Trade finance in London
Allen & Overy LLP has a dedicated trade and commodity finance team in London, which is part of its market-leading banking group. Its work focuses on complex and innovative financings in the trade and commodity space on behalf of major banks, commodity trading houses and large corporates. As well as transactional matters, it is also prominent in the restructuring of existing structures and in litigation arising from distressed situations. Its growing workload in this area is, in part, due to the addition of private equity funds, commodity traders, borrowers and banks to its client base. Up-and-coming partner Catherine Lang-Anderson leads the practice and she has experience in structured commodity finance, trade finance, receivables purchase and supply chain structures. Banking partner Greg Brown handles a wide range of debt finance with a particular focus on trade, commodities and emerging markets. David Campbell in the firm's restructuring group is heavily involved in borrowing base and other trade finance transactions in distressed scenarios.
Other key lawyers:
- Advised ABN AMRO, Lloyds Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited as mandated lead arrangers and original lenders, ABN Amro Bank N.V. as facility agent and Standard Chartered Bank as security agent on the amendment and restatement of the $1.1bn Syndicated Revolving Omnibus Facilities for Macquarie Commodities Trading, supported by a parent company guarantee provided by Macquarie Group Limited to support its commodities business.
- Advised Stemcor’s lenders on a mixture of uncommitted trade finance and committed borrowing base facilities.
- Acting as lead counsel for Metinvest, a Ukrainian vertically integrated group of steel and mining companies and a leading player in the commodities market, in connection with its financing arrangements, which include a syndicated pre-export finance facility and other trade finance lines.
The commodities, trade and upstream finance practice at Dentons is highly respected for its work on cross-border financings involving emerging markets. With a varied roster of work that includes high-value syndicated receivables financing in Ghana, reserve-based lending for banks and oil traders, and structured trades involving commodity derivatives, the firm calls upon a dedicated team of specialists who work closely with the firm's global banking group. Among its clients are Ghana Cocoa Board, ING and ED&F Man Group. Practice head Celia Gardiner is 'a real trade finance specialist and a good operator' whose work includes receivables financing and invoice discounting transactions. Howard Barrie splits his time between projects and project finance, principally in Africa, and structured trade and commodity finance. His recent work includes advising a major lender on distributions of receivables finance and trade finance. Mark Cheney specialises in physicals commodity trading and structured commodities transactions in the energy sector. Senior associate Ian Clements is recommended for his work in Europe, Latin America and Africa, and counsel Lee McLernon for his advice to major export finance banks.
‘Celia Gardiner is a real trade finance specialist and a good operator.’
‘The team’s main strength is the ability to get straight to the heart of the matter and immediately address the task in a timely and efficient manner.’
‘While Celia Gardiner has been hugely helpful on a large number of matters, more recently Ian Clements has provided outstanding assistance which has meant Dentons has become our “go-to” firm.’
‘The banking and finance team of Dentons, led by Paul Holland, has been professional and efficient in every way. Their anticipation skills and reactivity have helped us enormously.’
Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD)
Coöperative Rabobank U.A
ED&F Man Group
- Advised Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), as part of a long-term receivables-backed financing, the proceeds of which will be used for various ‘productivity enhancement programmes’ relating to the development of the Ghanaian cocoa industry, including farm irrigation projects, the rehabilitation of farms infected by pests and diseases, pollination programmes and improving warehouse capacity.
- Advised Swiss-based Duferco SA and its parent company, Duferco International Trading Holdings SA, on its $700m pre-payment arrangement with Indian steel producer JSW Steel Limited for steel deliveries, and the financing of this through a limited recourse facility.
- Advised Standard Chartered Bank as Facility Agent and Security Agent in respect of an Islamic finance-compliant reserve-based lending facility in favour of confidential exploration and production companies with assets onshore in Pakistan.
Hogan Lovells International LLP has a core team in London that acts as the central hub for its global trade finance practice. Acting for both lenders and borrowers, among them banks, commodities traders, multilateral institutions, regional and development banks, export credit agencies and governments, the group has longstanding transactional experience and is a premier source of advice on documentation and structures for clients in a diverse range of industries. Among its key clients are HSBC Bank, IFC, Afreximbank and Société Générale. Its work covers traditional trade finance instruments such as letters of credit, bills of exchange, bills of lading and demand guarantees, as well as highly structured transactions, pre-export finance, limited recourse prepayment structures and borrowing base financings across oil and gas, metals and agricultural commodities. The practice is led by banking partner Andrew Taylor, whose practice covers the UK, Europe and emerging markets. Trade and export finance specialist David Leggott advises banks and trading companies on transactions in Russia, the CIS, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Clients also remark that banking and trade finance associate Simon Cowell is one to watch.
Other key lawyers:
‘We often work with Hogan Lovells, which provides valuable support to us. Simon Cowell is an associate who shows a lot of potential.’
HSBC Bank plc
International Finance Corporation (IFC)
ING Bank N.V.
- Advising Citibank on a $1.6bn syndicated borrowing base financing for Preem AB, the largest fuel company in Sweden.
- Acting on a credit insured limited recourse invoice discounting facility led by Credit Agricole in Paris; the facility is syndicated and committed and has an accordion option to increase the facility size to $1bn.
- Advising Afreximbank in relation to a platinum receivables pre-financing term loan facility being made available to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which will enable RBZ to borrow directly against the value of certain dollar payment flows arising from the sale of platinum.
The commodities and trade finance practice at Linklaters LLP has a broad range of experience across receivables-backed financings, export and multi-lateral credits and commodity-based finance. The dedicated global group has developed out of the firm's energy, natural resource and mining practices, so its key lawyers have a keen understanding of the underlying commodity markets. As well as focusing on trade finance, pre-export finance, pre-payment finance, borrowing base finance and reserve-based lending, the firm can also call upon expertise in derivatives, physical commodity trading, inventory monetisation, capital markets, Islamic finance and litigation. The London practice also works in close collaboration with teams in New York, Singapore, Beijing, Dubai and other key financial centres to advise banks such as ING and Deutsche Bank, trading houses such as Glencore, and borrowers such as KAZ Minerals Group. Banking partner Toby Grimstone also plays a pivotal role in the practice, particularly in ECA-backed financings and borrowing base facilities.
Other key lawyers:
KAZ Minerals Group
UK Export Finance
Citibank, N.A., London Branch
ING Bank NV
- Advised UK Export Finance and Citibank, N.A., London Branch, on a new £500m term loan facility, guaranteed by UK Export Finance, and £125m term loan facility to be made available to Jaguar Land Rover Automotive plc.
- Advised KAZ Minerals Group on the $600m credit facility entered into with the Development Bank of Kazakhstan JSC.
- Advised Glencore in connection with the unwinding of its joint venture with the Qatar Investment Authority in relation to a 19.5% stake in Rosneft.
Norton Rose Fulbright is praised for its 'deep and broad market knowledge'. The firm is a recognised leader in trade and commodity finance, bringing together extensive expertise in international trade, trade finance, commodity physical supply contracts, shipping, commodity futures, regulation, fintech and dispute resolution. Its work covers pre-export and pre-payment financings, committed and uncommitted transactional trade finance facilities, borrowing base facilities, warehouse, stock and consignment financing, commodity repos and a host of other structures. Global head of trade finance Nicholas (Nick) Grandage is one of the market's grandees and, along with key partner Andrew Wood, is part of one of the market's most experienced senior teams in London. They are backed up by a strong team of senior associates, among them Tudor Plapcianu (who is 'very thorough with strong commercial sense') and Richard Wilkes who advises banks, DFIs, traders, producers, exporters and alternative financiers on complex and innovative cross-border structured financings.
‘The trade finance team under Andrew Wood is very good. It is able to handle a good number of agreements and templates and provides good quality of work in tight timelines.’
‘Andrew Wood and Richard Wilkes stand out as a great team.’
‘The lawyer I have worked with is not only very thorough and provides excellent legal advice but also has a strong commercial sense which helps him guide his client on the commercial and risk implications of legal issues. He has also on numerous occasions shown an ability to propose innovative solutions to allow negotiations to progress.’
‘Tudor Plapcianu is very thorough with strong commercial sense and he proposes innovative solutions to problems encountered during negotiations.’
‘The firm has deep and broad market knowledge.’
‘Tudor Plapcianu is wonderfully bright and responsive.’
‘We appreciate their exceptional knowledge and readiness to engage in discussions and explore different approaches to solving problems. They have an exceptional personal touch when communicating with clients and genuine interest in clients’ work, strategies and challenges. Amazing! The best external law firm I have worked with during my ten years in my current organisation.’
‘Richard Wilkes is an excellent associate, and Andrew Wood is an exceptional partner! The whole team is very, very good! They are very responsive, excellent at communicating and adhering to deadlines, which can be tough in a fast-paced environment. Also their positive team spirit and camaraderie comes through when communicating with us – it must be an excellent team to work in as they are all seem happy and are genuinely a very nice bunch of lawyers!’
The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi Ltd
Coal India Limited (CIL)
Commodities Markets Council
Erste Group Bank AG
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Eurasian Resources Group
Standard Chartered Bank
ICBC Standard Bank
Raiffeisen Bank International AG
Mizuho Bank, Ltd
UK Export Finance
- Advised Macquarie on its $1.1bn syndicated revolving borrowing base facility with a group of international commercial lenders, including Standard Chartered Bank, SMBC, Bank of China and MUFG Bank.
- Advising EBRD on a $50m Emergency Gas Standby Letter of Credit Issuance Facility provided to the Republic of Moldova.
- Acted as global and US counsel to the Mercuria Energy Group in relation to global and US debtor-in-possession borrowing base financing for Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. along with related matters including litigation.
Reed Smith LLP
The energy and natural resources group at Reed Smith LLP has a dedicated trade finance practice spanning many key jurisdictions and led by two experienced partners in London. Practice head Jonathan Solomon and key partner Omar Al-Ali, along with counsel Ildar Bagautdinov and a team of associates, focus purely on trade finance and their work encompasses limited recourse prepayment facilities, borrowing base and warehouse finance structures, repo transactions, pre-export finance, structured supplier finance, complex credit support arrangements for trading activities, secured trade finance and monetisation projects in the commodities sector. The firm is active across the full scope of hard and soft commodities, representing major banks, funds, corporates and commodity trading houses. The core London group works closely with partners in the US, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Dubai to handle transactions in Latin America, Africa, Asia-Pacific, the CEE, the CIS and the Middle East. One client remarks that 'the biggest advantage is the fact that partners are located in many jurisdictions and they can cover transactions with parties in multiple countries'.
‘The biggest advantage is the fact that partners are located in many jurisdictions and they can cover transactions with parties in multiple countries.’
‘The partners are easily reachable and they quickly answer emails.’
‘Reed Smith has an excellent team that has demonstrated the highest level of performance and service for our trade finance and commodities requirements.’
‘Our interactions with all members of the Reed Smith team have been a pleasant experience with our requirements being met to a high standard in terms of both quality and efficiency. Our main contact, Patrick Sutton, has been exceptional in facilitating and delivering our legal requirements.’
‘The firm has great trading knowledge coupled with exceptional trade finance work. We appreciate the depth of partners’ knowledge.’
‘Ildar Bagautdinov is always available, calm, capable, and he knows the LMA and RECF inside out.’
‘The team is great! The partner that we normally contact is Elizabeth Farrell. She is amazing! She is very knowledgeable, pays attention to details, is very clear in her responses and available.’
‘Senior associate Patrick Sutton is also very good. He is super-fast and his drafts are always exceptional.’
Sullivan & Worcester UK LLP has had a market-leading trade finance since its launch in London six years ago, working in close co-operation with the firm's US-based trade and commodities finance practitioners. Clients praise the firm's 'in-depth knowledge of the trade finance market and the secondary market for short-term trade assets', noting that it has 'a depth that other law firms do not possess'. The practice covers the full range of trade finance structures and instruments from letters of credit to highly structured transactions. It is also involved in cutting-edge developments such as the application of blockchain and fintech technology to the trade finance market. 'They are leaders, not followers,' say clients of the practice's lead partners - Geoffrey Wynne, Simon Cook, Mark Norris and litigator Marian Boyle - all of whom are highly regarded specialists in this field. The practice also has a strong roster of junior lawyers coming through the ranks. Managing associate Hannah Fearn and senior associate Sam Fowler-Holmes are recommended as part of 'a great team with deep knowledge of the intricacies of a very specific market'. Senior associate Alexandra Shipulina joined from Thomas Cooper, which is now part of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP.
‘The team at Sullivan in London has an in-depth knowledge of the trade finance market, and in particular the secondary market for short-term trade assets. They have helped develop industry-standard templates, and contributed to numerous discussions on key topics.’
‘It has a great team with deep knowledge of the intricacies of a very specific market. Geoffrey Wynne, Hannah Fearn and Sam Fowler-Holmes all stand out.’
‘The team has good regulatory knowledge on insurance guarantee products, which is key to the project we worked on with them. Geoff Wynne and Hannah Fearn stand out.’
‘The firm has a good breadth of knowledge and industry leadership. Geoff Wynne and Simon Cook are longstanding experts in their field and very visible in the market. Geoff particularly is very involved in industry development and leadership with industry groups and bodies as the market evolves. They are leaders, not followers.’
‘It has a respected and knowledgeable practice across the partners and associates, with a depth that other law firms do not possess. Very visible across the trade finance market which makes them one of the “go-to” firms.’
‘The individuals are all knowledgeable and prepared to not only give advice, but also be flexible and open to change in line with commercial aspects of a transaction. They are very approachable and well known and have been in the market for many years.’
Crown Agents Bank
International Trade and Forfaiting Association (ITFA)
Wyelands Bank plc
AMC Trade Finance
Standard Chartered Bank
Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT)
- Advising Banco Santander S.A. and Deutsche Bank AG on the UKEF Guaranteed financing for The Republic of Ghana for the development of Kumasi Airport.
- Working closely with colleagues in the US, theLondon office advised international financial services association, BAFT (the Bankers Association for Finance & Trade), in relation a major update to the New York law Master Participation Agreement (MPA) and associated usage guidelines, published in late 2019.
- Adviser to the Insurance Committee of the ITFA board in connection with various market-led insurance related matters; this work included advising on standard form insurance policy wording and proposed approaches the market should be taking towards the regulator in connection with the availability to funders of credit risk mitigation for insurance and insurance-related products.
Clients describe the trade and commodity finance practice at White & Case LLP as 'exceptional in its delivery', particularly in complex and innovative transactions. Working with banks and trading houses, among them Deutsche Bank and African Development Bank, the group leverages its in-depth knowledge of global commodities markets, its experience in emerging markets and its skills in structured finance, physical commodities off-take agreements, commodity derivatives, shipping and litigation to handle transactions in Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, Russia/CIS and Latin America. Besides structured finance, the practice also handles traditional trade finance instruments such as letters of credit. Practice head Christopher Czarnocki is a key adviser to leading banks, ECAs, corporates and sovereigns. James Hardy has 15 years' experience in structured trade and commodity finance in emerging markets, acting for both lenders and borrowers. Tom Bartlett is recommended for reserve-based lending transactions.
‘The team has been very exceptional in its delivery.’
‘James Hardy and Juanita Derex-Briggs have been exceptional.’
Ithaca – BP
African Development Bank
Ministry of Finance (Ghana) and Ministry of Energy (Ghana)
Helios Investment Partners
- Advised Ithaca Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delek Group, on long-term oil and gas off-take and marketing agreements with BP, which involved short-term advance payment terms.
- Represented the African Development Bank on this very structured trade finance facility for Meridian to finance the purchase, storage and export of soft commodities and fertilisers in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
- Representing the Ministries of Finance and Energy of Ghana in connection with the monetisation of royalties payable to the state by companies operating in the gold commodity sector.
Baker McKenzie focuses on high-value, complex and cross-border trade and export finance transactions. Drawing on its global network of offices, the London finance group is able to handle significant transactions associated with complex project finance structures and financial restructurings around the world. Its recent work includes matters in EMEA, CIS and Latin America, with a particular sector emphasis on commodities, oil and gas and infrastructure. Practice head Nick Tostivin leads the firm's banking and finance group in London, as well as the trade finance practice. Among his key clients are Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Key partner Marc Fèvre has more than 20 years' experience in financings in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East with a particular focus on the energy and infrastructure sectors. His work includes multi-source and ECA-backed project and trade financing transactions. Structured finance partner Jeremy Levy and senior associate Luka Lightfoot also play key roles in the practice.
Standard Chartered Bank (SCB)
UK Export Finance
African Export-Import Bank
Channel Capital Advisors LLP
Blackstar Capital Europe Limited
Mizuho Bank, Ltd.
Société de Promotion et de Participation pour la Coopération Economique S.A. (PROPARCO)
Bank of America Merrill Lynch International
Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank
- Advised commercial banks, export credit agencies and development finance institutions on a £1.8bn multi-sourced financing for the Tanzanian Light Rail Project, Tanzania – the largest high-speed rail project in Africa.
- Advised commercial banks and UK Export Finance on three separate dual tranche financings for the design, construction and development of three hospitals in the Sultanate of Oman.
- Advised Standard Chartered Bank, Société Générale and other lenders on a $1.5bn receivables-backed financing for Sonangol.
Clyde & Co LLP is well known for its global commodities and shipping practices, which are closely aligned with the trade finance group. Led by trade finance specialist Robert Parson, who advises a diverse range of clients across the international trade and commodity, energy and natural resource sectors, the practice handles physical commodity transactions, structured trade finance, trade receivables and supply chain finance for commodities producers, trading houses, banks, commodity funds and export credit agencies. Parson has a track record of involvement in high-value and innovative trade and commodity finance transactions, as well as traditional trade finance instruments such as letters of credit. Senior associate Geraldine Butac also advises banks, specialist financial institutions and corporates on trade and commodity finance. Consultant Nuno Frota, who joined from Ince, has experience in West Africa in both hard and soft commodities.
Trade finance is an integral part of the financial markets and products group at Fieldfisher, which climbs the ranking this year. The firm has become heavily involved in advising bank clients, commodity trading houses and producers on pre-payment financings and related off-take arrangements. As well as providing transactional advice, the firm also assists with the financial regulatory and regulatory capital aspects of trade finance products, and it is involved in the development of new fintech solutions and platforms in this area. In 2019, the practice led by Oliver Abel Smith handled royalty and pre-payment facilities with a value in excess of $1bn. The firm further strengthened its capabilities in trade finance with the hire of experienced partner Rashpaul Bahia from Reed Smith LLP. He joins project finance specialist Matt Hinxman, structured finance partner Dougall Molson and securitisation and receivables financings partner Richard Todd in a practice described by one client as 'responsive and very efficient, with true professionals offering practical solutions'.
‘It is very responsive and offers very practical solutions.’
‘Responsive and very efficient, with true professionals offering practical solutions.’
‘The firm provides highly professional legal services and practical solutions across a wide range of areas – partners, associates and staff are all very approachable and never fail to deliver a high-quality product on a most timely basis.’
‘Oliver Abel Smith is the partner with whom I interact mostly – he never fails to grasp our requirements immediately and never fails to deliver practical and professional solutions within what are quite often very tight deadlines.’
‘The team is excellent in this field.’
‘Oliver Abel Smith is a stand-out partner who provides an outstanding service.’
Africa Finance Corporation
Amalgamated Metal Corporation plc
Europe Arab Bank plc
European Bank of Reconstruction and Development
Fusion Capital AG
ICBC Standard Bank
Misr Bank Europe GmbH
Osisko Gold Royalties
RCB Bank Ltd
Silicon Valley Bank
Shawbrook Bank Limited
Trafigura Pte Limited
Traxys Europe SA
- Advised a financial institution on a $550m pre-payment facility for an aluminium off-take for a Central Asian smelter, the associated hedging arrangements and a sub-participation relating to the facility.
- Advised a financial institution on credit risk mitigation arrangements for regulatory capital in relation to trade finance products arising as a consequence of Brexit.
- Advised a fintech client on the development of a new electronic platform for the discounting and sub-participation of bills of exchange, involving the warehousing of bills of exchange pending their sub-participation to various financial institutions.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has a market-leading energy practice that advises both lenders and borrowers on a broad range of project, trade and structured finance transactions. Much of the firm's trade finance work focuses on the oil sector, and the practice has notable expertise in high-value reserve-based lending (RBL) transactions. Recently, this included a number of hybrid RBL and project finance structures that are becoming a more common feature in upstream development financings. The practice led by oil and gas finance specialist Thomas Bethel and William Breeze, who handles a range of trade, project finance and upstream energy finance, has strong senior associates in Kerry Reid and Rakhee Patel. Pedro Rufino Carvalho, who is the the only Brazil-qualified partner in the City, co-ordinates the Latin America desk from London and has experience in both project and structured finance.
Mercuria Energy Trading
- Advised BNP Paribas on a $1.65bn acquisition reserve-based lending financing in connection with Ithaca Energy’s acquisition of the shares of Chevron North Sea Limited which owns oil and gas assets in the UK North Sea.
- Advised Trident Energy (as purchaser and as borrower) on its first-of-a-kind RBL financing and acquisition of Brazilian oil and gas assets from Petrobras.
- Advised the lenders to Karoon Petróleo e Gás Ltda, a subsidiary of Australian listed oil and gas company Karoon Gas, on the reserve-based lending facility for the acquisition of the Baúna oil field in Brazil’s Santos Basin from Petrobras.
The trade finance practice at Hill Dickinson LLP is an important adjunct to the work done by the firm's leading commodities group, which has extensive experience in softs, energy and metals. The firm has an increasingly prominent role in trade finance deals and related disputes, frequently acting for banks and trading houses in high-value and complex structured transactions. Among its clients are Bunge, Gunvor, Cargill, Tate & Lyle and Gerald Metals. Consultant Mark Aspinall is the main contact for trade finance, though he is backed by a strong group of commodities specialists including Fred Konynenburg, Paul Sinnott and litigator Andrew Buchmann. Associate Olga Newman, who joined from Reed Smith LLP, is also active in commodity trading and trade finance matters. One client remarks that the team is 'practical and commercial, and they are able to hand-hold and guide clients'.
‘Practical and commercial, they are able to hand-hold and guide clients.’
‘The team is competent, available and sympathetic.’
‘We have established a long-term relationship with the firm and we have full trust in them. They are always available on short notice.’
‘The Hill Dickinson commodities team demonstrates genuine strength in depth. The partners appear to be supportive of one and other and collegiate. The team is responsive, professional and delivers a very high quality of service and expertise. In my 18 years within the commodities sector, this Hill Dickinson Commodities team delivers by far the best in terms of work product and turnaround time compared to other firms I have used.’
‘Darren Wall is very personable and always available. He has a strong grasp of the details of a case. He is strategic and very tactically astute.
‘Andrew Buchmann is a very intelligent insightful lawyer. He has an excellent understanding of both the business and legal aspects of a case. He has an impressive written style, is very persuasive and presents brilliant arguments before trade tribunals.’
‘We appreciate the excellent knowledge of the products and the commodities trade in its whole. We should not forget their legal capacities, both in cargo as in insurance matters. They also provide excellent assistance in commercial matters, when these have to be handled in the course of a cargo claim. They are also always prepared to assist us for advice in all kind of legal matters.’
‘They provide quick response times, excellent availability, in-house master mariners, and interventions both on the wet and the dry shipping side, so that files can be handled from start to finish by the same law office. For myself, I have had a very long and friendly relationship with some of the lawyers.’
‘Fred Konynenburg is an excellent lawyer both in cargo as in insurance matters. He provides good and clear advice, proactive handling of issues and he is open, reliable, straightforward and honest.’
‘Marc Aspinall is a fantastic lawyer for shipping and commodity trading matters.’
Alliance Grain Traders
Phoenix Global DMCC
Tate & Lyle
The International Cotton Association
The Sugar Association of London
- Acting on behalf of a trade finance bank financing an oil cargo said to have been loaded on board a vessel in the Arabia Gulf.
Jones Day acts for a diverse range of financial institutions, among which are ICBC Standard Bank plc, British Arab Commercial Bank plc and China Development Bank, on pre-export, pre-payment, reserve-based lending and commodity trading facilities, as well as receivables securitisation programmes, most notably in Africa and the CIS states. Recent deals have involved Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa. Its work spans a range of commodities but it has particular expertise in oil, metals and agricultural products. Alongside banks, trading houses such as Trafigura make up a significant proportion of the firm's client base, and it increasingly acts for large corporates such as Total SA and US Steel. Edwin Borrini is the lead partner and he frequently acts for both lenders and borrowers in smaller bilateral transactions as well as high-value financings involving a large syndicate of lenders. Drew Salvest moved to Duane Morris LLP.
Trafigura Group Pte. Ltd.
ICBC Standard Bank Plc
British Arab Commercial Bank plc
Macquarie Bank Limited (London Branch)
Puma Energy Holdings PTE. Ltd.
China Development Bank
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, The
Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited
- Advised British Arab Commercial Bank Plc as lender with respect to a secured Euro-denominated PXF facility relating to the processing and export of cocoa and coffee out of the Ivory Coast.
- Advised Trafigura Group Pte Ltd on its acquisition of a majority stake in the operating business of Nyrstar and related issuance of notes under its EMTN Programme.
- Acted for US Steel’s Slovakian subsidiary as borrower in relation to an amendment and restatement of a €460m syndicated facility relating to the general operations of the borrower.
'We appreciate the team's availability and professionalism and its knowledge of the market,' remarks a client of Mayer Brown International LLP, which climbs the ranking this year. Working predominantly for banks, though increasingly for funds, corporates and fintech companies, the practice frequently advises on complex global receivables finance structures including borrowing base facilities. Its recent work includes documenting off-balance sheet receivables purchase facilities in relation to receivables originated in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Romania, South Korea and the UAE. Its involvement in export and agency finance, as well as structured trade and commodity finance, has continued to grow thanks to the in-depth experience of practice head Alex Dell, who is also co-head of the firm's asset-based lending group, and Ashley McDermott, who has a strong track record in trade finance and emerging markets transactions. Up-and-coming partner Charles Thain is also noted for receivables and supply chain finance transactions.
‘We appreciate the team’s availability and professionalism and its knowledge of the market.’
- Represented US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises, the NASDAQ-listed and world’s second-largest cruise company, in arranging facilities to finance the acquisition of two Evolution Class luxury ships that will be delivered by Meyer Werft’s German yard in 2022.
Addleshaw Goddard has a strong presence in mid-market finance work, predominantly acting for lenders. Clients describe the team as 'responsive, well priced and conscientious'. Mike Davison in London leads the finance and projects group, which acts for major clearing banks and others such as Bank Leumi and BNP Paribas in transactions such as receivables and supply chain financings, shari'ah-compliant deals and commodity finance arrangements. Its work predominantly consists of traditional trade finance deals and supply chain financing, though it also has a specialist litigation team which handles contentious matters that arise from these structures. Simon Prendergast and managing associate Lauren Priest-Stephens, who are based in Manchester, are also active in trade finance.
Other key lawyers:
‘We use the firm for non-contentious work involving the drafting of documentation for new and current asset-based lending deals. They are responsive, well priced and conscientious. A number of their team members have spent time with us on secondment over the years so it is sometimes like having temporary extra in-house lawyers at the end of a phone.’
Advance Global Capital
ABN Amro Commercial Finance
PNC Business Credit
Bank of London and the Middle East
HSBC Invoice Finance
BNP Paribas Commercial Finance
Leumi ABL Limited
Seneca Trade Finance
- Acted for PNC Bank NA and PNC Business Credit in relation to an international receivables financing transaction for the provision of facilities to the acquisition by Crossplane of the Accent group of companies, notably Accent Wire.
- Acted for Investec in providing finance to fund the creation of a new £100m revenue group created by the three-way merger of three technology sector manpower businesses; this was provided through a mixture of receivables financing and traditional cash flow loans.
- Advised the revised syndicate in relation to the provision of a restructured trade finance facility structured via a mixture of conventional and shari’ah law compliant facilities, including complex shari’ah law Syndication advice and separation of monies to Wogen Metals.
Clifford Chance LLP handles large and complex structured trade finance deals and its dedicated trade finance practice frequently advises leading banks, trade and industry associations, commodity trading companies and other corporates participants on high-value and innovative transactions and regulatory matters. The firm's work encompasses letters of credit, performance bonds and bills of exchange, export finance, Islamic finance, sanctions and more. Leonard Cleland is a specialist in emerging markets and structured trade finance. He has worked on structures involving the CIS, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Simon Williams, who handles international cross-border banking and finance transactions, also plays a key role in the practice.
Other key lawyers:
DLA Piper joins the ranking this year having seen more trade finance work stemming from its skills in commodities, international trade, asset-based lending and projects. 'There is a real industry knowledge in the team', remarks one client, while another praises its 'creative and knowledgeable' approach. Acting for funders, sponsors, debt funds, alternative credit providers and corporates, the firm handles the funding of receivables, stock, plant and machinery. Practice head Richard Usher is a physical commodities specialist with 22 years' experience in the market who frequently handles the financing of agricultural products, oil, metals, coal, electricity, gas and LNG. Project finance partner Charles Morrison also plays a key role in the practice, focusing on upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas transactions, power projects and related financings.
‘The detailed knowledge in a very specific sector is what differentiates them. Richard Usher is the person to consult on global supply chain issues.’
‘DLA Piper has a great network around the globe, which makes it easy to engage them on multi-jurisdictional transactions, and its associates are familiar with different legal systems.’
‘Associate Rachel Holt provided us with a positive experience. She is extremely responsible and responsive. Her strengths are her good organisational skills and her responsiveness.’
‘There is a real industry knowledge in the team. The partner has worked inside and outside law firms, so the team puts together realistic documentation that can be implemented quickly and easily. It is practical law which is totally effective.’
‘In terms of practical implementation and understanding they are light years ahead of the other law firms.’
‘They listen and then, with practical experience, develop a reasonable plan to go forward, hitting realistic time lines.’
‘They are always available, with the ability to respond to short deadlines but in a comprehensive matter. They are creative and knowledgeable.’
Eastern and Southern Trade Development Bank
gunnercooke LLP joins the ranking having recruited specialist trade and commodity finance partner Veronika Koroleva from Dentons. One client notes that 'this team provides a bespoke and extremely user-friendly service, which in many respects has the feel of having one's own in-house counsel'. Koroleva co-leads the practice with Marc Weisberger, who has more than 20 years' experience in commodities trading, finance and investment. Together, they act for both lenders and borrowers, with a particular focus on alternative finance providers, international banks with a UK presence, and commodity traders. Working across the full range of traded commodities, they handle pre-payment and off-take arrangements, spot and term commodity sales, structured trade and commodity finance, ownership-based structures, trade finance products, receivables financing and supply chain financing.
‘This team provides a bespoke and extremely user-friendly service, which in many respects has the feel of having one’s own in-house counsel. Furthermore, they have proved to be efficient, conscientious, informative and most importantly flexible in their approach.’
‘The individuals we have worked with, including Marc Weisberger, have always been highly approachable and receptive to our requirements and resourceful in assisting us to complete complex cross-border transactions, which have required completion in narrow timescales.’
‘Marc Weisberger is very knowledgeable in derivatives matters.’
ExWorks Capital (alternative finance provider)
SOCAR Trading SA
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Limited, London Branch
- Advised the lender on a trade finance facility to the US importer of nuts and soft fruit to finance the storage and sale of products in the USA, which involved structuring and negotiating a bespoke security sharing over goods in warehouses and sales proceeds and intercreditor arrangements with another bilateral lender to the borrower group covering the total of £65m of the new and existing trade finance debt of the borrower group in respect of its US and UK operations.
- Advised the lender on working capital receivables-backed facilities to Greenview Gas, a UK heating and gas, electrical, renewable energy and air conditioning management company, to finance a series of strategic acquisitions by the borrower group.
- As lead counsel for ExWorks Capital’s London office, the firm established a portfolio of secured alternative working capital loans to clients in the UK, Africa and Europe.
HFW joins the ranking this year due to its growing workload in the trade finance sector, which builds on the firm's expertise in both commodities and banking. Its diverse range of work includes pre-export financings, receivables finance, syndicated and bilateral credit facilities, pre-payment structures and inventory monetisation. Practice head Philip Prowse specialises in structured commodities trade finance for lenders, borrowers, suppliers, producers, processors, distributors, insurers, logistics operators and end users. Deputy head Adam Topping acts for financial institutions, hedge funds, energy companies, utility groups and corporates in a range of regulatory and transactional matters, most notably in the commodities sector. Senior associate Jameel Tarmohamed handles both trade finance and digital trade matters.
Other key lawyers:
- Advising Trafigura on a syndicated English law $700m Master Guarantee and Receivables Purchase Agreement (MGRPA) with Natixis and a number of other financial institutions relating to receivables arising under Trafigura’s contract with Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise (EPSE) for the sale and purchase of petroleum products.
Simmons & Simmons
Simmons & Simmons handles structured trade and commodity finance, account receivables and supply chain finance, as well as ECA-backed transactions. It is also active in Islamic finance and regulatory matters. It counts banks, trading companies, niche trade finance providers and trade-focused funds among its clients. The work of practice head John Sayers and key partner Matthew Cox encompasses bilateral and syndicated corporate financings, structured trade finance, export credit agency supported transactions, multilateral trade finance liquidity programmes, asset finance, project finance and finance leasing.
Other key lawyers:
Stephenson Harwood has a highly regarded commodities practice, which leads the firm into the commodity and trade finance market on behalf of a wide variety of clients, including mineral extraction companies, end users and banks such as Macquarie. The practice led by Haris Zografakis handles advisory, transactional and contentious matters for clients in the physical commodities, trade finance and derivatives markets, with particular expertise in coal, crude oil and petrochemicals, LNG, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and mining. Consultant David Lacey and key partners Rubin Weston, Jonathan Spearing and Neil Noble are highly experienced in trade and commodity finance matters.
- Acted for SUEK in a $1bn pre-export financing from a lending syndicate led by Deutsche Bank.
- Acted for SUEK in a $50m loan facility to fund its import of Japanese mining equipment.
- Acted for SUEK in relation to a Framework Agreement with MUFG Bank and acted on the first facility completed under the terms of the Framework Agreement (guaranteed by OEKD, the Austrian ECA).
In recent years, Taylor Wessing LLP has built up a trade finance team in the UK, which now advises on a broad range of products. As part of its banking group, the practice handles receivables financing, supply chain financing, commodity-related guarantees and discounting structures, pre-export financing, private placements, letters of credit and asset-based lending. Its work for banks, corporates and export credit agencies covers a diverse range of industries but has a particular focus on the oil and gas, telecoms and automobile sectors. Martin Yells leads the wider banking and finance group in which partner Lerika Joubert and associate Katie Horbury are the key contacts for trade finance.
‘Martin Yells takes a balanced approach, which means he is perfect for new business with prospective clients – he has attention to detail, common sense and a practical approach.’
‘Strength in depth; led by Martin Yells; who is excellent.’
Watson Farley & Williams LLP
Watson Farley & Williams LLP has a dedicated commodities finance practice that handles both financings and contentious matters for banks and trading houses. The practice has a strong focus on natural resources sectors such as mining, metals, soft commodities and energy. 'Principled and thorough' practice head Joe Levin advises lenders and sponsors on project, borrowing base and other structured financings in the commodities and trade finance sectors. Among his clients are DNB Bank and BNP Paribas. Associate Oliver Acland focuses on upstream finance transactions, including borrowing base and structured financings. One client remarks that the practice is 'very impressive, very available and very client-focused'.
Other key lawyers:
‘We started with Watson Farley two years ago and its output is very impressive. It is very available and very client-focused.’
‘Joe Levin is an exceptional lawyer who is very keen to get deals done.’
‘Joe Levin is a brilliant and commercially minded banking lawyer extraordinaire.’
‘The firm is very well connected with the market and is on top of latest developments, transactions and players, which when combined with its undoubted legal prowess makes it a “go-to” law firm for straightforward or more challenging transactions. It is highly responsive and takes a good pragmatic, commercial perspective when considering options.’
‘Joe Levin is high energy, principled, thorough and very knowledgeable of the sector and relevant transactions. He is a great individual to work with and brings with him a broader network of partners, industry contacts and experience.’
Coro Energy plc
PTT Public Company Limited
Constellation Oil Services Holding S.A.
Sandfire Resources NL
Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd
Tower Resources plc
- Advising DNB Bank, Bank of Montreal, BNP Paribas and ING Bank as arrangers and a syndicate of 19 lenders on an upsized $3bn reserve-based lending facility to Chrysaor for the acquisition, in conjunction with its existing cash resources, of ConocoPhillips’ portfolio of UK North Sea oil and gas assets.
- Advised Sandfire Resources NL on the UK-law aspects of its A$167m acquisition of dual ASX and LSE-listed mining company MOD Resources Ltd.
- Advising long-term client Chaarat on the acquisition and related financing by its subsidiary, Chaarat Gold International Limited, of Kapan Mining and Processing CJSC