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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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  1. Trade finance
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
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The trade and commodity finance practice at Allen & Overy LLP is frequently involved in some of the largest and most high-profile transactions in the market, due in part to the strength of its first-rate international banking practice and its large client roster of leading financial institutions. On the transactional side, the firm is sought out for new deals with complex structures and the restructuring of existing financing arrangements. Its broad range of work encompasses bilateral trade and receivables financings, letters of credit and highly structured trades. It is also highly regarded for its work on supply chain financing and trade risk distribution, and last year it assisted a leading bank with the establishment of its debut trade risk distribution programme. Greg Brown focuses on trade, commodities and emerging markets with a strong track record of deals in Russia, Africa, India, Turkey and the Middle East. He advised ING on syndicated loan facility agreements for ED&F Man Group with a total value of $2bn. Head of the ECA practice in London Lorraine Bayliss recently acted for UK Export Finance and Santander in a deal to finance a fleet of buses in Mexico City. Counsel Catherine Lang-Anderson acts for a variety of clients including banks, borrowers, multilateral institutions and borrowers across the full spectrum of trade and commodity finance products. She acted alongside senior associate Daniel Birch for a consortium of six banks on the purchase of $470m in senior variable funding notes issued by Trafigura Commodities Funding.

Clients praise the 'responsive, clear, pragmatic' practice at Dentons, which excels in structured commodity finance, reserve based lending and export credit financing. A leading light in the market, Celia Gardiner leads the trade finance practice and is 'very strong at simplifying complicated matters, in addition to being very clear and persuasive in her explanations and arguments both with clients and counterparties'. She acted for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation on the $1.3bn annual pre-export finance facility for the Ghana Cocoa Board, which is secured on the receivables generated by Ghana's export of cocoa. Tim Pipe advises lenders, borrowers, international financial institutions and trading companies on financings in the energy sector, with a particular focus on upstream oil and gas businesses, as well as in emerging markets including Russia and Nigeria. He handled a $640m structured facility for Neconde Energy on behalf of lender Africa Finance Corporation. Mark Cheney's main focus is physical commodities trading and structured commodity trades in the energy sector. The practice also calls upon the structured finance and capital markets knowledge of Matthew Sapte and the export credit financing expertise of London banking and finance head Paul Holland. Rising star and senior associate Ian Clements plays a key role in structured trade and commodity financing deals, and recently acted for security agent Natixis on the restatement of a $475m borrowing base facility.

Hogan Lovells International LLP's London office is the central hub of an international practice that has a diverse range of clients including  key market players such as Afreximbank, Deutsche Bank, IFC, Natixis and Société Générale, and which has significant experience in emerging markets. Andrew Taylor and David Leggott are the key partners in the practice and each has a stellar reputation in the field of trade finance. Taylor's practice covers Europe and emerging markets, particularly Africa and the CIS region, where he acts for both lenders and borrowers. He is regularly instructed by multilateral organisations and development banks, and recently advised UK Export Finance on a new guarantee product to enable UK exporters to access finance more efficiently. Leggott has extensive experience in advising banks and trading companies on transactions in emerging markets such as Russia, the CIS, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. His work covers financings on a range of commodities including oil, steel, zinc, copper, soybeans, tobacco and cocoa, and he frequently supports development finance institutions (DFIs) in trade finance matters. He acted for Deutsche Bank on a $600m pre-export financing for KAZ Minerals, and on a $350m revolving structured commodity finance facility for ArcelorMittal South Africa.

Linklaters LLP is known for its 'smooth delivery in multi-jurisdictional transactions and its keen ability to pull apart any change that might affect a deal'. Head of structured trade and commodity finance Mirthe Van Kesteren has handled all of the financing deals for KAZ Minerals since 2001; her recent work for this client includes a $2bn trading agreement with Advaita relating to the production of copper concentrate, a $600m PXF for the refinancing of its existing facility, and the negotiation of commercial trading contracts for both copper concentrate and copper cathodes. The team for these deals included managing associate Adrian Newell, who has extensive experience in trade and commodity financings including PXF and pre-payment deals in the CIS region, ECA-backed deals and borrowing base facilities. The other key partner in the practice is Toby Grimstone, who is a key adviser to major trading house Glencore on complex financing transactions; his recent highlights for this client include the $9.1bn joint sale of a stake in Russian state-owned oil and gas company Rosneft, which involved the unwinding of the financing and credit support arrangements put in place for the original acquisition financing.

Norton Rose Fulbright has a prominent role in structured trade finance transactions and the vastly experienced banking lawyer and practice head Nicholas (Nick) Grandage is one the leading lights in the market. He frequently acts for prominent banks, suppliers and trading houses such as BP, Louis Dreyfus and Citibank. His recent highlights include advising AIG and Standard Chartered Bank on the groundbreaking establishment of the first blockchain-enabled platform for the purchasing of trade finance receivables from a global logistics company. Newly promoted partner Andrew Wood, whom clients describe as 'responsive, straightforward and very frank', specialises in structured finance transactions in the trade and commodity sector and frequently handles pre-export and prepayment finance deals, as well as supply chain and receivables financings and borrowing base transactions for clients such as Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC. He acted alongside senior associate Richard Wilkes  for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme, which involved the drafting and negotiation of documentation for issuance facilities and revolving credit agreements. The practice also calls upon the extensive knowledge of of Jonathan Herbst, who is the firm's global head of financial services; dispute resolution specialist Neil Miller; regulatory expert Hannah Meakin; and structured finance partner Daniel Franks.

Simmons & Simmons has 'strong experience and a deep level of knowledge across the firm that is invaluable'. The London office has a full-service offering in this practice area and its work includes structured trade and commodity finance, accounts receivables and supply chain finance, ECA finance, regulatory matters and Islamic finance structures. Its ability to handle groundbreaking transactions was highlighted in 2017 by its work for Greensill Capital, which included the establishment of a $20bn secured note programme. This bespoke platform serves to facilitate the repackaging of financial assets and receivables. Securitisation partner Michael Lorraine and banking partner Omar Al-Ali led the transaction and acted for Castleton Commodities in a $3.6bn borrowing base facility. Practice head John Sayers  'has sound market knowledge and is recognised as a leader in trade and structured trade finance'; he advises on a broad range of bilateral, syndicated and structured lending in both developed and developing markets. Mainstream Renewable Power is among his clients.

Sullivan & Worcester UK LLP¬†is 'excellent on all counts; the fees are reasonable and the advice and the attention from the team is excellent'. The firm has an exclusive focus on¬†trade and export finance and is accordingly involved in some of the market's largest transactions.¬†Geoffrey Wynne¬†(whose 'hard-earned reputation as one of the leading trade finance lawyers in the market speaks for itself') acted with senior associate¬†Hannah Fearn¬†to provide regulatory advice to the International Trade and Forfaiting Association in regard to¬†trade finance transactions within the European Union.¬†Simon Cook¬†¬†'stands out for a robust and practical approach that is credible with both external clients and the banks' internal commercial teams'; he advised arranger Africa Trade Finance on a $160m club trade finance facility for¬†Nigeria‚Äôs United Bank for Africa.¬†Mark Norris¬†, who¬†sits on the British Bankers‚Äô Association‚Äôs export finance and trade committee and chairs its documentation working group, provides 'proactive and user-friendly advice'. His highlights included acting for¬†Banco Santander and Deutsche Bank on a ‚ā¨73m¬†UKEF guaranteed financing for The Republic of Ghana for the development of Kumasi Airport.

White & Case LLP has a four-partner team focused on trade finance, which works closely with the firm's project finance practice. Practice head Christopher Czarnocki has a stellar reputation in the trade finance market and is a key point of contact for global financial institutions, ECAs, multi-laterals and corporates. He recently acted for Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) in a landmark LNG regasification project in Tema, Ghana. The deal involved a complex trading arrangement under which a global subsidiary of Gazprom will supply LNG and convert it into gas through the terminal at Tema before selling the converted natural gas to GNPC. Newly promoted banking partner James Hardy is a structured trade and commodity finance specialist who has more than ten years’ experience in advising lenders and borrowers on finance transactions in the commodities sector, predominantly in emerging markets. He plays a key role in the firm's work for Puma Energy and several of the world's leading commodity trading houses. Emerging markets specialist Jason Kerr acted for Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell and Total in a $1bn financing for the development of oilfields under NNPC's oil debt programme. Tom Bartlett advises lenders and borrowers on trade finance transactions and reserve-based lending in sectors such as oil and gas, energy, mining, infrastructure, petrochemicals and telecoms.

The international banking and finance practice at Clifford Chance LLP includes a dedicated trade finance team that frequently handles complex structured deals. The firm has panel appointments with a large number of banks active in the trade finance market and also acts for many trade and industry associations, commodity trading companies and other corporates in transactions and regulatory matters. Its work encompasses structured trade finance, Letters of Credit, export finance, export credit deals, trading contracts and disputes. Leonard Cleland leads the practice and is much sought after for his experience in emerging markets including the CIS, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He frequently advises governments, lenders and borrowers on commodities and trade financing, and ECA-backed transactions. Logan Wright, who focuses on cross-border financings in Africa, the Middle East and Russia, advised Export Development Canada on a $100m unsecured loan to Zorlu Energi. Senior associate Ashley McDermott, who is a rising star in the banking and finance team, also worked on that deal.

Clyde & Co LLP has a team of trade finance specialists who work closely with the firm's broader banking and finance practice and frequently act for the world's largest banks, trading houses and logistics companies. The practice's work encompasses a wide range of commodities including crude oil, coal, metals and agricultural products, as well as a broad array of supply chain finance transactions. Practice head Robert Parson is a leading light in the market and handles complex transactions across the international trade and commodity, energy and natural resource sectors. He recently acted for a leading international bank on a high-value financing in the energy sector, which involved the purchase and repo financing of crude oil supplies. Rising star senior associate Geraldine Butac played a key role in that deal. Legal director Grace Asemota is recommended for her work in trade finance, international trade and commercial disputes. Highly respected consultant Stephen Tricks frequently advises EBRD on matters relating to trade finance such as the effect of sanctions.

'The firm has a very strong team that has worked exceptionally hard to deliver the highest quality of work to a tight timescale', says a client of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, who adds that the lawyers 'undoubtedly have a very deep understanding of the market and deliver an outstanding all-round service'. The 'first-rate practice' is led by both William Breeze, who leads on structured commodity trade finance, and reserve-based lending specialist Thomas Bethel  who is 'highly knowledgeable and very adept at seeing a deal through from inception to close'. Drawing on the firm's strong energy and natural resources capability, the practice acts for banks and trading houses including ING Bank, BNP Paribas and Natixis.  Breeze handles structured deals in the oil and gas sector, and to a lesser extent in metals and softs. His recent highlights include advising lender Société Générale on a $1bn hybrid PXF deal for a Dutch orphan SPV to finance the prepayment of crude oil to Oman Oil Company Exploration & Production LLC. Bethel, who acts predominantly for lenders and has 'as much experience in reserve-based lending as anyone in the market', advised lead arrangers of a $2bn financing for an acquisition by Neptune, which included both reserve-based lending and acquisition finance features.

HFW is 'a strong firm for physical commodities and is building a practice in trade finance'. Philip Prowse specialises in commodities trade finance and acts for lenders, borrowers, suppliers, producers, processors, distributors, insurers, logistics operators and end users. He leads the HFW Digital Trade Unit, which advises on the application of digital trade technologies. His recent work includes advising essDOCS, which provides electronic shipping solutions, on proposed revisions to the existing Databridge Services & Users Agreement, which sets out the legal framework for the use of electronic bills of lading and other electronic documentation in the context of paperless international trade. On the transactional side, he continued to act for leading commodity trading houses in high-value financing deals. Sarah Taylor handles international commodity trade and shipping matters, including disputes. Senior associate Jameel Tarmohamed  specialises in structured commodities trade finance.

Jones Day's trade finance practice acts for numerous financial institutions including Standard Advisory London, ICBC Standard Bank and Macquarie Bank on pre-export, pre-payment, reserve based lending and commodity trading facilities, particularly in Africa and the CIS. It also advises leading trade houses and¬† major corporates such as Trafigura, Total and Puma Energy on revolving credit facilities and receivables financing across a broad range of commodities.¬†In 2017, the practice handled financings with a value in excess of $11bn, which included small bilateral deals and large-scale transactions involving large syndicates of lenders.¬†Edwin Borrini¬† is 'just a great, all-around financing lawyer with a wealth of experience and knowledge'.¬† He advised British Arab Commercial Bank as lender on a ‚ā¨50m PXF facility related to the export of coffee and cocoa from Ivory Coast.¬†Experienced US and international capital markets partner¬†Drew Salvest¬†also plays a key role in the practice. He assisted Trafigura with a $5.1bn financing from banks including Rabobank and ING Bank. Senior associate¬†Andrew Singh¬†is also recommended.

Trade finance is a key part of Reed Smith LLP's comprehensive offering to clients in the commodities sector. The practice covers the full spectrum of financing structures including limited recourse prepayment facilities, borrowing base and warehouse finance structures, repo transactions, pre-export finance and structured supply chain finance. Its broad client base includes major trading houses and leading trade finance banks. 'The firm has always given first-class support with a very consistent approach, mainly because of its deep knowledge and understanding of commodity transactions as well as the legal and regulatory framework'. Practice head Jonathan Solomon is recommended for his 'knowledge, experience and skill that have proven critical in complex structuring circumstances to move transactions across the finishing line'; he recently advised a European bank on a $650m structured term loan for the purchase of base oil products by Shandong Qingyuan Group. Also recommended are counsel Ildar Bagautdinov and senior associate Patrick Sutton.

Taylor Wessing LLP's trade finance practice advises on the full range of transactions including receivables and supply chain financing, commodity-related guarantees, pre-export financing, Letters of Credit and asset-based lending. Elisabeth Gaunt leads the practice and has more than 20 years' experience advising banks, funds, sponsors, corporates and export credit agencies on trade and project finance structures. Newly promoted partner Lerika Joubert  is dual-qualified in England and South Africa and frequently advises financial institutions and corporates on receivables financing and securitisation. Senior associate Fiona Coady advises lenders and borrowers on deals in the energy, commodities and infrastructure sectors, notably in Africa. Emirates NBD and Santander Bank are among the practice's key clients.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP is 'very good in term of efficiency and service'. London is the main hub of the firm's commodities and upstream finance practice, which handles complex structured transactions and contentious matters for banks and trading houses. It has notable strength in the natural resources sector due to its specialist focus on areas such as mining, metals, soft commodities, oil and gas and other energy markets. The 'very reactive, efficient and pragmatic' Joe Levin leads the practice and recently acted for DnB, ING, BNP Paribas, Citi and BMO as mandated lead lenders, and several other financial institutions including Société Générale, Natixis and RBS as lenders on a $1.5bn reserve-based lending facility to Chrysaor for the acquisition of a portfolio of UK North Sea assets from Royal Dutch Shell. Levin is supported by highly regarded senior associates Sarah Lunn, who specialises in commodity, export, structured, project and asset finance, and by cross-border lending and project finance specialist Svetlana Sorokina-Wilson.

Addleshaw Goddard attracts praise for its 'industry knowledge and the number of experienced associates and senior associates it has at its disposal'. The firm is best known for mid-market asset-based lending matters, though it also handles invoice and supplier financing, commodity finance, PXF transactions, supply chain finance and structured trade deals. Banking partner and practice head Mike Davison  recently acted for a syndicate of banks on a shari'ah- compliant murabaha and trade facility agreement, and advised a major international bank on a transaction involving receivables financing, inventory finance and revolving credit facilities. The firm has 'a number of excellent associates in its team', including rising star James Tarleton, who plays a key role in asset-based lending, trade finance and specialty finance transactions, most notably borrowing base transactions and hybrid lending structures. Dispute resolution partner Michael Barnett has extensive experience in cross-border litigation arising from trade finance transactions. Banking litigator Mark Gill is also recommended.

Baker McKenzie¬†draws on the strength of its banking and finance practice, as well as its presence in key emerging markets, to handle a steady flow of trade finance transactions.¬†Nick Tostivin¬†is the key partner in London and he¬†has extensive experience in syndicated lending transactions including acquisition finance. He recently advised an export credit agency and a global bank as lenders on ECA-backed facilities to finance equipment for companies in emerging markets. Senior associate¬†Luka Lightfoot¬†in the banking and finance group works on both trade and project finance matters. He played a key role in advising Bank of America Merrill Lynch on ‚ā¨799m and $411m dual-currency term loan facilities provided to Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi. He also assisted a leading investment bank with a comprehensive, multi-jurisdictional due diligence review of its bank-to-bank trade finance products.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP's commodities practice has become increasingly involved in trade finance transactions and disputes. The firm advised banks and traders on numerous trade finance deals and assisted a prominent bank in Geneva with the production of bespoke commodity trade finance documentation. Mark Aspinall and Paul Sinnott , who 'knows everything about trading' are the key contacts. Contentious highlights included two oil financing disputes for banks in Geneva, each with a value exceeding $20m, and an $8m letter of credit dispute for a metals trader. Aspinall's successes included winning a $22m gasoline financing case for a bank against the owner of an oil trading company.

Fieldfisher has grown its finance practice over the last two years, bringing in structured finance expertise that has helped to spur on its activity in trade finance. The firm handles high-profile transactions, which last year included advising banks such as Société Générale and Citi on the issuance of $500m in commodity receivables-backed notes by Trafigura Securitisation Finance plc. Securitisation specialists Dougall Molson and Richard Todd led that deal. Molson and project finance specialist Matt Hinxman, who advises on Letters of Credit, borrowing base facilities, pre-export and export finance facilities and general trade and related finance, acted for Traxys in a $120m commodity pre-payment financing used to fund the acquisition by Central Asia Metals plc of Lynx Resources. Hinxman also assisted EBRD with a $350m syndicated loan to JSX ShalkiyaZinc for the expansion of a mine in Kazakhstan. Practice head Oliver Abel Smith has particular expertise in trade, commodity and asset finance in the energy and natural resources sectors. He recently advised Banco do Brasil on several trade finance matters including the creation of template facility documents for Letter of Credit facilities. Mining and natural resources partner Jonathan Brooks and head of finance Andrew Evans, who counts Silicon Valley Bank among his clients, are also recommended.

The trade finance practice at Thomas Cooper LLP is known for its role in deals involving Africa, Russia and South America, particularly Brazil. Head of finance Grant Eldred and head of trade Charles Williams, who is particularly adept in trade finance disputes, are 'specialists in the field, easy to do business with and extremely helpful'. Alex Monk, whose recent highlights include structured commodity finance facilities for soft commodities traders in the CIS region, has a broad finance practice that sees him act for banks, financial institutions and corporates in European and emerging markets deals.

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