Asset finance: foreign firms in Singapore

HFW Singapore LLP

HFW Singapore LLP handles the full spectrum of ship and aviation financing and leasing transactions, as well as those involving private equity and restructuring and insolvency. The team attracts instructions from a varied client base of airlines, financiers, manufacturers, and leasing companies, with additional expertise is leveraged from the Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, covering the breadth of Asian jurisdictions. In shipping, John Forrester and Siri Wennevik advised China's Landbridge Group (as sellers and lessees) on the sale and leaseback transaction with Varde Partners. Wennevik is also known for her experience in the Norwegian/Scandinavian markets. Head of aviation, David Brotherton focuses on advising lessors on portfolio and warehouse financings, aircraft portfolio acquisitions, and complex lease structuring.

Other key lawyers:

Siri Wennevik

Key clients

Avolon Aerospace Leasing Limited (Avolon)

Goshawk

Falko

ALAFCO Aviation Lease and Finance Company

Avation PLC

AVIC International Leasing Co. Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advising an Irish lessor, Goshawk Aviation, on portfolio sales and acquisitions of over 10 aircraft on lease to various airlines across Asia and internationally.
  • Acting for Development Bank of Japan as arranger with Shinsei Bank, as agent in connection with term loan facility made available to KNOT Shuttle Tankers 29 AS and guaranteed by Knutsen NYK Offshore Tankers AS with in connection with one shuttle tankers “JASMINE KNUTSEN”.
  • Acting for and advising CaixaBank S.A. as agent, lender and swap provider in connection with a pre-and post-delivery term loan facility made available to Norspan LNG 14 AS in connection with a Spanish flagged LNG vessel under construction which will be chartered to Edison from delivery.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Keith Sandilands and Ben Rose lead the aviation and shipping offering at Norton Rose Fulbright in Singapore, with additional expertise across a global network of offices. The practice demonstrates significant breadth and depth in domestic and cross-border sale and purchase transactions, financings, and aircraft leasings, including tax-based structures for aircraft, equipment, and ships, as well as restructuring and the granting and enforcement of security. Recently promoted partner Sue Ann Gan and counsel Jonathan Siu are also recommended ship finance, restructuring, and commercial matters.

Other key lawyers:

Sue Ann Gan; Jonathan Siu

Testimonials

‘Patient, Resourceful, Analytical, Structuring / Drafting was good Partner (Ben Rose) was present and engaged – delivered a strong solution for us. ‘

‘Strong offshore oil & gas legal skill sets’

‘Ben Rose and Jonathan Siu – Strong commercial sense and very responsive to work order requests’

‘The team was also able to address the issues faced in a relevant and efficient manner, and they did a good job in monitoring and keeping track of fulfillment of conditions precedent and conditions subsequent.’

Key clients

ING Bank

BNP Paribas

SilkAir (Singapore) Pte Ltd

Aircastle Singapore Pte Limited

Bank of Communications Co., Ltd., Singapore Branch

Singapore Airlines

Work highlights

  • Advising Mezzanine Equities N.V. in relation to the $45m take-out project financing facility to Bumi Armada Berhad in respect of the financing of FSU ‘Armada LNG Mediterrana’ for operation by Electrogas Malta Limited as part of the Delimara LNG Import Terminal in Marsaxlokk Bay in Malta.
  • Advising ING Bank as the lenders in relation to the English and Singapore law aspects of the $1bn financing of semi-submersible floating production system “Gumusut- Kakap”, wholly owned by Gumusut-Kakap Semi-Floating Production System, Asia-Pacific’s first deepwater semi-submersible floating production system.  
  • Advised Aircastle Singapore on lease extension for four Airbus A330-200 aircraft operated by South African Airways.

Stephenson Harwood LLP

Stephenson Harwood LLP's top-tier aviation and shipping finance team is co-headed by Gregg Johnston and Saugata Mukherjee, who is a reputable figure for derivatives, structured products, and capital market transactions. The practice has expanded to add seven associates from various local and international firms. Iain Young and senior associates Jeffrey Tanner and Pedram Norton are regularly involved in the firms' largest shipping finance and transactions. Elsewhere, Huay Yee Kwan is sought after by Chinese clients on international financing transactions and restructuring. Other key partners include Martin Brown for ship finance and offshore maritime transactions; Michelle Runagall-Orlić for aviation financings and acquisition and newly made partner Gregory Xu whose broad practice spans aviation, shipping, and offshore oil and gas financings, particularly for FPSOs, FSRUs, and LNG vessels. Clement Leung is noted for his expertise in the aviation arena.

Testimonials

‘A high degree of professionalism coupled with a constructive approach towards protecting client interests while achieving practical outcomes.’

‘Gregory Xu / Jefferson Tan: highly professional, knowledgeable, courteous and constructive in resolving issues to enable transactions to move forward Martin Green / Martin Brown: deep experience of ship and offshore banking and finance’

‘Should be top aviation practice in Singapore – service, and quality of product is second to none.’

‘Saugata Mukherjee – superb quality product, excellent communicator, very sharp mind, and delivers exceptional and practical advice.’

Key clients

Mirae Asset Securities (HK) Limited

AirAsia

Transportation Partners

Aura Group (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.

Lion Air Group

Cebu Pacific

Vietjet

HI Investments & Securities  

BNP Paribas 

DVB Bank  

CMB Financial Leasing 

Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co., Ltd 

ING Bank 

ABN AMRO Bank 

KfW IPEX-Bank 

Paragon Outcomes 

Standard Chartered Bank 

Peace Boat  

Work highlights

  • Advised Mirae Asset Securities (HK) Limited on a $450m acquisition and financing of three Boeing 777 aircraft, on lease to China Airlines Limited.
  • Advised Transportation Partners, an integrated aviation services company based in Singapore and Dublin, on a refinancing of 21 Boeing 737-900ER aircraft.
  • Advised Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co, on a ground-breaking $900m lease financing of the cruise ship “Genting Dream”, which is the first time a consortium of co-lessors has come together to finance an asset.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chances' Simon Briscoe has more than 25 years' experience in cross-border asset finance and heads the Asia asset finance group, and is well known for representing operating lessors in the sale and purchase of aircraft, including portfolio sales and purchases, purchase and leasebacks, and part out transactions. Fergus Evans specialises in tax-driven structures and export credit backed transactions, while Kate Sherrard focuses on financing transactions across the maritime and offshore oil & gas sectors, particularly on LNG carriers and offshore units. Daniel König is recommended for JOL and JOLCO transactions, portfolio sales, and novations relating to asset-backed securisations. Gervais Green left the practice.

Practice head(s):

Simon Briscoe

Testimonials

‘Clifford Chance has the pre-eminent asset finance practice in Asia and its depth of expertise and size of its team is unrivalled. First-class.’

‘Simon Briscoe is an outstanding lawyer and deeply connected, with excellent insights into the Asia Pacific region. Fergus Evans is very sharp and an absolute pleasure to work with, and has excellent credentials as lenders’ counsel. ‘

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Siva Subramaniam and Samuel Kolehmainen are the main partners a Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's asset finance team, with a good track record advising airlines, lessors, and financial institutions in relation to acquisition financing, operating leasing, tax leasing, and structured finance matters. The team is also strong in JOL and JOLCO transactions. Working alongside key partners, associate Amanda Teoh is also recommended for aircraft financing, leasing, and restructuring transactions.

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Teoh

Key clients

CA-CIB

SIA Group

AAB Group

MUFG/DVB

Helaba

Natixis

BNPP

DBJ

ANZ

AerCap

Work highlights

  • A syndicate of financiers in a $220m refinancing relating to ten aircraft (leased to various airlines) for AerDragon Aviation Partners Limited.
  • Advised Singapore Airlines as borrower in corporate loans secured by: (1) 11 A350-900 aircraft, involving three bilateral facilities with three different banks and a club facility with eight banks with MUFG Bank Ltd. as coordinating bank; and 13 aircraft, involving seven bilateral facilities with seven different banks.
  • Advising Thai AirAsia Co., Ltd. (as seller and lessee) on the sale and leaseback of ten Airbus A320 aircraft with Avolon (as purchaser and lessor), and the related prepayment of the existing financing in respect of certain of the aircraft

Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee

Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee advises a broad mix of banks, airlines, aircraft leasing and finance companies, and aircraft manufacturers on aviation finance and leasing transactions, alongside capital markets and finance expertise in EETC, ABS, and private placement transactions. Matthew Leigh focuses on structured asset finance and leasing. Often working alongside Leigh, senior associate Terry Chang is also highly experienced in aviation transactions and has recently acted for Deutsche Bank on the financing of two Airbus A220 aircraft to Aviation, on lease to airBaltic.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Leigh

Other key lawyers:

Terry Chang

Key clients

Deutsche Bank AG

Standard Chartered Bank / Pembroke Capital Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Deutsche Bank on the financing of three low-carbon emission ATR 72-600 aircraft, built by aircraft manufacturer ATR. This is first green financing of a commercial aircraft.
  • Advised Pembroke on the sale and novation of five aircraft to Korea Transportation Asset Management (KOTAM). This was KOTAM’s first ever portfolio acquisition of aircraft and marked the establishment of its new aircraft leasing platform.
  • Advised Deutsche Bank on the financing of two Airbus A220 aircraft to Avation, on lease to airBaltic.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP

Watson Farley & Williams LLP's Singapore office fields a strong team of asset finance partners headed by industry expert Goh Mei Lin and including Charles Viggers, Mehraab Nazir, and Andrew Nimmo who are all well experienced in finance, transactions, and restructuring exercises in the shipping and aviation sectors. Viggers relocation from the Paris office has brought in new mandates for major multinational lenders and lessors; he recently advised a syndicate of lenders including Commerzbank, MUFG, and Bank of China on JOLCO asset financing of two A320 NEO aircraft for SAS Airlines. Nazir's practice covers finance and leasing all types of maritime assets. Nimmo specialises in the offshore oil and gas and maritime sectors.

Practice head(s):

Goh Mei Lin

Other key lawyers:

Charles Viggers; Andrew Nimmo

Key clients

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited No

Avions de Transport Régional (ATR) No

Crédit Industriel et Commercial (CIC)

European ECAs for Airbus exports (Euler Hermes, UK Export

Finance and Bpifrance Assurance Export)

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

BNP Paribas

Société Générale

Work highlights

  • Advised MUFG Bank, Ltd, Hong Kong Branch and Standard Chartered Bank, Tokyo Branch on a $185.2m Japanese operating lease financing in respect of two 13,000 TEU container vessels for Bank of Communications Financial Leasing.
  • Acting for syndicates of lenders led by Bank of America, N.A. on a series of LNG carrier financings to SK Shipping with project value exceeding $550m.
  • Singapore and French offices are advising SMTB as facility agent, debt arranger, lender and hedge counterparty, in connection with the JOLCO asset financing of two Boeing 737-800 aircraft for Chinese lessor Bocomm Leasing to be placed on lease with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Bird & Bird ATMD LLP

Leo Fattorini at Bird & Bird ATMD LLP advises major airlines and banks across Asia on finance transactions, acting for clients such as AerCap, the AirAsia Group, and Standard Chartered Bank on portfolio purchases and sales, leasebacks, debt finance, and other arrangements. Senior associate Jack Weise often acts alongside Fattorini and is experienced in advising all aviation market players such as financiers, leasing companies, MROs, and airlines.

Practice head(s):

Leo Fattorini

Other key lawyers:

Jack Weise

Testimonials

‘Good teamwork allocation among different appropriate level of seniority. Good commercial sense. Prompt and sensible responses over questions.’

‘Leo Fattorini, Christopher Healy, and Joanne Ng are always working to make sure things get done under short time pressure and provide prompt accurate commercially sensible responses. Very good attitude as well.’

‘The Singapore and Hong Kong team is a small team, but they make up for lack of numbers in their efficiency and availability. They are always accessible and easy to deal with. They are also priced competitive and very commercial in their outlook.’

‘Leo Fattorini is an exceptional lawyer with a deep knowledge of his field. He is easily accessible and a joy to work with. When we think of firms to give new deals, he is always on the top of our list.’

‘A team that is commercially sensible, pragmatic, and seeking solutions as opposed to making things difficult. Knowledgeable in all areas I had a requirement and very time efficient.’

‘Leo Fattorini and Chris Healy from the Asia offices, and Paul Briggs from the UK office have been long term interfaces with Bird & Bird, and were always (i) available, (ii) open to thinking out of the box and (iii) sticking to their commitments.’

Key clients

Emirates

China Construction Bank (Asia) Limited

China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Limited

DVB Bank

CMB Leasing Co, Ltd

AerCap Ireland Limited

Pembroke Aircraft Leasing (UK) Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Emirates airline on a prepayment and simultaneous refinancing of two B777 aircraft, which involved the release of existing Islamic financing with Dubai Islamic Bank and consequently, the unwinding of the Islamic lease structures, transfer of title to a new SPV and entering into a new facility with Santander.
  • Advised Air China in relation to its multi-billion acquisition of fifteen new Airbus A350 aircraft.
  • Acted for an Indian passenger airline in the sale and leaseback of five A321neos with a leasing company as lessor.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP has a history of acting for financial institutions, leasing companies, airlines, and manufacturers in a range of international asset and structured finance and leasing transactions. Former team head Simon Spells joined Reed Smith LLP in January 2021.

K&L Gates Straits Law LLC

K&L Gates Straits Law LLC is sought after by aviation market players to advise on a wide range of mandates from operating leases to complex structured financing; JOL/JOLCO transactions, acquisitions, and more recently, on the restructuring of leasing arrangements. James Bradley is the lead partner in financing, leasing, and restructuring of aircraft, engines, and corporate jets. Kamil Ahmed left the practice.

Practice head(s):

James Bradley

Key clients

PWC

Malaysia Airlines

Citibank

Avation PLC

Jeju Air

Work highlights

  • Advised Singapore-based leasing company Avation PLC in obtaining the first-ever aircraft green loan from Deutsche Bank to finance three low-carbon emission ATR 72-600 aircraft.
  • Advised Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Royal Bank of Canada and Mizuho on the financing aspects around the acquisition of PK AirFinance from GE.
  • Advised Malaysia Airlines and the Administrator in respect of their company restructuring including its ordered fleet and future order book and in the launch of their phoenix airline post-restructuring.

Milbank

Milbank has a strong depth of experience in aviation and a growing level of activity in the shipping sector. The practice has a strong lessor advisory practice, especially in relation to China-based aircraft lessors. Paul Ng is the lead partner for financing and leasing of aviation and maritime assets, rolling stock, and other moveable assets, including tax-based, leveraged Islamic, and export credit.

Practice head(s):

Paul Ng

Key clients

Taiping Fontainburg DVB Aviation Capital L.P.

Air Premia

Singapore Airlines

Malaysian Airlines

Cebu Pacific

CastleLake LLP

Asiana Airlines

Work highlights

  • Advised Castlelake LP, in the high-valued $835m financing of the acquisition from CMIG Leasing of a portfolio of 19 aircraft valued in excess of $1.2bn.
  • Acting as international counsel for Singapore Airlines, which, with the support of Temasek, is expected to raise almost $10.5bn from a combined issuance of both new equity and debt.
  • Advised Taiping Fontainburg DVB Aviation Capital L.P., a joint venture partnership established by China Taiping insurance, DVB Bank and Fontainburg Aviation Capital, on a first of its kind non- recourse mortgage-backed financing and purchase by conditional sale of portfolio of aircraft from Air Lease Corp operated by airlines in Asia.