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Who Represents Who

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Allen & Overy LLP’s London-based Islamic finance team handles the full range of Islamic finance transactions, from capital markets and corporate lending deals to asset-based lending and structured transactions. The team has established a reputation for leading significant matters solely from the London office, and in 2016, department head Atif Hanif advised a consortium of Islamic and conventional lenders as arrangers and financiers on the $1.5bn syndicated term loan facility in connection with Aluminium Bahrain’s Line 6 expansion project for the Alba aluminium smelter; this represents the largest corporate loan in the history of Bahrain. The group was also instructed by a group of Gulf-lenders on the ijara financing of twelve wide-body and eight narrow-body aircraft for lease to Saudi Arabia Airlines. On the borrower’s side, Hanif acted for Saudi Electricity Company on a SAR5bn murabaha facility provided by a syndicate of Saudi banks. The London-team is also strong in the regulatory space and counsel Yusuf Battiwala assisted International Islamic Financial Market (IIMF) and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) with the development of market standard documentation for shari’ah-compliant FX forward transactions. Specialising in Islamic sukuk transactions, Jamie Durham and Salim Nathoo are also contacts in the London office.

Ashurst is instructed by lending and investment banks, asset managers and funds clients and advises across a range of sukuk, murabaha, project finance, real estate, securities and project funds transactions. Abradat Kamalpour, the global head of the firm’s Islamic finance group, also jointly leads the Iran practice and continues to play a significant role in opening the post-sanctions Iran market to international investors. In the funds space, Kamalpour is advising a UAE asset manager with the establishment of a £250m shari’ah-compliant European real estate investment fund, and is also assisting a US fund manager with the structuring and implementation of the first ever shari’ah-compliant credit fund. Another market first, the London team is working alongside the firm’s Chinese partners in relation to the first ever semi-sovereign sukuk from mainland China. Indeed, the team often works closely with its colleagues in Asia and the Middle East, and Kamalpour is coordinating a UK/Saudi Arabian team that is advising a group of US sukuk holders in relation to a sukuk that has entered into litigation in Saudi Arabia; this will serve as a test case for the enforcement by foreign lenders of Saudi borrower obligations in the Saudi Arabian legal system.

Clifford Chance’s global Islamic finance team utilises its on-the-ground presence in all of the most active Islamic financial centres to advise on what are consistently among the largest global shari’ah-compliant transactions. The department’s lawyers have truly been at the forefront of thought leadership, especially in relation to shari’ah-compliance of structured products, including swaps and hedging products. Habib Motani provides ongoing advice in relation to Islamic hedging and liquidity markets and has been instrumental in the ongoing development of standardised documentation for those markets. In the transactional space, the London team regularly works alongside the firm’s Middle East-based teams, but is also perfectly capable of handling significant matters solely from the London office. Indeed, William Glaister has helped lead major cross-border sukuk transactions in conjunction with the firm’s Dubai team, and Leonard Cleland has handled high-value murabaha facilities from London. Dubai-based Qudeer Latif heads the firm’s global Islamic finance practice.

Dentons fields a full-service Islamic finance team from its London office, which handles shari’ah-compliant structures in project finance, asset-based lending, real estate finance and structured transactions, including derivatives and hedging products. The department is co-headed by Matthew Sapte, who specialises in debt capital markets and derivatives and assisted two leading global banks with the update of the SIB Sukuk Company III Limited Trust Certificate Issuance Programme; similarly, he advised the two banks on the establishment of the first sukuk programme for the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector. Sapte also acted for a London investment bank on a $5m shari’ah-compliant loan granted by a Qatari investment bank. Joint London-head Richard de Belder co-ordinates the firm-wide Islamic finance practice across its European and Middle Eastern offices and acts on an ongoing basis for ADBI (UK) in relation to ijara financings for UK real estate, and also provides the bank with regulatory advice. Indeed, with notable expertise in regulatory compliance and shari’ah-compliance for structured products, the group has won instructions from a range of global and Middle Eastern banks. Richard Garvan left the firm in 2016 to become a freelance consultant whileJeremy Cape joined Squire Patton Boggs in 2017.

The Islamic finance team in Norton Rose Fulbright’s London office is active in the transactional and regulatory spaces and has particular expertise advising on shari’ah-compliant sovereign debt issuances. Indeed, in 2016, Farmida Bi, who heads the firm’s European Islamic finance group, acted for the Ministry of Finance for the Government of Pakistan in relation to a $1bn sovereign sukuk issuance, which was offered to US and international investors under Rule 144A/Reg S. She has also been instructed by various international banking clients on high-value real estate transactions. On the regulatory side, Bi is advising a national central bank on the establishment of shari’ah-compliant deposit and liquidity insurance facilities, and is also advising an Asian development bank in connection with Islamic finance regulations in five CIS countries. Mark Brighouse is an active London-based associate in the department. The London team regularly works alongside the firm’s Dubai office, where Mohammed Paracha heads the wider Middle East and Africa Islamic finance practice. Notable clients include Standard Chartered Bank, Emirates Airlines and Islamic Development Bank.

Acting for lender, borrower and investor clients, Foot Anstey’s Islamic finance group has deep expertise in shari’ah-compliant real estate transactions and is among the ‘top firms providing Islamic finance legal services’ in London. Though clients tend to be based in the UK or Middle East, in an initiative spearheaded by legal director Fara Mohammad, the team has sought recently to strengthen its presence in the South East Asian market – a wellspring of Islamic finance activity. In 2016, Mohammad acted for a South Pacific central government in relation to a London real estate transaction, and is also instructed by a Malaysian investment fund to advise on its role in a property investment joint venture. ‘An exemplary team leader’, Imam Qazi heads the practice group and instils ‘confidence in his clients that each matter is being treated with appropriate importance and handled with necessary skill and expertise’. He had a number of instructions from Greenridge Investment Management in 2016, which included advising on the dual Islamic and conventional financing of the £77m acquisition of 3M’s European headquarters in South East England.

Working alongside the firm’s Middle East-based partners, the lawyers in Hogan Lovells International LLP’s London office have found themselves involved in a variety of major Islamic finance mandates. Structured finance specialists James Doyle and Dennis Dillon acted with the firm’s Dubai office on a substantial cross-border sukuk transaction. Similarly, Andrew Flemming, who focuses on real estate finance, has been instructed alongside the Dubai team by clients such as Gatehouse Bank. Robert Fugard specialises in asset-based financing and also has experience of Islamic finance transactions. The firm is instructed by a host of lender-clients and has considerable expertise out of its various Middle East offices. Rahail Ali leads the global Islamic finance practice from Dubai.

K&L Gates LLP has an active transactional and advisory Islamic finance team and is especially experienced in capital markets transactions and structured products and derivatives work. The team has enjoyed a number of successes in 2016-2017, winning several significant lender and borrower clients, such as NMC Healthcare and Qatar Financial Centre Authority, and making some significant hires and team moves. Having relocated from Dubai to the firm’s London office, Natalie Boyd now plays a significant role in the London-based practice and recently advised Citibank as security agent and paying agent in connection with the dual Islamic and conventional $2.5bn project financing for the Dubai Parks and Resorts leisure and hospitality resort. Barry Cosgrave is particularly experienced in Islamic-compliant real estate transactions and has brought a number of new clients to the department following his arrival from Shearman & Sterling LLP in 2016. Jonathan Lawrence leads the department and acted for SriLankan Airlines in connection with a $125m Islamic facility backed by ticket revenue streams. The team regularly acts alongside Amjad Hussain in the Doha office and banking partner Simon Mabin in Dubai.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has an established reputation advising on Islamic-compliant sale, purchase and investment transactions in the real estate sector and also has experience in sukuk issuances and the regulatory aspects of such programmes. The firm-wide Islamic finance practice is headed by Salman Ahmed, an expert in Islamic securities, who works out of the firm’s London and Bahrain offices. In 2016, Ahmed acted for Standard Chartered Bank and National Bank of Oman as joint lead managers in relation to the $76m domestic sukuk issued by MB Holdings – the first high-yield sukuk in Oman. Sarah Gooden specialises in real estate finance transactions and advised 90 North Real Estate Partners, a shari’ah-compliant investment specialist, on the £43m acquisition and financing of a mixed-use retail and leisure property in the UK. Also of note, the firm was one of the first to move into the Malaysian market – the largest international Islamic finance market outside of the GCC – and is instructed by clients such as Lembaga Tabung Haji and Permodalan Nasional Berhad.

Through its London office, White & Case LLP provides ‘excellent service’ with expertise in a number of Islamic-compliant structures, from capital markets and funds work to M&A and project and asset finance. The highly recommended Tom Bartlett leads the London team and acted for Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Company and its Saudi and Chinese shareholders in relation to the $3.1bn conventional facility and $1.6bn murabaha facility to partially refinance funds used for the construction of a Saudi oil refinery. Bartlett also worked alongside the firm’s Saudi partners in Riyadh to advise the lenders, Islamic financiers and US EXIM Bank on the refinancing of the commercial bank facility and Islamic facilities in connection with the Riyadh PP11 IPP. The firm has been investing in its UAE office, having brought on some new practitioners including Claire Matheson Kirton, who joined the firm from Hogan Lovells (Middle East) LLP in 2016. Further, Debashis Dey specialises in conventional and Islamic capital markets transactions and works between the London and Dubai offices.

Addleshaw Goddard’s London-based Islamic finance practice has experience of shari’ah-compliant real estate and project financing transactions. Specialising in real estate finance, Paul Salsbury is the primary contact in the practice group. He has particular experience in murabaha facilities and has been instructed by clients such as Tabung Haji and Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia.

The Islamic finance group at Clyde & Co LLP is best known for structuring UK Islamic real estate transactions. With instructions from Middle Eastern and UK clients, the team has developed experience in advising first-time entrants into the Islamic finance market, but also acts for some of the more established Islamic banks and investment firms. Department co-head Adil Hussain, who works between the firm’s London and Abu Dhabi offices, advised Natixis’ London branch on a $50m murabaha facility granted to a Saudi fashion retailer. His team is active in the Saudi market and regularly works alongside the firm’s Riyadh partners; indeed, Hussain is acting for KCC Corporation on the restructuring of multiple Islamic facilities kinked to its joint venture vehicle in Saudi Arabia. Senior associate Robert Davy maintains a permanent presence in London and has been instructed alongside the practice head by clients such as British Arab Commercial Bank, Mizuho Bank and Investra Capital.

With instructions from UK and Middle Eastern banks and lender clients, Druces LLP provides ‘a good level of service’ on shari’ah-compliant property finance matters. The team has seen increased deal volume every year since the department’s founding in 2012, and 2016-2017 has been no exception. The ‘friendly and approachable’ Christopher Axford handled a variety of real estate and asset finance transactions for clients such as Bank of London and The Middle East, and was also instructed by a London law firm to advise specifically on the shari’ah aspects of an acquisition of a UK school by Middle Eastern investors. Nicholas Brent and Suzanne Middleton-Lindsley have experience in real estate and property finance, and Simon Pullen has developed a reputation for advising Middle Eastern banks on shari’ah compliant structures in the development finance sector.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is regularly involved in large, complex Islamic-compliant transactions across a number of areas such as project finance, bankruptcy proceedings, corporate lending and securities. Practice head John Dewar has been an innovator in the field since founding the firm’s Islamic finance practice and had deep experience of shari’ah financings in relation to large energy projects. He is advising Arcapita Creditors’ Committee in relation to the Chapter 11 filing by certain Arcapita entities; this represents the first time a US bankruptcy judge approved the Islamic-compliant restructuring of a debtor in Chapter 11 proceedings, and the world’s largest bankruptcy of a shari’ah-compliant institution. Additionally, Dewar acted for Kexim Bank and a number of commercial banks on the financing of the Barakah nuclear power project in Abu Dhabi, which included a shari’ah-compliant equity bridge loan. Senior associate Munib Hussain is another contact in the London practice group.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP has extensive experience in structuring Islamic-compliant lending and real estate transactions for banks, corporates and private clients. In addition to the transactional work, in 2017, the department assisted an alternative funding platform with the creation of an innovative Islamic finance product aimed at the buy-to-let and buy-to-live market. Practice head Mohammed Saqub specialises in real estate investment and development finance and advised Al Rayan Bank plc in relation to a commodity murabaha facility granted to a UK investor and secured over a large portfolio of residential property. Saqub was also instructed by the bank, alongside Christopher von Strandmann, to advise on the £18m murabaha granted to a property income fund and secured over commercial properties in England and Scotland. Nicholas Sanderson also has experience in Islamic-compliant asset and structured finance, and Winston Bell-Gam acts for a range of lender and manager clients across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s Islamic finance group works across the firm’s London and Middle East offices and has advised on Islamic structures in project finance, capital markets, structured finance and funds transactions. Practice head Iain Goalen works between the firm’s London and Dubai offices and assisted a consortium of global lenders as underwriters with a dual bond and sukuk issuance by a Middle Eastern power company. On the real estate side, the department head is acting for a US real estate developer on its debut Islamic finance transaction. Moyn Uddin, who splits his time between London and Abu Dhabi and specialises in capital markets and debt structuring, joined the firm in 2016 while Barry Cosgrave left for K&L Gates LLP. Islamic Development Bank and Wafra Investment are among the team’s representative clients.

Taylor Wessing LLP is well-regarded in the market as a firm capable of handling the gamut of Islamic finance work, from real estate and development financing to capital markets and derivatives. The practice acts on a stand-alone basis, but also in support roles and is well-versed in the framework of various Islamic special economic zones and regulating authorities. Led by Rodney Dukes, the Islamic finance team is instructed by lender-side and borrower-side clients and has been involved in several shari’ah-compliant corporate lending facilities in 2016-2017. Senior counsel Nada Jarnaz specialises in acting for lender clients and is working alongside the practice head to advise an investment manager on the establishment of a shari’ah-compliant investment fund. Dukes and Jamaz have also been instructed by other law firms to assist specifically with the shari’ah compliance in lending transactions. Clients of the department include Amlak Finance and Fortress Investment Group.

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