Banking and finance in South East
Blake Morgan LLP has a proven track record of SME and mid-market work, and is also on the lending panels of many UK clearing banks. The firm is also known for its expertise in Islamic finance. The practice - which is led by Kath Shimmin, who is described as 'sharp, quick and to the point' - handles the full range of banking and finance matters. Other key contacts in the team are Guy Constant, who has 25 years of experience in this area, Steve Cole and Rebecca McCabe-North.
‘Easily accessible partners. Solid knowledge of the commercial world and practices.’
‘Kath Shimmin is sharp, quick and to the point – sees the bigger picture with her vast commercial knowledge and experience and cuts through the chase to deliver great and workable solutions Jake Holmes is a solid pair of hands with a pragmatic approach.’
‘The banking team is small but punches above its weight for the size of firm.’
‘Kath Shimmin is key to the banking team. She is the reason we use Blake Morgan for banking advice and brings a wealth of experience perhaps not expected of a firm of the size and make up they are. Kath has magic circle experience, yet at a palatable price point. Factor in the mix of her down-to-earth approach and her ability to tailor advice properly to risk appetite and you have close to the perfect solicitor.’
HSBC UK Bank
National Westminster Bank
Sutton and East Surrey Water
Bawag P.S.K. Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft und Österreichische Postsparkasse Aktiengesellschaft
University of Reading
The Royal Bank of Scotland
Svenska Handelsbanken AB (PUBL)
Coutts & Co
- Advised HSBC UK Bank in the provision of development and term loan facilities totalling £21,500,000 to Haskins Garden Centres Limited.
- As panel advisors to Sutton and East Surrey Water, advising in relation to all financing requirements, including a new revolving credit facility.
- Advised Santander in relation to an amendment and increase of existing term loan facilities provided to a private college.
Cripps Pemberton Greenish is known for its strength in the funds space, and is also well regarded for its acquisition finance and asset finance work. Since the merger with Pemberton Greenish, the team has also been increasingly active in real estate finance work, such as development finance, bridge loans and mezzanine finance. Practice head Craig Bowers was promoted to partner in 2019, while Victoria Symons is known for her funds work. Julie Hughes is also recommended.
AdEPT Technology Group
U.S. Hospitality Publishers Inc
CH1 Investment Partners
Liberty Property Trust
Close Brothers Property Finance
Kent County Council
- Acted for AdEPT Technology Group in extending its existing syndicated finance facility with Barclays Bank and RBS to £40 million, with the extended facility used to fund a strategic acquisition.
- Provides regulatory and structuring advice to CH1 Investment Partners on numerous alternative investment fund structures for high net worth investors, with investment returns typically taking the form of secured loan facilities provided by these funds to a variety of borrowers.
- Acted for SRG on its £88m term facilities agreement with First Abu Dhabi Bank (London) secured on one of its investment property portfolios.
In addition to its work on the panels of all major UK banks, Dentons advises international banks on matters including senior secured facilities, bridging finance facilities and securities. The team also advises large corporations on borrowing agreements. The practice is led by Peter Cox, and also includes Christopher Colclough, a specialist in real estate finance. Senior associate Faye Garvey frequently advises on leverage and real estate finance transactions, and is also recommended.
‘The team are very approachable, accessible and knowledgeable. The key strength is the value they place on developing long term relationships in addition to being highly solution minded.’
‘Peter Cox adds value by taking personal responsibility.’
PJ Care Group
Lloyds Banking Group
British Arab Commercial Bank
Marshall Motor Holdings
- Advised a high street lender on a multi-million multi-currency syndicated revolving credit facility to a listed group operating in the audio visual technology sector.
- Advised a high street lender in connection with acquisition finance provided to an international multi-brand franchisor.
DMH Stallard LLP handles a broad range of banking and finance matters. In addition to its panel work for a number of high-profile banks, the team also acts for asset-based lenders as well as borrowers. Led by Gwen Godfrey, the firm additionally advises on transactional matters including acquisition finance, growth capital finance, property finance and renewable energy funding. Anne Milne and associates Elina Org and Tom Trowbridge are also key contacts, and the practice frequently acts alongside the firm's well-respected corporate and commercial team. The team was strengthened in April 2019 with the addition of Helen Mead from asb law LLP, a specialist in corporate finance.
‘The team are very knowledgeable and can be approached for quick advice or large reviewing tasks with no issue. SLAs are always beaten and any requests for urgent advice are returned within less than 24 hours for the most part. Very efficient and friendly service.’
‘They take the time to get to know you rather than just follow process, build up a rapport and make the relationship easier and less formal.’
- Advised a leading clearing bank lending £29m to finance a South Coast sea front development of 121 private flats as well as social housing and commercial units.
- Acting for the UK arm of a European bank on the provision of acquisition finance of £4,000,000 for a chain of pubs in London and Surrey.
- Advising a developer on borrowing £13m to finance a 140-bedroom hotel in Kent.
EMW Law LLP
Based in Milton Keynes, EMW Law LLP advises on all areas of banking and finance law, including the funding of management buy-outs and buy-ins, acquisitions, restructuring, funding arrangements for finance companies, and reverse factoring. In the past year, the team has been especially involved in advising on asset-based lending. The practice is led by Ian Mabbutt. Other key contacts include Jody Bingham and Claire Wheatley.
‘Good knowledge of business practices and their implications for robust legal agreements.’
HSBC UK Bank
Riverside Capital Fund Managers
Allied Irish Banks
IGF Business Credit
- Acted for IGF in connection with refinance facilities (including ABL facilities and a £2m term loan) made available to Ortho Solutions UK, a specialist orthopaedic design manufacturer. This included drafting and agreeing the facility agreement and security documents and providing a specialist legal opinion in relation to certain complexities in Ortho Group’s corporate structure.
- Acted for a consumer finance company on a £20m refinancing with NatWest. NatWest acted as arranger, lender, agent and security agent.
- Acted for Growthdeck, a private investor member network, on its acquisition of an industrial estate based in Dundee. Negotiated the English law transaction documents and co-ordinated the legal aspects of the transaction.
Osborne Clarke handles a range of business lending work for the top five banks, as well as challenger banks. The team is particularly experienced in the digital business, energy and utilities, financial services, and real estate and infrastructure sectors, and also frequently advises on private equity matters. Practice head Hugh Jones is a versatile lawyer with experience in all areas of corporate finance and banking work. Associate director Victoria Dingle has a proven track record in corporate leveraged and structured finance; legal director Rebecca Scott is another key contact.
‘Fast turnaround, accurate, good value and nice people to do business with.’
‘Hugh Jones is a good all-round lawyer, able to turn his hand to various different specialisms. Rebecca Scott is the fastest drafter in the business. Very happy to coach new bankers on legals.’
The Royal Bank of Scotland
Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking
Lloyds Development Capital
Growth Capital Partners
Tenzing Private Equity
- Acted for essensys on a refinancing with Wells Fargo in preparation for its initial public offering.
Led by John Chater, Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP advises major banks on lending as well as assisting borrowers in sectors such as real estate and healthcare. The firm sits on the panels of a number of major national and international banks. Chater has broad expertise in advising on both sides of lending transactions, and leads the team from the firm's Thames Valley office. He became a partner in July 2019 and is praised by clients for his 'very precise and efficient approach'.
Other key lawyers:
‘In my view the firm is at equal level to the Silver Circle firms but has a more efficient cost structure.’
‘John Chater has a very precise and efficient approach. Although being a relatively young partner he acts with great confidence and takes secure decisions.’
‘The team are always available and respond quickly to any queries. They have regularly gone the extra mile for mutual clients.’
‘John Chater in particular is approachable, incredibly knowledgeable and has a rare ability to take complex legal matters and describe them in a way that can be easily comprehended. His work ethic and willingness to go the extra mile to provide a high level of service and attention to his clients sets him apart from others.’
HSBC UK Bank
AIB Group (UK)
Svenska Handelsbanken AB
Bergs Timber AB
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Agricultural Bank of China
Bank of China
Bank of Communication
Banque Cantonale Vaudoise
National Bank of Greece
- Negotiated an LMA-based facility agreement for Bergs Timber AB, working alongside Swedish counterparts.
- Acted for HSBC Bank in drafting and negotiating a facility agreement, allowing a franchisee of a well-known restaurant franchise to borrow in order to purchase additional restaurants.
- Acted on behalf of AIB Group in respect of a new facility agreement for an existing borrower.
With one of the biggest teams in the region, Shoosmiths LLP advises both local, national and international corporations on a range of transactions, particularly leveraged and acquisition finance. In addition, the team handles real estate finance and asset-based lending, is on the panels of major banks, and also acts for venture capital and private equity. The team is led by Rebecca Mauleverer and Alexandra Triptree; Mauleverer is highly regarded for her broad-ranging experience of the banking sector, while Triptree has over 25 years of experience in this sector.
‘In-depth, City experience in a regional context. As comfortable advising on a cross-border, developing markets transaction as on a small loan to a UK company. Capable associates and pragmatic partners make for a well-balanced team.’
‘Rebecca Mauleverer has broad experience and can dissect complex legal matters into language that unsophisticated borrowers can understand. Shows presence on deals when it counts but lets more junior lawyers run transactions to keep costs in check. You know she still has her finger on the pulse of the transaction.’
‘Alexandra (Ali) Triptree is client-focused, guides negotiations to get the best result for her clients without getting hung up on trifling minutiae. Can draw upon varied, international experience.’
‘They work seamlessly well together. Even when one member is on holiday/sick, the other team members know exactly what is going on and status of work. They are aware of all of the issues and work not to disrupt their clients.’
‘Exceptional! Very knowledgeable, experienced, friendly and no question is too hard or silly. They work tirelessly to meet deadlines and get the job done, and done to a good standard.’
‘In my experience the local Shoosmiths team have a few key strengths. Their speed of response is excellent, their ability to clearly articulate the key issues that we need to consider for our lending propositions. They take a commercial view on transactions from our customers perspective and again being able to quickly summarise what the key elements of the deal are that we can and can’t negotiate on.’
‘Rebecca Mauleverer just knows the banking sector and the key issues inside and out. She is personable (with us and with our customers and lawyers) which helps to make transactions happen more smoothly.’
Foundation Investment Partners
Anacap Financial Partners
- Acted for CDC Group plc in relation to up to USD $15m facilities made available to PEG Africa Ltd, PEG Ghana Solar Limited and PEG Cote d’Ivoire for financing local currency receivables generated sale of solar home systems on a pay-as-you-go basis.
- Acted for Net1 in relation to a $40m loan from Gemcorp Capital LLP in order for its Indonesian subsidiary to fund a roll out of the 4G network in Indonesia.
- Advised the Learning Curve Group in relation to its move from a traditional term/revolving debt funding package to a unitranche / super senior debt offering.
Stevens & Bolton LLP has a prominent reputation for advising both lenders and borrowers, working with corporate entities and funders including high street and challenger banks. The firm also sits on the panels of several major banks. A particular area of growth in 2019 was its trade finance practice, advising lenders financing commodities transactions. The practice is led by Jonathan Porteous, who is praised for his 'high-quality legal advice and good commercial understanding'. The banking and finance team also frequently acts alongside the wider firm's corporate and commercial, and insolvency and restructuring teams.
‘Very service-minded, high-quality legal advice and good commercial understanding.’
‘Jonathan Porteous is very service-minded, always available, and provides high-quality legal advice and good commercial understanding.’
Ground Control (Spectrum Corporate Finance)
The SR Group
FBN Bank (UK)
Deep Blue Restaurants
- Assisted Deep Blue Restaurants with their acquisition of Harry Ramsden’s, which was funded through a combination of external debt, equity and deferred consideration. Worked on the negotiation of the external debt and intercreditor arrangements with Barclays Bank.
- Assisted OakNorth Bank with the drafting, negotiation, and agreement of finance documents related to an acquisition finance facility used for a management buyout of the company’s finance director.
- Advised the Ground Control group on its syndicated refinancing with new funders Barclays Bank and Santander UK. Negotiated and agreed all finance documents (including an LMA based loan agreement), co-ordinated the funds flow on completion, and worked closely with Spectrum Corporate Finance Limited as debt advisors for the borrower.
Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP acts for lenders and borrowers on a regional, national and international basis, on matters such as real estate finance, refinancings, and asset finance. The team has been increasingly working in tandem with colleagues in the United States, advising clients on transatlantic matters such as recent changes to LIBOR. Practice head Graham Jeffries specialises in asset, real estate, and project finance and is highly praised by clients for his technical ability and client service. Managing associate Cole Stacey is also recommended, and predominantly acts for institutional lenders and corporate borrowers.
‘WBD’s banking practice provides a unique service to us in offering important and strategic legal advice to our business; often working with our business partners directly to achieve the desire turnaround times.
‘Graham Jeffries uses different skills of the various WBD teams to provide creative solutions for us in the form of slides, notes and agreements which help us to deliver the advice in a suitable format for our business.’
‘An ambitious but fundamentally ‘local’ to customers type of practice. International in design and expertise but delivering a very much bespoke service tailored around the client’s needs.’
‘Graham Jeffries is one of our few ‘go-to’ experts in the asset finance market nationwide. Graham provides us with his creative thinking, ability to intelligently probe for relevant information and who ultimately delivers a top quality product where time is no boundary for super client service when timing becomes critical. He makes a point of always being available and sharing his availability in the event that we require extra support due to our small in house legal practice. This is greatly valued and we see him as an extension of our own team. Emilie Gas we consider as an associate to watch; new to the team, but who we consider a very able and steady pair of hands in support of Graham’s excellent practice that he manages and drives.
‘Graham Jeffries’ unfaltering availability for us as a client whilst providing his obvious natural flair to resolve business critical problems and rescue our busy in-house legal practice from the deluge of detail where specialist legal input is required in the banking and asset finance sector. Graham is undoubtedly one of the best finance partners we know and work with nationally, combining a real interest in our business with a deep knowledge of the legal framework which affects us. It is a pleasure to work with him to help us deliver rapid and commercially attractive solutions to a number of our UK companies. Cannot rate highly enough on all fronts.’
‘Highly capable partner Graham Jeffries combines technical mastery and commercial judgement. Always delivers on his commitments to his client and highly effective when representing to third-parties.’
Renewable Energy Systems
Invest and Fund
First Alliance Properties
Paragon Asset Finance
Rockspring Property Investment Managers
- Providing ongoing advice and support in relation to a variety of Chemring’s financing requirements in the UK and the US, including in relation to its bilateral bonding and working capital lines including its hedging requirements.
- Advised Adventure Forest on the refinancing of its main corporate facilities provided by Clydesdale Bank.
- Acting for Renewable Energy Systems in relation to its borrowing arrangements.
Based in Chelmsford, Birketts LLP act for lenders across the South East, including London, and are on the panels for major and challenger banks. The team also advises borrowers on matters including invoice discount financing and acquisition finance. The practice is led by Adam Jones, legal director Duncan Williamson, and senior associate Matthew Grindley. Williamson, a specialist in real estate finance, is 'knowledgeable, practical and assiduous', while Jones is active in all areas of banking and finance law. Legal director Devreaux Gravell joined the team in October 2019 from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP.
Other key lawyers:
‘Great work from the team at Birketts, with Adam Jones leading a very quick process leading to refinancing.’
‘Adam Jones was the partner leading our process. He was quick and very efficient.’
‘Although I have not used the firm widely, they are demonstrably focused on building and maintaining relationships with their clients.’
‘We principally work with Duncan Williamson – he is knowledgeable, practical and assiduous in protecting his clients.’
HSBC Bank (UK)
The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc/National Westminster Bank
Alpha Bank London
- Acted for Seetec Business Technology Centre, the borrower in one of the largest Employee Ownership Trust transactions to take place in the UK.
- Represented Jordan Inc, a real estate company, on a multi-purpose lending comprising acquisition finance for corporate and real estate acquisitions, as well as development finance for student accommodation.
- Acted for Palatine Private Equity on its borrowing of acquisition finance on LMA-based terms.
From its office in Reading, Field Seymour Parkes LLP advises lenders and borrowers on matters including corporate, real estate, project and bridging finance. The firms also has a specialism in motor manufacturer finance, and is on the panels of a number of significant banks. John Barker is experienced in all areas of banking and finance work, and frequently works with HSBC and Santander. Senior associate Alex Illingworth is also an integral part of the team.
‘All of the staff at FSP seem to work exceptionally well together. Matters requiring input from more than one department are well co-ordinated.’
‘FSP are proactive and communicate exceptionally well.’
‘Alex Illingworth provides an excellent standard of advice and service.’
‘Outward looking and well respected within the Thames Valley business community.’
‘John Barker is an excellent banking lawyer. John is highly experienced, incisive, clear and practical.’
Honda Finance Europe
National Westminster Bank
Whistl Group Holdings
World Wise Foods
FSE Fund Managers
- Advised Santander UK Plc on £10.25m facility for six co-borrowing family companies, cross-collateralised on 23 residential and commercial properties in London and the West Country.
- Advised BGF Investments LP on its £11.6m investment in Invenio, and on Invenio’s contemporaneous substantial term loan and revolving credit facilities from Barclays Bank.
- Advised Gawcott in connection with the restructuring of its senior and mezzanine debt packages, provided by Santander UK Plc and Social and Sustainable Capital respectively.
Described as 'friendly, professional, and approachable', Paris Smith LLP's banking and finance team is experienced in acquisition, project, property and asset finance. The firm's lender clients include both major and challenger banks, while on the borrower side the firm advises retail and leisure clients. The practice is led by James McNeil; M&A finance specialist Jonathon Roy is also recommended. Liam Doughty was made up to partner in January 2020 and handles all areas of banking and finance work. The banking and finance team frequently acts alongside the wider firm's property practice.
‘Knowledgeable, thorough, customer-focused and can be relied upon to get the job done within the desired timeframe, often going beyond expectations.’
‘Professional yet personable.’
‘Personalised service, know their clients well and understand needs. Amazing service.’
‘Friendly, professional and approachable – always available to resolve issues.’
‘They build strong relationship with clients to provide an effective working partnership.’
National Westminster Bank PLC / The Royal Bank of Scotland
Hampshire Trust Bank
Haskins Garden Centres
- Advised Hampshire Trust Bank and Castle Trust Capital on the £24m refinancing of a development site in West Yorkshire, involving complex security issues.
- Advised the Richmond Cars group on £22m of acquisition facilities to fund the purchase of the Sparshatts car dealership group, involving term debt from Metro Bank plc and Lloyds Bank plc alongside various stock funding lines from Volkswagen Bank GmbH, Hyundai Capital, and Santander Consumer (UK) plc, involving German law issues and completed within a two-week timeframe.
As well as handling corporate borrowing and finance, acquisition financing, and regional lending work, Trethowans LLP stands out from other firms for its experience in agriculture-related finance. With offices in Southampton and Bournemouth, the team is led by Nick Gent and Emma Earp. Gent is experienced in all areas of corporate finance, while Earp is known for her work on LMA transactions.
Other key lawyers:
Royal Bank of Scotland/National Westminster Bank
CT Automotive Group
Mark Allen Holdings
Just Develop It
Saint-Gobain Building Distribution
R&M Electrical Group
- Advised CT Automotive Group Limited on its $20m refinancing with HSBC Bank plc.
- Advised Mark Allen Holdings Limited on its £18m working capital and acquisition facilities provided by HSBC UK Bank plc.
- Advised Lloyds Bank in relation to a group reorganisation of a large healthcare, logistics and contracting group and the subsequent sale of the healthcare business to Cairngorm Capital.
Brachers is known for its work on HSBC's national corporate lending panel, and has further strengthened its team this year with the addition of Claire Williams from asb law LLP. In addition to her experience working for HSBC, Williams also brings a strong relationship with Lloyds Bank to the firm. The practice is led by James Bullock, and Matthew Simmonds is another key name.
- Advised HSBC on its funding of the management buy-out of CMT Print.
- Advised on the debt investments by Percipient Capital and Kent County Council in Drink Warehouse (a Megagrowth 50 company), enabling the company to make two simultaneous corporate acquisitions.
- Assisted H+H International on its re-financing with Nordea Bank.
Led by Rich Eldridge, who joined the firm in late 2019, Clarke Willmott LLP advises on both lending and borrowing. The firm is on the panels of a number of major banks, and on the borrower side is especially active in the healthcare and real estate sectors. The highly experienced Eldridge is praised for his 'extensive knowledge of the banking and finance sector', while Peter Swinburn is noted for his work on real estate financing transactions.
Other key lawyers:
‘Rich Eldridge has extensive knowledge of the banking and finance sector; and is liked and trusted by his clients, for good reason – he works indefatigably in their interests, fighting their corner against much larger firms and institutions.’
Boys & Girls Nursery Property
- Advised Lloyds Bank Plc on the refinancing of a business owning a portfolio of 13 separate mixed leasehold and freehold properties subject to multiple occupational tenancies.
- Advised Oaknorth Bank Plc on a financing. The purposes of the loan include the construction of a building. The new building will include flexible commercial floorspace and residential units.
- Advised Santander UK Plc on a financing for the acquisition of a property.
IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)
IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)'s full service banking and finance team is particularly known for its work on facility documentation as well as structuring and restructuring transactions. The team expanded into the Thames Valley with the opening of an office in Reading in July 2019. The practice is led by Gemma Coles and Harriet Jones.
‘Gemma Coles and her team are always available and happy to engage in initial discussions and guidance.’
‘Good speed of response and quality of commercial advice.’
AIB Group (UK)
National Westminster Bank
Secure Trust Bank
Irwin Mitchell's banking and finance team acts for both lenders and borrowers. The team is led by Daniel Webster, who works across the firm's Gatwick and London offices. Webster is specialised in real estate and acquisition financing.
Knights plc advises on the financing and refinancing of acquisitions and asset portfolios, and also assists with the establishment of facility agreements. On the creditor side, the firm works with major banks, and also advises corporations and investment funds on borrowing arrangements. Many of the firm's clients are involved in the property sector.
Mundays LLP has a proven track record in advising on real estate finance matters for clients based in the South East. John Parpounas-Matossian joined in January 2019 from Winckworth Sherwood LLP, and is now head of the practice, while former head Mark Andrew is now a consultant.
Other key lawyers:
PDT Solicitors is known for its strength in the area of asset-based lending, acting for a national base of clients. The team is led by Noel Ruddy, who is also head of the corporate department, Dawn Shadwell, and William Angas. Former disputes co-head Nigel Davidson retired in October 2019.
ABN AMRO Asset Based Finance N.V.
Advantedge Commercial Finance
BNP Paribas Commercial Finance
BZ Commercial Finance Designated Activity Company
Close Invoice Finance
G C Factoring Limited (Trading as Grenke)
Nucleus Commercial Finance
Pulse Commercial Finance
Select Invoice Finance
- Assisting BNP Paribas with the take-on of a new group of cross border stock distribution and warehousing clients including drafting two receivables finance agreements and ensuring one was compliant with Dutch law.
- Assisting Breal Zeta CF with an insolvent restructure of a group of clients in the print industry to ensure its survival.
- Acting for ABN AMRO Asset Based Finance’s UK branch, the invoice financiers and charge holders of a group of three companies providing onsite IT solutions, as well as the administrators of the companies including the drafting and filing of the appointment of administrators by the client, and the drafting of sale agreements, guarantees, debentures and deeds of release for each sale, as well as a deed of priority.