Banking and finance: Corporate finance (including Islamic lending) in United Arab Emirates

Clifford Chance

With broad strength in conventional and Islamic finance, Clifford Chance has a buoyant banking practice in the UAE - where it works out of its Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices - and advises clients in the Middle East and North Africa. A team led by Graham Brewer acted as English and UAE counsel for First Abu Dhabi Bank and the other mandated lead arrangers on a $6.5bn refinancing for Emirates Global Aluminium; the deal closed in 2019, with a narrow window to close both the Islamic and conventional tranches of the transaction simultaneously. The firm also stands out for its dedicated Africa-focused practice; banking partners Edmund Boyo and Mohamed Hamra-Krouha are among the key contacts in this space. Qudeer Latif heads the global Islamic finance practice; the sizeable team also includes Peter Avery and Robin Abraham.

Practice head(s):

Richard Parris; Qudeer Latif; Peter Avery

Key clients

Dubai Holding

Citibank

First Abu Dhabi Bank

Meydan Group

Mobile Telecommunications Company Saudi Arabia

HSBC Bank Middle East Limited

Nakheel

Dangote Cement Plc

NPS Bahrain for Oil and Gas Wells Services W.L.L.

Deutsche Bank Luxembourg S.A.

Standard Chartered Bank

Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector

Work highlights

  • Advising (i) Tecom Investments on its AED606m real estate financing, and (ii) Dubai Properties Group on its AED380m real estate financing, each with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC and Noor Bank PJSC as mandated lead arrangers.
  • Acting as English and UAE counsel to the arrangers on the $6.5bn refinancing for Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC.
  • Acting for Crystal Two LLC FZ, a subsidiary of Meydan Group LLC, on a secured AED192m and $452m financing to refinance existing group indebtedness with Credit Suisse AG as the mandated lead arranger.

Dentons

Dentons is highlighted for its 'quality of advice, turnaround time, depth and breadth of knowledge', and, with its worldwide firm network, 'access to global experts in most fields'. The team advises leading local and regional banks on big-ticket transactions. Aviation finance is among its strengths. In recent work, an Abu Dhabi-based team led by Paul Jarvis advised First Abu Dhabi Bank on the AED600m refinancing of 18 aircraft; the transaction was complicated by the fact that the aircraft had previously been financed under a variety of different structures which each had to be collapsed prior to the new financing being made available. Head of Islamic finance Qasim Aslam in Dubai receives very high praise, with one client commenting that 'it is easy to understand why he has such a sound following'.

Practice head(s):

Paul Jarvis; Qasim Aslam

Testimonials

Strength in depth. Very long standing relationships with banks and financial institutions. Also very approachable and friendly.

Great local and product experience. Team has access to global experts in most fields. Partner is always available and very much engaged in the transaction.

Each member of the team we have come across is able and responsive and sets a high standard of commitment. It is also very easy to talk to each member of the team, particularly when trying to navigate through more complex legal issues.

Qasim Aslam takes great care to understand the client’s key commercial drivers and then works very hard to achieve those goals. He is very tenacious and really goes into battle if a negotiation is going to be difficult.

Qasim is stellar. He intuitively understands his client’s mindset both on the commercial and legal side. It is easy to understand why he has such a sound following.

What makes Qasim stand out is his accessibility as a partner when his firm advises banks, and his detailed analysis of legal matters.

Neil Cuthbert and Qasim Aslam are excellent lawyers and trusted advisers.

Associate Michelle Teng is also very good. Her drafting is clear and concise, and she is very reassuring to have as a managing associate.

Key clients

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC

Ajman Bank PJSC

Citibank N.A.

Commercial Bank of Dubai PJSC

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre

Dubai Islamic Bank

Emirates NBD Bank PJSC

Masdar

Mashreq Al Islami Finance Company (P.J.S.C.)

National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah

Noor Bank

Standard Chartered Bank

Union National Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising a syndicate of banks on the acquisition financing of Byrne Equipment Rental LLC (and its subsidiaries) by VIP Investment Holdings Limited.
  • Assisting Noor Bank PJSC, as initial mandated lead arranger, with the refinancing of all Advanced Facilities Management LLC’s outstanding term facilities.
  • Advising First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC (FAB) on an AED600m refinancing of 18 aircraft.

White & Case LLP

Noted for its 'technical expertise' and 'commercial acumen', White & Case LLP has UAE, New York and English law-qualified lawyers working out of its Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices. In addition to its lender-side work, where it works for leading local and international banks, the team also acts for governments on finance transactions. In one highlight, Claire Matheson Kirton and others advised the government of the Republic of Kenya, acting through the National Treasury, on its refinancing of an unsecured syndicated $250m term-loan facility provided by Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank. Financial services expert Adrianus Schoorl joined from Allen & Overy LLP in 2019; his clients include banks, asset managers, brokers, insurers and fintech entrepreneurs. Alexander Malahias has a strong project finance practice. Associate Sam Manful is also highly regarded.

Practice head(s):

Claire Matheson Kirton; Alexander Malahias; Adrianus Schoorl

Testimonials

Technical expertise, commercial acumen and value for money.

Claire Matheson Kirton leads the team and differentiates herself from the competition by her understanding of my business. This enables her to deliver highly valuable commercial and practical solutions.

Sam Manful is an up and coming star. Intelligent, gritty and pleasant. A triple threat quality that distinguishes him from associates at other law firms.

Key clients

First Abu Dhabi Bank

HSBC

Standard Chartered Bank

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Noor Bank

Etihad Airways

Nomura

Goldman Sachs

Government of the Republic of Kenya

SACE

Abu Dhabi Department of Energy

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company

Emirates Water and Electricity Company

Emirates Sembcorp Water and Power Company

Saudi Arabian National Mining Company (Ma’aden)

Borouge

ADNOC Gas Processing

Water & Electricity Company of Saudi Arabia (WEC)

National Commercial Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised SACE and the finance parties on a SACE-supported term facility for the government of Sharjah, acting through the Sharjah Finance Department.
  • Advised the government of the Republic of Kenya on the refinancing of an unsecured syndicated term-loan facility provided by Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank as lender and arranger.
  • Acted for Nomura as lead arranger and participant on a $100m conventional facility and $100m Islamic facility to NMC.

Al Tamimi & Company

Al Tamimi & Company stands out for the breadth and depth of its banking practice, covering everything from corporate lending to restructuring to licensing, and the team also advises on financial services regulatory matters. The firm acts for leading local, regional and international banks operating in the UAE, as well as other financial services firms. Highly regarded practice head Jody Waugh 'manages the team very well'; Mamoon Khan is highlighted for his 'excellent knowledge of banking practices' and 'utmost dedication to deliver within the most stringent of timelines'; and the well-respected Mark Brown was promoted to partner in 2019. The group is also noted for having a 'deep bench of associates'.

Practice head(s):

Jody Waugh

Testimonials

The team is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to UAE and regional law. The advice is often considered and practical for the relevant situation.

When it comes to local law queries, Tamimi stands head and shoulders above certain of their competitors. They have a deep bench of associates which adds to their strength.

They are not only competent transaction lawyers but are also quite capable when it comes to advisory work and dispute resolution.

The vast experience in understanding the UAE markets (including the practices and regulations in the different free zones).

Mamoon Khan has exceptional understanding of client requirements and provides effective advice.

Mark Brown has excellent knowledge of banking practices and documentation coupled with utmost dedication and commitment to deliver within the most stringent of timelines.

Mamoon Khan is cool, calm and collected, with a wealth of knowledge. Able to advise clients on complicated structures and deliver clear messages as to the position under local law.

Jody Waugh has a wealth of knowledge and experience; he is able to deal with complicated transactions and manages the team very well.

Key clients

Barclays

National Bank of Fujairah

NBF Capital Limited

Mashreq Bank

Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait K.S.C.P. (ABK)

Gulf Navigation Holding PJSC

Dana Gas PJSC

ACWA Power

Citibank N.A.

The National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (RAKBANK)

First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC

Bank of Baroda (BOB)

Standard Chartered Bank

HSBC

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Emirates NBD

Dubai Islamic Bank

MCB Bank Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for the lenders on an AED280m syndicated financing of schools in Sharjah.
  • Assisted Mashreq Bank with the AED385m Islamic financing of the Capital Views Project.
  • Advising Citibank on its establishment in the ADGM.

Allen & Overy LLP

The sizeable banking department at Allen & Overy LLP has established itself as a leader for project finance and is also well versed in a diverse range of new money financings and refinancings in the market. More broadly, the team also has a strong restructuring practice in the UAE, in addition to strengths in asset management and financial services regulation. The practice is split between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and is also able to work with offices across the firm's network on cross-border transactions. Christian Saunders draws on over 20 years of banking experience, including 13 years in the region. Bimal Desai, Kyle Nevin and Michael Diosi are other key partners. The department also counts a number of experienced senior associates, including Alissa King and Ellis Lawson. Peter Timchur retired in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Ian Ingram-Johnson; Christian Saunders

Key clients

ADCB

Mubadala

Meraas

Emirates Global Aluminium

GEMS (Varkey Group)

Work highlights

  • Advised Tabreed on the $452m loan made available for repayment of existing debt and general corporate purposes.
  • Advising Varkey Group (as majority shareholder in GEMS Education – the world’s largest provider of private K-12 education by revenue) on a refinancing of certain debt facilities involving multiple regional and international banks.
  • Advised the lenders to the Acwa Power consortium following its successful bid for the DEWA IV CSP Project.

Hogan Lovells (United Arab Emirates) LLP

Strong in Islamic and conventional finance, Hogan Lovells (United Arab Emirates) LLP advises major banks as well as lenders on trade, corporate, real estate, syndicated and asset finance. The Dubai-based team handles transactions in the UAE in addition to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Key names include Islamic finance expert Rahail Ali, international syndicated finance and structured finance specialist Rustum Shah and Anthony Pallett, who handles a range of conventional and Islamic finance deals. Senior associate Ahmet Kalafat is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Rahail Ali

Key clients

Standard Chartered Bank

Dubai Airports

EMAAR Properties

ACWA Power

Dubai Islamic Bank

Arab Banking Corporation

Sidra Capital

Noor Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising Vanguard Logistic Services Group, a leading freight consolidations services company, as borrower on an amendment to a $120m term and revolving facility arranged by Barclays Bank plc and HSBC Middle East Limited.

Linklaters

The highly experienced banking department at Linklaters remained busy throughout 2019, working with new and longstanding clients, including governments and leading financial institutions. In addition to project finance, the group is active in syndicated, acquisition, real estate and structured finance. Kieron Zaman and Riyadh-based Omar El Sayed advised BNP Paribas and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank on a $400m commodity murabaha facility provided to Emirates Steel Industries; a landmark transaction in the Islamic finance space, the deal marked the first time a new structure of commodity murabaha had been utilised in the syndicated financing market in the UAE. In team developments, Reem Al Sayegh was promoted to counsel, and associate Abdel Moussa relocated from the Amsterdam office. Andrew Jennens is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Kieron Zaman; Andrew Jennens

Key clients

Al Ahli REIT

Alinma Bank

Arab National Bank

Banque Saudi Fransi

Citibank

Dekabank Deutsche Girozentrale

Deutsche Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank

Emirates NBD

Engie

Ezdan Holding Group Q.S.C

Farabi Petrochemicals Company

First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC

GEMS Education

Government of the Emirate of Sharjah

Government of the Sultanate of Oman

HSBC Middle East Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the Bookrunner and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC on a $400m commodity murabaha facility provided to Emirates Steel Industries PJSC.
  • Acted for Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, as borrower, on a $2bn refinancing of an existing club facility.
  • Advised the borrower on the $180m ECA-backed financing to Integrated Telecoms Company (a subsidiary of Mawarid Holding) provided by ICBC China.

Norton Rose Fulbright

The finance team at Norton Rose Fulbright is well versed in high-value transactions, where it is instructed as lender-side counsel by major regional and international financial institutions. Highlights included its advice to the mandated lead arrangers First Abu Dhabi Bank and Mashreqbank on the dual tranche bridge facilities for up to $200m and medium-term syndicated facilities for up to $500m for Telecom Egypt Company. Mohammed Paracha heads the Islamic finance practice for the Middle East and Africa, while Matthew Escritt is head of the conventional finance practice and financial institutions in the Middle East. Robin Balmer has a strong track record in finance deals in Saudi Arabia. Nicholas Robinson left for Stephenson Harwood.

Practice head(s):

Mohammed Paracha

Key clients

Mashreq

Bank ABC

First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)

Emirates NBD

Dubai Islamic Bank

HSBC Bank Middle East

Standard Chartered Bank

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)

BNP Paribas

Al Fakher Tobacco

Work highlights

  • Advising the mandate lead arrangers on dual tranche bridge facilities for up to $200m and medium-term syndicated facilities for up to $500m for Telecom Egypt Company.
  • Advising Bank of America Merrill Lynch as co-ordinator and the other mandated lead arrangers on a $2bn syndicated corporate term facility for Emirates NBD Bank.
  • Advising Mubadala Treasury Holding Company in connection with its AED300m secured term facility for Five Square Properties LLC in connection with a residential development in Abu Dhabi.

Afridi & Angell

Local and international banks turn to Afridi & Angell for advice on a range of financing transactions, including real estate, acquisition, trade and project finance, as well as regulatory matters. Citibank is a key client; recently, the team has advised it on numerous financial and lending projects and on the establishment of a new presence in the Abu Dhabi Global Market. Key names in the sizeable department include co-heads Bashir Ahmed and Amjad Ali Khan, project finance leader Masood Afridi and senior associate Rahat Dar.

Practice head(s):

Bashir Ahmed; Amjad Ali Khan; Masood Afridi

Testimonials

Responsive and good value.

Rahat Dar is great.

Key clients

Bank of Ras Al Khaimah

Citibank

National Bank of Fujairah

United Bank Limited

Dunia Finance

Ajman Bank

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Commercial Bank of Dubai

United Arab Bank

JPMorgan Chase Bank

Sharjah Islamic Bank

Mashreq Bank

Work highlights

  • Acting as outside counsel for Citibank.
  • Advised the Commercial Bank of Dubai on a non-recourse term loan facility to Emirates RDF LLC, in order to part-finance the development, construction and operation of a Refuse Derived Fuel facility in the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain.

Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla

Noted for its 'attention to detail and efficiency', Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla complements its finance transactional practice with expertise in banking litigation, investigations and financial services regulation, and stands out for its ability to handle cross-border transactions. Sandeep Puri has broad experience in banking and finance (conventional and Islamic) and capital markets transactions across the region. Gordon Prestige is a key contact for project finance.

Practice head(s):

Sandeep Puri

Testimonials

Attention to detail and efficiency.

Easily accessible and willingness to explain legal terms in details.

Key clients

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Emirates NBD

IndusInd Bank

Standard Chartered Bank

YES Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised a six-bank consortium led by National Bank of Egypt on a $100m and EGP1.2m multi-currency bridge facility to Canal Sugar Company Limited, a subsidiary of Dubai-based Al Ghurair Group.
  • Advised IndusInd Bank, an Indian new generation bank, on a loan to Gulf Petrochem Group, a leading oil and energy company in the UAE.
  • Advised Rabobank, as lender, on a trade financing for a UAE corporate borrower with subsidiaries in Singapore and Cayman Islands in relation to the purchase of equipment involving suppliers based in Germany and the Netherlands.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP combines Islamic, conventional and asset finance capabilities with investments and regulatory expertise, and the firm is equipped to advise on the borrower and lender side of transactions. The firm further strengthened its aviation finance practice with the hire of senior associate Ajai Ramakrishnan from Emirates NBD and the promotion of Michael Nelson to partner in 2019. Adrian Low is 'technically strong and commercially savvy'. Adil Hussain is an expert in Islamic finance.

Practice head(s):

Adil Hussain; Adrian Low

Testimonials

Adrian Low is excellent. Both technically strong and commercially savvy, his practical advice is a great value add to any transaction. Highly recommended.

Key clients

Ahli Bank of Kuwait

AES Arabia Limited

Aramex PJSC

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Riyad Bank, London Branch

National Bank of Fujairah

Komgo

N.M.C. Health Care (LLC)

Work highlights

  • Advising lenders on AED800m multi-source Islamic and convention facility.
  • Advised N.M.C. Health Care on a $100m Islamic finance facility, structured as a revolving murabaha.
  • Advised on promissory notes to be issued by Fawaz Abdulaziz Al Hokair & Co as security in relation to the master murabaha agreement between Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC and Fawaz Abdulaziz Al Hokair & Co.

DLA Piper Middle East LLP

The 'dynamic and experienced team' at DLA Piper Middle East LLP covers Islamic finance, project finance, real estate finance, restructuring and insolvency, among other areas, and has experience acting for banks, corporates and project sponsors. The firm has also established a notable fintech practice, drawing on experts in banking, corporate, IP and tax law. Key practitioners in the sizeable finance team include Islamic finance expert Paul McViety, restructuring specialists Peter Somekh and James Iremonger and project finance partner Robert Harker.

Practice head(s):

Peter Somekh; Trevor Butcher; Paul McViety

Testimonials

DLA Piper’s credentials are good and they comply with high expectations.

Our experience with DLA is positive: they are a dynamic and experienced team and they comprehend the principles of the project team, covering all the specifics that add value to the business and legal strategy.

I have worked with Robert Harker and Adam Haque. We liked the way they explained the local law requirements; they outlined in clear language the steps that needed to be taken.

As a team, they were, in my opinion, reassuring, articulate, knowable and effective.

Key clients

Bank of London Middle East (BLME)

Emirates NBD

Gulf Finance House

Mediclinic

Port Development Company (PDC)

Siemens (AG)

ING Bank N.V.

Marubeni Corporation

Alvarez & Marsal

Work highlights

  • Advised Bank of London Middle East on a number of major corporate and asset-based financings across the Middle East.
  • Advising ING Bank N.V. on two major cross-border financing transactions involving UAE security providers.

Hadef & Partners

The 'well-resourced' banking team at Hadef & Partners LLC focuses on UAE-based financings, handling a range of acquisition, asset and structured finance and debt capital markets transactions for lenders and borrowers. Insolvency and restructuring also feature in the team's workload. Alan Rodgers and James Farn are the department co-heads, and Sundus Khan - who joined from United Bank - is a key associate in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Alan Rodgers; James Farn

Testimonials

A good well-resourced UAE banking practice.

Alan Rodgers is a highly experienced banking lawyer with a long track record in the UAE.

Key clients

Insurance House P.S.C.

Souq Extra LLC

International Capital Trading

Al Hilal Bank P.J.S.C. (AHB)

Work highlights

  • Advised Souq Extra LLC on a construction Islamic financing based on a mudaraba and musharakah structure to complete the sale of a retail centre.
  • Assisted Al Hilal Bank with the acquisition financing to enable Gulf Navigation Holdings to acquire the entire issue share capital in Gulf Navigation Livestock Carriers.
  • Advising on the raising of additional Tier 1 regulatory capital for Insurance House P.S.C. in the form of perpetual subordinated capital securities (bonds) for regulatory purposes.

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP's finance team covers bank lending, shari’ah-compliant financing, derivatives, project finance, real estate finance and restructurings. Highlights included advising the lenders - First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC Bank Middle East, Mashreq Bank and Samba Financial Group - on the conventional and shari’ah-compliant facility for Kuwait Food Company (Americana); the refinancing was to settle any principal amounts under previous facilities and to fund distribution payments within the company structure. Harj Rai led the advice. Aly Kassam left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Harj Rai

Key clients

Public Investment Fund

Tasnee

The First Group

Dana Gas

Citibank

Etisalat

Standard Chartered Bank

KBBO

Credit Suisse

Acciona Agua

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia acting through the Ministry of Finance

Work highlights

  • Advised the lenders in relation to a $1.3bn conventional and shari’ah-compliant facility for Kuwait Food Company (Americana).
  • Advised the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, acting through the Ministry of Finance, on the amendment and restatement of its inaugural sovereign loan to reduce margin, increase tenor, upsize the facilities to $16bn and incorporate an Islamic financing tranche.
  • Advising on the restructuring of various facilities of Gulf Energy Maritime, with various UAE banks.

Ashurst LLP

Ashurst LLP has a leading project finance practice, where it acts for major financial institutions as lenders. In one highlight, the team advised the commercial lenders (MUFG, SMBC, Samba Financial Group, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, The National Commercial Bank and The Norinchukin Bank) on the development and financing of a seawater reverse osmosis plant in Shuqaiq on the Red Sea coast. Finance practice head and managing partner for the Middle East David Charlier is a name to note, as is senior associate Brad Sandford.

Practice head(s):

David Charlier

Key clients

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority

Ittihad International Investment LLC

ICICI Bank Limited

Gulf Capital

Gulf Related

Indorama Corporation

Africa Finance Corporation

MUFG

SMBC

Work highlights

  • Advised the commercial lenders on the successful development of the Shuqaiq 3 IWP.
  • Advised a lender on its financing of the Adenium Lafarge net-metering captive solar PV project in Jordan.
  • Advised Ittihad group on the shari’ah-compliant refinancing of its existing financing arrangements.

Eversheds Sutherland LLP

Clint Dempsey heads the banking and finance team at Eversheds Sutherland LLP, which advises borrowers and lenders on a range of transactions. Trade finance is a specialism, with the team advising on the structuring and execution of complex trade financing across multiple jurisdictions. Project finance, particularly for renewable energy projects, is another key focus.

Practice head(s):

Clint Dempsey

Key clients

United Engineering Construction (UNEC)

Voltalia S.A

Enerray SpA

Alubaf Arab International Bank P.S.C.

Bank of Sharjah

Al Dahra

Standard Chartered

Falcon Trade Finance

Rasmala Investment Bank

Commercial Bank International

Work highlights

  • Advised Alubaf Arab International Bank B.S.C. on a $6m trade finance facility to Yapi Merkezi Insaat Ve Sanayi A.S (incorporated in Turkey).
  • Advising Al Dahra, as the borrower, on $155m pursuant to a secured and guaranteed syndicated facility arranged by Standard Chartered.
  • Acted for Voltalia, as the sponsor/developer, on the financing of the development of a 32MW solar photovoltaic power plant in Egypt.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

HFW

HFW excels in asset finance and trade finance, and was further bolstered by the arrival of funds and trade finance partner Vince Gordon from Reed Smith in 2018; Gordon joined the firm's recently opened Abu Dhabi office. Shyamal Jeewoolall, who works from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is a key practitioner in the aviation finance space, and advises airlines, aircraft leasing companies, banks and financiers. Tien Tai is another key contact in Dubai.

Practice head(s):

Shyamal Jeewoolall; Tien Tai; Vince Gordon

Key clients

International Air Finance Corporation

ING Bank

ABN Amro Bank

First Abu Dhabi Bank

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi

EFA Group

Noor Bank

Societe Generale

Gulf International Bank

Macquarie Bank

ICBC Standard Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised Al Qudra Holdings on various shari’ah-compliant profit rate swap arrangements with Dubai Islamic Bank.
  • Advised HSBC Bank Middle East and a syndicate of Middle East and Asian banks on a $470m five-year unsecured conventional and Islamic facility in favour of Alafco.
  • Assisted Emirates with the refinancing of an A380 aircraft.

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP has notable experience advising on shari’ah-compliant investments, financing and debt capital markets transactions in the Middle East, and stands out for the longevity of its Islamic finance practice, which was set up in 1995. Other strengths include real estate finance and project finance. Key practitioners include Nabil Issa, Michael Rainey and Asal Saghari. Rizwan Kanji left to join Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Jawad Ali

Key clients

Société Générale

Dubai Airports Inc.

Dalma Energy

Government of Dubai

Emirates NBD Bank PJSC

Emirates NBD Bank PJSC

Al Hilal Bank PJSC

Investment Corporation of Dubai

Mashreqbank psc

Noor Bank PJSC

Al Hilal Bank

Arabian Company for Water and Power Development (ACWA Holding)

Bank ABC – Arab Banking Corporation

Reem Integrated Healthcare Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Reem Integrated Healthcare on its construction financing package, which will be used to develop a rehabilitation healthcare facility, a family medical centre and a children’s and women’s hospital on Reem Island in Abu Dhabi.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP maintains a varied finance practice; areas of strength include multi-sourced financings and cross-border Islamic finance transactions. In a cross-border deal involving Egypt, the Netherlands, Bahrain and the UAE, the team advised Alameda International Financial Business on a secured shari’ah-compliant acquisition financing, with financing provided by First Energy Bank. Project finance also features in the team's workload. Victoria Mesquita Wlazlo and Ayman Khaleq are the key partners; associate Amanjit Fagura has experience in finance and debt capital markets transactions.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Mesquita Wlazlo; Ayman Khaleq

Key clients

Al Futtaim Investment Management Limited

Al Ahli Holding Group

Dubai Islamic Bank

Emirates Islamic Bank PJSC (UAE) and Khaleeji Commercial Bank (Bahrain)

FWU AG

Fly Dubai

Gulf Capital

A major aircraft leasing company

Islamic Corporation for the Development in the Private Sector (ICD)

Mashreqbank PSC

NBK Capital Partners

Noor Bank

Warba Bank

Arden Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for Dubai Islamic Bank on an AED99m tranche, additional to an existing $245m facility, made available to Emicool Plus Cooling Co LLC.
  • Advising Alameda International Financial Business on a secured shari’ah-compliant acquisition financing.
  • Acting for Dubai Islamic Bank on AED397.5m facilities to Reem Integrated Healthcare Holdings, with Dar Al Sharia Consultancy as the shari’ah adviser.

Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood receives plaudits for its 'quick responses' and 'correct advice'; it was further strengthened by the arrival of Nicholas Robinson from Norton Rose Fulbright in 2019. Aviation, shipping, project and trade finance are among the team's areas of expertise. In a recent highlight, it advised a bank on over 40 ship financings with an aggregate value of approximately $100m. Practice head Nijoe Joseph is highly regarded.

Practice head(s):

Nijoe Joseph

Testimonials

Quick responses, correct advice, good knowledge.

Nijoe Joesph has always provided sound advice and has wide knowledge.

Key clients

Axis Bank Limited

ICICI Bank Limited

Gulf Petrochem

National Bank of Fujairah psc

Commercial Bank of Dubai

China Construction Bank

Falcon Aviation

Africa Finance Corporation

Mauritius Commercial Bank

Dubai Trading Agency

North Star Maritime Holdings

Al Hilal Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising ICICI Bank (DIFC) and ICICI Bank UK on multi-currency syndicated loan facilities to JBM Group for the acquisition of a majority stake in a German-incorporated company.
  • Advising Axis Bank DIFC on a $30m  trade finance facility for Redington Gulf FZE, a regional distributor of information technology products and services.
  • Assisted Phoenix with a syndicated borrowing base facility of up to $180m arranged by BNP Paribas.

Addleshaw Goddard

The Dubai-based banking and finance team at Addleshaw Goddard is led by Robin Hickman and forms part of the firm's global finance and projects division. Real estate finance is a major strength; in a recent highlight, it advised Standard Chartered Bank on the shari’ah-compliant real estate financing of a new development consisting of a branded hotel and apartment units. Associate Philip Chalmers relocated to Dubai from the Edinburgh office in 2018.

Practice head(s):

Robin Hickman

Key clients

Standard Chartered Bank

Mashreq Bank

Barclays

HSBC

Ahli United Bank

Agricultural Bank of China

GEMS Education

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

ADS Securities

Agility Public Warehousing Company KSC

Work highlights

  • Advising Standard Chartered Bank on the shari’ah-compliant financing of a new development at The Palm Jumeirah consisting of a branded hotel and apartment units.
  • Acted for Standard Chartered Bank on the funding of East and West International Group, for the refinancing of a UAE property portfolio with in excess of 100 properties.

Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird excels in aviation finance. Emirates Airline is a key client; recent work for the client includes handling the sale-and-leaseback of three Airbus A380s. Rachael Petersen was promoted to counsel. Anders Nilsson heads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Anders Nilsson

Key clients

Bank of Singapore

Ericsson

Emirates Airline

Etihad Airways

Ipsidy

Gulf Islamic Investments

Work highlights

  • Advising Emirates Airline on the sale-and-leaseback of three Airbus A380s.
  • Advising Etihad on an ongoing basis on a broad range of banking and finance matters.
  • Advised Gulf Islamic Investments on various transactions including a $188m facility arrangement in respect of the purchasing and financing of commercial real estate.

DWF Middle East LLP

DWF Middle East LLP's Umera Ali advises on Islamic finance, conventional finance, debt capital markets, structured finance and acquisition finance transactions. The team has further expanded since Ali joined in 2018: Abdullah Masud and Katrina Mackay are new associates from Al Tamimi & Company and Reed Smith, respectively; Majed Almarshad - formerly a private practitioner - joined as partner.

Practice head(s):

Umera Ali

Key clients

Home Re 2018-1 Limited

Home Re 2019-1 Limited

GFH Financial Group B.S.C.

Dubai Aviation Corporation (trading as “flydubai”)

Riyad Bank

Zenzic Partners Limited

Bahra Advanced Cable Manufacture Company

Itquan VIP

Byrne Equipment Rental LLC

Work highlights

  • Advised Flydubai (as lessee) ion the notice of assignment to the portfolio lessee (English-law governed), which Flydubai had to execute as a result of the refinancing of the aircraft by Crédit Agricole.
  • Advised Home Re 2018-1 Limited on the sale and issuance of up to $318.636m mortgage insurance-linked notes due 2028.
  • Advised Riyad Bank, the lender, on a revolving facility agreement in the amount of SAR300m with HSBC Saudi Arabia.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP specialises in banking and finance in the infrastructure, energy and real estate sectors. Islamic finance is another strength. Tim Armsby heads the team, which includes key associate Matthew Dyson, who has established a strong finance practice since his relocation from London to Dubai in 2017. Amir Ahmad left for Reed Smith in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Tim Armsby

Key clients

Emirates NBD

Mashreqbank PSC

Dubai Islamic Bank

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Emirates National Oil Company Limited (ENOC) LLC

British Petroleum

Al Fahim Group

Abu Dhabi Finance PJSC

Bank of Muscat

YES Bank Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for the borrower, Unique Maritime Group, on the refinancing of its credit facilities with three relationship banks.

Shearman & Sterling LLP

Shearman & Sterling LLP is 'unique in terms of quality'. Its areas of work include project finance, capital markets, derivatives, structured finance, funds and tax, and the lean team in the UAE is able to work alongside colleagues in London and Riyadh on cross-border deals. Iain Goalen is noted. Moyn Uddin left for Intesa Sanpaolo.

Practice head(s):

Iain Goalen

Testimonials

The practice at Shearman & Sterling is unique in terms of quality. It will not work on many transactions in the region, but where they are mandated on transactions the execution quality will be exceptional.

The firm should be considered by clients who prioritise high-quality legal services.

Iain Goalen is a highly technical and skilled draftsman. He has experience in both the European and Middle Eastern markets.

Key clients

Mubadala Investment Company PJSC and its subsidiaries

The Dow Chemical Company

National Commercial Bank

First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC

Standard Chartered (Dubai)

JBIC

Wafra Investment

ACWA Power

ENGIE

Simmons & Simmons Middle East

Simmons & Simmons Middle East complements its transactional banking practice with expertise in funds, financial crime and financial services regulation. Practice head Muneer Khan specialises in Islamic finance. Ahmed Butt is another key practitioner; he splits his time between the Dubai and Riyadh offices.

Testimonials

Great regional presence and knowledge.

Watson Farley & Williams

Sector-focused firm Watson Farley & Williams focuses on transport, energy and real estate, and its UAE banking and finance practice mirrors these specialisms. Andrew Baird heads the Dubai office and specialises in finance in the maritime and offshore sectors, and Oliver Tebbit is an aviation finance expert.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Baird; Oliver Tebbit; Michael Savva

Key clients

Bank of London and the Middle East plc (BLME)

Ahli United Bank

DVB

Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (Nord/LB)

East Merchant Capital GmbH

Standard Chartered

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead counsel to Standard Chartered Bank on two transactions: (1) the refinancing of three Panama-flagged tankers and (2) the financing of two Panama-flagged tankers.
  • Advising numerous banks and financial institutions on matters of UAE law concerning a number of secured and unsecured debt financing transactions.
  • Advising several banks on the term-loan facility for the refinancing of existing indebtedness on eight Liberian-flagged and 26 Bahamas-flagged dry bulk vessels and for general working capital purposes for Polsteam group.