Firms To Watch: Banking and finance

Freeths LLP‘s South West banking and finance practise is led by Ben Moylan who works closely together with the firm’s other offices across the nation, bringing to bear particular specialisms in the areas of Islamic finance and real estate finance as well as corporate lending and LIBOR transition.

Banking and finance in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

Headquartered in Bristol, Burges Salmon LLP fields a ‘highly collaborative and effective team’. The firm continues to be involved in a number of high profile transactions and restructurings across the market, and has recently been increasingly involved in sustainable financings and green loans. Andrew Eaton leads the team in which Richard Leeming sports a particular focus on real estate finance while Rachael Ruane frequently handles corporate and leveraged finance matters. Katie Allen is regularly sought out by clients in the hotel sector as well as in regards to student accommodation. May 2021 also saw the promotions of Victoria Allsopp and Emily Scaife to partner positions within the team.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Eaton

Other key lawyers:

Richard Leeming; Katie Allen; Rachael Ruane; Victoria Allsopp; Emily Scaife


‘The banking and finance practice at Burges Salmon is very experienced, and they understand their market very well. They are a pleasure to deal with.’

‘Highly collaborative and effective team environment. One doesn’t just work with one individual but the collective team, which ensures successful outcome. ‘

‘Katie Allen is very engaging and always there to assist and advise on matters. Great knowledge of the subject matter.’

‘They are a real pleasure to work with and provide good commercial advice.’

‘Richard Leeming is very knowledgeable and experienced on all matters. Gets to the source of any issue very quickly and able to pre-empt challenges.’

Key clients

HSBC UK Bank plc

Bio Capital Limited

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

EDFI Management Company & Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP)

ICG Alternative Investment Limited

Investec Bank plc

Kreos Capital

Lloyds Bank plc

C&J Clark Limited (Clark Shoes)

Santander UK plc

Bank Leumi


Work highlights

  • Advised C&J Clark Limited on the refinancing of its debt facilities, undertaken alongside the acquisition by LionRock of a majority equity stake in the group.
  • Acted for HSBC UK Bank plc as lender on a green loan SONIA development facility made to Kidbrooke Partnership LLP, a joint venture between Notting Hill Genesis and Transport for London (TfL) for the development of Kidbrooke Station Square.
  • Acting for EDFI MC SA & Renewable Energy Performance Platform as a lead counsel for the syndicated financing of a portfolio of solar mini-grids in Lesotho, and equity investment.

Osborne Clarke LLP

The ‘very pragmatic and easy to work with’ banking team at Osborne Clarke LLP advises both borrowers and lenders with sector expertise that spans technology and media, energy, financial services, and real estate. Acquisition finance and multi-bank syndicated lending are routinely handled by the Bristol-based team, which counts leading international banks as well as challenger and sector-focused banks amongst its clients. Practice head Tom Bussy splits his time between London and the South West, specialising in acquisition and corporate finance. Project finance expert Caroline Saul, who fields extensive know-how in the areas of energy and decarbonisation, as well as the ‘technically brilliant‘ associate director Tom Berisford are further key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Tom Bussy

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Saul; Tom Berisford


‘Tom Berisford is a great guy – technically brilliant at all aspects of banking and finance. He is great to work with – responsive, accurate, realistic and really knows his stuff.’

‘They are very pragmatic and easy to work with, especially as lender’s counsel. They manage to negotiate without causing delay and also making both parties happy.’

‘Tom Bussy and Tom Berisford make a great team and compliment each other. They always work in tandem and pick up when the other is not available.’

‘Straight-forward, experienced, pragmatic, nice to work with, work well with other law firms.’

‘Caroline Saul – excellent.’

Key clients


HSBC UK Bank plc

Santander UK

Silicon Valley Bank

Bank of Ireland

Oaknorth Bank

Clydesdale Bank plc

Patron Capital

Foresight Solar Fund

Admiral Group plc

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead transaction counsel to National Westminster Bank plc as facility agent and a club of six lenders spanning the UK and the US in relation to new debt facilities in an amount in excess of US$200 million provided to Auction Technology Group plc.
  • Advised Retirement Bridge on the provision of term loan facilities utilised to (a) refinance loans secured on a portfolio of home reversion assets already owned by our client, and (b) finance the acquisition of a further portfolio of home reversion assets by client.
  • Advised LDC on the financing of its investment in Sohonet alongside our corporate colleagues who advised on the corporate aspects of this cross-border acquisition.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Real estate finance, corporate finance, structured finance, as well as third sector finance constitute the main areas of focus for Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's banking and financial services practice group. The firm is mostly involved on the lender side of transactions, although it also acts for borrowers, and frequently handles cross-border matters. Philip Withey leads the Bristol team and advises on security and collateral issues, risk allocation, and structuring, amongst others. Tom Caplen is well versed in real estate finance, often in regard to renewable projects such as onshore wind and waste-to-energy projects. Julian Kinsey retired in April 2021.

Practice head(s):

Philip Withey

Other key lawyers:

Tom Caplen


‘Tom Caplen – stand-out partner. Client focused, dedicated to excellence and delivers succinct legal advice in plain English.’

‘Very commercial and understand our business drivers, easy to deal with and able to get to the root of the issue in very straightforward terms.’

Key clients

HSBC UK Bank plc

Lloyds Bank plc

Piper Private Equity

Quilter plc


Eagle One Group


Union Bancaire Privee, UBP SA

The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation PLC

The Royal Bank of Scotland

Work highlights

  • Advising Piper Private Equity LLP on a £33m investment in Omlet Group.
  • Advising British Business Investments Limited in the provision of a £15m block discounting funding line to Liberty Leasing, the Southampton-based specialist asset finance company.
  • Advising Lloyds Bank plc in relation to the provision of funding to Gregory Distribution (Holdings) Limited in connection with the acquisition of Pollock Holdings Limited, Pollock (Scotrans) Limited and Pollock Express Limited.

Ashfords LLP

Praised for being ‘very commercial and approachable’, Ashfords LLP’s banking and finance practice fields a ‘great team of professional and personable solicitors’. With offices in Exeter, Bristol, Taunton and Plymouth, the firm has a strong South West presence, complimented by its regular involvement in cross-border transactions. Practice head Rebecca Dury, transactional specialist Ed Hobbs, James Heath, who focuses on the property aspects of transactions, as well as project finance, energy and infrastructure finance expert Clare Brewer are the key names.

Practice head(s):

Rebecca Dury

Other key lawyers:

Ed Hobbs; James Heath; Clare Brewer


‘Ashfords have developed a strong Banking Team led by Rebecca Dury.’

‘Rebecca Dury – exceptional technical knowledge and client interaction skills. Approachable with clear client service ethos. A great communicator.’

‘Ed Hobbs – technical knowledge and willingness to work through new situations.’

‘During the recent pandemic Ashfords continued to provide excellent service remotely. Speed of turnaround and excellence continued.’

‘A great team of professional and personable solicitors with a range of levels from the paralegal to the partner, who worked together to provide a quality and seamless service.’

‘Stand-out qualities include responsiveness (which is required when working to tight timescales), attention to detail, ability to provide clear advice and importantly, co-ordinating and progressing transactions in a timely manner with other solicitors.’

‘The team is very commercial and approachable which makes client interactions easy and without risk of upset.’

‘Legal knowledge is excellent which makes it so there’s never a question not to be answered.’

Key clients

St James Place plc

Lloyds Bank plc

HSBC UK Bank plc

Santander UK plc

Paragon Bank plc

Paragon Development Finance Limited

Arena Investors LP


Craven Street Capital Y

Exeter Finance Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising St James Place Plc in respect of the amendment and restatement of its £340,000,000 revolving credit facility, including the transition to SONIA.
  • Acting for Santander UK plc in respect of the acquisition financing provided to enable the MBO of iOutlet, a South-West based online vendor of used and refurbished mobile phones and laptops.
  • Acting for Paragon Development Finance Limited (a Paragon Bank group company) on its £12.45 million funding to a property development company for a 110 apartment development in Leeds.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP's banking and finance group focuses on international transactions on the one hand and on advising borrowers on the other hand. Based in Cheltenham, the team is led by Richard Norton, who specialises in loan facilities and securities and brings to bear in-depth expertise acting on matters involving the Middle East. Real estate finance is handled by Naomi Nettleton, while legal Director Edward Robinson is frequently sought out for his experience in aircraft security and loans. Daniel Moore was promoted to partner in May 2021 with particular know-how regarding insolvency and distressed situations.

Practice head(s):

Richard Norton

Other key lawyers:

Naomi Nettleton; Edward Robinson; Daniel Moore; Manoj Vaghela


‘Depth of banking and finance expertise through a number of individuals who go out of their way to go that extra mile and provide outstanding customer experiences.’

‘The differentiator for me is not the sector expertise (a given) but how the expertise translates into practical / commercial decision making and support.’

‘Richard Norton runs a top team and practice.’

Key clients

Awal Bank B.S.C

Trifast plc

Bank of Cyprus

Credit Suisse

Royal Bank of Canada

EFG Private Bank Limited

National Bank of Kuwait

Clydesdale Bank

Ahli United Bank

Cynergy Bank

Work highlights

  • Acted for the borrowers on an LMA Loan Facility for Lansk International Limited with Lloyds bank plc secured over upmarket residential property.  
  • Acted for Trifast plc on the LIBOR transition and extension of their £80 million acquisition facility.
  • Acted Robert Hitchens Group Limited on a subs new LIBOR transition Loan Facility with Lloyds Bank plc, secured on commercial property.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

Acting predominantly on the side of borrowers, DAC Beachcroft LLP has recently seen increased activity in the receivables finance space. Besides that, the Bristol-based team has a strong reputation for its work in real estate finance and the public sector, where it has also been involved in matters relating to Covid-19 grant schemes. Chris Wall, whose expertise spans receivables, restructurings, and other growth capital lending, splits his time between the South West and London. Real estate finance transactions, particularly with regard to development transactions and the public sector, are routinely handled by Michael Pearce.

Practice head(s):

Chris Wall

Other key lawyers:

Michael Pearce; Toby Hewitt

Key clients

Capital Land Group

Vistry Wates Finance LLP

Lords Group Trading Limited

Global Growth Capital

Tower Street Finance


TC Group

Santander UK plc

E-Money Capital

Stronghold Capital

Prefcap Limited

Boost & Co

Puma Property Finance

Hawkwing PLC

Bewley Homes plc

Gamesys Group plc

Work highlights

    Foot Anstey

    Foot Anstey‘s offering in the banking and finance sector covers the full range of transactional, investment, and project finance support. Alongside its strengths in corporate lending, real estate, and development finance, the firm is also increasingly involved in Islamic finance. Katie-Jane Rees spearheads the practice and acts for both lenders and borrowers in national and cross-border transactions. The energy and sustainability sector as well as general project finance fall into the portfolio of Chris White. In July 2021, senior associate Toby Larkham joined the firm from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP with a focus on real estate finance, private equity debt work, and leveraged finance.

    Practice head(s):

    Katie-Jane Rees

    Other key lawyers:

    Chris White; Toby Larkham

    Key clients

    Lloyds Bank plc

    WeLink Energy Group

    Nisbets plc

    Santander UK plc

    Redcliffe Homes


    Bank of London and The Middle East

    Alter Domus


    Tower Street Finance

    Silverfish UK

    Work highlights

    • Acted for WeLink in respect of their refinance of their Heartlands development site, one of Europe’s largest regeneration projects located between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
    • Advised Redcliffe Homes Limited on its entry into a new revolving loan facility with Handelsbanken, for the purpose of refinancing its existing facility, with the additional headroom to be used for the acquisition and development of new sites.
    • Advised the founders of Silverfish UK on a management buyout and private equity investment by Connection Capital.


    TLT handles a wide range of banking and finance matters out of its Bristol office, including projects, acquisitions, real estate, and energy. Gary Roscoe has considerable experience in clean energy project finance, and leads the practice together with Jon Stewart, whose areas of focus are corporate lending, acquisition finance, and real estate finance. International banking matters fall into Peter Carney‘s area of expertise.

    Practice head(s):

    Gary Roscoe; Jon Stewart

    Other key lawyers:

    Peter Carney

    Key clients

    AIB Group (UK) plc

    Abundance Investments

    Avon Protection Plc

    Bank of India, London branch

    Bank of Baroda

    BGL Group Limited (comparethemarket)

    Blackfinch Investments

    Boohoo Group plc

    GRIDSERVE Sustainable Energy Ltd

    HSBC UK Bank Plc

    Lloyds Bank plc

    National Westminster Bank Plc

    Rebellion Developments Limited

    Santander UK plc

    Thrive Renewables plc

    Triodos Bank

    WH Smith

    Work highlights

    • Advised BGL Holdings Limited in respect of the finance aspects arising from the sale of their insurance business (consideration c. £400m).
    • Advised Santander UK plc on the provision of debt facilities of £60 million to Zenobe Energy for the construction and operation of Euorpe’s largest battery at Capenhurst.
    • Advised Rebellion Developments Limited on their £40,00,000 accordion facilities.

    Clarke Willmott LLP

    Lenders, high street banks and private banks are amongst the client portfolio of Clarke Willmott LLP‘s banking and finance practice. The team sports extensive experience in dealing with real estate portfolio financing, the agricultural finance sector, as well as development finance. Roger Seaton leads the team, which is based in Taunton and Bristol. Commercial disputes and professional negligence specialist Alex Jakubowski and Rod Lloyd-Jones, who focuses on agricultural matters, are further key contacts.

    Practice head(s):

    Roger Seaton

    Other key lawyers:

    Alex Jakubowski; Rod Lloyd-Jones

    Key clients

    Lloyds Bank PLC

    HSBC UK Bank PLC

    Arbuthnot Latham & Co., Limited

    Santander UK PLC

    Handelsbanken PLC

    Charterbank Capital Limited

    Secure Trust Bank PLC


    Wellesley Finance Limited

    Cambridge and Counties Bank Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised HSBC UK Bank PLC on a £6.5 million refinance of care homes in England.
    • Advised Lloyds Bank PLC on a development finance transaction with a GDV of almost £90million.
    • Advised Handelsbanken in respect of the finance of an investment property in a business park in Bristol with a loan of £3.25 million.

    Michelmores LLP

    Michelmores LLP‘s banking and finance practice deals with matters ranging from restructuring and acquisition to development and real estate finance, with particular knowledge in renewable energy, impact investments, property finance, as well as the healthcare and education sectors. Led by Sacha Pickering, the Exeter team also includes Karen Williams, who is well versed in all forms of debt products and matters pertaining to restructuring.

    Practice head(s):

    Sacha Pickering

    Other key lawyers:

    Karen Williams

    Key clients

    Social and Sustainable Capital LLP

    The Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries

    The Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation

    Triodos Bank


    Responsible Lending Limited

    St Austell Brewery Company Limited

    Oak North Bank plc

    Oxbury Bank plc

    Social and Sustainable Housing LP

    Work highlights

    • Advised Ansteys Cove Development LLP in connection with an £18 million development finance facility from Homes England.
    • Advised Responsible Lending Limited on the amendment and restatement of its £250 million master funding agreement (MFA), which provides funding to the client to enable it to provide equity release mortgages sold under a number of brands.
    • Advised Finnfund and Norfund as joint lenders in connection with $20 million facilities to Nigerian and Ghanian borrowers for the purposes of funding power projects in the two countries.

    Thrings LLP

    Thrings LLP advises both lenders and borrowers on matters such as equity investments and general commercial lending. Mike Tomlin is the key contact leading the practice from Bristol and sports a particular specialism in the telecommunication sector. The firm also has a focus on the health and care sectors, and is regularly sought out by lenders in this field.

    Practice head(s):

    Mike Tomlin

    Key clients

    Santander UK plc

    Metro Bank

    National Westminster Bank plc

    HSBC Bank plc


    Royal Bank of Scotland

    Arbuthnot Latham

    Boost & Co

    AIB Group (UK) plc.

    OakNorth Bank plc

    Work highlights

    • Advised Truespeed Communications Limited on £100,000,000 follow-on investment from Aviva.
    • Acted for Santander in respect of £6,000,000 amendment and restatement arrangements.
    • Acted for AIB Group in relation to a Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan facility.

    Trethowans LLP

    Trethowans LLP‘s banking and finance team provides clients with support across a range of matters, with a specific focus on acquisition finance, property and development finance, and debt restructuring. Islamic finance, receivables and asset based lending as well as agriculture and rural property finance are further areas of expertise for the Southampton and Bournemouth-based practice. Steve Cole, who joined the firm in April 2021 from Blake Morgan LLP, leads the team. Nick Gent and Emma Earp are further key members, both advising on a wide variety of transactional matters.

    Practice head(s):

    Steve Cole

    Other key lawyers:

    Nick Gent; Emma Earp

    Key clients

    HSBC Bank plc

    Santander UK plc

    Lloyds Bank plc

    National Westminster Bank plc

    CT Automotive Group Limited

    Just Develop It Limited (trading as Onyx Finance)

    The MCG Group Holdings Limited

    Doorway Capital Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised The MCG Group Holdings Limited in relation to debt facilities provided by Tosca Debt Capital related to refinance and funding several acquisitions throughout the year.
    • Advised Santander UK plc on the refinancing of a luxury hotel group.
    • Acting for Just Develop It Limited (trading as Onyx Asset Finance and Onyx Development Finance) who are specialist providers of both asset and development finance.