and has an impressive technical ability. She is also very “hands on” and engaged in complex matters and she gives very commercial practical advice and input. She has a good team including the very good Phillan Amin who has proved himself very good at managing difficult matters on challenging timeframes.’
‘It is a responsive and expert team with excellent market and product knowledge and attention to detail.’
‘Ingrid York provides impressive legal advice which is reliably accurate and clear. The White & Case team is diligent and understands the derivatives market well. Complex transactions are managed with a fantastic attention to detail.’
‘The firm stands out in terms of reactiveness and the ability to find pragmatic solutions.’
‘Ingrid York has great client relationship skills and is an excellent technician. She is able to go above and beyond for her clients.’
‘I found the team extremely knowledgeable in the area of derivatives – both from a technical and a commercial standpoint – organised and always providing optimal and pragmatic advice.’
‘I have worked with Ingrid York and associates Nathaniel Crowley and Phillan Amin. Ingrid was very responsive each time we needed her help and at they key points of the negotiations with our banking counterparties she provided some crucial guidance. She indicated to us potential risks we are taking and guided us in the right direction. Nathaniel and Phillan handled superbly the day-to-day work of negotiating with banks and providing us with explanations, negotiating strategy and market experience. We felt that the our position as the client was well represented and are happy with the negotiated documents. Communication was always regular and transparent.’
‘I think the team is unique. I feel like I’m working with the whole team at the same time and that everyone is able to help in the given circumstances. Also, the team is very professional and, at the same time, relaxed so it makes the job easier with the other side, which is the most important thing in the business.’
‘Nathaniel Crowley is very professional, always ahead of the competition, direct and fair.’
‘The White & Case team has good strength in depth and, in Ingrid York, has a very strong leader across all aspects of derivatives and structured products.’
‘Ingrid York always keeps abreast of current market and regulatory issues and is a good sounding board on all aspects of derivatives and structured products. She also provides good advice and insight in less obvious areas such as sustainable finance, leadership and innovation. Ingrid gives practical advice, based on a deep knowledge of the underlying law.’
‘They are proactive, extremely knowledgeable and helpful in assessing and mitigating legal risk even on a cross jurisdictional basis.’
‘Nathaniel Crowley and Ingrid York are brilliant lawyers who have deep expertise in the financial markets and structured products legal universe. There was nothing that I asked that they were not able to furnish me with comprehensive legal advice.’
‘They provide excellent technical knowledge of the CDS product and great connectivity within market and industry bodies to allow effective application.’
‘Ingrid York shows ready availability and strong commercial skills.’
Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank
European Investment Fund
National Bank of Greece
- Represented Societe Generale, as Buyer of protection, on the issuance by FCT Jupiter 2019, a French securitisation vehicle (Fonds Commun de Titrisation) of balance sheet notes linked to a landmark $3.4bn impact investment risk transfer related to Societe Generale’s diversified lending portfolio.
- Represented the hedging bank group for the third time on a EUR/USD currency exchange transaction relating to a corresponding Eurobond issuance (on this occasion of $830m) by the West African Development Bank (BOAD) – a key development institution of the West African Monetary Union.
- Advised Centerbridge Partners, L.P. and Elliott Advisors UK Limited on the acquisition of a €900m portfolio of secured non-performing small business lending and SME loans secured by Greek real estate from the National Bank of Greece (NBG).
Baker McKenzie acts for many of the world's largest buy-side entities, including sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, the family offices of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, occupational and sovereign pension schemes and insurance companies. The firm's work is not, however, limited to that; it also assists banks with managing the impact of new regulations, notably the transition from IBOR. The structured capital markets practice covers interest rate swaps, FX products, equity derivatives, credit derivatives, energy and commodity products, repos and securities lending. Practice head Simon Porter also runs a Depositary Receipts practice with a track record in innovative and high-value transactions. The other key partner is 'exceptionally knowledgeable and practical' global head of banking and finance Matthew Dening, who is known for cross-border structured finance transactions. DCM partner Michael Doran and receivables financing and securitisation partners Sarah Porter and Jeremy Levy are also involved in structured finance work for arrangers, originators, trustees and corporate service providers. Associate Iolie Calochristos is one to watch.
‘Matthew Dening is an exceptionally knowledgeable and practical lawyer providing first-rate advice.’
‘Matthew Dening is incredibly knowledgeable, very responsive, acutely aware of the needs of his clients and he provides advice in a practical format that is perfectly tailored to the needs of the client. His polite and unflappable demeanour is a boon in difficult negotiations.’
‘Associate Iolie Calochristos provides very good advice and is both responsive and a pleasure to work with.’
‘The team is knowledgeable, always available, flexible and commercially aware.’
‘Their specialised knowledge of the subject, their ability to remain up to date with changes in the law on an on-going basis and the constant high quality in services is what makes this practice unique. The team is always ready to provide assistance without delay and respond to any matters of great urgency.’
‘The continuous hard work they depict despite the amount of workload which may be sent their way, their ability to respond by providing clear and practical advice, and their friendly approach in our communication are the things that stand out. The work of Matthew Dening and his team of associates, especially that of Iolie Calochristos, has brought significant value to the work for which their assistance has been required. In many cases, they have been able to provide solutions to complex legal matters.’
‘They provide practical advice, they are responsive and they provide advice in a timely and clear manner.’
‘Matthew Dening is responsive and has in-depth knowledge of subject matter, providing practical market-focused advice. Associate Iolie Calochristos is very thorough.’
‘They are knowledgeable, client-focused and approachable people. They are pragmatic with their advice and deadline-focused.’
‘The firm has a very cohesive approach and different departments share knowledge and interact well together. This is helpful when projects require different areas of expertise. The knowledge of our business and the commercial approach of the lawyers is invaluable and not easily recreated.’
‘I have worked with Matthew Dening in various capacities for more than ten years. He is one of the most knowledgeable derivatives lawyers in the market today. He is highly responsive and provides swift, commercially-focused and clear advice. His knowledge and understanding of our business is an invaluable asset. He is well supported by his impressive associate Iolie Calochristos.’
Allied Irish Banks / AIB
Banco do Brasil
Bank of China (UK) Limited
Bank of Cyprus
Gulf International Bank
HSBC Bank plc
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
The Olayan Group
Standard Chartered Bank
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
- Advising Galapagos NV on all aspects of the complex FX swap arrangements to hedge currency market movements relating to a $5bn, 10-year global research and development collaboration with the counterparty, Gilead Sciences.
- Advising Suez Groupe S.A.S. and Itochu Corporation as the Sponsors of a project to build and operate a waste management infrastructure for the city of Belgrade, on the hedging arrangements to fix the interest rate exposure for the project with two commercial banks, UniCredit Bank AG and Raiffeisen Bank International AG.
- Advising Bank One Limited as arranger and swap provider on a $30m USD/local currency swap with the Reserve Bank (the “Reserve Bank”) of a southern African country, together with a participation agreement syndicating the transaction with I&M Bank PLC.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP has a highly regarded derivatives practice that advises some of the largest players in the market. The firm's global network is the preferred counsel for flow ISDA Master Agreements for Goldman Sachs, though its client base extends beyond major financial institutions to include active buy-side market participants. Its work covers not only a high volume of transactional matters, but also advice on regulatory reform, exemplified by its work for Commonwealth Bank of Australia on the implementation of the global Initial Margin rules. It is also active in prime brokerage and repo/stock-lending agreements for Deutsche Bank, and handles hedging for numerous banks and corporates. Practice head Tariq Rasheed focuses on derivatives, structured products and regulatory reform. Senior associate Iman Roy is a regulatory specialist who advises financial institutions on compliance with initial and variable margin requirements for their derivatives portfolios.
Other key lawyers:
‘We appreciate the team’s knowledge, availability and flexibility.’
‘Tariq Rasheed and Iman Roy are knowledgeable, courteous and readily available.’
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
OCBC (one of the largest banks in Singapore)
UOB (one of the largest banks in Singapore)
Bank of Communications (one of the largest Chinese banks)
United Bank of Israel
The Norinchukin Bank
Lloyds Bank plc
Various Aviva entities
Various BlackRock entities
- Assisting Goldman Sachs and its affiliates in negotiating a broad range of derivatives agreements (e.g. ISDA Master Agreements, Cleared Derivatives Execution Agreements, and initial and variation margin collateral documentation).
- Assisting the London, Singapore and Hong Kong branches of Deutsche Bank AG in negotiating the bank’s prime brokerage documentation.
- Advising the treasury departments of the London and New York branches of a major Japanese bank in respect of its repo and stock-lending transactions.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP is best known for its securitisation and CLO practices, with work for issuers, underwriters, and collateral managers in European CLOs putting it among the leaders in that portion of the structured finance market. It is also a key player in the insurance-linked securities market. David Quirolo (who is 'one of the top lawyers in the CLO space') represents banks, arrangers and asset managers in a variety of structured finance transactions including repackagings. He works closely with Daniel Tobias (who is 'very thoughtful and thinks through issues deeply') and Claire Puddicombe (who is ' very responsive, easy to reach and provides top-quality work'). Nick Shiren is a derivatives and structured credit specialist whose work includes CDS, credit-linked notes, TRS, currency and interest rate swaps. Robert Cannon's work includes CLOs and CDOs. Associate Alex Collins 'understands the commercial aspects of the transaction and can explain them succinctly'.
Other key lawyers:
‘David Quirolo is a well-regarded expert in the field and is generally on top of all the key issues and a real “go to” person for advice. He doesn’t just give you the legal headlines but thinks through the practical ramifications as well, as well as delivering a clear and balanced view.’
‘Daniel Tobias gives good practical advice and grasps the key issues well, as well as being very responsive.’
‘Cadwalader are top in the CLO field and to our understanding have seen the most number of EUR CLO transactions compared to any other law firm. Given their extensive experience, they are able to deal with a variety of situations and have a deep bench of lawyers to ensure continuity of service.’
‘David Quirolo is very knowledgeable, one of the top lawyers in the EUR CLO space and has seen many different transactions not just CLOs so can provide useful context. Has advised from a CLO manager perspective and arranger perspective and so can see multiple sides of an argument. He can be relied on to provide a coherent view and so therefore provides good clarity to make decisions. Given the uncertainty of transactions in the current market environment, he has been very commercial which is appreciated.’
‘Claire Puddicombe is knowledgeable and easy to work with. She understands the commercial aspects and can be relied on to manage the transaction well from a deal perspective. Claire is very responsive, easy to reach and provides top-quality work whilst working to deadlines.’
‘Associate Alex Collins is a great lawyer to work with. He understands the commercial aspects of the transaction and can explain succinctly to the business so that a view can be taken efficiently. Alex is approachable and easy to work with – quick to respond to emails and easy to reach via phone. He works well to tight deadlines. His responsive communication and regular updates ensure that miscommunications are rare and therefore deals proceed smoothly.’
‘Daniel Tobias is very thoughtful and thinks through issues deeply. We’ve often seen him when there are novel structures in place or when we are trying to work through a point in detail, and his thorough explanations are very helpful to understand the structure and potential risks.’
MUFG Securities EMEA plc
Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc
UnipolSai Assicurazioni S.p.A.
NatWest Markets Plc
GreensLedge Capital Markets Europe LLP
Willis Re Securities
- Advising MUFG Securities in Landmark ESG CLO.
- Advised Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets as arranger and underwriter on synthetic securitisation of a reference portfolio of UK mortgage loans.
- Acted for UnipolSai, Italy’s largest non-life insurer by market share, on its second catastrophe bond issuance, Atmos Re.
'A particular strength of this team is technical expertise and in-depth research that the team members conduct into each regulatory area impacting derivatives and trading', says a client of Dechert LLP. The firm has a prominent role on the buy-side, advising private equity funds, hedge funds, credit funds, retail funds, pension schemes and fund platforms, though it also acts for sell-side banks. Its work covers derivatives, CLOs, repo financings based on commercial loan transactions, regulatory advice, securities lending and much more. Key partners include derivatives specialist Abigail Bell, Sarah Smith and John McGrath, who handle complex structured finance matters. Karen Stretch is 'personable, very hardworking and diligent, as well as an excellent technical expert'. One client remarks that 'she is the rare attorney who is timely, detail-oriented and a pleasure to work with'.
‘We have a strong presence in financial industry in the Asia-Pacific region. We have maintained good cooperation with Dechert for years in our investments globally. Karen Stretch and her team provide derivatives and structured products advice on our multiple transactions and products in Greater China and Europe. Karen has great experience in derivatives matters and always think ahead. Her team consists of professionals with different backgrounds, the diversity of which allows the team to well understand our business intention and specific needs in various jurisdictions.’
‘No matter whether our requests are related to prime brokerage arrangement for Cayman hedge funds, ISDA framework design of UCITS or derivative transactions in discretionary management, the team could always deliver quality advice for us. And thanks to smooth collaboration among Dechert’s offices around the world, the team never fails to bring us with timely and cost-efficient solutions in cross-border transactions.’
‘Dechert LLP’s derivatives and structured products team has been our trusted advisors in their specialist area of law for a number of years. We use Dechert LLP mostly for regulatory work in the UK, including European regulation, and the US. I feel that Dechert’s derivatives team is well resourced with knowledgeable experts in the UK and the US and has good links with local experts in other European jurisdictions when we need local regulatory advice.’
‘A particular strength of this team is technical expertise and in-depth research that the team members conduct into each regulatory area impacting derivatives and trading. There is a good balance within the team between experienced technical lawyers and more junior staff as well as PSL lawyers support. Consequently, Dechert’s derivatives team are able to deliver timely, commercially focused and tailored advice at a competitive rate.’
‘My main point of contact within the team on the European side is Karen Stretch. She is personable, very hard-working and diligent, as well as an excellent technical expert. She is well respected by, and works well together with, all members of our legal team who focus on derivatives and regulatory work. We can trust Karen to advise on any regulatory point relating to derivatives, including the most recent developments, and she always delivers a comprehensive and business-friendly summary of her advice together with links to useful resources and further reading. Despite her busy schedule, Karen is able to find time to respond to and discuss urgent queries promptly.’
‘Overall, I found Dechert’s derivatives and structured products team to be efficient, knowledgeable and aware of the latest market trends. Over time our main contacts have developed a good understanding of our business. Communications have been good and efficient. Dechert have been pro-active in raising new legal and regulatory points, which are relevant to our business, ahead of our regular catch up calls, giving us the opportunity to review the information and ask questions, which has been very helpful.’
‘I work with Karen Stretch in ISDA reviews for private equity real estate funds that enter into over-the-counter currency derivatives for risk management. I have been a risk management advisor for over eight years and I work with many of the world’s largest PERE funds. In my role, I have worked with derivatives counsels from many legal firms. I would be a “net promoter” for Karen. In other words, if a client were to ask for recommendations of external derivatives counsel, Karen would be on my shortlist.’
‘Karen Stretch is prompt, responsive, and clear in her communications. Karen is an expert in the ISDA Schedule and Credit Support Annex. She knows the industry norms for PERE funds. She explains the terms and nuances accurately and clearly. Karen reviews the drafts reasonably quickly and faster than other external derivatives counsels I have worked with. I have worked with external derivatives counsels who act as if every term is critical, who don’t seem to have any sense of probability or materiality of a bad event occurring, who continue to push despite diminishing marginal returns, who mark up the documents with unnecessary stylistic changes. Karen is not one of them. Karen is keenly aware of the critical terms and flags them to the client’s attention but she does not unduly drag out the ISDA review.’
‘In particular, Karen Stretch provided excellent and top-tier derivatives advice and services to our firm. Moreover, her deep knowledge and the firm’s bench strength have proven to be invaluable. They have access to all the resources of any top firm but it’s their personal touch and caring that has made them stand out. The Dechert team is our go-to for derivatives advice when dealing with EU counterparties and EU issues.’
‘I have dealt with Karen Stretch exclusively. She is an exceptional lawyer because she is forthright and covers all the angles I need to consider when negotiating with bank counterparties. Not only is her work product solid and her advise exceptional, she is the rare attorney who is timely, detail-oriented and a pleasure to work with. She is the exemplar of what Dechert should look for in a partner.’
‘Dechert is a comprehensive firm. Its strength in the derivatives and regulatory area is very strong and comprehensive. I see no weaknesses in its product or performance.’
‘Dechert is excellent at communication of the issues and is very proactive in its advice and counsel.’
‘Karen Stretch is by far and away the most efficient lawyer I have dealt with. She understands the business constraints we are under and executes within that framework. With other lawyers I have dealt with at other firms there can be a sense that their time is more valuable than the client they are serving. Not so with Dechert and Karen is exhibit A of exceptional client service.’
‘Karen Stretch is one of the legal counsel in Dechert, assisting our derivatives and structured products practice. I am quite impressed with Karen. Karen is responsive, professional, and knowledgeable in derivatives and structured products. We deem Karen to be a valuable partner.’
Sound Point Capital Management, LP
Redding Ridge Asset Management (UK) LLP
- Advised Anchorage Capital on Anchorage Capital Europe CLO 3 DAC, a EUR 411,280,000 CLO which is Anchorage’s first European CLO transaction, and fully compliant with the new EU risk retention regime under the EU Securitisation Regulation.
- Advised Sound Point Capital Management, LP on Sound Point EURO CLO II DAC, a EUR 406,750,000 CLO.
- Advised Redding Ridge Asset Management (UK) LLP on RRE 1 Loan Management DAC, which is Redding Ridge’s first European CLO transaction, and was one of the first European CLO transactions to be compliant with the EU risk retention regime under the EU Securitisation Regulation.
Dentons 'punches above its weight and is solid across the derivatives and structured products area, with demonstrated expertise in the developing and emerging markets'. Its work spans OTC derivatives, structured products, financings and CLOs. Within this, it has carved out a leading position in the field of Islamic derivatives. In fact, its understanding of emerging markets has led it to be involved in the reform of derivatives law in jurisdictions such as Egypt, Kazakhstan and Oman. Head of derivatives Matthew Sapte and head of the European CLO practice Martin Sharkey are the lead partners. Sapte's broad capital markets practice covers structured bonds, asset backed securitisations, receivables financings and derivative transactions in many asset classes. Sharkey handles CLOs, repackagings, fund finance, secured asset-backed lending and other types of structured finance. Yusuf Battiwala handles both conventional and Islamic derivatives on behalf of financial institutions, corporates and funds. Derivatives specialist Luke Whitmore, who joined from Fieldfisher in 2019, has experience in acting for broker-dealers and end users in the prime brokerage and futures markets.
‘Matthew Sapte and Yusuf Battiwala, who also handles Islamic derivatives, are great contacts to work and have very good expertise. Plus, the firm has a derivatives network across various countries with knowledgeable people, notably in Moscow, Muscat, Cairo and elsewhere.’
‘The Dentons team punches above its weight. The practice is solid across the derivatives and structured products area, with demonstrated expertise in the developing and emerging markets, which not all firms possess. The team’s knowledge of the repo and securities lending space is also commendable. Their advice in that realm is good and reflects an actual knowledge of market trends and practice that is hard to find. The prime brokerage and clearing market experience is also an asset. It is a specialised area that most firms don’t cover well; the team is expert advising on the documentation issues.’
‘Luke Whitmore is very able technically and provides sound, pragmatic advice. He advises not only on transactional work but also turns his hand to delivering critical regulatory advice and projects, which is an important skill set for derivatives lawyers in this time of regulatory change. When we work with Luke, we feel we get value for money and he always delivers on a timely basis. He has added significantly to the Dentons offering.’
‘Matthew Sapte is a solid adviser. His knowledge of derivatives and banking matters is well regarded. He provides clear and concise advice on complex issues. His expertise, particularly for work connected with the Middle East and CEE is important to us.’
‘Worth mentioning is consultant Laura Bates who works with Luke Whitmore. We appreciate her technical skills and “no nonsense” approach. She understands the requirements of large financial services firms.’
Barings (UK) Limited
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
- Advising EBRD and local regulators on law reform for the derivatives and repo markets in each of Egypt and Kazakhstan. The firm’s role involves working with EBRD and local stakeholders to identify areas of existing legislation needing reform and drafting and implementing new legislation required to facilitate an active derivatives and repo market.
- Advised Be-Spoke Capital as origination agent and servicer on the Alhambra Funding 2019-1 transaction (and the warehouse which preceded it) which is a first-of-its-kind Spanish SME securitisation being the first such transaction to go to market and consisting of a portfolio of 52 non-investment grade senior unsecured Spanish SME Loans.
- Advising Barings (UK) Limited (asset manager) on the new issuance of the €400 million Barings 2019-2 Euro CLO. This was the second CLO which Barings issued in 2019 and came to market at a very challenging time due to economic conditions and was one of only a couple of deals to price at the end of 2019.
The capital markets and structured investment practice at DLA Piper handles both high-volume flow derivatives work and complex structured products. It acts for multinational banks and financial investors in growth securitisation markets and in structured finance and derivatives products internationally. Leveraging its international platform, the London office handles a large amount of hedging work for the firm's global client base. It is also at the forefront of innovation in the structured finance market, acting for fintech clients and helping new market entrants to develop asset tokenisation technology. Martin Bartlam is global co-chair of finance and projects, and with global co-chair of financial services Mark Dwyer, oversees the firm's work in derivatives and structured products. Bartlam has more than 30 years' experience in structured finance and is involved in innovative areas; notably, the digitalisation of traditional securities and commodities. Dwyer has particular expertise in equity derivatives. Also recommended are Ronan Mellon, who focuses on CLOs, and financial services co-chair Vincent Keaveny.
‘Very commercially savvy, responsive and helpful. Quick to cut straight to the key issues. Very responsive and business oriented.’
‘Steven Krivinskas has excellent commercial awareness – technically excellent, thorough and professional. In addition, Steven is also a very nice person to work with and stays calm throughout negotiations.’
‘The London finance and markets team have deep expertise in structured finance transactions and have a particular capability in derivatives transactions.’
Ares European Loan Management LLP
Accunia Fondsmæglerselskab A/S
- Advised the digital lending platform Lendable on the launch of its first Luxembourg fund and the establishment of a warehouse financing structure with Credit Suisse providing up to £225m of senior funding and the Luxembourg fund providing up to £125m of junior funding. The fund raised capital from ten investors across seven geographies for a three-year investment period and will primarily invest in Lendable originated consumer loans.
- Advised Aareal Bank on the hedging aspects of multiple real estate transactions using swap and cap transactions including:o a €150m financing of a pan-European portfolio of hotels; a €120m French law hotel financing of series of Parisian hotels; a SEK900m financing of a Swedish office portfolio; and a DKK300m financing of a Danish hotel portfolio.
- Assisting ISDA with a new entity legal opinion in relation to a supranational financial institution.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP acts for both buy-side and sell-side clients in a wide variety of derivatives transactions. This work includes handling interest rates and FX, equity, commodity and credit derivatives on behalf of financial institutions, funds and corporates. It is also involved in regulatory capital matters involving derivatives technology, as well as advising on the effect of regulatory reforms such as EMIR on clearing and margining. In 2019, its structured finance transactions included equity derivatives in TRS, prepaid forward and option structures; repos including in connection with ABS and other illiquid securities; margin loans; and complex securities lending transactions. Practice head Nick May handles both transactional and regulatory matters for both sell-side banks and buy-side clients. He is also co-head of the firm's IBOR transition project. Senior associate Nick Rutter advises financial institutions, corporates, funds and energy companies on a variety of OTC and exchange-traded derivative products. Dina Albagli has retired from the partnership.
Other key lawyers:
‘The firm is pragmatic and great to work with. They are the perfect firm for complex, high-value details and have good cross-border coverage. They are quick to respond, well organised and with good partner supervision. They have a strong property team who provide good back up on the property finance transactions.’
‘Nick May shows a commercial and considered approach, leveraging his other colleagues well. He shows excellent insight across a range of questions.’
‘The real estate finance team is responsive and authoritative, and is there for us when we need them.’
Associated British Foods
Pension Protection Fund
- Continuing to advise Deutsche Bank on a series of margin lending and repo transactions with emerging market clients. The transactions use bespoke document structures to replicate repo commercial terms in non-traditional document structures.
- Advised on a highly complex $1bln margin lending transaction.
- Advised Scotia on a complex and highly structured securities lending transaction entered into in connection with the £57m Exchangeable Bonds issued by the Stobart Group.
Milbank has a full-service derivatives practice that operates alongside a highly regarded CLO practice. CLOs accounts for almost half of the London-based structured finance practice's work. The practice continues to attract CLO managers as new clients, among them Invesco European RR and Capital Four. Another key focus in London is bespoke funding and regulatory capital transactions, which frequently involves synthetic securitisations using derivatives technology. In 2019, the firm was also involved in innovative deals not only in the CLO space, but also in its derivatives work. This included first-of-kind shari'ah-compliant hedging arrangements for the acquisition of an aircraft portfolio. Practice head James Warbey is a well-established practitioner in the European CLO market, in which John Goldfinch is also a key player. Senior associate Jennifer Ellis is recommended for derivatives and structured credit matters.
Invesco European RR L.P.
Capital Four CLO Management K/S
Cairn Loan Investments II LLP
BlueMountain Fuji Management, LLC
KKR Credit Advisors (Ireland) Unlimited Company
Bain Capital Credit U.S. CLO Manager, LLC
Rockford Tower Capital Management, L.L.C.
Commerzbank AG, London Branch
AXA Investment Managers, Inc.
Investcorp Credit Management EU Limited
Bardin Hill Loan Advisors (UK) LLP
Brigade Capital Europe Management LLP
Piraeus Bank S.A.
Dara Aviation Finance Limited
Shearman & Sterling LLP is a key adviser to market infrastructure entities such as exchanges and clearinghouses and is a leading player in the commodity derivatives market. The firm assists the biggest exchange clearing group for commodities with new products and collateral issues. The London derivatives practice also benefits from offering both English and New York law advice from London. The lead partner is Patrick Clancy, who advises on the full range of English law derivatives transactions. James Duncan frequently advises on the structured finance aspects of M&A, asset finance and leveraged finance transactions. Thomas Donegan advises financial institutions, including banks, exchanges, clearinghouses, fund managers, brokers and settlement systems. Senior associate Sara Couling is also recommended.
‘James Duncan is knowledgeable in this field of expertise.’
‘It is a good legal firm for our complex financial transactions.’
‘The team fully understands its clients’ complex security arrangements and all their nuances, and it supports the client with its relationship banks, acting as though they are the internal counsel of the company working in the company’s best interest.’
‘James Duncan, backed up by Sara Couling, are the legal team you want in your corner for negotiating derivative agreements. They cut through to the commercially important issues which need to be addressed and explain the issues in a way that makes it difficult for the opposing side to resist.’
Slaughter and May
Slaughter and May has a finance group that is 'keenly intelligent and aware of legal as well as commercial and other practical considerations', with one client noting that 'service levels are above and beyond what would normally be expected and the lawyers are very personable and easy to talk to'. The derivatives practice advises on the full range of OTC and exchange-traded derivatives, from plain vanilla interest rate and currency derivatives, through to commodity, equity and credit-linked products and derivatives linked to real estate, insurance and pensions. The firm's multi-specialist approach sees a large number of lawyers assisting banks, investment funds, insurers, pension funds, sovereign entities and corporates with structured finance matters. Oliver Wicker and Guy O’Keefe are the most prominent partners. Caroline Phillips acts for corporates and financial institutions in derivatives and hedging matters in sectors such as insurance, commodities and energy. Richard Jones and Ed Fife are also recommended.
‘The team is keenly intelligent and aware of legal as well as commercial and other practical considerations. Service levels are above and beyond what would normally be expected and the lawyers are very personable and easy to talk to. Caroline Phillips and associates Chris Armstrong and Xian Wei Yeo display and all of these qualities.’
‘This team is extremely experienced, very knowledgeable, and I genuinely believe they could tackle the most complex of structured deals. They are very thorough and don’t miss hard-to-see points, whilst remaining commercial and down to earth.’
‘Oliver Wicker is one of the best partners we work with. He is available at all times of the day and night and does a lot of our work himself. He rarely misses a tricky point and is capable of grasping entirely new concepts and structures at the drop of a hat.’
Arrow Global Group plc
Central Bank of Egypt
DS Smith plc
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA
NewDay Cards Ltd
- Advised NewDay Cards Ltd and its affiliates in relation to the entry by NewDay Funding 2019-2 Plc into a balance guaranteed cross-currency basis swap.
- Restructured and renegotiated business-critical cash management and settlement arrangements.
- Negotiated the terms of the trade when the Central Bank of Egypt entered into a repurchase transaction with a consortium of international banks.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP has 'one of the market leading CLO manager practices in the UK'. One client remarks that 'it is a market-leading firm in the CLO space, very responsive and with great knowledge.' Consistently acting for many of the most active CLO managers in the European market, among them Blackstone / GSO, Carlyle and Blackrock, the firm has carved out a dominant position in that market. It is also active in other aspects of the structured finance space, handling derivatives in M&A, currency and interest rate hedging for structured finance vehicles, repo funding structures and credit default swaps. The firm also has specialist private equity derivatives expertise, which is called upon for hedging arrangements related to acquisition and infrastructure finance. Jacky Kelly leads the practice, in which Alexander Martin plays a prominent role.
‘The firm has one of the market leading CLO manager practices in the UK.’
‘It is a market-leading firm in the CLO space, very responsive and with great knowledge.’
‘Jacky Kelly as lead partner is outstanding and very responsive, hand-holding first-time managers very well. Both associates were also very good and responsive.’
Blackstone / GSO
- Continued to act as Blackstone / GSO’s sole counsel for CLOs. Blackstone / GSO is one of the most frequent issuers in the European market. The firm handled a number of new CLOs in 2019-2020 – Dunedin Park and Seapoint Park as well as on the reset of Holland Park and the refinancings of Clarinda Park and Palmerston Park.
- New client Blue Bay selected the firm to set-up its CLO platform. This included handling the interim warehouse financing for its first CLO last year and the firm is currently advising on its first bond issuance as well as its second warehouse financing.
- Acting as the CLO counsel of choice for Apollo (a top ten global CLO manager), acting across both its Apollo and Redding Ridge platforms. Through 2019, the firm handled an increasing number of matters, including the reset of the ALME II CLO and the CLO issuances by RRE2 Loan Management and RRE3 Loan Management.
Burges Salmon LLP 'provides comprehensive insight and a commercial view' on complex and bespoke derivatives and structured finance transactions for high-profile buy-side clients, including many FTSE 100 corporates and global brands. The firm is also known as a prominent adviser to investment funds, particularly private equity and open-ended funds, which turn to the derivatives practice for assistance with risk management. The scope of its work includes structured equity derivatives for retail funds, the negotiation of ISDA Master Agreements, negotiating clearing agreements and regulatory advice. Practice head Graham Soar and senior associate Alistair Rattray, who work in both the London and Bristol offices, have considerable experience in the negotiation of ISDA Master Agreements and a variety of commodities derivatives transactions.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team always provides comprehensive insight into the areas they are asked to review, and communicate it very clearly. They are also ready to provide a more commercial view by providing guidance on the key areas of risk. All team members have also been very responsive, being ready to respond to tight deadlines.’
‘Graham Soar at the partner level has also been extremely supportive, on one occasion reviewing a contract with just a few hours notice despite having a full day of meetings.’
National Express Group plc
Julian Hodge Bank
Premier Fund Managers
Villa Plus Limited
- Advising FirstGroup on a large number of transactions which include a range of derivatives matters, including negotiation of ISDA master agreements and related credit support arrangements and advising on commodities derivatives transactions and arrangements.
- Advising National Express on a number of ISDAs and ISDA Master Agreements.
- Advising Villa Plus on an ISDA currency option.
Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP focuses on assisting buy-side clients with derivatives transactions and regulation. The firm assists investment funds and their managers, as well as pension schemes, with derivatives entered into to generate investment performance and hedge risk. It also has experience advising retail banks on balance sheet management and treasury products offered to their customers. The London team, working as part of a global practice, is also seeing more work for sell-side clients such as Deutsche Bank. Michaela Walker is head of financial services and Jonathan Master is head of the derivatives group. Master assists asset managers, banks and corporates with derivatives transactions and regulatory compliance. Richard Batchelor, Jamie Dunlop and senior associate Paul Denham also play key roles in the practice.
Barclays Investment Solutions
Belmont Green Finance
Charter Court Financial Services
Prudential International Treasury
Tate & Lyle
River and Mercantile
easyJet Airline Company
- Acted in relation to the transfer of investment management services provided to Barclays retail funds from Barclays Bank PLC to BISL. The migration from BB PLC to BISL included the transfer of various trading agreements between the entities.
- Acted for BGFL, a newly established challenger bank in the UK market, in relation to a repurchase transaction with JP Morgan Bank N.A. (“JPM”). The repurchase transaction involved the sale of BFGL own-issue retail mortgage back securities (“RMBS”) by BGFL to JPM.
- Advised CCFS in relation to various aspects of its combination with OneSavings Bank (“ONS”). In particular, the firm advised CCFS in relation to the ongoing efficacy of its derivatives trading arrangements following the combination.
Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP specialises in the structuring, documentation, collateralisation and regulatory issues relating to derivatives and structured products across a variety of asset classes, including equity, credit, fixed income, fund, commodities, energy, inflation and weather, as well as handling repos and securities lending transactions. The practice is split between Paris and London, with both offices collaborating on day-to-day transactions and complex matters such as strategic equity derivatives, structured credit derivatives and structured repos. The firm frequently acts as counsel to French and international investment banks, investment funds and corporates on the structuring and implementation of equity derivatives financing transactions, the monetisation of financial flows, and warehousing transactions. Dimitrios Logizidis is head of the London banking and finance practice, while Karine Imbrosciano leads the derivatives and structured products group.
Angelo, Gordon & Co.
Sumitomo Electric Finance UK Limited
Tikehau Investment Management
Crédit Industriel et Commercial SA
- Advised Angelo Gordon, a leading US privately-held alternative investment firm, in the context of its acquisition, with EQ Group, of Gecina’s portfolio of five hotels. The derivatives practice was strongly involved in drafting and negotiating the hedging arrangements relating to this real-estate financing transaction.
- Advised Crédit Industriel et Commercial SA (and its London Branch) in its capacity as junior collateral manager and investors in the recapitalisation of a special purpose vehicle, Euro-Galaxy III-R CLO B.V. (the “Issuer”) whose portfolio of investments consists primarily of senior loans of European obligors and that is managed by PineBridge Investments Europe Limited as collateral manager on behalf of the Issuer.
The derivatives practice at Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP represents a wide range of clients including dealers, end users, proprietary traders, brokers, advisors, exchanges and clearing organisations on a diverse array of financial instruments, among them futures, structured products, and cleared and OTC swaps. This work covers many different asset classes - interest rates, credit, commodities, securities and foreign exchange - on which the firm provides both transactional and regulatory advice. In London, it benefits from having both English and US law expertise, enabling it to advise clients doing business on both sides of the Atlantic. Carolyn Jackson, Nathaniel Lalone and Neil Robson lead the financial markets and funds practice in London. David Brennand, who handles the structuring and operation of investment funds and other collective investment structures, is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Arcadia Petroleum Ltd
Nasdaq Stockholm AB
- Represented Nasdaq in having it join in the LIFE A&M and Class Relief, SEC No-Action Letter (July 1, 2013) to permit certain familiarisation activities (i.e., marketing) to sophisticated US investors of Nasdaq’s options products.
- Providing ongoing legal and regulatory advice and compliance support to the Arcadia Trading group with detailed commodities derivatives advice – US and UK/ EU, including position limits and position reporting under MiFID II, together with a complex international corporate restructuring to take advantage of various exemptions under MiFID II for entities in the group trading physical commodities and entering into significant futures contracts.
Macfarlanes LLP has one of the market's most prominent buy-side practices, advising on prime brokerage, derivatives, repos, clearing and debt trading for large and sophisticated funds. It also handles highly structured transactions involving involving fund-based structures. The firm's client base includes US, UK, European and Hong Kong-based fund managers, providing a detailed knowledge of trading issues and local regulations in Europe, USA, China, India and other markets. Beyond its work for funds, the firm also assists financial institutions, corporates, servicers, fund managers, investors and trustees with structured finance transactions. William Sykes leads the derivatives and trading group and Richard Fletcher is head of finance. Christopher Acton is also recommended for buy-side work.
Other key lawyers:
‘I like working with Richard Fletcher. He is responsive, hardworking and gives sensible measured advice. He has a good team under him and I think he has built up a bank of loyal clients who go to him for “no nonsense” advice and just getting the deal done without much fuss.’
‘The team has a broad and deep experience in negotiating derivatives contracts with the majority of major banks, allowing it focus on the essential points and to provide clients with commercial as well as legal advice including what terms a particular counterparty is likely to accept. What is unique about the team is its knowledge of the fund industry and all the regulatory constraints specific to funds, such that it can autonomously negotiate contracts on behalf of fund clients without much recourse to a separate fund formation team.’
‘Christopher Acton has a remarkable ability to identify and focus on the issues most relevant for a particular client, to explain even complex issues to less experienced clients and to provide the clients with a big picture overview of the likely outcome of negotiations.’
‘The firm is experienced, responsive and professional. Chris Acton has a good depth of knowledge, is practical and responsive.’
‘It’s a fantastic team – smart and commercial, very responsive and consistently of high quality. They have great depth of expertise both sell-side and buy-side. They always respond promptly and their pricing is sensible.’
‘Will Sykes is excellent to deal with. Will is smart and analytical and also sensible and pragmatic. He brings a deep understanding of the market, both from the sell-side and the buy-side. He really know us and our counterparties and what is important to both sides. He helps us target our energies and progress negotiations quickly and efficiently.’
‘We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for their thorough work product. The team is very knowledgeable, client-focused and good value for money. They go above and beyond to deliver for their clients. They are trustworthy, approachable, commercial and pragmatic. It is important for an in-house legal team to be able to rely on external counsel, as their work product does reflect on in-house counsel – Macfarlanes have never let us down.’
Cboe Worldwide Holdings Limited
Muzinich & Co
- Advising Marshall Wace in relation to the derivatives, clearing and prime brokerage documents for new fund launches.
- Advised Cboe Worldwide Holdings Limited on the acquisition of EuroCCP from its current shareholders and on the €1.5bn liquidity facility that is required by EuroCCP as part of its regulatory requirements.
- Advised Muzinich & Co, the corporate credit management specialist, on a leverage facility for its first European Long-Term Investment Fund (ELTIF), Muzinich Firstlight Middle Market ELTIF.
Morrison & Foerster LLP has 'superb knowledge and experience in negotiating highly complex and bespoke derivative instruments'. The London office works as part of an integrated global derivatives practice, which acts for numerous financial institutions in transactional and regulatory matters. Practice head Vladimir Maly specialises in derivatives and is also focused on the nascent area of derivatives focusing on blockchain, tokenisation of various financial products and ICOs. Jeremy Jennings-Mares handles structured securities such as equity-linked, credit-linked and fund-linked securities, OTC derivatives and receivables financings as part of a broad capital markets practice. Polly Ehrman, who joined from Latham & Watkins in early 2020, specialises in bespoke transaction structures, principally involving equity derivatives, in the context of M&A, emerging markets, margin lending and regulatory matters. Senior counsel Peter Green also plays a key role in structured credit, structured products and derivatives.
‘The firm has superb knowledge and experience in negotiating highly complex and bespoke derivative instruments and the corresponding confirmation documents.’
‘Not only did they have the requisite knowledge and experience to deal with our highly complex and bespoke derivative transaction, but they also demonstrated calmness in chaos, patience amid a series of iterations, and the flexibility to help us achieve our objectives. All of these qualities helped us cross the goal-line at the end.’
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- Advised number of investment banks on derivatives matters relating to financial regulatory reform, including MiFID 2/MiFIR and Basel III.
- Advised various central banks and multilateral agencies in Latin America, as well as various banks, investment firms and corporates on EMIR and MiFID matters.
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (UK) LLP has a standout commodity derivatives and energy trading practice, in which many of the firm's finance, energy and infrastructure partners play key roles. Its work focuses predominantly on energy derivatives for major trading houses, though the focus of the practice has expanded to include metals as a key element. The team works as part of the wider energy and infrastructure group, which is a key pillar for the firm along with technology and finance. Lead partner Edward Humphries is an expert in trading, structured trading, financing, regulation and M&A in relation to energy and other commodities. Clients note that he 'has a very good insight into the industry which renders his pragmatism very valuable'. Hannah Roscoe joined from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and handles a range of commodities work including derivatives. Managing associate Matthew Stott is also recommended.
‘The team is pragmatic, commercially savvy and shows a strong desire to support and enable the business activity. I always feel they are on your side and eager to see the bigger picture.’
‘Edward Humphries has a very good insight into the industry which renders his pragmatism very valuable.’
‘They have bent over backwards to make themselves available, to participate in wider group discussions and to provide clarity on complex matters that is appropriate for wider stakeholders who may be less up the curve on technicalities. This is especially helpful in an area such as environmental finance and carbon trading, where the regulatory framework is evolving.’
‘Ed Humphries is an exceptional partner and trusted advisor to our business. Ed’s effectiveness on complex transactional and regulatory matters is unique in the market, and he has become an indispensable part of our deal team on key transactions. Ed’s approach is outcome-focused and commercial. He is at home with complexity and is eminently trustworthy under pressure and in difficult negotiations, where his emotional intelligence and professionalism shines. Ed has an extremely bright future and we are fortunate to have him as our trusted advisor.’
‘They are very experienced and highly qualified specialists in their field.’
‘Edward Humphries presents a very elegant and highly effective negotiation method. He is very reliable and careful analyst of the legal texts.’
‘An incredibly reactive team with a deep understanding of the trading and energy business, allowing to render advice that is to the point, creative and sharp.’
‘Edward Humphries is by far the reference lawyer for derivatives and structured products in Europe. He has a profound knowledge of the derivatives market, is a true business partner to make complex structured transactions possible and stands out when it comes to closeouts.’
‘Mark Beeley has a fantastic insight into the industry and quickly gets to the issues we’ve consulted him on.’
Axpo Trading AG
MET International AG
SOCAR Trading SA (client for 10 years)
ENGIE Global Markets (client for 13 years)
JP Morgan (client for 6 years)
Mercuria Energy Group (client for 6 years)
Trailstone UK Limited (client for 3 years)
IPM Energy Trading Limited (client for 16 years)
Mitsui Bussan Commodities Ltd (client for 7 years)
British Gas Trading Limited (Centrica)
H-Energy Mideast DMCC
Commercial Metals Company (CMC)
- Advising Microsoft in relation to a synthetic (i.e. financially settled, derivatives-based) corporate power purchase agreement transaction with ENECO Energy Trade BV, pursuant to which Microsoft will effectively acquire 90MW of power from ENECO.
- Advising on various aspects of its base and precious metals derivatives trading business including the proposed acquisition of a metals trading portfolio, various LME structured transactions and the regulatory aspects of certain metals trading transactions.
- Advising ENGIE Global Markets (now, for more than 13 years) as its lead external counsel on the full range of energy commodity trading matters.
'It is unique insofar as it always seems to be at the forefront of a changing industry, faced with regulatory challenges all the time', remarks one client of the role Paul Hastings LLP plays in the CLO market, noting that 'you just know the firm is on it and shaping the market'. In the CLO space, the firm is known for its innovative approach to transactions and its ability to design novel structures to deal with regulatory issues and address investor concerns. The London practice is also known for assisting new entrants to the market, as well as for advising established market participants such as Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. Cameron Saylor and Diala Minott are the lead partners.
‘It is unique insofar as it always seems to be at the forefront of a changing industry, faced with regulatory challenges all the time. You just know Paul Hastings are on it and shaping the market.’
‘Cameron Saylor is a reliable, senior person in the market. He is highly respected but, importantly, extremely accessible. Working with an industry expert like Cameron gives you confidence.’
‘My experience with Cameron Saylor has always been excellent. He is very responsive, has a clear grasp of all relevant issues and is prepared to give a view rather than just setting out legal analysis. He is also very much focused on collaborative working – even when he has been on the other side of a trade, he is still helpful in getting all the parties to where they need to be.’
‘Strong capabilities in representing arrangers on CLOs. Our experience working with them has been excellent, owing to continued focus from the partner, Cameron Saylor, so as to ensure that any issues are quickly resolved. They have a strong practice on the manager-side as well, which gives them the ability to look at issues from both angles and propose solutions which work for all parties.’
‘Cameron Saylor, head of team on the arranger-side has seen many CLO transactions and built a strong practice. We understand he represents some managers, so combined with arranger side practice has good knowledge of the market. He is able to take the time to explain the concepts and rationale behind various deal features and guide us to the right outcome. Despite their widening practice, he takes a hands-on approach and is on top of all the deals his team works on and his approachable to talk through any of the points.’
Chris Georgakis is a great lawyer to work with. He manages the transaction well as he is very thorough with docs and is proactive in making sure that all loose ends are tied up, and keeps us up to date with progress so that we know how to manage the deal on our side.’
- Advising Citigroup on the issuance by the SPV of CLO notes and the related warehouse. The €408.7m CLO transaction marks the first Euro CLO deal in the market that has been rated by Kroll Bond Rating Agency Europe Limited (KBRA).
- Advising Goldman Sachs on the €410m issuance by the SPV of CLO notes and the related warehouse. The warehouse represented an important milestone for GS as Paul Hastings developed a structure whereby they were able to syndicate part of the warehouse risk to a third party, the first time they had done so in Europe.
- Advising MeDirect (one of the largest banks in Malta) as collateral manager on its establishment of a CLO platform and subsequent debut issuance.
The derivatives and structured finance team at Ropes & Gray LLP has an established reputation among asset managers, alternative credit providers, hedge fund managers and private equity firms. Among its anchor clients are Bain Capital, Altice and Western Asset Management, though in 2019, it attracted new clients including Bidfair. The practice does not handle commoditised flow work but specialises in more bespoke and complex products, predominantly for buy-side clients. This work encompasses hedging, regulatory advice, structured repo real estate finance transactions and the establishment of CLO equity funds, as well as European warehousing and CLO transactions. Lead partner Anna Lawry has broad experience in derivatives and structured products, as well as niche expertise in the use of derivatives by UCITS and pension funds.
Bain Capital Credit
SIFMA Asset Management Group
Western Asset Management
Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., LLC
Blackstone Mortgage Trust, Inc.
Benefit Street Partners
- Advised BidFair or complex financing arrangements for its acquisition of Sotheby’s auction house, including the hedging arrangements linked to the financing at the level of the US operating company, and the art finance receivables financing.
- Advised Western Asset Management throughout 2019 on numerous derivatives-related regulatory, documentary and transactional matters.
- Advised on all hedging matters on a French infrastructure joint venture, including the negotiation of the hedging covenants, the hedging intercreditor provisions, and the ISDA terms governing the subsequent interest hedging.
Travers Smith LLP 'offers exceptional knowledge of the issues faced by institutional investors and asset managers in all matters relating to derivatives structuring and regulation, securities lending, finance and risk transfer'. The firm is particularly well known for advising large and sophisticated private equity and private credit funds and blue-chip pension schemes. Its work covers complex liability-driven investment mandates using the full spectrum of derivatives transactions. Recent work includes fund-level hedging, deal-contingent derivatives transactions and other treasury hedging arrangements for private equity and corporate clients. Practice head Jonathan Gilmour is a highly respected adviser to buy-side clients. Structured finance and debt capital markets partner Sebastian Reger joined from specialist pensions law firm Sackers to focus on longevity transactions, collateralised buy-ins and other synthetic risk transfer arrangements. Senior associates Vanessa Kalijnikoff Battaglia and Joseph Wren are recommended for transactional derivatives and regulatory matters.
‘In my experience the Travers Smith DSP team offers exceptional knowledge of the issues faced by institutional investors and asset managers in all matters relating to derivatives structuring and regulation, securities lending, finance and risk transfer. I have found them to deliver very practical and commercial legal advice relating to difficult and fast-evolving areas and able to advise on the details of current market best practice and cutting edge structuring. Although the team may not be as well known as those firms with large and dedicated asset management departments, Travers is my go-to firm and recommendation for UK and EU work of this kind.’
‘The entire team is excellent but of those partners I have dealt with most often Jonathan Gilmour is an exceptional lawyer – creative, thorough and detail-oriented – he provides practical solutions to complex problems, quickly and with confidence.’
‘The senior associates, Joseph Wren and Vanessa Kalijnikoff Battaglia are enormously capable and can be relied upon to deliver responsive, accurate and commercially sensitive advice. I feel that they always get to the crux of the problem and provide guidance we can have confidence in.’
‘The firm has a very personable team who make every effort to not only be available to help, but also to ensure that you feel like they want to help. They have both breadth and depth in their knowledge and are not afraid at looking into new areas with which they had not previously been familiar.’
‘I have worked principally with Jonathan Gilmour and Joe Wren. Jonathan is very diligent, hardworking and details-focussed whilst also being hugely personable and a pleasure to spend time with. He has a very patient manner with clients and gives an air of gentle reassurance. Joe is a very keen and enthusiastic lawyer. His passion for his subject area and the firm are both clearly evident as is his willingness to understand the particular demands and legal challenges of our business.’
‘We have worked with Travers Smith in a number of transaction and we have always been impressed by their ability to be fully engaged and responsive.’
‘Jonathan Gilmour and Vanessa Kalijnikoff Battaglia are very capable and commercially minded lawyers, both careful with details without ever missing the big picture.’
Investec Bank plc
A.C.N Europe B.V.
Stobart Group plc
Serabi Gold plc
The British Steel Pension Scheme
Allianz Global Investors GmbH
Trustee of the Willis Pension Scheme
Italian Legal Services
British American Tobacco
BAE Systems Pension Fund
Montagu Private Equity
- Advised Rothesay Life in connection with its £3.8bn buy-in of the Asda Group Pension Scheme.
- Advised Nomura in connection with the high-profile insolvency of Thomas Cook Plc, including advising on the close-out of its then existing derivatives transactions with Thomas Cook.
- Advised Montagu Private Equity on the largest deal-contingent transaction executed in 2019 (connected to Montagu’s acquisition of Jane’s from HIS Markit).
Hill Dickinson LLP joins the ranking for its expertise in commodity derivatives. Jeff Isaacs leads the broader commodities practice, in which both the physical and derivatives teams sit. Their work spans sale contracts, bills of lading, charterparties, contracts of affreightment, trade finance, letters of credit, derivatives, economic sanctions and marine cargo insurance issues. on behalf of major trading houses, oil giants, insurers, investment funds, brokers and shipowners. The arrival in 2019 of Mark Aspinall and Paul Sinnott from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP brought widely acknowledged experience, particularly in the oil and metals markets.
‘Mark Aspinall is a fantastic lawyer for shipping and commodity trading matters.’
K&L Gates LLP
K&L Gates LLP joins the ranking for its work CLO 2.0s in Europe on behalf of financial institutions, boutique arrangers, major corporations and other transaction parties such as trustees and rating agencies, as well as its work for buy-side and other end users in the derivatives space. Much of its work focuses on compliance matters and advice on the negotiation of terms in ISDA Master Agreements in relation to OTC swaps clearing; securities lending and repos; establishing structured products programmes; and swap transactions for the purpose of hedging interest rate and currency mismatches under securitisations, project finance transactions and commercial real estate loans. Sidanth Rajagopal leads the finance group, in which Sean Crosky is the lead partner for structured finance.
Other key lawyers: