Banking and finance in Northern Ireland

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody's large group and broad skill set makes it a popular choice for major financial institutions including HSBC, Wells Fargo and Danske Bank. Ciaran McAlinney heads up the practice and handles acquisition and project finance work and general corporate lending matters, and also advises on syndicated financings that comply with the Loan Market Association's guidelines. Louise Bailey is regularly instructed by multinational financial institutions and particularly excels in real estate financings and capital markets mandates. Judith Brown is another key name for real estate financing work, particularly matters relating to housing developments. Associate Christopher Jessup, who advises on financial regulations, is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Ciaran McAlinney

Testimonials

‘Louise Bailey is a brilliant partner in the practice – very commercial, extremely helpful and always available when required. Her support on NI matters is fantastic and would be my go-to partner on NI matters in the market.’

‘Louise is super responsive and extremely good at keeping you abreast of matters.’

‘A&L Goodbody are undoubtedly one of the top firms operating in the NI market. They have a comprehensive offering across various practice areas and with very capable and personable lawyers. Their professionalism, dependability and accessibility are the key traits that set them apart.’

‘Ciaran McAlinney is very experienced in banking and is someone you want in your corner when negotiating complex corporate deals.’

‘The banking team at A&L, led by Louise Bailey, have always delivered for me. The key strengths include technical/legal expertise complemented by a commercial approach and a relationship based on trust. Responsiveness to client needs, real added value and efficient delivery are key.’

‘The individuals are quite simply great to work with, not just as a legal adviser but as a real partner bringing an understanding of the overall deal/issue and the right mix of skills to deliver the best results.’

Key clients

Danske Bank

Bank of Ireland

First Trust Bank

Barclays Bank

Santander

European Investment Bank

Ulster Bank / RBS

Wells Fargo

Allied Irish Banks plc / First Trust Bank

J.P. Morgan

HSBC

Work highlights

  • Advised Prestige Insurance Holdings on financing the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Insure NI Limited/Autoline Insurance.
  • Advised European Investment Bank on its provision of £130m social housing facilities to Apex Housing Association Limited and £150m social housing facilities to Choice Housing Ireland Limited.
  • Advised HSBC on the ring-fencing of its high street banking business pursuant to Part VII of the Financial Services and Markets Act.

Arthur Cox Belfast

Reputed for its work on domestic and international deals, Arthur Cox Belfast is regularly instructed by two of Ireland's 'Big Four' banks as well as global heavyweights including Bank of America and Santander. Newly appointed banking and finance head Stuart Mansfield receives a high volume of mandates from local banks, with notable expertise in handling syndicated loans, restructurings and distressed debt deals. Colm McElroy is the key contact in the team for Santander Bank and Bank of Ireland.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Mansfield

Other key lawyers:

Colm McElroy

Testimonials

‘The individuals I have worked with stand out in their relentless drive for excellence and an abundance of legal knowledge and expertise which can be relied upon. I value their professionalism, integrity and partnership approach which makes them stand out above most other firms.’

‘Colm McElroy is extremely efficient, practical in his application of the law knowing the requirements of our business and goes out of his way to present workable solutions to issues presented. He makes himself available to offer a high level steer on something if required and he has taken the time to build a strong and open relationship with our business.’

Key clients

Bank of Ireland

Tunstall Real Estate

Bank of America

Garrison Earlsfort Investments Designated Activity Company

Ulster Bank

Musgrave Retail Partners

TRGRP

Bank of Ireland

Silicon Valley Bank

Santander Bank

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead counsel for the governor and company of the Bank of Ireland in connection with five-year syndicated facilities being made available to First Derivatives plc.
  • Acted for Tunstall Real Estate on its financing of the acquisition of Crescent Link Retail Park.
  • Acted for Bank of America as part of a syndicate of lenders on financing the development of two student housing projects at Queen Street and Great Patrick Street in Belfast.

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell is a key player in the market for real estate finance mandates and is highly skilled in financing the acquisition and development of commercial and residential properties. Sinéad McGrath leads the team and has advised domestic and international banks and financial institutions on financing developments in the retail, hospitality and education sectors. McGrath is often supported by senior associate Emma Copeland, who has significant experience advising on housing association issues and residential developments.

Practice head(s):

Sinéad McGrath

Other key lawyers:

Emma Copeland

Key clients

Danske Bank

Investec

Bank of Ireland UK

First Trust Bank (AIB Group (UK) p.l.c.)

Co Operative Bank

Citibank

Atom Bank

Selina Finance Limited

Waterfall Asset Management

Cullaun Capital DAC

ERE Group

Fane Valley Co Operative Society

Ulster Bank / The Royal Bank of Scotland

Barclays Bank PLC

Work highlights

  • Advising Investec Bank on the financing of two student accommodation projects in Belfast.
  • Providing NI advice to Fane Valley Co–operative Society on the funding arrangements on two major acquisitions in 2019 (Silverhill Foods Group and Robert Smyth & Sons Feeds).
  • Advising Citibank on the Northern Irish aspects of the purchase of a loan portfolio acquisition from UK Asset Resolution.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin's department has recently undergone notable change; former practice head Deborah Archer departed for MKB Law and was replaced at the helm by Caroline MacLaughlin, who joined from Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP. MacLaughlin has broad expertise in banking and finance with a key emphasis on real estate financing issues. Stephen Cross continues to be an integral part of the team and is notably strong in project finance work.

Practice head(s):

Caroline MacLaughlin

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Cross

Testimonials

‘Very straight forward to deal with and they understand our business and how we operate. Friendly and courteous. Get the job done and are well respected in the legal world.’

Key clients

Danske Bank

HSBC Bank

Ulster Bank Limited

Bank of Ireland

First Trust Bank

JMW Farms

Virgin Money plc

Close Brothers Asset Finance

European Investment Bank

Nationwide Building Society

Scotia Bank

Macquaries Investment Bank

Rabobank

Charity Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising Lakeland Dairies Co-Operative Society on the financing of its merger with Lacpatrick Co-Operative Society Limited.
  • Advising Infrastrata on the financing of its acquisition of the business and assets of Harland and Wolff.
  • Advising Danske Bank on the refinancing of the ‘Boots Building’ in Belfast City Centre.

Tughans

Tughans regularly acts as Northern Irish counsel on major cross-border acquisition and real estate financings. Leading the practice is Fearghal O’Loan, who is adept at handling secured and unsecured lending mandates with notable experience in multi-jurisdictional matters. Douglas Anderson is another key member of the team and has carved out a niche in the renewables financing space.

Practice head(s):

Fearghal O’Loan

Other key lawyers:

Douglas Anderson; Nichola Coghlan

Testimonials

‘Very diverse team with specialist advice for all our queries. Very attentive and had a fundamental grasp of our business; supportive and very clear and succinct advice.’

‘Douglas Anderson understands our business at a fundamental level and frequently goes above and beyond. He’s always available for queries and quick turnaround when needed. Very responsive and assists on very complex loan agreements.’

‘ Tughans are a professional and highly skilled practice who provided sound legal advice on the transaction. They are superb at translating legal points into commercial points and their ability to provide seamless cross jurisdictional advice was critical.’

‘Fearghal O’Loan provided excellent big picture advice at the outset of the transaction and he then led the transaction with the utmost professionalism, diligence and calmness.’

‘Associate Nichola Coghlan was also supremely professional, diligent and efficient. Throughout the transaction we were totally confident that Nichola had every point covered, due to her diligent manner, and we felt in the safest of hands.’

‘Nichola Coghlan is an example of exceptional talent making her way through the ranks.’

‘Fearghal O’Loan and Douglas Anderson are a formidable team who put their clients’ needs first above all else. They often go beyond the call of duty.’

‘The Tughans team , led by Fearghal O’Loan are engaging, relevant and skilled. They are proactive and always contactable – so that we feel that we have a real partner acting for our business. Fearghal O’Loan, and his team are a pleasure to work with and often come up with interesting solutions and suggestions to aid our business .’

Millar McCall Wylie LLP

Millar McCall Wylie LLP is instructed on real estate finance work by major financial institutions in the region including Barclays, Danske Bank and the Bank of Ireland. Managing partner Peter McCall is co-head of the practice and is an expert in property finance work, while fellow co-head John Finnegan focuses on matters involving the securitisation of non-property assets.

Practice head(s):

Peter McCall; John Finnegan 

Key clients

Fairfield Real Estate Finance Services Ltd

Danske Bank

Assetz Capital

Whiterock Capital Partners (Growth Finance Fund)

Barclays Bank plc

First Trust

Bank of Ireland

McAleer & Rushe Group

Assetz SME Capital Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Fairfield Real Estate Finance Services Ltd as lender on a £10m finance package to include acquisition and development funding for the former B&Q site at Boucher Road, Belfast.
  • Advised Danske Bank on the financing for the landmark Merchant Square office development in Belfast.
  • Advised Assetz SME Capital Limited on a £1.2m finance package for a residential development site.

TLT

Primarily acting for lender clients, TLT advises on financing mandates in the real estate, construction and energy sectors. Richard Houliston jointly leads the team and is highly experienced in acquisition and real estate finance matters, while co-head Anna Vangrove specialises in debt finance work.

Practice head(s):

Richard Houliston; Anna Vangrove

Key clients

Northern Ireland Investment Fund

Crescendo Real Estate Debt Fund

ICICI Bank UK plc

AIB

Lloyds

Danske Bank

Bank of Ireland

HSBC

Santander

Ortus Secured Lending

SQN Asset Finance

Braidwater Limited

Capitalflow

Work highlights

  • Advised AIB NI on its financing of the Gruig and Todmorden wind farms, which were recently acquired by Foresight Group LLP.
  • Advised CBRE and NIIF on the provision of multi-million pound development finance facilities to Marcol for the development of a boutique hotel and office space in Lisburn Square.
  • Acted for ICICI on its provision of multi-million pound term and revolving credit facilities to the Edina Group.

Elliott Duffy Garrett

Elliott Duffy Garrett assists banks, building societies and housing associations with property finance matters. Key names in the team include Kevin McVeigh, who is an expert in securitisation matters, project financings and secured lending work; and newly promoted partner Cathy Murphy, who specialises in  corporate lending mandates, securtisations, project financing work and restructuring issues. Associate Patricia Beckett leads the banking and finance team.

Practice head(s):

Patricia Beckett

Other key lawyers:

Kevin McVeigh; Cathy Murphy

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group

Northern Bank Limited t/a Danske Bank

Ulster Bank Limited

Leeds Building Society

Bank of Scotland plc

Feniton Property Finance DAC

Premium Credit Limited

Tennent’s NI Limited

Choice Housing Ireland Limited

Connswater Homes Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised a registered housing association on loan facilities of £10m and the provision of associated security over social housing schemes over two distinct tranches.
  • Acting for a bank on the negotiation of a settlement agreement on behalf of two personal guarantors and two limited companies to facilitate the sale of a group company.
  • Advising a drinks company on the restructuring of its facilities.

McKees

McKees  regularly acts on the lender side of high-value real estate financings, representing all of the 'Big Four' banks in Ireland, as well as major UK banks including Lloyds, Natwest and Santander. Consultant Avril McCammon heads up the practice and has advised on the financing of businesses and property, as well as on public-private-partnerships.

Practice head(s):

Avril McCammon

Work highlights

  • Acted for Ulster Bank on the provision of facilities to a borrower for acquiring the Bellevue Arms Bar and Restaurant.
  • Acted for a bank in Northern Ireland on the provision of facilities to a borrower in connection with the refinancing of an acquisition loan of lands for residential development.
  • Acted for a bank in Northern Ireland on the provision of facilities to acquire a large commercial unit near Gatwick Airport.

Mills Selig

Praised as 'a young vibrant practice with a can-do attitude', Mills Selig's team was recently instructed on financing mandates in the real estate and energy sectors. Senior associate Naomi Gaston leads the team and is highly experienced in secured and unsecured lending, with Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank as key clients.

Practice head(s):

Naomi Gaston

Testimonials

‘A young vibrant practice with a  “can do” attitude. Find them collaborative and great to deal with.’

Key clients

Whiterock Capital

Bank of Ireland

First Derivatives plc

Ortus Secured Finance

Danske Bank

Charities Aid Foundation Bank

Privilege Project Finance

Close Leasing

Merchant Money

Murdock Property Group/Lotus Group

Work highlights

  • Advised First Derivates on a multi-currency syndicated loan facility, which involving multi-currency term loans.
  • Acted a large-scale mortgage servicer on the Northern Irish aspects of a large UK-wide mortgage portfolio sale.
  • Advised Close Leasing Limited on the refinancing of a wind farm in Northern Ireland.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is uniquely positioned as the only international law firm with a Belfast office and regularly draws upon its nearby teams in the UK and Republic of Ireland for its finance expertise. Edinburgh-based John Maciver leads the team and is supported by local senior associates Jane Boyd and Seána Donaghy. Former practice head Caroline MacLaughlin has joined Cleaver Fulton Rankin.

Practice head(s):

John Maciver

Other key lawyers:

Jane Boyd; Seána Donaghy

Testimonials

I have worked with Pinsent Mason, Belfast for c. 12 mths. I chose them based on brand, scale and reputation of their team.

PM acted for us on a complex refinance incorporating an acquisition with the bank as Super Senior ancillary provider. This deal included a senior debt provider and PE firm with GB based lawyers appointed to act for each of the other parties.’

I have primarily dealt with Jane Boyd but to some extend Seana Donaghy. I have found Jane to be professional, experienced, proactive and very easy to deal with. Jane is strong on LMA with a key strength being her ability to challenge the other side based on her knowledge of market precedent in order to protect the bank.