ALRUD Law Firm leads as ‘the top domestic counsel for Russian clients’. Led by Anton Dzhuplin, the team ‘takes a collaborative approach to solving complex issues’ and stands out for its ‘responsiveness and ability to act quickly and thoroughly in order to achieve successful results’. Dzhuplin supported by Ekaterina Mayorova and Ekaterina Boeva are advising Coeclerici Commodities and its Russian subsidiary Kuznetsk Investment Construction Company on a loan provided by Unicredit Bank. The team also assisted Sib Trading with the acquisition finance of Sibenergougol, which included complex structuring issues and negotiations with Gazprombank. Alexander Zharskiy is highly regarded for debt refinancing. The practice also handles various issues for Mastercard, including matters relating to financial developments and regulatory changes to the payment industry.
Banking and finance: Borrower side in Russia
Clifford Chance's team stands out for its ‘unique combination of professional and talented lawyers with strong expertise in English and Russian law aspects’ and is ‘a safe pair of hands’ for syndicated lending, structured financings, project financing matters and debt restructuring. Russia practice head Victoria Bortkevicha specialises in transactions with a nexus to the energy and infrastructure sectors. A notable highlight saw Bortkevicha and other members of a cross-office team act for Yamal LNG (a joint-venture between Novatek, Total, CNPC and Silk Road Fund) on the $19bn project financing associated with the development of a major new LNG liquefaction plant and related facilities on the Yamal Peninsula, Russia. Vladimir Barbolin, who heads up the real estate finance practice, made partner in June 2018.
Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith Freehills CIS LLP is sought after by leading domestic borrowers and project developers in the oil and gas and real estate sectors owing to its expertise in project finance transactions. Dual-qualified Olga Davydava acted alongside colleagues in the London and Brussels offices in advising Nord Stream 2 and Gazprom on the financing arrangements for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Engie, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall as financial investors providing long-term financing for 50% of the total costs of the project, estimated at €9bn. Practice head Artjom Buligin assited Raven Russia with an up to $63m facility from Sberbank relating to the refinancing of commercial real estate development. Recently promoted counsel Vadim Panin acts for both lenders and borrowers on unsecured bilateral and syndicated loans, with a speciality in project finance.
Norton Rose Fulbright regularly acts for leading Russian and international and corporations in the oil and gas, mining and healthcare sectors. Key areas of activity include syndicated lending, real estate and asset finance, debt capital markets and restructuring. Practice head Alexander Tsakoev is noted for his expertise in structured trade and commodities finance. Others figures of note are Konstantin Konstantinov, who advises on secured financing and project finance, and counsel Ksenia Zolotova, who is a key name for financings involving export credit agencies.
Baker Botts L.L.P.
At Baker Botts L.L.P., Konstantin Garmonin advises on a wide range of cross-border and domestic financing transactions, including project and secured financings, pre-export, structured financings and corporate lending transactions. Highlights of borrower-side representations included acting for SUEK Plc in connection with its $1 bn pre-export financing and representing major international and domestic developers on a number of complex real estate financing transactions. The team also has ‘extensive experience in aviation’, demonstrated by Elena Stepanenko advising Aeroflot Airlines on multiple financings, including the ECA-backed finance leases Airbus A330 and 321 airliners.
Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners is ‘a legal powerhouse’ with ‘vast in-house resources and expertise in the banking and finance sphere’. ‘Consummate professional and well-regarded banking expert’ Dmitriy Glazounov leads a team of ‘well-qualified lawyers who can handle complex multi-jurisdictional projects’, which includes Arkady Krasnikhin, who focuses on acquisition and project finance mandates and Roman Malovitsky, has ‘a deep understanding of the clients’ needs and the right steps to take in order to achieve the best result’. Associates Oleg Ushakov is a ‘rising star’ and a ‘knowledgeable, creative and business-minded practitioner’, while Vladimir Goglachev provides ‘accurate and effective advice’. The practice has notable expertise in syndicated and bilateral loans, acquisition funding, project finance matters and structured financing. Active clients include BaikalInvestBank.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Mikhail Loktionov at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised Credit Bank of Moscow on a $400m syndicated term loan facility, and Sodrugestvo Group, as borrower, on English law matters concerning an up to $150m secured syndicated loan arranged by UBS. Dual-qualified Anna Nersesian is the other key figure; she assisted Ilim Group with an unsecured syndicated facility for up to $500m by Raiffeisen Bank. Other highlights include advising Northern Capital Gateway (an operator of the Pulkovo Airport) on the refinancing of senior debt under the facility agreement provided by international finance institutions and UniCredit Group. Other clients include VTB Capital, Sberbank and Russian Railways.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s banking practice ‘demonstrates top-class expertise across a whole range of financial products and a solid understanding of the needs of every client’. Dmitry Shiryaev has extensive expertise across financial transactions, particularly within capital markets transactions. The practice is advising Utair on post-completion documentation and activity following the successful completion of its $809m refinancing of its debt portfolio.
Allen & Overy Legal Services’s banking practice is a popular choice for syndicated loans and structured finance transactions where it is praised for ‘its expertise in handling specialised and complex highly structured projects’, as well as its ‘flexibility’ and ‘quick turnaround times’. Recent examples include advising GeoProMining group on a restructuring of the syndicated facility from Sberbank and VTB for the purposes of refinancing its existing indebtedness. Department head Igor Gorchakov is ‘a real professional who expertly handles complex transactions in the most efficient way’. Recently promoted counsel Sergey Blinov is ‘an excellent negotiator and very strong on client relationship management’.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP’s strong expertise in real estate finance is evident in Tatiana Parshak acting for Raven Property Group on two secured facilities totalling €65m from VTB Germany for leveraging the acquisition of commercial real estate properties in St Petersburg. Oleg Khokhlov, who is another key figure, handled a number of corporate and financing structuring and ICO matters in the fintech sector. Counsel Igor Zhivotov regularly assists Khokhlov with various complex transactions. The group also has a strong track record handling restructuring.
CMS has a strong track record acting for borrowers in the project finance and acquisition finance spheres. Recent highlights saw Elena Tchoubykina advising Uralkali on its $850m pre-export finance facility arranged by, among others, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, UniCredit Bank, Commerzbank, Rosbank, Natixis and ING Bank, and $750m revolving credit facility arranged by Sberbank and Sberbank (Switzerland). Konstantin Baranov heads the practice.
Dentons’ banking practice has benefited from the recruitment of cross-border finance specialist Tamer Amara, who joined from Clifford Chance in July 2018. The team is led by the dual-qualified Timothy Stubbs, who counts European Investment Bank, VTB Capital and Rosgosstrakh as clients. Evgenia Laurson advises on project finance and pre-export facilities, while Andrej Strijak and counsel Dennis Montgomery are experienced in acquisition and export finance. Highlights included advising Eurochem on a $750m five-year unsecured club financing with a group of banks, including mandated lead arrangers BNP Paribas Bank and Citibank (London branch), and assisting Raven Russia with a $65m secured loan facility for the refinancing of a warehouse complex near Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg.
DLA Piper Rus Limited provides ‘prompt, cost-effective and practical advice’, ‘showing a solid understanding of business and financial aspects in each task’. Karen Young is ‘a very skilled lawyer with extensive knowledge of cross-border transactions’; her recent work includes advising the Development Bank of Kazakhstan on two loan facilities totalling $832m provided by China Development Bank, and several international banks, including Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Deutsche Bank, respectively. Philip Lamzin focuses on asset finance, in particular on aircraft and shipping finance and leasing transactions.
At Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, head of banking and finance Grigory Marinichev is, according to one client, ‘the top choice for any international transaction within Russia and the CIS’ and also stands out for his ‘excellent negotiation skills and wide network of connections’, where his practice spans structured finance, syndicated lending, debt restructuring transactions and insolvency matters. He and London-based Bruce Johnston advised Nord Gold on a $325m financing by Sberbank. Senior associate Alexey Chertov is 'a committed and efficient lawyer with extensive experience in prepayment and pre-export finance’.
Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited
Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited handles all Russian and English law aspects of the largest and most complex secured and unsecured finance transactions. The Moscow practice is led by Vladimir Dragunov and draws on the strengths of colleagues in the London and Hong Kong offices to advise Chinese clients on acquisition finance. Simon Morgan is the other key figure.
At Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, highlights included advising Norilsk Nickel on a $2.5bn syndicated term loan facility with an international syndicate comprising 17 banks and financial institutions. Managing partner Alan Kartashkin’s broad expertise spans securities, corporate finance and aircraft financing. Also of note is Dmitry Karamyslov, who is noted for pre-export finance facilities, asset-backed financing and derivatives transactions.
Dechert Russia LLC’s well-regarded practice acts for Russian and foreign commercial banks, multilateral financial institutions and export credit agencies on multi-jurisdictional debt restructuring, project financings and the finance aspects of M&A deals. ‘Respected industry expert’ Laura Brank regularly handles project and structured financing throughout Russia and the CIS region, and has recently handled a number of debt restructuring mandates. Dual-qualified counsels Olga Watson and Kirill Skopchevskiy specialise in debt and equity finance transactions.
Ivanyan and Partners continues to be heavily involved in major project financings in the energy, oil and gas and mining sectors across Russia and the CIS. The ‘efficient and experienced’ team is headed by Daria Semenikhina, who has ‘comprehensive knowledge of different banking transactions’. Key clients include Gazprombank, Sberbank and Industrial Assets Fund.
King & Spalding LLP’s banking practice handles structured, asset and project financings and restructuring for Russian and international banks such as Vnesheconombank, Uralsib Bank and Citigroup. Managing partner Sergey Komolov has experience advising lenders on asset deals, complex secured financings, mezzanine finance projects, and other transactions.
Counting Citibank, Credit Suisse and Bank of Moscow among its recent clients, LP Law Firm’s team is experienced in advising on restructuring, refinancing and the Russian law aspects and operational activities. Andrey Novakovskiy is the main contact, while Vadim Konyushkevich has experience assisting Asian lenders with project financing transactions. Other key clients include China Development Bank and Mizuho Bank. Oleg Bychkov left for EMPP Law Firm in April 2018.
Noerr’s wide-ranging banking practice spans acquisition, project and structured finance, syndicated and single bank financings and restructurings. Stefan Wolfgang Weber is the key figure for project finance and ECA-covered and pre-export facilities, and Dr Vladislav Skvortsov advises on the English law aspects of financings.
With a network of global offices, White & Case LLC is well placed to act for borrowers on major cross-border acquisition finance transactions, pre-export financing and restructuring, while the firm also maintains a dedicated sanctions desk. In recent work, a cross-border team advised Siberian Anthracite on a $570m pre-export financing facility provided by several international banks including ING, Credit Suisse and Sberbank, among others. The practice is also handling the project financing of infrastructure projects in Russia and Kazakhstan. Natalia Nikitina and Ekaterina Logvinova are the main contacts. Maxim Kobzev has left the practice for an overseas legal position.