HFW Singapore LLP has committed extensive resources and expertise to ship and aviation finance, both in Singapore and worldwide. The firm boasts one of the largest aviation and ship finance teams across the Asia Pacific with a considerable proportion of the team based in Singapore. The group has made a particular impression in representing aircraft lessors in portfolio and warehouse financings. It is also at the forefront of PRC aviation financing and leasing, and has significant experience in JOLCO financing structures. David Brotherton heads the aviation finance team in Singapore and has a fine reputation for representing lessors. John Forrester leads the ship finance group across Asia Pacific, having amassed almost 30 years of experience in this sector. Siri Wennevik advises a range of banks and ECAs on shipping and offshore loans, while Ling Lui is noted for aircraft financing and leasing structures, including portfolio financings.
Asset finance: foreign firms in Singapore
HFW Singapore LLP
David Brotherton; John Forrester
Avolon Aerospace Leasing Limited (Avolon)
Bank of Communications Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. (BoComm FL)
KDB Asia Limited
Norton Rose Fulbright has an established presence in both aviation and ship finance. It has gained a series of major engagements in airline restructurings, including Chapter 11 filings, where the Singapore group has teamed up with colleagues in the US. The firm is traditionally associated with lenders, although the Singapore team does have close links to airlines and lessors, too. On the ship finance side, the Singapore group has a mix of mainstream ship financings, along with offshore oil and gas transactions, including FPSO and FSRU financings. Keith Sandilands is Asia head of Aviation and Ben Rose leads the Asia shipping and offshore group. Ship finance specialist Sue Ann Gan was promoted to partner in 2020, while special counsel Jonathan Siu provides further shipping and offshore oil and gas expertise. Sophie Polisena impresses at associate level.
Keith Sandilands; Ben Rose
Other key lawyers:
Sue Ann Gan; Jonathan Siu; Sophie Polisena
‘I work with NRF for years and think they are professionals in shipping finance. The team we worked with is hardworking and helpful.’
‘Very friendly and approachable team.’
‘Billing is flexible and client-friendly.’
‘Ben Rose and Sophie Polisena are very professional, helpful and intelligent lawyers.’
‘Sophie Polisena – Sharp, quick to turn around documents, approachable.’
SilkAir (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Aircastle Singapore Pte Limited
PT Garuda Indonesia (Persero) Tbk
Malaysia Airlines Berhad
Standard Chartered Bank
Korea Development Bank
Bank of Baroda
Stephenson Harwood LLP has a lengthy history in big-ticket ship financings but has also built its presence in the aviation space in recent years. The Singapore team was especially active in major airline restructurings during the Covid-19 pandemic, including global restructurings working alongside colleagues in London and Paris. On the ship finance side, the firm boasts a sizeable team of both English law and Singapore law partners, three of which have been in Singapore for 20 years. The ship finance group operates primarily on the borrower side, along with Chinese lessor, international bank, and ECA and development bank clients. It is known for ECA-backed financings and its restructuring and insolvency expertise. Saugata Mukherjee is a leader in aviation finance, including niche areas such as working on the first Korean-private placements of aircraft-backed bonds. Gregg Johnston, Iain Young and Martin Green are among the most experienced ship finance specialists in the market, while Huay Yee Kwan is a key name for PRC leasing engagements. Michelle Runagall-Orlić and Gregory Xu are also key partners. Jeffrey Tanner, Clement Leung and Pedram Norton are all rising stars.
Other key lawyers:
‘Approachable, well-coordinated, always available, excellent depth of knowledge and committed. Deal team structure allows for consistency of advice across the board. Professional, constructive and practical. ’
‘Stephenson Harwood are the best ship owners finance team in Singapore. Exceptionally well tuned for dealing with busy, sophisticated and demanding owners.’
‘A highly experienced firm with which I have a long history. They have a large practice and is guided by a very experienced partner.’
‘Strength in depth is what makes this team stand out. They take a practical and commercial approach to all matters.’
‘Saugata Mukherjee – absolutely stands out in terms of commitment, ability, dedication, knowledge, commercial acumen and ability to achieve the commercial objective and close a deal. Best aviation lawyer in Singapore. Clement Leung – very bright, creative and innovative in finding solutions, and very dedicated and hard working.’
‘Saugata Mukherjee is extremely knowledgeable and has an incredible work rate. He is also an amazing problem solver.’
‘Gregg Johnston is a great team leader and an exceptional lawyer. Excellent dealing with clients. Jeffrey Tanner is a first-class lawyer and understands how a shipowner operates having done a secondment to BW.’
Lion Air Group
Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (publ)
Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Banks
National Australian Bank
ABN AMRO Bank
Standard Chartered Bank
BW LPG Limited
The Korea Development Bank
The Export-Import Bank of Korea
- Advised BNP Paribas in relation to the financing of two new A350 aircraft for an international carrier through a Japanese operating lease with call option with head lease and sub-lease structure.
- Advised National Australia Bank on a $178m limited recourse financing of nine aframax tankers to a Korean investment fund.
- Advised Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank in relation to a significant senior secured financing of five very large ore carriers for Polaris Shipping Co., Ltd.
Clifford Chance is a leader in aviation finance matters, primarily acting for lenders and lessors. The team has landed a series of major engagements in airline restructurings, including US Chapter 11 bankruptcies. Moreover, working alongside the London office, the Singapore team advised the majority of aircraft lessor creditors of Malaysia Aviation Group Berhad and its subsidiaries, in respect of its ongoing restructuring under an English Scheme of Arrangement. Fergus Evans is widely recognised as a leading practitioner in the aviation finance market, having spent a large part of his career in Asia. Consultant Simon Briscoe has transferred to Sydney and ship finance specialist Kate Sherrard has joined Squire Patton Boggs. Daniel König is rated at senior associate level.
Other key lawyers:
‘Clifford Chance Singapore Aviation finance team is simply second to none in Asia in terms of expertise, resources, reliability, availability and speed of execution.’
‘Fergus Evans and the senior associates are highly qualified, available and quick to deliver quality service.’
‘Clifford Chance Singapore Asset Finance Team has been very supportive. This team provides specific guidance on legal issues depending on your level of experience. The number of diverse transactions they handle, the depth of knowledge and the client-focused communication are this team’s unique strengths that you cannot find elsewhere.’
‘Fergus Evans has been an excellent partner. His extensive experience in various transaction structures and customised legal advice have been an important resource for me.’
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited
Bank of China Limited, BNP Paribas, DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Natixis and MUFG Bank, Ltd.
Macquarie Aircraft Leasing Services (UK) Limited, SMBC Aviation Capital Limited, Aircastle Singapore Pte. Ltd. and Avolon Aerospace Leasing Limited
BNP Paribas, DVB Group Merchant Bank (Asia) Ltd., MUFG Bank, Ltd., CTBC Bank Co., Ltd., Cathay United Bank, Co., Ltd., JA Mitsui Leasing, Ltd.
Merx Aviation Servicing Limited
MUFG Bank, Ltd., DBS Bank Ltd., ING Bank N.V., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Credit Industriel Et Commercial, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited, Standard Chartered Bank, United Overseas Bank Limited, BNP Paribas, Bank of America N.A, Commerzbank AG, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, CTBC Bank Co., Ltd., Landesbank Baden-Württemberg
AerDragon Aviation Partners Limited
International Finance Corporation
Indigo Philippines LLC, an affiliate of private equity firm Indigo Partners LLC
- Advised HSBC on the financing of an Airbus A320NEO aircraft and a Boeing 787-9 aircraft for TATA SIA Airlines Limited.
- Advised various syndicates as transaction counsel in connection with the business rehabilitation proceedings of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.
- Advised various operating lessors as transaction counsel in connection with the business rehabilitation proceedings of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP‘s practice is focused on aviation finance. During the Covid pandemic, it pivoted more to deferrals, repossessions and restructurings; this is in part thanks to the firm’s global standing in dispute resolution and in restructuring, turnarounds and insolvencies. The Singapore team also benefitted from the firm’s set-up in Indonesia. The group advises a range of lenders, airlines and more recently, a number of private equity houses and financial sponsors; it assisted Bain Capital with its acquisition of Virgin Australia out of administration. Siva Subramaniam is a leader in the aviation sector, while Samuel Kolehmainen has a growing reputation in the industry. Amanda Teoh is an experienced senior associate.
Other key lawyers:
Samuel Kolehmainen; Amanda Teoh; Shi Yin Gan; Mian Ang
‘The team has been very approachable and helpful regardless of whether it’s for a new or existing transaction and has been forthcoming and proactively providing feedback to support the banks in making our decisions, legally or commercially.’
‘They have a great wealth of knowledge about the industry and work very well as a team. They are able to tap onto their colleagues from other teams overseas to assist when they are shorthanded and are always able to deliver good quality work efficiently. They also started using the Legatics platform to track conditions precedents for transactions.’
‘High responsiveness; 24/7 availability.’
‘Siva Subramaniam has been able to give a holistic and comprehensive overview of the situation and issues whenever called upon to ensure that Lenders are able to make a well-informed decision.’
‘Samuel Kolehmainen is at the top of his game.’
‘Samuel Kolehmainen is available 24/7, has great skills, looks for solutions in a pragmatic manner.’
‘Shi Yin Gan seems to need no sleep at all; very enthusiastic and well liked.’
‘Mian Ang. Very good associate. Competent and able to work autonomously.’
CA – CIB
- Advised Bain Capital on its landmark acquisition of Virgin Australia Group out of administration.
- Advised Natixis and Apple Bank for Savings (as senior lender) in an AFIC covered senior secured debt financing for two Boeing B787-10 aircraft subject to a sale and leaseback agreement between Singapore Airlines and Crianza Aviation, with East Merchant as asset manager.
- Advised Singapore Airlines on multiple secured long-term financings (with linked interest swaps) of around S$2bn with various lenders.
Watson Farley & Williams LLP‘s Singapore office is a vital component in the firm’s global position as a go-to counsel in asset finance. It has five aviation and shipping partners in the jurisdiction who cover a broad range of ship and aviation finance engagements. Beyond mainstream asset financings, the team has also built a reputation in offshore oil and gas, ports and logistics. In aviation, the team has been at the forefront of insolvencies and restructurings, JOLCO financings and Chinese leasing structures. Charles Viggers is a recognised authority on aviation finance and leasing, and Goh Mei Lin is one of the most experienced shipping and ship finance specialists in the market, acting for both lenders and shipowners. Lizzie Roe impresses at counsel level.
Goh Mei Lin
Other key lawyers:
Charles Viggers; Simon Petch; Lizzie Roe; Ee Ling Goh
‘The team is responsive and proactive in handling matters.’
‘The aircraft finance team has in-depth experience and strong relationships with top-tier clients.’
‘The team is able to provide appropriate advice across the spectrum of legal counsel, across various products and structure, and one-stop solution involving foreign counsels.’
‘Each individual within the team fulfils their roles to the best of their capabilities. The partner Goh Mei Lin is proactive and sincere in providing support as the lender’s counsel. Counsel Lizzie Roe is sharp and effective in guiding banks to consider various commercial negotiations and provides adequate solutions on documentation negotiation.’
‘Charles Viggers is a dedicated, reactive partner, who remains hands-on, from the inception to the closing of the transaction, and with whom it is fruitful and pleasant to exchange.’
‘Simon Petch and Ee Ling Goh are standout performers.’
Bank of America NA
Standard Chartered Bank
BNP Paribas (Singapore Branch)
Wan Hai Lines (Singapore) Pte Ltd
National Australia Bank Limited
Export-Import Bank of the U.S.
CIC Credit Industriel et Commercial
Bird & Bird ATMD LLP is principally focused on aircraft financings and leasing transactions, acting for an impressive number of regional airlines, aircraft lessors and financial institutions. It routinely advises on a significant volume of aircraft financings and operating lease transactions in the Asia Pacific. Singapore partner Leo Fattorini is the joint head of the firm’s international aviation and aerospace group, and he leads the Asia Pacific aviation team. Jack Weise impresses at senior associate level. The Singapore team frequently works alongside colleagues in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Other key lawyers:
‘User-friendly and personable team.’
‘Leo Fattorini has a great appreciation of the commercial considerations in a deal and is able to provide succinct advice tailored to the circumstances each time. He is a real pleasure to work with.’
‘The Bird & Bird ATMD LLP team are well known in the industry, and having worked with the firm both in an airline and lessor capacity, they understand the needs of the company. It is also great value for the work provided.’
‘The firm has a great set of people, and doesn’t really matter which office is being used, they all have great knowledge on the market and asset finance in particular. Furthermore, the firm is a great believer in the value of relationships – transactions are priced based on a longer-term view and not charged per hour irrespective of previous or potential future business.’
‘The team I worked with at the Singapore and Hong Kong offices are pragmatic, constructive and solution seekers – trying to make something work rather than just digging in their heels. Turn time of documents is super.’
‘We were able to liaise easily with Bird & Bird and they established a good communication with us which made us understand their advice clearly. This is one of their strengths compared to other firms who have worked with us in aircraft financing matters. They also have the experience in handling aircraft financing which we need the most.’
‘Leo Fattorini and Joanne Ng were very helpful and easy to communicate with. Their advice was on point insightful.’
CMB Leasing Co, Ltd
AerCap Ireland Limited
Pembroke Group Limited/Standard Chartered Bank
InterGlobe Aviation Limited
ST Engineering Aerospace Resources Pte. Ltd.
AirAsia (India) Limited
AirAsia X Berhad
- Acted for InterGlobe Aviation Limited on their sale and leaseback of twelve used ATRs with Dubai Aerospace Enterprise.
- Acted for ST Engineering Aerospace Resources Pte. Ltd. in the lease extension, freighter conversion and refinancing of one Airbus A321.
- Acted for Pembroke Group Limited in the China Free Trade Zone lease restructuring of one A321 with China Southern Airlines as lessee.
K&L Gates Straits Law LLC‘s Singapore team operates within a broader Asia Pacific aviation practice, frequently working alongside colleagues in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney. It represents a range of airlines, aircraft lessors and financial institutions. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the team worked on a series of restructurings.
Other key lawyers:
Ivan Chu; Natalia Toh
‘Good network of office across the region and strong capability to advise clients on local and cross-border legal issues.’
‘Fantastic range of lawyers at different levels which means that the right team can be used to staff each transaction. Great depth of knowledge at the right level which allows the team to be versatile, use technology as needed to speed up transactions or to use industry/commercial knowledge to find solutions.’
‘Ivan Chu (associate): one to watch. Has grown into aviation very quickly and has a natural ability to provide cool and calm advice in stressful situations that help to close transactions. This young man will go far. Natalia Toh (associate): Another one to watch. Invaluable as the junior member of the team who quietly gets the job done and puts the heavy lifting in on CPs.’
Avenue Capital Group
Malaysia Aviation Group Berhad
Milbank remains a prominent player in aviation finance, most notably for the major Chinese aircraft lessors such ICBC Leasing. It also represents a number of other international lessors, lenders, and low-cost Asian airlines and international airlines. Furthermore, it was at the forefront of airline restructurings and has an established record in offshore oil and gas financings, including FPSOs. Paul Ng is an established name in the market, frequently landing many of the biggest engagements in the region, particularly for aircraft lessors.
‘Paul Ng’s team is very practical-oriented and is focused on finding solutions that work for the clients.’
‘Paul Ng – knows the landscape and is outcome-oriented. He always seeks the best solution for the client.’
‘I have been working with Milbank for almost 2 years. The firm’s performance is above my expectation in terms of client service and legal knowledge. The team have a broad range of financing and leasing experience and has acted for a wide range of aviation clients, and their lawyers have high commercial awareness in general. In the meantime, their fees are very reasonable.’
‘Paul Ng, Hui Ling Teo and Ed Bentley. Their knowledge of the China market and cross-border issues make them more competitive.’
‘One of the most experienced firms around. They have a deep bench of fantastic associates and extremely knowledgeable partners.’
‘Paul Ng has a well of knowledge and an incredible work rate. I have complete confidence in him and his advice.’
‘Very attentive and focused team. Available at all times, extremely hard-working, gets the job done always. Very technically sound and customer focused. Correct staffing for each transaction.’
‘Paul Ng, Hui Ling Teo, very client focused and extremely responsive, look after our interests at all times, great transaction management, extremely hard working and focused.’
First Plus Asset Management
Taiping Fontainburg DVB Aviation Capital L.P.
ICBC Financial Leasing
CMB Financial Leasing
AVIC Financial Leasing
CCB Financial Leasing
Minsheng Financial Leasing
Cathay United Bank (Taiwan)
- Advised the consortium of Sumitomo Corporation and Yinson Holdings on a vessel/ship financing for the development and financing of Marlin 2 FPSO “Anna Nery” to be deployed in the Campos Basin, offshore Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Represented ICBCL on the leasing of over $500m worth of aviation assets to some of the biggest carriers in the industry, including national carriers like Iberia and Air France, as well as helping with the restructuring of aircraft leases operated by over half a dozen carriers.
- Acting for Castlelake in the restructuring leases of operators in China and the SAR (special administrative region).
Reed Smith LLP
Reed Smith LLP launched an aviation finance practice in Singapore through the hire of Simon Spells and his team from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP. The Singapore group is part of an established global asset finance practice. The team is noted for its advice to lessors and aviation sector businesses and it is active in novel financing and leasing structures. The group is also recognised for its experience in JOLs and JOLCOs. Jennifer Ince is an impressive senior associate.
Other key lawyers:
Ethan Tan; Jennifer Ince
‘Simon Spells has profound knowledge and a lot of experience concerning various deals in the aviation industry. And, he is one of the best tough negotiators for his client. So, we trust him very much. Ethan Tan and Jennifer Ince are the excellent subordinates of Simon Spells in the team. They are good at explaining difficult legal issues to their clients in an easy-to-understand manner. So, we always ask Simon to assign either Ethan or Jennifer.’
‘They are a strong team across the board and this is rare. Every team member is pro-active and helpful and together they work well. They are very client friendly and commercial.’
‘The Reed Smith team is extremely knowledgeable and responsive. They are exceptionally good at managing transactions efficiently and coordinating very effectively with the various parties involved. From our experience, this key strength does differentiate them from other firms.’
‘Simon Spells is very commercial and responsive.’
We work often with Simon Spells and Jennifer Ince (senior associate) and we find them both extremely pleasant to deal with. They approach transactions with a minimum of fuss, are always on top of their brief and are very well aware of the issues that can arise in managing multi-jurisdictional transactions and often pre-empt them before they arise. I would certainly cite these two individuals as experts in the field.’
‘The aviation finance practice led by Simon Spells is very suitable for Japanese clients because of their familiarity with Japan-related transactions, such as Japan operating lease and Japan operating lease with call option, as well as the character of Japanese clients. They have a remarkable client base in Japan, such as trading companies and investment houses of large financial groups. The team’s response is always very quick, and location is also good for Japanese clients (small time difference).’
‘Reed Smith LLP have a diverse set of lawyers that are able to assist us in our needs, having both English and Singapore qualified personnel. They have strength in dealing with customers/opposite parties from various backgrounds. They are proactive rather than reactive in providing advice, which is very helpful in speeding things along and providing guidance.’
Vedder Price is a growing force in the aviation finance area, notably in lessor financings, portfolio financings, recourse and non-recourse financings. The firm has extensive experience in representing lessors and airlines on operating lease transactions, and export credit agencies in significant financings and airline restructurings. Ji Woon Kim has played a pivotal role in building the firm’s standing in Singapore, having transferred there in 2016 from New York.
Geoffrey Kass; Ji Woon Kim
Other key lawyers:
‘It’s a very close-knit team led by Ji Kim. The associates all have deep knowledge and understanding of the aviation leasing industry and are more than capable of taking the initiative to progress matters. Ji is excellent in staying abreast of things but his associates are all very capable of getting on with things independently. Ji is always there in the background though and you know he is monitoring and will step in for additional advice or guidance where needed. The work ethic from the whole team cannot be faulted and it is clear that the associates enjoy working for Ji.’
‘The associates are all very hard working and diligent and attentive to their client’s needs. I have full confidence that the associates all know what they are doing and have the work ethic to execute deals seamlessly.’
‘Innate ability to anticipate the client’s needs and provide the client with fast, helpful and cost-effective guidance; mastery of the legal – and business – aspects of all types of aircraft finance transactions, including unparalleled expertise in cross-border aircraft financings, operating lease transactions, subleasing, wet-leasing, airline bankruptcies, restructurings or deferrals, and ECA transactions. Proactive transaction management. In constant contact with the client, extremely responsive to requests and queries. Excels in communicating with and earning the trust and respect of not only his own clients but also counterparties and their outside counsel. Outstanding level of customer service.’
‘Excels in handling challenging legal jurisdictions, economic environments and novel and complex sanctions law issues in aircraft finance transactions – they apply innovative and creative legal solutions to resolve them.’
‘Ji Kim brings a wealth of aircraft finance expertise and know-how to the table to benefit both his clients and even the counterparties to his clients’ transactions. He provides his clients with an unparalleled level of customer service: anticipating and responding to their needs quickly, and cost-effectively. He is relied upon not only by the in-house legal team, but also by the in-house business teams at his clients, given his mastery of both the legal and the business issues which arise in aircraft finance transactions. His vast expertise in applicable law in a multitude of jurisdictions, and his knowledge of past and current market practices, as well as his familiarity with all key aircraft finance market players, enable him to advise clients quickly and efficiently. He is a masterful, diplomatic, and persuasive negotiator. He identifies and mitigates legal risks using creative and pragmatic solutions. He has excelled at finding innovative solutions to complex and novel issues in light of the pandemic and its impact on the aviation industry. I could not recommend Ji’s services highly enough; it is not possible to overstate his mastery of the law and dedication to his customers.’
‘I worked mainly with Ji Woon Kim and Fraser Atkins (senior associate). Mr Kim is one of the most capable aviation lawyers with his legal knowledge, experience in the aviation market for more than 20-years across various financings and groups of customers. Also, his Korean origin and language ability have been plus to Asian customers, especially appealing to the Korean market, Also, despite the global pandemic, he’s been still quite active in restructuring work and new deals in Asia. Mr Atkins has shown quite sharp legal acumen despite his relatively short experience as an aviation lawyer.’
Citi Private Bank
Dragon Aviation Leasing
Export-Import Bank of the United States
KEB Hana Bank
Korea Development Bank
Nordic Aviation Capital
SMBC Aviation Capital
- Advised MUFG Bank, Singapore, in the secured financing of the conversion of a passenger to freighter A321 aircraft subject to an operating lease to an Australian airline.
- Advised the Export-Import Bank of the United States in the Australian administration proceeding of Virgin Australia and associated restructuring in connection with the Ex-Im Bank support financing of two aircraft.