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Who Represents Who

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Headed by Kath Shimmin, Blake Morgan LLP's practice has the critical mass across the South East to provide clients, which include institutional lenders and major corporates, on a wide range of financing transactions. Particular areas of strength include providing asset finance advice to car finance companies, leasing companies and aircraft manufacturers; advising on loan funds, including handling regulatory issues; and real estate finance. Recent highlights include advising HSBC on an $18.5m term loan facility for the management buyout of car parts manufacturer China Tools, which was secured across subsidiaries in the UK, Hong Kong, China, Turkey and the USA. Steve Cole led on that matter and is singled out for his track record in shari'ah-compliant financings; he recently acted for the borrower on a commodity murabaha facility arranged with Bank of London and the Middle East to finance the development of retirement accommodation in London. Guy Constant is also recommended.

The arrival of¬†Victoria Symons¬†has significantly strengthened the practice at¬†Cripps LLP; clients 'rate her and the team very highly'. She joins a practice headed by¬†Nigel Stanford¬†and¬†¬†James Beatton¬†which is praised for its 'top levels of service' and for its 'engaging and proactive approach'. It acts for lenders (including Clydesdale and Lloyds Banking Group) as well as borrowers on a range of transactions; recent highlights include advising CH1 Investment Partners on structuring a number of SPVs that will raise funds from high-net-worth investors for the purpose of financing the development and construction of solar farms and other renewable energy projects. In another key transaction, Beatton advised HSBC on the ‚ā¨5m acquisition financing for the purchase of a company in Germany, while Stanford acted alongside¬†Julie Hughes¬†for AdEPT Telecom on a ¬£30m syndicated facility provided by Barclays Bank and RBS.

Clients of Dentons note that they receive 'very high levels of service from the team; lawyers are attentive, responsive, solution-minded, and reduce red tape and delays by picking up the phone to talk through issues'. Peter Cox and Robert Wyatt head the team, which includes Faye Garvey and Neill Pemberton; they are 'outstanding lawyers who combine a "can-do" attitude with a commercial approach'. The practice acts for a number of overseas and UK-based lenders, as well as regional and international borrowers, with notable strength in the automotive, manufacturing, TMT, financial services and real estate sectors. Recent highlights include advising BGF on a £7m facility provided to AIM-listed Netcall, which was used to support its acquisition of Mattsoft; and assisting Marshall Motor Holdings with its strategic disposal of Marshall Leasing, which involved obtaining consent to the sale from the client's syndicate of lenders, as well as the release of various securities. Real estate finance specialist Christopher Colclough is also recommended.

EMW Law LLP is praised for its combination of 'strong finance capability, a "can-do" attitude and hands-on approach, which makes working with the firm a pleasure'.  Ian Mabbutt ('one of the best in the business') heads the practice, which has an extensive track record handling acquisition finance, leveraged finance and real estate finance transactions for lenders and borrowers.  The healthcare sector is a particular growth area for the practice; it has acted for a number of pharmacies and GPs on financing transactions. On the property front, Angela Stallard acted for Riverside Capital Group on the £27.5m acquisition of "Old Street Works" in City Road, London, which involved £11.2m of bank debt provided by Lloyds Banking Group. In other highlights, Jody Bingham advised fintech company Paybreak on the terms of a £12.5m funding line provided on LMA terms by Shawbrook Bank, and acted for the debt arm of IW Capital on loan facilities provided to the Inglenook Inns & Taverns group. Joe Soul is also recommended.

Osborne Clarke has a strong reputation in the Thames Valley region and is a regular fixture among  the main clearing bank panels as well as the panels of many of the second tier lenders. Acquisition finance and syndicated lending transactions are key areas of strength for the practice, as are sectors including energy, financial services and real estate and infrastructure. Hugh Jones heads the team, which includes legal director Rebecca Scott , who regularly acts for clients including HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group, and Victoria Dingle , who is noted for her leveraged, project and real estate finance expertise. Recent highlights include advising RM, a supplier of resources, IT software and IT services to the education market, on a £75m facility provided by HSBC and Barclays for the acquisition of Connect Group's education and care business. In an illustration of the team's track record in real estate finance, Jones recently acted for Lloyds Banking Group on the £55m financing of house builder Bewley Homes Group. The team also acted for Santander on the financing of the Star Mayan group, which provides sterile linen and laundry management services to hospitals and other healthcare providers throughout the UK.

Shoosmiths LLP's banking team 'always responds swiftly throughout a transaction, and its ability to deliver commercial solutions during tough negotiations is highly commendable; the team offers City-quality work at regional prices which greatly benefits clients'. Rebecca Mauleverer heads the team and is 'a very intelligent and articulate lawyer who can execute the most complex of transactions; her knowledge of the market combined with her reliability makes her highly valuable'. Other key figures in the team include Sean Wright, who has particular expertise in private equity-backed acquisition finance, and Linda Williams, who specialises in acquisition financings and corporate refinancings. On the acquisition financing front, Mauleverer led the team advising CSL Communications Group on a £53m multi-facility arrangement with a club of lenders for its acquisition of Emizon Group. Other highlights included acting for the asset finance arm of a major bank on a £6.4m loan to finance four wind farms in Scotland, and acting for Pro-Vets Group on a loan from AIB Group to fund the acquisition of a number of veterinary practices.

Stevens & Bolton LLP's banking and finance team - which is now a separate practice having previously been housed within the firm's corporate and commercial department - has continued to win new panel appointments (including most recently securing appointments on the HSBC and AIB panels) alongside existing panel appointments for banks such as Santander and NatWest. In an illustration of its growing asset-based lending workload, the team recently advised Merino Private Equity and Paul's Cycles on asset-based facilities lent by Shawbrook Bank and a term loan facility lent by Merino Industries to fund the purchase of Paul's Cycles and provide general working capital to the group. Other highlights for Jonathan Porteous's team included acting for Metropolis International on the amendment and restatement of its existing facility to raise an additional £10m to assist with its acquisition of EMAP Publishing; assisting ICP Nurseries with the redemption of external loan facilities provided by Oak North Bank and the refinancing of that debt alongside an upsizing of new loan facilities with Beechbrook Capital; and acting for Stackhouse Poland Holdings on untranche and super senior acquisition/leveraged finance facilities, which was structured to enable the client to carry out three pending acquisitions, as well refinance existing third party debt. Also recommended are Andrew Steele, who regularly acts for developers, occupiers and funders on residential and commercial developments; Joe Bedford, whose clients include a number of leading UK and European banks; and restructuring and insolvency expert David Steinberg.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's banking team attracts praise for its 'high-quality work and good value for money', with clients citing its 'excellent collaboration with in-house legal teams and the wider business, very good business acumen and industry know-how, focused and pragmatic advice, and strength in depth of the wider team'. Following the transatlantic merger between legacy firms Bond Dickinson and Womble Carlyle in October 2017, the banking practice has been quick to leverage the relationships of the merged firm with key financial institutions and banks on both sides of the Atlantic. In an illustration of this, Graham Jeffries (who heads the team and splits his time between London and Southampton) continued to provide ongoing advice to Chemring, a global provider of technology products and services to the aerospace and defence sectors, on its financing requirements in the UK and US. Other highlights included advising peer-to-peer lender Invest and Fund on standard documentation and regulatory issues related to its new platform to enable borrowers and lenders to be matched to facilitate property development loans. Also recommended are associate Cole Stacey, who handles acquisition finance and real estate portfolio transactions, and managing associate Emma Earp, who is noted for her project finance expertise.

asb law LLP's banking practice 'works hard to stay up to date with all legal and local market information, which is supplemented by its excellent rapport with businesses in the Kent and Sussex areas'. Clients single out practice head Claire Williams and consultant Shaun Kelly as 'professional, knowledgeable, totally focused on ensuring the best outcome for their clients, and very keen to work closely with banks to present a team-based approach for the client'. Williams leads a team that acts for a number of major lenders, including HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Handelsbanken, on secured lending and acquisition finance mandates, as well as for corporates in refinancing transactions and private equity firms on acquisition financings. Recent highlights include acting for Seventeen Group on a refinancing with Clydesdale Bank to facilitate its acquisitions within the insurance sector; acting for the lender on acquisition financing provided to an insurance broker; and advising Lloyds Banking Group on a property loan and development loan to an investor and developer. Also recommended are property finance specialists Nigel Wigin and Chris Worthington, head of corporate finance Helen Mead , and Daniel Tozer.  Andrew Hoad left in December 2017 to join PDT Solicitors.

According to its lender clients, Birketts LLP's banking team has 'impressive strength in depth, and is very well connected with the business community in the region, which gives them the edge over many of their competitors'. Adam Jones heads the practice, which includes Charles Kirk, who 'has an excellent grasp of how financial institutions work' thanks to his time in-house, and who 'spots issues early, provides proactive solutions, and gets things done'. Recent lender-side highlights include advising Santander on a refinancing involving two facilities. On the borrower front, the practice acted for MW Beer on trade loan and stock finance facilities. Duncan Williamson is praised for his 'thoroughness, attention to detail and extensive knowledge of property law'.

DMH Stallard LLP's team delivers a 'first-class service' to its clients, who note that 'deal execution is always delivered in a timely manner'. The firm has an extensive track record in the region, making it many clients' first port of call for regional banks and other financial institutions and asset-based lenders. Practice head Gwen Godfrey is 'calm, professional and diligent; clients benefit from her years of legal experience in the banking sector when faced with particularly complex issues'. She leads a team that handles a broad spectrum of work for its clients, which include a number of the major clearing banks. Other key figures include property finance specialist Anne Milne and banking disputes specialist Simon Elcock.

Irwin Mitchell provides 'an excellent overall service' to its clients, which include  institutional lenders such as HSBC and RBS, as well as a number of ,private lenders and corporate borrowers. The practice is particularly active in the development finance space, where it acts for borrowers and lenders on a range of transactions, with a particular emphasis on hotels and care homes. It is also active in the education sector, recently advising Chichester College on the renegotiation of its banking facilities with Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays, in addition to the negotiation of a further facility with the Department of Education in connection with its merger with Central Sussex College. Other highlights included acting for Vengrove on an £8.5m senior loan facility provided by North West Evergreen Fund to finance the development of a logistics scheme at Agecroft Commerce Park in Salford; acting for HSBC on the financing of Michelmersh Brick Holdings' acquisition of Carlton Main Brickworks; and advising NatWest on the financing of the MBO of Optimal Technologies. Daniel Webster heads the practice and is rated for his 'in-depth knowledge of all types of deals'. Also recommended are property finance expert David Franchi, Richard Purcell, who handles development financings, and Balbit Thandi. Sarah Naylor joined EMW Law LLP  in November 2017.

Mundays LLP fields a 'very good' team of lawyers that includes Gemma James, who is 'very approachable, competent and fully up to speed with clients' requirements'. Other key figures include Mark Andrew, who has wide-ranging development finance experience; Neale Andrews, whose clients include Stonegate Homes; and James Lawrence. The team acts for a range of institutional lenders, as well as alternative capital providers and corporate borrowers. Andrew brings dual UK and US qualified expertise, enabling the firm to handle a steady flow of transatlantic mandates.

Paris Smith LLP provides 'a level of service that is excellent in all areas; the team is quick, efficient, extremely knowledgeable, pragmatic and provides good value for money'. James McNeil heads the practice and is rated for his 'ability to speak in layman's terms, meaning he can effectively cascade legal messages and requirements to clients'. Acquisition, asset, project and real estate finance are all areas of expertise for the practice, which has strong relationships with a number of retail banking groups such as Santander and HSBC, as well as regional corporate borrowers and higher education institutions. Recent highlights include advising RB Sport and Leisure Holdings on the refinancing of The Ageas Bowl, which involved the negotiation of a new finance lease with Eastleigh Borough Council. Also recommended are acquisition finance expert Jonathon Roy and real estate finance specialist Clare Lee.

Penningtons Manches LLP's banking team is 'very responsive and practical in its approach'. Although it is best known for its borrower-side expertise, the practice is also active for lender clients, and was recently appointed to HSBC's corporate banking panel. The health care sector is a particular area of expertise; recent highlights include advising Carebase on a £7m loan provided by RBS for the purposes of refinancing existing debt as well as general commercial purposes, and assisting Cherry Wood Grange Chelmsford with a £6m loan to refinance existing debt and fund an equity release. The practice also acted for Industrial Chemicals Group on a £30m facility provided by Lloyds Banking Group, and advised the Social Justice and Human Rights Centre on the refinancing of its existing bank borrowing and junior debt with new syndicated facilities from Charity Bank and Big Society Capital. Rich Eldridge heads the team and is noted for 'combining intellectual ability with commercial awareness'. Also recommended are Helen Drayton, who is 'a pleasure to deal with - very thorough, offering practical and relevant advice'; and the 'very proactive' John Chater.

In addition to featuring on 10 bank panels, including panels for Clydesdale and Santander, Pitmans LLP 's banking team handles a range of national and international transactions for financial institutions, corporate borrowers and high-net-worth individuals. Stephanie Perry heads the team, which includes Jim Meecham, who has more than 30 years' experience in the banking sector, both from an in-house perspective and within private practice. Other key figures include Paul Brame , who acted for Metro Bank on the refinancing of a portfolio of 23 residential properties in West London; Robert Wallace, who regularly handles the real estate aspects of banking transactions; and Sarah Potter. Laurel Knight joined Knights Professional Services Limited. Patrick Long joined Gateley Plc.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP fields a banking team that is considered 'a trusted extension of clients' in-house teams; it is responsive, business focused and highly dependable'. John Barker ('an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer) heads the practice, which includes Alex Illingworth, who is noted for his 'strong integrity'. Recent highlights include assisting Santander with extending and amending a facility for Harwell Science and Innovation Campus Limited Partnership, advising Gawcott Fields Community Solar Project on a £4m project financing of a solar farm in Buckinghamshire, and acting for On Direct Business Services and its subsidiaries on an acquisition facility from Beechbrook Capital.

Howes Percival LLP's banking and finance team acts for lenders (including Barclays Bank and NatWest) and borrowers on mandates across a range of sectors, with particular strength in the agriculture sector. The practice is highly active in property finance mandates; in 2017, it handled £220m-worth of completed property finance transactions. Lisa Mantle heads the practice and regularly acts for offshore investors and lenders, as well as property developers and borrowers.

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) regularly acts for lenders and borrowers on acquisition and development finance mandates, with particular emphasis on the construction sector. Recent highlights include advising a property investment group on a £12m refinancing of a shopping centre and retail/residential investment property. Other clients include AIB Group and NatWest. Ross Johnstone heads the practice, which includes corporate finance experts Adam Dowdney and David Clark, and real estate finance specialist Gemma Coles.

PDT Solicitors significantly strengthened its banking credentials with the recruitment of Andrew Hoad from asb law LLP. He joins a team that is particularly active in asset-based lending matters, where it acts for factors and discounters nationally on domestic and export facilities, MBO and MBI financings, and trade finance, among other ABL issues. Pharmacy finance is an additional strength for the group, which acted on more than 32 transactions and refinancings in the pharmaceutical, dental and healthcare arenas amounting to £20m. On the ABL front, Noel Ruddy advised alternative business financier Nucleus Commercial Finance on the financing of a steel stockholder, which involved taking securities over a number of distressed asset classes, and the exiting of those facilities in late 2017. In another highlight, James clewlow acted for CAF Bank on a new loan facility related to a large redevelopment scheme in the east end of London.

Trethowans LLP's dedicated banking team handles a range of matters, from acquisition finance mandates for lenders and investors, property and development finance, and agricultural finance transactions. Recent highlights include advising the borrower in a series of development loan facilities, assisting an international car parts manufacturer with an $18.5m facility to finance its management buyout, and acting for Bank of Scotland on a £5m term loan facility and £1m revolving credit facility provided to Ceuta Holdings. Sophie Eales heads the banking practice, which includes Nick Gent and property finance specialists Paul Longman and David Jones.

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