Islamic finance in London
Allen & Overy LLP's market-leading Islamic finance team in London is an integral part of the global Islamic finance practice. It serves as a one-stop shop for leading Islamic banks, export credit agencies, development finance institutions, sponsors and corporate borrowers. The group's expertise in high-profile, complex and innovative transactions spans a multitude of areas, including project finance, asset finance, derivatives and structured finance mandates. Jamie Durham is particularly knowledgeable about sukuk issuances. In 2019, notable highlights included Lorraine Bayliss and counsel Sajjad Khoshroo advising the export credit agencies (CESCE, K-Exim, K-Sure, SACE, UKEF) and banks on the $4.2bn financing of the expansion and modernisation of the Bapco refinery. Senior associate Sajjad Juma, whose practice is split between London and Dubai, is also highly recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘A&O teams maintain a client-focused approach that delivers practical advice and targeted solutions to client’s legal needs. We like how A&O always delivers the theoretical background and goes on further to highlight the risks and benefits of each suggested course of action. This is incredibly valuable for clients to make an informed decision.‘
‘A&O’s Islamic Finance practice is unrivalled in EMEA and the team is well versed on a broad range of Islamic financing products. The level of client service, responsiveness and attention to detail is also fantastic.‘
‘I worked mainly with Sajjad Juma from the London Islamic financing team. Saj was simply fantastic and had a great command of the product (a Murabaha financing). He was also able to seamlessly work with Indonesian counsel to iron out any differences between the “gulf-style” Murabaha and certain Indonesian banks’ interpretation of Murabahas. A really technical operator with excellent interpersonal skills.‘
‘Mr Sajjad Khoshroo has provided very pertinent legal advice and thought leadership on a challenging and first time situation which was invaluable; it informed the decision making of the interested parties in a unique and unrivalled manner.‘
‘A&O’s Islamic Finance team draws from a wealth of knowledge and experience. We trust their expertise and can rely on them with confidence.‘
‘A&O can provide a seamless service on all financing matters, whether conventional or Islamic. They are truly a one-stop-shop.‘
‘Sajjad Khoshroo is pragmatic and solution-oriented. Nice to have on the team when trying to close the deal.‘
Saudi Electricity Company
First Abu Dhabi Bank
Saudi British Bank
Banque Saudi Fransi
Samba Financial Group
Arab National Bank
Standard Chartered Bank
- Advised Saudi Electricity Company on a $4.05bn syndicated murabaha facility. This was a landmark transaction for the company and one of the largest corporate financings in the region.
- Advised Arab Banking Corporation, National Bank of Bahrain and Gulf International Bank (the arrangers and financiers) on Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C’s (Alba) landmark $1.5bn syndicated term loan facilities to refinance the Line 6 Expansion Project for its Alba aluminium smelter in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Advised IFC, ICD (an arm of the Islamic Development Bank), AfDB and DBSA on the proposed financing of the development of a 35MW hydro power project near Kinguele in Gabon.
Ashurst's team, which is led by global Islamic finance head Abradat Kamalpour, is experienced in structuring shari'ah-compliant debt capital markets transactions, structured finance matters and shari'ah-compliant funds. The group features particularly prominently in novel and groundbreaking mandates, including those involving the development of novel structures through the use of blockchain technologies. The team also includes senior associate Conor Funston, who has over ten years' experience in acting for clients from both the Islamic finance sector and global capital markets. Clients of the firm include sovereign governments, supranational institutions, corporates and investment banks. Associate Ida Mokhtassi is another name to note.
‘The team expedites matters and is commercially aware.’
Savills Investment Management
Crypton Digital Assets
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
- Advising Crypton Digital Assets on structuring tokenised Sukuk structures for Abu Dubai-based financial institutions.
Dentons' London team works with partners based in the Middle East on a wide range of complex transactions. The firm strengthened its Islamic finance offering in 2019 by hiring Yusuf Battiwala from Allen & Overy LLP; he has particular expertise in Islamic derivatives and structured finance transactions. The group, which also includes Paul Holland and Matthew Sapte, advises clients on sukuk issuances, project and asset finance mandates and general lending matters. Reflective of the firm's first-rate reputation, it generates a significant amount of work from leading Islamic banks, bulge-bracket investment banks and other financial institutions. The firm is also one of two law firms to be regularly invited by the International Islamic Financial Market (the key industry body for Islamic finance) to discuss various initiatives.
Other key lawyers:
Emirates Islamic Bank
Dubai Islamic Bank
Arab Banking Corporation (Bank ABC)
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Emirates NBD Capital
First Abu Dhabi Bank
- Advising a leading global bank on an Islamic finance compliant reserve-based lending facility in favour of exploration and production companies with assets onshore in Pakistan.
Led by European Islamic finance head Farmida Bi, who is English and New York qualified, Norton Rose Fulbright's team caters to all the requirements of Middle Eastern financial institutions, global investment banks and corporates among other clients. The group's expertise spans a wide range of areas, including investment funds, project finance work and real estate finance matters. Bi is particularly experienced in international sukuk transactions. Illustrative of her excellent reputation, she has previously joined Department of International Trade missions to Pakistan to promote the UK Islamic finance industry.
ABC International Bank plc
Al Rayan Bank
Asian Development Bank
Credit Suisse AG
Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Finance
HSBC / HSBC Saudi Arabia Limited
Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector
Qatar National Bank
Islamic Development Bank
- Advised an international investment bank as part of a large international syndicate on approximately $185.5m in secured commodity murabaha facilities.
- Advised the private wealth division of an international bank on diminishing musharaka real estate portfolio refinancing facilities in prime central London.
- Advising an international bank on the restructuring of its £74m senior and mezzanine facilities for development of property in prime central London.
Practice head Imam Qazi has been instrumental in putting Foot Anstey's name on the Islamic finance map. Under his leadership, the team advises clients on Islamic finance transactions involving a wide range of products and structures, including sukuk, ijarah, wakala and musharakah-related mandates. The firm is particularly well-known for its strength in shari'ah-compliant real estate finance transactions, where it acts for Islamic financial institutions and investors investing in UK assets. In 2019, Qazi assisted Black Sand Real Estate W.L.L. with the Islamic finance aspects of its £22.4m acquisition of the Technip FMC Building in Aberdeen. The firm is also increasingly sought out to advise new entrants to the market, which provide peer-to-peer and crowdfunding solutions. Legal director Zahir Nayani joined from Rosette Merchant Bank, and Lingxi Wang was promoted to senior associate.
‘The Islamic Finance team at Foot Anstey is really great. Very reliable, knowledgeable, responsive and it seems to have grown from strength to strength over the last few years.‘
Gatehouse Bank plc
QIB (UK) plc
Bank of London and the Middle East
ABC International Bank plc
Nester Holdings Ltd
Black Sand Real Estate W.L.L
JHA Investments Limited
Ahli United Bank (UK) plc
Cater Gem Properties Limited
Greenridge Investment Management
Habib Bank Zurich
- Advised Greenridge Investment Management Limited on the refinance of the 3M headquarters in Bracknell, which involved a hybrid corporate structure that enabled the use of conventional debt and shari’ah compliant returns.
- Advised Nester Holdings Limited on the launch of a fintech platform focusing on shari’ah-compliant peer-to-peer financing. The scheme will provide funds to both individuals and corporate entities looking to purchase, refinance or develop real estate in the United Kingdom.
- Advised Gatehouse Bank Plc on a range of advisory and transactional matters, including the development, improvement and standardisation of its product documentation; acting for the bank on over 1000 Islamic mortgage transactions, and helping the client to break into the retail Islamic finance market.
K&L Gates LLP
Alongside the Doha and Dubai offices, K&L Gates LLP's London team plays a key role in cross-border Islamic finance transactions, which are typically governed by English law. Barry Cosgrave (whose practice is split between London and Dubai) has a wealth of Islamic finance experience, which spans bank lending work, debt capital markets issues, derivatives and structured products, and restructuring matters. He also has expertise in advising US-based private equity houses on setting up novel structures to facilitate investments by shari'ah-compliant investors located in the Middle East. The firm has become increasingly active in the asset (particularly aviation) finance space, with a number of transactions involving hybrid shari'ah/conventional and pure Islamic structures.
Other key lawyers:
‘Barry Cosgrave brings depth of experience in Islamic solutions to difficult problems.‘
‘They are experts at balancing multiple requests and not dismissing them, all while handling different kinds of people. They know how to keep a good reputation, and know when to stand up for what needs to be done.‘
‘Great lawyers like Barry Cosgrave typically have a passion for a particular legal speciality or practice area, and master excellence as an expert, which fosters a high level of commitment to their work. He is highly intelligent possessing strong analytical and advocacy skills, and an ability to communicate effectively (both verbally and in writing). He understands his clients’ objectives, and advocate on that basis and will appreciate the business, as well as legal, outcomes of the arguments.‘
‘Barry and the K&L Gates team are our go to advisers for shari’ah finance matters. The team distils complex information into easy to understand advice ensuring the bank is able to focus on the bigger picture decision on hand to be made.‘
‘The partners and associates are very well regarded at our firm. They have advanced finance skills and we know we can rely on their advice and work without second thoughts for our more complex matters. Very diligent and experienced. Able to present complicated matters in layman terms for a much smoother decision making process. Overall, we are always confident we have the best team on our side when K&L Gates are involved and it makes our job much easier than usual.‘
‘Barry Cosgrave has been influential not only in his work but understanding of the cultural aspects of a US based company working in the UAE.‘
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Bank J. Safra Sarasin
Emirates Islamic Bank
Franklin Templeton Investment
Julius Baer (Middle East)
Masraf Al Rayan
MENA Financial Partners
Qatar Financial Centre Authority
Rosenthal & Rosenthal
Samba Financial Group
Standard Life Investments
Swiss Bankers Association
The Royal Bank of Scotland
- Advising Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Company (AHAB) in Saudi Arabia on a financial restructuring in accordance with the terms of the Saudi Arabian bankruptcy law in relation to approximately $9bn in liabilities.
- Advised Grosvenor Capital Management on the structuring and documentation of a shari’ah-compliant platform to facilitate investments by Middle Eastern investors in GCM’s conventional private equity platform.
Milbank is noted for its excellent record in highly complex and groundbreaking transactions. John Dewar, who leads the London team, is well-known as a leading global project finance lawyer; his experience spans the oil and gas, natural resources, power and infrastructure sectors, among various others. Another key figure in the global projects, energy and infrastructure group is senior associate Munib Hussain. Elsewhere, the team's recent work has involved various sectors including the aviation and education industries. In a recent matter, Apostolos Gkoutzinis, Suhrud Mehta, Dewar and Hussain advised the financing sources on the financing of CVC Capital Partners’ acquisition of a 30% stake in GEMS Education.
Al Rajhi Bank
HSBC Saudi Arabia
National Bank of Kuwait
- Advised the lenders, including eight export credit agencies and a group of nearly 50 commercial banks, on the $9.5bn financing of the development of a new refinery and petrochemical integrated project (RAPID) and other associated facilities in Southern Johor, Malaysia. The role of the London office was to structure the financing to allow for the incorporation of Islamic bank facilities and Islamic bond or sukuk into the overall facility.
- Acted for the lenders, Wakala investors and the respective agents on the $1.8bn financing of the Jambaran Tiung Biru gas field unitisation project for PT Pertamina EP Cepu, a wholly owned subsidiary of PT Pertamina (Persero).
- Advised NCB Capital and Dara Aviation Finance Limited on the groundbreaking acquisition by Dara Aviation Finance Limited of a portfolio of 19 commercial aircraft from AerCap Holdings N.V. and its subsidiaries.
Trowers & Hamlins LLP's London office is a key hub for the firm's global Islamic finance practice, which also includes offices in the Middle East and Malaysia. Sarah Gooden, who heads up the Islamic finance practice in the UK, is particularly experienced in structuring and financing shari-ah compliant real estate investments and development projects. Her clients includes UK Islamic banks, Middle Eastern banks, UK-based corporate borrowers and Middle Eastern investors investing in real estate in the UK and Europe.
‘The diversity in expertise within the team allows us to avail a wider range of legal services. The team always ensures that one of its members is available to discuss any matters that may arise under an engagement. The team always ensures that any deadlines set to them are met.‘
‘We have worked with different teams in the firm from different locations (Bahrain, Dubai, London and Oman). They have all displayed a high degree of professionalism and strong knowledge of Islamic finance, in particular with regard to complex shari’ah structures that require not only theoretical knowledge but also practical skills. T&H have acted as our legal advisers for a number of shari’ah-compliant financing facilities and have always been up to our expectations, in terms of meeting our deadline with customers and deliverables.‘
‘The team is experienced and always available for any questions no matter how big or small. The team also alerts us on other possible matters that we should look into in our transaction and shares their valuable experience to help us get the most out of our transaction.‘
‘The team is quite dynamic, with specialised focus areas. We were delighted with having a dedicated resource, in charge of responding to all our queries. Trowers & Hamlins handled our work quite well.‘
‘Very responsive service. Good handle on the issues of Islamic finance. Value for money.‘
Lembaga Tabung Haji
90 North Real Estate Partners
Gatehouse Bank PLC
Apache Capital Partners LLP
Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB)
Kuwait Finance House
Warba Bank KSCP
Rasameel Investment Company KSCC
Dimah Capital Investment Company KSCC
Standard Chartered Bank
Dubai Islamic Bank
First Energy Bank
Rasmala Investment Bank
A’ayan Real Estate Company
Oman Takaful Insurance Company
Meethaq Islamic Banking, bank muscat S.A.O.G. (Meethaq)
Sanvira Carbon SFZ LLC
- Advised Warba Bank on the acquisition, through an offshore/Irish SPV acquisition structure, of two significant Irish retail park properties.
- Advised the borrower vehicle, owned by Apache investors and their funding partners, Harrison Street and NFU Mutual, on its £118m debt facility from investment bank Goldman Sachs to develop Birmingham’s tallest building.
- Advised SOYO Property Company Limited on its £96.3m debt facility from La Salle Investment Management to support the acquisition and development of the former Quarry Hill car park in Leeds, part of a £300m city centre development known as New York Square, SOYO Leeds.
At Druces LLP, the team's expertise spans a wide range of structures, including cost plus and commodity murabaha, wakala, ijarah, mudaraba and musharakah; the group is also highly active in structuring shari'ah-compliant real estate acquisition and development finance transactions. Acquisition finance transactions are another driver of work for the group, which is led by Christopher Axford. Matthew Duncan is one of a handful of English-qualified lawyers who is authorised to advise on estate planning in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in Dubai. Simon Pullen and Suzanne Middleton Lindsley are also recommended.
‘The feedback has been good and highlighted a “positive” outlook to getting deals done.‘
‘I have found both Chris Axford and Suzanne Middleton-Lindsey to be very open to discussing how to deliver good legal services as well as clearly setting out what they can and cannot do, which is a very valuable in helping select lawyers.‘
Bank of London and The Middle East plc
British Arab Commercial Bank plc
- Advised Bank of London and The Middle East plc on a number of commodity murabaha transactions ranging from £10m to £30m in value.
Fladgate LLP's team has a notable specialism in assisting non-Islamic banks with expanding into shari'ah-compliant products, notably murabaha and ijara lease structures; the practice also has experience in establishing shari'ah-compliant lending platforms and inter-bank/treasury documentation. Another strength of the group includes advising large Middle Eastern and Far East-based family offices on the financing of residential and commercial property acquisitions in the UK. Ella Leonard is the practice head.
Tadhamon Capital B.S.C.
- Advising Bahrain-based financial institution Tadhamon Capital B.S.C. on its £100m+ murabaha lending platform and related structure, which invests in student accommodation development sites across the UK.
- Advising Bloomsmith Finance Ltd on its VAT lending business, including adding a new lending line, which includes VAT lending within a shari’ah-compliant context.
- Assisting Gatehouse Bank with the preparation of various commodity murabaha agreements to fund the purchase of four separate commercial properties.
Shakespeare Martineau LLP is increasingly winning work from new clients, including The Charity Bank Limited, Leumi ABL and Shawbrook Bank. Mohammed Saqub, who established the Islamic finance team, is also the head of the real estate finance practice, and is one of a number of practitioners who advise on the financing of investment and development transactions. Clients include commercial and Islamic banks, borrowers and investment managers.
Other key lawyers:
‘Shakespeare Martineau has a highly respected banking and finance practice.‘
‘Mohammed Saqub – partner – is the Islamic Finance partner. He has exceptionally close relationships with leading Gulf and Middle Eastern banks.‘
A.I.B. Group (UK) Plc
Santander UK Plc
The Charity Bank Limited
Al Rayan Bank Plc
Habib Bank AG Zurich
Punjab National Bank
- Assisted a bank with setting up an Islamic finance practice. This practice included drafting the template finance documents and setting the bank’s standard property requirements.
- Advised a multinational bank on its first ever UK real estate investment.
- Advised Al Rayan Bank Plc on financing the acquisition of a high-value residential development in central London.
Shearman & Sterling LLP's work spans a range of areas including handling project finance, capital markets, derivatives and structured finance mandates. The group also advises on matters involving all of the main Islamic structures, including ijara, mudaraba, musharaka, murabaha and sukuk instruments. The main contact is Iain Goalen, whose practice is split between London, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
White & Case LLP's Islamic finance practice is led by global head Debashis Dey, who divides his time between the firm's Dubai and London offices. Dey is one of a number of Islamic finance experts at the firm, who advise on shari'ah-compliant structures in the context of asset and project finance mandates, hedging and derivatives issues, funds work and sukuk issuances, among other transactions.