Trade finance in London
The trade, commodities and export finance practice at Allen & Overy LLP builds on the firm's market-leading structured finance expertise, and one client notes that it has 'excellent knowledge of derivatives'. The firm is called upon to handle complex and innovative financing structures, including those that use traditional trade finance techniques in novel ways such as blending them with other forms of banking product. In 2018, the practice also handled a number of restructurings and litigations in the trade and commodity finance space, and it is regarded as one of the leading advisers on distressed structures and regulatory matters. Greg Brown, who recently advised on financings in Russia, Africa, India, Turkey and the Middle East, and Catherine Lang-Anderson, who frequently advises leading banks, are among the firm's standout practitioners. Derivatives and structured finance specialist Richard Tredgett and head of the firm's ECA practice Lorraine Bayliss are also recommended.
Greg Brown; Richard Tredgett; Daniel Shurman; Catherine Lang-Anderson; Daniel Birch
Other key lawyers:
Lorraine Bayliss; Sanjeev Dhuna; David Campbell;
Macquarie Group Limited
- Allen & Overy has advised a syndicate of banks on the financing aspects for the acquisition of Aluminium Dunkerque, Europe’s largest aluminium smelter, by Liberty House Group for around USD500 million from Rio Tinto; the financing package simultaneously puts in place an on-going syndicated commodity price hedging programme for the smelter.
- Acting for the lenders under the new borrowing base facility for Stemcor that will refinance part of its existing facilities.
- Advised an international bank on a $550m facility agreement for Mercuria Energy Trading S.A.
- Advised An international bank on various bilateral pre-payment facilities for a major trader including in respect of copper and cobalt.
- Advised a major international bank as arranger of three syndicated loan facility agreements for ED&F Man Group.
'It is known as a top law firm in the market and has a great position in the market', remarks a client of Dentons. The firm's depth of expertise in banking and finance, energy and natural resources, as well as its presence in emerging markets gives its London team a strong standing in the market. Head of banking and finance Paul Holland leads the commodities, trade and upstream finance group and deals with export credit financing and asset financing. In his team, Celia Gardiner has a long-standing reputation as one of the leading lawyers in the market and she frequently advises lenders and borrowers on financing transactions in the production, transportation and sale of commodities and in receivables financing and invoice discounting transactions. She also handles pre-export financing facilities, structured prepayment arrangements, borrowing base facilities and other working capital facilities for traders, receivables financing, and restructuring and workouts in the natural resources sector. Howard Barrie rejoined the firm from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in 2018, and clients describe him as 'among the top lawyers in his field with enormous talent and experience'. Tim Pipe, who handles financings in the energy sector and in emerging markets, is also recommended.
“Howard Barrie is an excellent and very experienced lawyer. Negotiations even against very tough clients and very good lawyers are very comfortable, as he is able to be on par or exceed them with arguments and counterarguments.”
“Dentons has top professionals like Howard Barrie in trade finance. I would keep working with him notwithstanding the firm he is affiliated to.”
“Howard Barrie is one of the best lawyers in his category but he remains humble and he genuinely listens to the concerns of his clients. It has been a real pleasure to team up with him and I highly recommend his support.”
“Having Howard Barrie by your side in negotiations is really an advantage as he is an outstanding lawyer and has tremendous knowledge and experience. Even against the industry’s top lawyers, he comes out on top.”
- Advising a leading global bank in respect of an Islamic finance compliant reserve-based lending facility in favour of exploration and production companies with assets onshore in Pakistan.
- Documenting the US$1.3bn receivables backed pre-export finance facility for a leading global bank in favour of the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board in respect of the 2018-1019 cocoa crop.
- Advising a global bank on a financing for the Ministry of Finance of Angola for the design, construction and equipping of three hospitals in Angola worth approximately €380m.
- Advising the African Export-Import Bank in respect of a $100,000,000 unsecured, bilateral term loan facility made available to The Ministry of Finance in Angola in respect of working capital requirements in connection with the development of the Laúca Hydroelectric Dam project.
- Advising a bank on a series of transactions for the distribution of the bank’s trade finance receivables and assets under supply chain finance and receivables purchase programmes.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP climbs to the top tier this year, having cemented its prominent position in large, complex and highly structured transactions in the energy market. It is 'very service-oriented and will do everything it can to support clients in the best way possible', remarks a client who notes that it 'demonstrates a keen desire to better understand the business and the needs of the client'. The practice is led by the 'client-driven' William Breeze and leading light Thomas Bethel, who specialises in oil and gas finance and is among the most experienced lawyers in English law reserve-based lending transactions. The firm had a role in the majority of market-leading RBL deals in recent years, acting for leading energy companies and trading houses, as well as a large roster of banks that includes HSBC, BNP Paribas and ING. It also handled prepayment and pre-export financing facilities with a value in excess of $10bn between 2016 and 2018.
William Breeze; Thomas Bethel
Other key lawyers:
Kerry Reid; Rakhee Patel; Kushal Bhimjiani
“It is by clearly the firm with the largest banking team focused on the independent E&P industry and the RBL market. As such, it is uniquely positioned to support corporates and banks in the raising of financing.”
“Thomas Bethel is the key partner in charge and is extremely knowledgable. He is supported by a team of strong associates.”
“Thomas Bethel has strong experience in project work and restructurings in various jurisdictions, and provides clear, concise commercially-driven advice.”
“Senior associate Kushal Bhimjiani instills confidence in her clients and is intelligent and commercially-driven.”
“The firm demonstrates a keen desire to better understand the business and the needs of the client.”
“Thomas Bethel has strong experience in project work and restructurings in various jurisdictions; he is commercially-drive and provides clear and concise advice.”
“Will Breeze is client-driven and always available.”
The Carlyle Group
- Advised the senior lenders (including ABSA Bank Limited, African Export-Import Bank and Standard Chartered PLC) on the provision of secured term loan and revolving credit facilities to two SPV borrowers controlled by Heirs Holdings Limited and Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc to finance the acquisition of participating interests in OMLs 11 and 17 and the Trans-Niger Pipeline in Nigeria.
- Advised POGBV on a $755m upsizing of its now $2bn reserve-based lending facility secured over offshore oil and gas assets in Nigeria.
- Advised the lenders on a $155m upsizing of Ithaca Energy’s now $400m reserve-based lending facility secured over offshore oil and gas assets in the North Sea.
- Advised HSBC as documentation bank and the lenders in connection with the amendment and restatement of the up to $1.5bn reserves-based lending facility to Kosmos Energy.
- Advised the lenders on the refinancing of a $120m reserve-based lending and letter of credit facility to Svenska Petroleum Exploration AB
Hogan Lovells International LLP has 'excellent knowledge of the sector combined with practical legal solutions that work for the business of the borrower and lenders'. The practice is led by trade and export finance specialist David Leggott, who has extensive experience advising banks and trading companies on transactions in emerging markets such as Russia and the CIS, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and banking partner Andrew Taylor, whose practice covers the UK, Europe and emerging markets. The practice acts for both lenders and borrowers including banks, commodities traders, multilateral institutions, regional and development banks, ECAs and governments. In 2018, it handled transactions for key market players including Afreximbank, Deutsche Bank, International Finance Corporation and Société Générale. Its transactional work encompasses trade finance instruments such as Letters of Credit, bills of exchange, bills of lading, demand guarantees, pre-export finance, limited recourse prepayment structures and borrowing base financings across oil and gas, metals, agri-commodities and many other sectors.
Andrew Taylor; David Leggott
“A joy to work with!”
“David Leggott has the skills to explain every detail of the transaction in such way that the uninitiated understands it in full and knows how to deal with it.”
“Andrew Taylor combines his unique legal and sector knowledge with a sense of humour that puts people at ease during negotiations.”
International Finance Corporation
UK Export Finance
- Advising International Finance Corporation in relation to a senior revolving loan to be made available to a SPV fund managed by Barak Fund SPC Limited to provide trade and commodity finance to enterprises operating in Africa.
- Providing advisory support to a major UK bank on its investments in trade receivables generated from supplies by UK pharmacists to the NHS.
The global banking practice at Linklaters LLP comprises banking, finance and restructuring lawyers for whom trade finance is a key focus. The team in London, led by 'practical and diplomatic' partner Mirthe Van Kesteren, handles the full spectrum of work including borrowing base facilities, prepayment facilities, PXF facilities, receivables-backed and other commodities-based financings. The firm's trade finance specialists are part of a dedicated global commodities practice with in-depth industry knowledge and direct involvement in cutting-edge financing techniques and ground-breaking commodities transactions, disputes and regulatory issues. Clients remark that the firm is 'very responsive, able to provide specialist advice within short time periods and highly knowledgeable in the field'. Toby Grimstone, who has a strong track record in pre-export and prepayment financings, ECA-backed financings, borrowing base facilities and other secured and structured financings, is highly recommended. The practice counts Lloyds Bank, ING Bank and Glencore among its clients.
Mirthe van Kesteren
Other key lawyers:
Toby Grimstone; Rhian Roberts
“Mirthe van Kesteren is always available, responsive and provides detailed advice covering various scenarios.”
“Mirthe van Kesteren is the lawyer I would want on my side, in particular in any negotiations. She will not allow the other side to engage you in unnecessary discussion over finer points of law, but will focus instead on practical outcomes. She can be very firm, but unfailingly polite.”
Lloyds Bank plc
ING Bank N.V.
Deutsche Bank AG
KAZ Minerals PLC
- Advised Lloyds Bank on the extension of a $1.25bn borrowing base facility for Greenergy Fuels Limited, the second largest privately-owned company in the UK following its acquisition by Brookfield, to include Irish borrowing base assets.
- Advised ING Bank on a $900m borrowing base facility for Gunvor that includes performance commitments related to its sustainability targets.
- Advised ING Bank, Deutsche Bank and Euler Hermes on a major structural amendment of the Varo Borrowing Base Facility, as well as ongoing advice.
- 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.
The practice at Norton Rose Fulbright is 'dedicated and incredibly knowledgeable with a positive attitude and approach towards its clients'. The trade finance practice sits alongside a respected commodities transactional and advisory service, with complementary expertise in shipping, insurance, derivatives, regulation, regulatory investigations, fintech and dispute resolution. The scope of its work covers the full spectrum of trade finance structures including pre-export and prepayment financings, committed and uncommitted transactional trade finance facilities, borrowing base facilities, commodity repos, invoice discounting structured Letters of Credit transactions. Global head of trade finance Nicholas (Nick) Grandage, who works from both the London and New York offices, key partner Andrew Wood and senior associate Richard Wilkes are 'very knowledgeable in the area of trade finance and provide exactly the support needed - they make a great team but equally the associates working are very good'. Davide Barzilai returned to London from the firm's Hong Kong office to add expertise in ECA financing, supply chain financing, and structured trade and commodity finance. Conor Foley, who is co-head of the firm's global government relations and public policy practice, and derivatives partner Nigel Dickinson also play key roles.
Nicholas (Nick) Grandage
“The team has been consistently excellent – available, easy-going, very professional and simply a pleasure to work with.”
“The firm delivers on time and to a very good standard.”
“It is pleasure working with such a professional team of lawyers and advisers.”
“Conor Foley is an outstanding, professional and responsive adviser. He stands out from is peers consistently and is a pleasure to work with.”
“Professional and responsive with good experience in trade finance.”
“Andrew Woods and Davide Barzilai are pragmatic, dedicated, goal-oriented.”
“Conor Foley is knowledgeable and responsive.”
The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi Ltd
Coal India Limited (CIL)
Commodities Markets Council
Erste Group Bank AG
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Standard Chartered Bank
- We advise EBRD as its sole English law mandated advisers in relation to its award-winning Trade Facilitation Programme.
- Acted as global counsel to Mercuria Energy Group Limited, one of the world’s largest independent energy and commodity companies, operating in more than 50 countries, in relation to U.S. and global debtor-in-possession borrowing base financing facilities for Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc.
- Advising Low Carbon on the implementation of a highly structured, multi-jurisdictional secured trade receivables purchase programme.
- Acting for Standard Chartered Bank as Mandated Lead Arranger on a $700,000,000 World Bank-backed financing to the Government of Pakistan.
- Advised Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd on its sale to a financial institution of £132,800,000 of receivables payable by a commercial counterparty.
Reed Smith LLP
The trade finance practice at Reed Smith LLP grew in 2018 and climbs the ranking. The arrival of Omar Al-Ali from Simmons & Simmons adds more than 15 years' experience in structured trade and commodities finance and commercial lending. Jonathan Solomon, who is 'an exceptional partner and an expert in this field', leads a trade finance practice that operates distinctly from the firm's banking group and in which all of the members have specialist practices in this area of law. The practice works closely with the firm's energy and natural resources group, which has in-depth knowledge of the commodities markets, giving it the ability to advise on the full spectrum of trade finance structures including 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 and secured trade finance across all hard and soft commodities. It frequently acts for major banks, funds, corporates and commodity houses. Counsel Ildar Bagautdinov and associates Patrick Sutton, Olga Newman and Jade Fawcett are recommended in the London office, which works closely with specialist trade finance practitioners in Chicago, Houston and Singapore.
“The Reed Smith team is very practical in its approach to transactions and takes challenging situations in its stride.”
“Jonathan Solomon is top of class in trade finance work – particularly when it comes to Southeast Asia and Africa. He is extremely responsive and quick to spot and resolve issues that others may not catch.”
“A fantastic team with a breadth of experience across the trade finance space. It has the ability to draft documentation to facilitate closing on a timely basis, the ability to leverage significant transactional experience to provide sound advice, the ability to mobilise a team in litigation situations, and it delivers strong results in all circumstances.”
“Jonathan Solomon has deep knowledge of trade finance, an ability to think through real situations to advise on documentation, a fantastic dedication to his clients and strong commercial sense. He has delivered exceptional results at all times.”
” I have been using this law firm for years and it provides good access to partners, who tend to be hands-on and have strong capabilities in structured commodities trade finance.”
“Jonathan Solomon and teams in various jurisdictions always make themselves available even if at short notice.”
“Jonathan Solomon is a highly skilled practitioner with experience of all aspects of structured trade finance. He is a valued partner and is highly regarded as a subject matter expert.”
During the five years since the firm opened its London office, Sullivan & Worcester UK LLP has built up the largest dedicated trade finance practice in the City. The primary focus of the office is trade and export finance, and it has six specialist partners including seasoned practitioners Geoffrey Wynne, Simon Cook and Mark Norris, who 'stand out from the rest of the market for their in-depth capabilities and specialisation in trade finance'. Clients also remark that the firm has 'genuine interest in trade and export finance and is keen to contribute to the industry dialogue' and is 'highly responsive and thought-provoking, with a very commercial approach'. The firm counts major trade finance banks and other financial institutions, funds, corporate borrowers, agents and trustees, and national and international corporations among its clients. Marian Boyle leads the firms' UK insurance and disputes practices, making her the main point of contact for trade finance litigation. Managing associate Hannah Fearn, who frequently acts for leading banks in syndicated and bilateral pre-export commodity financings, and senior associate Sam Fowler-Holmes, whose experience includes structured and unstructured trade finance Europe, the CIS, Africa and Asia, also play key roles in the practice.
Geoffrey Wynne; Simon Cook; Mark Norris; Marian Boyle
“The firm is a leader in the field of trade finance legal services, with key contributors to critical industry-wide initiatives, therefore setting the pace for all market participants.’
“The firm presents what is possibly the best value in the industry as due to their intrinsic knowledge of the way in which their clients operate.”
“Geoffrey Wynne, Simon Cook and Marian Boyle are opinion leaders in different areas of trade finance and between them combine an impressive number of years of relevant experience. Their level of integrity is paramount and they truly act in partnership with their clients.”
“Because of the knowledge of the partners, they are able to express themselves in a way that is accessible to all market participants and correct, taking their clients’ interests to heart.”
“The firm has strong knowledge in and experience of the trade and commodity finance, project finance and insurance sectors.”
“The team provides direct access to the partners for advice and solutions, and delivers a friendly and professional service combined with an in-depth knowledge of the products and markets.”
“The practice is proactive, knowledgable and willing to work in the pre-contract stage.”
“Mark Norris is knowledgeable, engaged and always willing to go the extra mile.”
“The firm has outstanding trade finance capability married with market leading Insurance expertise.”
“The firm has specialist knowledge of trade and export finance, particularly in the emerging markets.”
“Mark Norris is knowledgeable, calm and flexible.”
Crown Agents Bank
International Trade and Forfaiting Association (“ITFA”)
Wyelands Bank plc
Macquarie Bank Limited
Nordea Bank AB
Scipion Capital Limited
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.
- Advising Africa Trade Finance Limited as arranger of a US$160m club trade finance facility for Nigeria’s United Bank for Africa (UBA).
- Successfully finalised a dispute for Deutsche Bank following a Commercial Court judgment in its favour against the Singaporean branch of Malaysian bank (CIMB); The dispute related to CIMB’s obligation to reimburse Deutsche Bank as confirming bank in respect of twenty-three separate presentations under ten Letters of Credit.
- Adviser to the Insurance Committee of the ITFA board in connection with various market-led insurance-related matters.
- Sullivan & Worcester advised international financial services association, BAFT (the Bankers Association for Finance & Trade), on its updated English law Master Participation Agreement (MPA) and associated usage guidelines.
White & Case LLP focuses on highly complex and innovative trade finance deals across a range of different products and at different phases of the commodities cycle. The firm has strong structured finance and capital markets capability, as well as a strong presence in emerging markets, and practice head Christopher Czarnocki is well known across the market for his skills in trade and commodity finance. He frequently acts for global financial institutions, ECAs, corporates and sovereigns such as the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy in Ghana, and numerous oil companies including Ghana National Petroleum Corporation. Partner Tom Bartlett plays a central role in the practice, advising lenders and borrowers on trade finance, including reserve-based lending transactions, across sectors such as oil and gas, energy, mining, infrastructure, petrochemicals and telecoms. James Hardy is a specialist with 15 years' experience in advising both lenders and borrowers in the emerging market on commodity finance transactions.
“The key strength is that you will receive a lot of partner attention and the transaction will be genuinely partner-led.”
“James Hardy is accessible, responsive and is ‘hands-on’.”
Ghana National Petroleum Corporation
Ministry of Finance Ghana
Ministry of Energy Ghana
African Development Bank
- Advised Siberian Anthracite, a leading producer and exporter of ultra-high grade anthracite, as borrower on a pre-export financing of up to US$570m from a pool of international and Russian banks, with the facility being used for general corporate needs and to refinance existing loans.
- Advised Noble on the trade finance aspects of what is said to be Asia’s most complex financial restructuring ever, from restructuring support agreement phase in Q1 through the definitive full documentation process in Q3 and Q4.
The trade and export finance practice at Baker McKenzie, which sits in the firm's banking group, climbs the rankings. It acts for financial institutions, corporates and government entities in financings throughout the EMEA and CIS Regions, as well as Latin America. It focuses predominantly on commodities and infrastructure financings, including transactions in the transport and telecoms sectors. It regularly handles multi-sourced financings, including ECA-backed facilities, in which it acts for both ECAs and arrangers. In the current climate, the firm's highly-rated sanctions practice is closely involved with the activities of the trade finance team. 'It is able to leverage its wide network of international offices to provide expert local law advice on issues as they arise, which is particularly beneficial in the inherently cross-border area of trade finance', remarks one client. Practice head Nicholas Tostivin and rising star senior associate Luka Lightfoot are the standout practitioners in London.
Other key lawyers:
Luka Lightfoot; James Clarke
‘Nicholas Tostivin is recommended for his strong support in difficult negotiations, his understanding of the wider commercial context and his willingness to go the extra mile when needed.’
‘Luka Lightfoot is an excellent senior associate. His combination of technical ability across trade finance products, general market knowledge and understanding of our place within that market makes him stand out amongst other senior associates I have worked with.’
‘Senior associate James Clarke is very responsive to client demands, and has a very in-depth knowledge of supply chain finance and receivables products.’
‘The firm provides good continuity to help us manage the documentation of successive transactions. It also shows good responsiveness and meets demanding timescales when needed, with a flexible approach in difficult negotiations.’
‘Luka Lightfoot stands out for his work ethic, grasp of detail, and his ability to keep calm and produce high-quality work under pressure.’
‘The practice demonstrates a very personal and practical approach, keeping us updated on legal matters which affect our business and always being willing to meet and discuss points of interest.’
‘The firm took a very pragmatic and “hands-on” approach, ensuring that the deal was concluded within a reasonable time frame.’
‘Luka Lightfoot always demonstrates a very professional attitude and is extremely knowledgeable and is very “hands-on”; his expertise and willingness to get involved was most appreciated and it is doubtful that the transaction would have closed in such good time without the involvement of someone with his calibre.’
‘Associate Adam Gardener is very knowledgeable and practical in offering helpful advice when needed.’
‘Baker McKenzie has a lot of experienced lawyers, a worldwide presence and a wide range of expertise in various sectors.’
‘The practice is really proactive, solution-oriented and very friendly; it is nice to work with them and Luka Lightfoot was instrumental in closing a recent large landmark transaction in Africa with us in a record time.’
‘Excellent attention to detail and the availability of the team is consistent and reliable.’
UK Export Finance
- We advised Standard Chartered Bank, Societe Generale, Natixis and African Export-Import Bank on their USD 1.5 billion receivables backed financing to Sonangol.
- We advised Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, MUFG Bank, Natixis, Societe Generale and UK Export Finance on the separate dual tranched and commercial financings for the design, construction and development of three hospitals in Oman.
- Advising the mandated lead arranger, agent and lenders on the K-sure covered and commercial facilities to IMM Istanbul Turkey in connection with the export-import of metrocars for the Istanbul metro.
- We advised Standard Chartered Bank and UK Export Finance on financing the development of the waste water plant in Tubli, Kingdom of Bahrain.
- We advised Channel Capital Advisors LLP in relation to amendments to the diamond trade receivables transaction involving insured receivables generated by companies in Belgium and Hong Kong.
Clifford Chance LLP focuses on large and complex structured trade finance deals and its dedicated trade finance practice advises leading banks, trade and industry associations, commodity trading companies and other corporates participants on high-value and innovative transactions and regulatory matters. Its work encompasses Letters of Credit, performance bonds and bills of exchange, export finance, Islamic Finance, sanctions and much more. Leading light Leonard Cleland, who has broad experience in emerging and developing markets, from CIS, Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Africa, and Simon Williams, who specialises in domestic and cross-border financing with a focus on infrastructure assets and the emerging markets, are the standout practitioners. Together they are known for advising leading commodity houses, export credit agencies, funds and banks on high-profile and market-first deals.
Leonard Cleland; Simon Williams
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
ING Bank N.V.
Export Development Canada
Trafigura Pte Ltd
- Advising GE Capital EFS Financing, Inc.as the original lender in relation to the refinancing of a $1.6 billion term facility agreement entered into with the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Angola for the purchase of turbine generator equipment and related services.
- Advised HSBC and SACE on the SACE-guaranteed financing of 2x Boeing 787-8 aircraft with GE engines delivered to Biman Bangladesh Airlines between August and November 2018.
- Advised on the successful restructuring of a combined $1.3bn of limited recourse export credit facilities relating to the project financing of the construction and operation of 5 pipe-support laying vessels on charter to Petrobras in Brazil.
- Advised on a $250,000,000 facility to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance), used to acquire essential commodities and was backed by platinum receivables.
- Acted as lead counsel and English legal advisors to a leading global bank as lead coordinating bank in connection with an unsecured uncommitted framework for bilateral trade and other banking facilities for Glencore entities in a dozen jurisdictions.
'The firm is knowledgeable and experienced, and always takes a practical approach', remarks a client of Clyde & Co LLP. The practice is an integrated part of the firm's global commodities team, which advises clients on all aspects of the commodities supply chain. Practice head Robert Parson is a leading light in the market and clients remark that 'he commands great respect across and is a giant in trade finance legal circles' . He acts for a broad spectrum of clients in the international trade, commodities, energy and natural resources sectors, including major banks, traders and exporters, in complex cross-border financing arrangements. Senior associate Geraldine Butac is 'highly respected' for her work in trade and commodity finance for banks, specialist financial institutions and corporates. The firm's growing expertise in alternative financing sources, including bonds, CDOs and emerging capital markets, is a key element in its work for leading trading houses and international financial institutions including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Other key lawyers:
“Robert Parson from is my “go-to” for trade finance advice and support.”
“Its core business is in international trade and it is a first-class firm in this sector – probably without equal in the commodity contract and trade finance space.”
“Robert Parson is approachable and has a ‘can-do’ attitude.”
“Geraldine Butac is reliable and responsive.”
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
- Acting for iron ore producer in a long-term repayment agreement.
Hill Dickinson LLP joins the ranking having hired a respected commodities and trade finance group from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in 2019. The team, which is built around respected partners Mark Aspinall and Paul Sinnott, brings extensive experience in trade finance transactions and disputes to a firm with a strong position in the commodities markets. The firm acts for banks and trading houses in high-value and complex structured transactions. Sinnott's work from 2018 included advising banks and traders on multiple trade finance deals up to $250m in value, and the production of bespoke commodity trade finance documentation for a leading Geneva bank. In 2018, Aspinall, while at his previous firm, won a $22m gasoline financing case against the owner of an oil trader, which resulted in the lifting of a High court freezing order.
“The advice is always clear and complete, even if it is a complicated matter, and they make bankers’ choices easy.”
“Some lawyers give you a lot of information and too many options, but not Paul Sinnott and Mark Aspinall. They answer our questions in a clear and helpful way.”
“Their advice is based on a deep knowledge of shipping, trading and banking, so we get useful advice on all of those areas through one contact.”
Trade finance is a key element in the work of the banking and finance practice at Jones Day. Practice head Edwin Borrini represents lenders and borrowers on a broad range of trade and commodity finance transactions, with particular emphasis on pre-payment, PXF and advance payment structures as well as other secured lending deals relating to all types of commodities. The firm acts for financial institutions including ICBC Standard Bank plc, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, Macquarie Bank, Bank of China, British Arab Commercial Bank plc in pre-export, pre-payment, reserve-based lending structures and commodity trading facilities, particularly across Africa and CIS states. It also counts large trading houses among its clients and it advised Trafigura on its receivables securitisation programme. It also acts for corporates such as Total and US Steel. The practice has particular expertise particular expertise in oil, metals and agricultural products, and recently worked on transactions in Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, and South Africa.
Other key lawyers:
US Steel Corporation
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
- Represented Trafigura in connection with its $5.725 billion credit facility with a syndicate of European banks.
- Represented British Arab Commercial Bank plc in relation to enforcement and litigation advice on a secured Euro-denominated PXF facility relating to the processing and export of cocoa and coffee out of the Ivory Coast.
- Advised Total in connection with circa $1.3bn of commercial lending in respect of a $3bn joint venture investment to expand petrochemicals activities in Texas.
- Advised Trafigura Group Pte. Ltd. in connection with its $1.945 billion revolving credit facility with a syndicate of Asian banks with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, DBS Bank Ltd., ICBC, OCBC and SMBC as mandated lead arrangers.
- Advised Puma Energy in connection with an extension of an existing term facility and the refinancing of two revolving credit facilities and a three-year term facility.
Simmons & Simmons is active in all of the key sub-sectors of the trade finance market including structured trade and commodity finance, account receivables and supply chain finance, and ECA-backed transactions, as well as handling Islamic finance and providing regulatory advice. Among its clients are banks, trading companies, niche trade finance providers and trade-focussed funds, and the firm continued to grow its roster of clients in 2018. the firm's highly regarded securitisation practice is key to its offering in structured transactions, and the firm also brings its expertise in commodities, energy and emerging markets to bear on its trade finance work. Omar Al-Ali moved to Reed Smith LLP but structured trade and commodity finance specialist Matthew Cox recently returned to London from Singapore. Head of asset-backed finance and securitisation Michael Lorraine and managing associate Rose-Anna Burnett, who focuses mainly on energy and developing markets finance transactions, are also active in the trade finance market.
Other key lawyers:
Bank of China
Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
Freepoint Commodities LLC
Macquarie Bank Limited
Mainstream Renewable Power
MRI Trading AG
Orion Resource Partners/Orion Mine Finance
- Advised Orion Mine Finance and Fusion Capital on the sale of Lynx Resources, the owner of the SASA zinc, lead and silver mine in the Republic of Macedonia, for US$402.5m to Central Asia Metals (CAML).
- Advising De Beers in connection with its purchase and export of diamonds in West Africa from artisanal miners.
- Advising Orion on entering into a conditional 5% “synthetic” tin warrant offtake agreement with Strongbow Exploration. Under the 10-year agreement, OMF will buy London Metals Exchange (LME) tin warrants from Strongbow for tin refined to LME Approved Brands standards equal to 5% of the South Crofty mine’s tin production.
- We advised Mainstream Renewable Power Limited on its entry into a €90,000,000 syndicated trade finance facility.
- We are advising Orion Mine Finance on its copper offtake arrangements relating to Ongopolo Mining Limited’s Tschudi open pit copper mine in Namibia.
In the last five years, Taylor Wessing LLP has established and grown a dedicated trade finance team in the UK, which now advises on a broad range of trade finance products. Its work encompasses receivables financing, supply chain financing, commodity-related guarantees and discounting structures, pre-export financing, private placements, Letter of Credit facilities, and asset-based lending. Its practice covers a diverse range of industries but has particular experience in the oil and gas, telecoms and automobile sectors. Among its clients are banks including Santander and Deutsche Bank, funds, corporates and export credit agencies, who call on both the trade finance hub in London and the firm's network of offices in 20 countries. The practice, which is led by banking and finance partner Elizabeth Gaunt, frequently applies its expertise in areas such as structured finance and private equity to create bespoke trade finance transactions. Lerika Joubert uses her wide knowledge of corporate finance, trade and receivables finance, leveraged and acquisition finance, derivatives, asset-based lending and litigation funding to advise clients on trade finance structures.
Other key lawyers:
Lerika Joubert; Fiona Coady; Katie Horbury
Lloyds Banking Group
- Acting for Lloyds Bank plc in relation to their relationship defining LC facility with Mecuria supported by parent guarantee.
- Acting for Emirates NBD in relation to Emirates’ first letter of credit facility for Glencore Energy Limited with parent guarantee.
- Advising on Islamic financing structures as a possible investment for a fund.
- Advising d.light in respect of its financing agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) pursuant to which d.light will use funds drawn under that agreement to fund the design, assembling, distribution, financing and installation of 7 to 10 million solar devices across Africa.
- Advising on title retention issues on all major PNC transactions with the aim of creating greater capacity to lend and greater flexibility to lend as well as protecting PNC’s provision
Watson Farley & Williams LLP
Watson Farley & Williams LLP has a specialist focus on the commodities market, coupled with long-standing expertise in complex finance structures, which gives it a firm footing in commodities and trade finance transactions. The practice, led by Joe Levin, who frequently advises lenders and sponsors on project, borrowing base and other structured financings, handles both contentious trade finance matters and complex financings, particularly in the specialist sectors of mining, metals, soft commodities, oil and gas, power and renewables. London is the hub of the firm's trade finance activity and the team handles transactions in commodities-producing regions such as Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as Western and Eastern Europe. Senior associate Sarah Lunn and associates Shaakir Daud and Oliver Acland play central roles in the practice.
African Import-Export Bank (“Afrexim”)
BMO Capital Markets (“BMO”)
BNP Paribas (“BNPP”)
Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”)
FBN Bank (UK) Ltd (“FBN”)
Petroleum Authority of Thailand (“PTT”)
Standard Chartered Bank (“SCB”)
Union Bank UK plc
- Advising a syndicate of banks regarding a US$180m reserves-based (“RBL”) senior facility agreement made to Energean Oil & Gas (“Energean”) to develop the Prinos Basin offshore of Greece.
- Advised EBRD on a US$10m RBL facility for SDX in respect of the development of their Moroccan upstream assets.
- Advising EBRD on a US$67m RBL facility to KazPetrol to develop its upstream Kazakh assets.
- Advised a syndicate of lenders on the amendment, extension and increase of a US$250m RBL facility to a US$350m RBL facility for Faroe Petroleum.
Addleshaw Goddard acts for clearing banks, overseas banks and funds in trade finance transactions. Mike Davison leads the finance and projects team, in which the firm's trade finance expertise resides. His work includes receivables financing and supply chain financing, Shariah-compliant deals and commodity finance arrangements. Partners Michael Barnett and Richard Clayton handle contentious trade finance matters. Rising star associate James Tarleton plays a key role in asset-based lending, trade finance and specialty finance transactions. One client remarks that the firm's practice has 'real titans in this field with wide ranging experience and expertise of all forms of trade finance transactions and disputes'.
‘The firm stands out for its breadth of knowledge, responsiveness and attentiveness.’
‘Real titans in this field: with wide ranging experience and expertise of all forms of Trade Finance transactions and disputes.’
‘Mike Davison stands out for his responsiveness, willingness to make himself available and the breadth of his trade finance knowledge.’
‘Richard Clayton’s wealth of experience and knowledge means that clients see a successful resolution of disputes. His great tactical awareness means that opponents are at risk of being outflanked.’
‘Litigation associate Sivan Daniels is a formidable lawyer who combines an exceptional eye for detail with a first class intellectual rigour.’
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
- Acting for Close Brothers Premium Finance on the provision of £100,000,000 specialist financing facilities to the Ardonagh Group.
- We advised Homebase (UK&I) Holdings Limited in relation to the provision of £70,000,000 receivables and inventory finance facilities by Wells Fargo Capital Finance (UK) Limited.
- Advised the syndicate in relation to the provision of structured Trade Finance Facilities (mixture of Conventional and Sharia’h law compliant Facilities, including complex Sharia’h law Syndication advice and separation of monies) to Wogen Metals.
- Acting for HSBC Bank plc in their strategic re-banking of Albert Bartlett & Sons Limited the leading Scottish potato manufacturer.
- We advised RBS Invoice Finance in relation to a £60,000,000 working capital facility, and NatWest in relation to a £30,000,000 term loan facility, to Gardner Aerospace Holdings Limited.
Trade finance is an integral part of the lending group's practice at Fieldfisher, which advises on a range of transactions in relation to commodities as well as other sectors and asset classes. Features of its work include prepayment finance, documentary and standby Letters of Credit, export and pre-export facilities, reserve-based lending, borrowing base structures, inventory finance and receivables finance. In 2018, the firm became more involved in assisting banks, commodity trading houses and producers on prepayment financings and related off-take arrangements. It also advised on alternative financing techniques such as metals streaming arrangements and inventory management facilities. Practice head Oliver Abel Smith has particular expertise in trade and commodity finance and asset finance in the energy and natural resources sector.
Oliver Abel Smith
Other key lawyers:
Andrew Evans; Matt Hinxman; Jonathan Brooks; Dougall Molson
Banco do Brasil S.A.
Europe Arab Bank plc
ICBC Standard Bank
Privredna Banka Zagreb d.d.
RCB Bank Ltd
Silicon Valley Bank
Shawbrook Bank Limited
- Acted as English legal advisers for KMG Kashagan B.V. on subsequent extensions of the existing prepayment facility underwritten by Vitol S.A. in respect of crude oil exports.
- Advised Citigroup Global Market, SMBC Nikko and Société Générale, as Joint Lead Managers, on a new 144A term issuance undertaken pursuant to the Trafigura Securitisation Finance Programme, a receivables-backed securitisation.
- We acted as English legal advisers for KMG Kashagan B.V. on subsequent extensions of the existing prepayment facility underwritten by Vitol S.A. in respect of crude oil exported from the Kashagan oil up to an amount of US$2,200,000,000.
Mayer Brown International LLP joins the ranking this year, having invested in specialist trade finance expertise to build up the depth of expertise in its London office. Partner and emerging markets expert Ashley McDermott joined from Clifford Chance LLP to join practice head and co-head of asset-based lending Alex Dell in a practice that works for banks, funds, corporates and players in the fintech sector in relation to complex global receivables finance structures. Among their clients are ING, Africa Finance Corporation, Klesch Group and Credit Agricole. The firm's recent work includes off-balance sheet receivables purchase facilities in relation to receivables originated in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Romania, South Korea and the UAE. It has in-depth expertise in the increasingly important areas of export and agency finance, and structured trade and commodity finance.
Other key lawyers:
‘We have always found them to be very responsive.’
‘Ash McDermott is an excellent lawyer – proactive , practical and a very good negotiator. He has deep knowledge and experience in both trade finance and project finance.’
Africa Finance Corporation
- The London-based trade finance team is advising ING Bank on the amendment, restatement and extension of the up-to €960m secured borrowing base facilities agreement for MET Holding AG and its subsidiaries, with obligors and security in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland.
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a firm that is highly attuned to the logistics of shipping and trade, thanks to its specialist focus on those areas, as opposed to banking work. Its trade finance practice comprises a small, hands-on team that handles bespoke deals requiring a high level of technical knowledge and experience in the sale, transport and insurance of commodities. Grant Eldred leads the practice, in which contentious and transactional matters are handled by an integrated group. Head of finance Eldred specialises in banking law including bilateral and syndicated secured and unsecured lending, trade finance and banking regulation and compliance. Lisa Hillary handles disputes arising under sale contracts, charterparties and bills of lading as well as the international trade of commodities and marine insurance, and George Mingay is recommended for disputes within the commodities sector relating to oil and gas, metals and mining, and soft commodities.
‘George Mingay is an excellent lawyer, who is a pleasure to work with and is very good with clients.’
‘The firm has a wide base of experienced, practical and commercial lawyers, among whom Grant Eldred stands out.’
Bank of China
Agriculture Bank of China
Stephenson Harwood joins the ranking this year, as its large commodities practice, led by Haris Zografakis, has a strong position in the trade finance market. The firm has extensive experience in transactional work across the whole of the commodities cycle from the extraction of raw materials through to end use, providing advisory, transactional and contentious services to clients in the physical commodities, trade finance and derivatives markets. It has notable expertise in coal, crude oil and petrochemicals, LNG, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and mining. Its extensive client base includes major trading houses such as Vitol and Mercuria, banks such as Macquarie and Rabobank, power companies, mining companies including Vedanta, and national oil companies. 'We really appreciate his support', says a client of Jonathan Spearing. David Lacey is well versed in structured trade and invoice discounting transactions, and Rubin Weston represents lenders and borrowers on major financings.
Vedanta Resources and subsidiaries/related companies
E.ON and Uniper (various divisions)
- We acted for Natixis in its claim against Marex Financial (an independent commodities broker and trader) and Access World Logistics (Singapore) Pte Ltd (a Glencore-owned provider of LME warehousing) in relation to five spot purchase contracts (and related ‘repo’ transactions) for the sale of nickel under which Marex delivered to Natixis purported warehouse receipts.
- We represented a major oil trader in Commercial Court proceedings against Credit Suisse, another oil trader and its beneficial owner. This resulted in an US$18m judgment in our client’s favour, following an eight-day trial in October 2016. Credit Suisse subsequently obtained permission to appeal and the appeal was heard in May 2018. Judgment was handed down in July 2018, and the appeal was dismissed.