Banking and finance: Lender or arranger side in Russia
Dentons' ‘market-leading’ practice continues to be at the forefront of financing transactions across Russia and the CIS regions owing to its expertise in finance regulation, project financings and acquisition and export finance. Following the firm's merger with Chinese firm, Dacheng, the Moscow practice is also uniquely positioned to handle various cross-border Chinese-CIS deals. Notable highlights include acting for UniCredit Bank on the financing of Nordgold group under a $75m facility agreement. Regulatory expert Timothy Stubbs advised The Central Bank of Russia on the drafting and development of consumer rights protection standards concerning the self-regulatory organisations of microfinance institutions. Other key figures include Evgenia Laurson and Andrei Strijak.
Herbert Smith Freehills CIS LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills CIS LLP is best known for its strengths in energy and project financing. Recent highlights saw Dmitry Gubarev and Artjom Buligin advising Sberbank on the secured financing of over €900m intended for the acquisition of a number of shopping malls in Moscow and St. Petersburg from Immofinanz (Austria) by Fort Group, and on the refinancing provided to various property companies by Nordea Bank, Raiffeisenbank and Sberbank. Elsewhere, Olga Davydava assisted VTB Bank with a $680m secured loan facility for the Commercial Port of Vladivostok. Counsel Vadim Panin advises lenders on secured, unsecured bilateral and syndicated loans.
Norton Rose Fulbright handles all stages of project financing, syndicated and secured lending transactions under Russian law, and is also recognised for its expertise in sanctions issues. Alexander Tsakoev advises Russian and international financial institutions on all banking transactions, with a particular speciality in structured trade and commodities finance, including pre-export and pre-payment financings. Also of note are Konstantin Konstantinov and Ksenia Zolotova.
ALRUD Law Firm has one of ‘the most experienced and well-connected Russian banking practices’, according to one client. It continues to be highly sought after by major international and Russian financial institutions and has a particularly strong relationship with the Russian Direct Investment Fund; it recently advised the client on the project financing of several major PPP projects. The team, which is led by Anton Dzhuplin, advised Bank of Baroda, one of India's largest banks, on a credit facility granted to a Russian pharmaceutical group and subsequent restructuring. Other highlights include its assistance to Rosbank with facility and security agreements granted to the Rosneft Oil Company group, including pledges of shares, mortgages over vessels and security assignment. Alexander Zharskiy and Ekaterina Mayorova are also noted.
Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited handles secured and unsecured finance transactions, advising on both Russian and English law; in one notable example, the Moscow and Frankfurt practices advised ING Bank on the Russian law matters related to an export credit agency-covered $88m loan facility agreement granted to a major Russian pulp and paper manufacturer. Vladimir Dragunov heads the department. Simon Morgan has notable expertise advising on loans and credit facilities, securitisation and structured finance, and Max Gutbrod handles restructuring and financial regulatory matters.
Baker Botts L.L.P.
With expertise in English and Russian law, Baker Botts L.L.P. is a popular choice for commercial banks and global developmental institutions such as the EBRD for debt and equity transactions. The firm also advises VTB and its affiliates and Gazprombank on limited recourse finance transactions and acquisition financings. Konstantin Garmonin is the main contact
Clients value Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP’s banking practice for its ‘accurate legal advice and commitment to invest its time and effort to build a long-term relationship’. The practice's wide-ranging expertise includes handling domestic and international financing matters, and it has recently won new instructions from multilateral development agencies; highlights include advising the International Investment Bank, and also advising the Far East and Baikal Region Development Fund on project financing a new passenger terminal and airport infrastructure in Khabarovsk. Demonstrating expertise in debt restructuring, Oleg Khokhlov assisted the EBRD with restructuring a $30m convertible facility to Prognoz Group by way of a debt-to-equity swap. Recently promoted partner Tatiana Parshak is ‘a brilliant lawyer and a safe pair of hands in complex transactions’.
At Clifford Chance, Victoria Bortkevicha has a strong track record in secured and unsecured financing, project financing transactions and real estate financing. Vladimir Barbolin is a key name for cross-border financing. The practice advised several Russian and international banks, including Société Générale (with Rosbank) and Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank on an $825m facility for Uralkali. Adam Fadian departed for Allen & Overy LLP.
Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners' lawyers are ‘extremely knowledgeable of not only the current legislation but also aware of legislative developments and changes in the market’. Led by Dmitriy Glazounov, the practice distinguishes itself from competitors through its ‘proactive and innovative approach’ and is ‘one of the best equipped teams to handle complex cross-border matters’, according to one client. The group handles the full spectrum of financial transactions and is notably active in debt restructuring, mezzanine and syndicated loans. Other figures include corporate finance expert Arkady Krasnikhin, Roman Malovitsky and Oleg Ushakov.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Mikhail Loktionov leads the banking practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; recent work includes advising VTB Capital, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs on a number of secured and unsecured debt facilities to Russian borrowers. Anna Narsesian acted for Gazprombank on a number of infrastructure project finance, structured and syndicated finance transactions, including an acquisition finance concerning the $545m facility to Russian Fishery for the acquisition of fishery assets.
Latham & Watkins LLP's ‘well-organised, efficient and knowledgeable’ practice specialises in advising domestic and international banks on acquisition finance, syndicated loans and restructuring in the oil and gas and mining sectors. The ‘responsive and practical’ Ragnar Johannesen ‘knows the market very well’ and is the main practitioner along with recently promoted counsel Elizaveta Bacheyeva.
From its offices in London and Moscow, Linklaters' banking team advised Sberbank on a multi-jurisdictional €1bn debt restructuring of Agrokor Group. Other significant recent work includes assisting UniCredit with a €700m bilateral unsecured facility for Gazprom. In outbound transactions, the team advised Roseximbank on a $90m syndicated loan to Belarusbank. Michael Bott and Nikolai Kurmashev are the key figures.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s team has ‘profound legal knowledge and is innovative, proactive and has vast experience both in international financings and in restructuring and insolvency’. ‘Innovative and efficient’ practice head Grigory Marinichev is ‘the go-to expert for complex Russian, CIS and international finance transactions’; his recent highlights include advising ING Bank on a $570m pre-export finance facility for Siberian Anthracite, and assisting UniCredit Bank (London branch), as agent, with a $750m syndicated financing for EuroChem Group. Senior associate and ‘rising star’ Alexey Chertov has ‘extensive knowledge of the Russian prepayment finance market’ and regularly supports Marinichev on the practice’s largest transactions.
White & Case LLC has a strong track record acting as lead counsel across a wide range of transactions in acquisition and project financing, real estate finance and restructuring. The firm has recently advised Japan Bank of International Cooperation on conventional project finance and infrastructure transaction structures. Key practitioner Natalia Nikitina is also active in legislative matters, and has contributed to the drafting of the legislation regulating syndicated lending in Russia, which was adopted in early 2018. Ekaterina Logvinova is the other key figure.
Allen & Overy Legal Services
The team at Allen & Overy Legal Services ‘is always available to meet the clients’ needs’ and has a strong awareness of market trends. The practice specialises in syndicated loans and structured finance and leverages expertise from its wide network of offices to handle cross-border transactions for a mix of Russian and international banks such as VTB Group, Gazprombank and ING Bank. The practice's strong capabilities in asset finance is demonstrated by its advice to Sberbank on the financing a new high ice class Arctic shuttle tanker for Sovcomflot’s fleet, to be built at the Admiralty Shipyards in St Petersburg. Igor Gorchakov and Sergey Blinov stand out for their ‘communication skills' and ability to 'handle quite complex negotiations’. Stephen Matthews is now with Bowmans.
CMS’s banking practice is headed by Konstantin Baranov, who has significant experience advising Russian financial institutions on a wide range of cross-border transactions, with a strong focus on project, real estate, acquisition and trade finance. Active clients include Commerzbank Group, Sberbank and Russian Agricultural Bank.
At DLA Piper Rus Limited, highlights included acting for Credit Europe Bank, as mandated lead arranger, agent and security agent, on a loan facility to Delta and Soyuz-Invest concerning the secured financing of a logistics complex in the Moscow region. The group is also advising lender Sberbank on a loan facility for financing the construction of a multi-functional business centre. Karen Young is the main practitioner, and Philip Lamzin specialises in asset finance in the aviation and shipping sectors.
Hogan Lovells (CIS)’ expertise spans cross-border trade finance transactions, restructuring and aircraft finance transactions. Counsel and practice head Alexander Gasparyan is experienced in English and foreign law asset finance, trade, commodities and export financing, and has been notably active in aircraft leasing where he advised South African-based Nedbank on the multi-jurisdictional refinancing of its credit portfolio concerning three Boeing 777-200ER aircraft leased to VIM Airlines. In another highlight, he assisted Bank Otrkitie Financial Corporation and Rigensis Bank as lenders and facility agents with $100m-worth of financing granted to Med Sea Health, a major hotel operator in Greece, by way of issuance of the bond notes secured by the guarantees of Russian and Greek investors. Senior associate Oleg Gritsenko is recommended for structured finance and syndicated lending.
Dechert Russia LLC’s advises on restructuring debt and equity deals and is regularly instructed to represent the interests of banks and lenders in bankruptcy-related matters and in the enforcement of credit arrangements, often alongside the London office. Recent highlights include advising the EBRD on its secured loan to Olzha, a private freight wagon operator in Kazakhstan, to finance the acquisition of rail cars and to refinance existing debt. Laura Brank is the main figure.
At KIAP (Korelskiy, Ischuk, Astafiev and Partners, Attorneys at Law), recent work includes advising on land credit agreements under Russian and English law, subordinated and syndicated loan transactions and regulatory and operational matters. Roman Suslov is the main figure. VTB 24 is a key client.
King & Spalding LLP’s banking practice handles structured, asset and project financings and restructuring for Russian and international banks including Vnesheconombank, Uralsib Bank and Citigroup. Managing partner Sergey Komolov is experienced in advising lenders on asset deals, complex secured financings, mezzanine finance projects, and other transactions.
LP Law Firm's team is experienced in advising on restructuring, refinancing and the Russian law aspects and operational activities of banking and credit institutions. Andrey Novakovskiy is the main contact; Vadim Konyushkevich has notable experience assisting Asian lenders with project financing transactions. Clients include China Development Bank, Mizuho Bank, Citibank, Credit Suisse and Bank of Moscow.
At Noerr, banking and finance specialist Dr Vladislav Skvortsov advised VTB Bank on the project financing for Energo Effect - the Russian subsidiary of Core Value Capital, an Austrian private equity fund - intended for the construction of two solar power stations in Astrakhan. Other areas of activity include acquisition and syndicated financings, asset finance and restructurings.
Specialising in banking disputes and bankruptcy matters, Pepeliaev Group's banking department is led by Igor Marmalidi whose experience spans banking and securities regulations, structuring of international financial and investment transactions and litigation. Yulia Litovtseva represents banks in bankruptcy disputes.