Transport: shipping - finance in United States

Blank Rome LLP

With a core team spread across the Washington DC, New York and Houston offices, Blank Rome LLP has one of the market's go-to teams for complex shipping-sector transactions, including those involving foreign investment and the Jones Act, international restructuring and bankruptcy matters, and Liberia and the Marshall Islands registration and flagging issues. Practice chair Anthony Solgado has over 30 years experience in the industry and stands out for his knowledge of Jones Act citizenship issues and related laws administered by the US Coast Guard and Maritime Administration, as well as those laws' impact on ship financings and transactions. Senior counsel Brett Esber is another key figure for vessel-secured credit facilities, lease financing deals and sale and purchase transactions. Both Solgado and Esber are based in the Washington DC office.

Practice head(s):

Anthony Salgado

Other key lawyers:

Bret Esber

Key clients

American Shipping Company

GulfMark Offshore

Harvey Gulf

J.F. Lehman & Company

JP Morgan Chase

Philly Shipyard

PNC Equipment Finance

Seaspan Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised Seaspan Corporation, an independent owner and operator of containerships, and the largest US-listed lessor of container ships the closing of a $1bn senior secured financing program.
  • Advised American Shipping Company, a Norwegian company, on the construction and financing of two new Jones Act product tankers.
  • Acted for JP Morgan Chase in its capacity as a lender to Edison Chouest Offshore, relating to a $145m loan to build a river cruiser for Viking River Cruises for use on the Mississippi River.
  • Advising Philly Shipyard, a commercial shipyard in Philadelphia, on a bid to win a government contract to modernize the US Navy’s auxiliary fleet, which supplies US forces around the world.
  • Advised the Carlyle Group, on the ship finance and regulatory aspects of a merger between two American shipyard firms: Oregon-based Vigor Industrial and Norfolk-based MHI Holdings.

Cozen O'Connor

Acting for vessel owners, operators and financial institutions, Cozen O'Connor has a top-tier reputation across a huge range of shipping matters, including antitrust clearances and maritime M&A, US flagging issues and Jones Act citizenship. The name to note in New York is Geoffrey Ferrer, who has expertise in asset-based lending, including ship finance, and equipment leasing. Ferrer is also recognized for his advice on corporate and maritime law in the Marshall Islands, the Bahamas, Liberia and Vanuatu. A contact in Washington DC is Anne Mickey, who advises on conventional and government guaranteed loans for vessels and other equipment, and has recently been especially active in matter relating to the Maritime Security Program, the Capital Construction Funds program and US cargo preference programs. Also of note are Joshua Stein and Jeff Vogel, both of whom represent clients before various US maritime agencies and enforcement bodies, and have broad-base experience of regulatory issues facing the sector.

Practice head(s):

Geoffrey Ferrer

Other key lawyers:

Anne Mickey; Josh Stein; Jeff Vogel

Key clients

Hapag Lloyd USA

Hoegh Autoliners

Shelf Drilling Holdings

GasLog Partners

Costamare/Costamare Partners

Port Imperial Ferry Corp

Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank

Work highlights

  • Acted as Marshall Islands counsel to GasLog Partners in connection with the third amended and restated equity distribution agreement pursuant to which GasLog may distribute up to $250m of its limited partnership units.
  • Acted as New York and Marshall Islands counsel to Navios South American Logistics, a Marshall Islands corporation, and Navios Logistics Finance as the borrowers, in connection with $100m term loan to refinance the acquisition of five vessels.
  • Special US maritime counsel to Nordea Bank acting as agent and trustee and other lenders in connection with Senior Secured Term and Revolving Credit Facilities Agreement.
  • Special maritime counsel to Shelf Drilling on matters of Vanuatu, Liberian and Marshall Islands law in connection with amendments to the existing credit facility, vessel acquisitions and various restructuring of vessel ownership and financing.

Jones Walker LLP

Jones Walker LLP handles domestic and international transactions for clients across number of maritime industry segments. The firm has a particularly strong presence in the South, and more specifically in New Orleans and Louisiana more generally. Contacts in the firm's New Orleans office include William Baldwin, who handles marine finance, ship mortgages, sale and purchase transactions, and Jones Act and coastwise compliance for major clients such as Tidewater and Pacific Drilling; Kelly Duncan, who has experience of a variety of vessel transactions, including Title XI financings, sale-leaseback transactions and asset sales and acquisitions; and corporate partner Amy Garrity Scafidel, who co-leads the firm's finance group and specializes in commercial lending transactions. The practice also substantially expanded its offering with the recruitment of George Fowler and his team of four attorneys from Fowler, Rodriguez & Chalos, and the recruitment of Washington DC-based James Kearns from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP.

Practice head(s):

William Baldwin

Key clients

Tidewater

Pacific Drilling

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation

Tri-Marine Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for Tidewater in its $1.25bn merger with Gulfmark Offshore in a deal that created the largest fleet in the off-shore support vessel industry.
  • Counsel for Pacific Drilling and its subsidiaries in relation to the client’s restructuring and bankruptcy, including advice on preferred ship mortgages on seven Liberian flagged drill-ships, as well as related financing documents.
  • Special maritime counsel to Tri-Marine Group subsidiaries in connection with multiple Title XI financings.
  • Acted as borrowers counsel in various vessel sale leaseback financing transactions for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, as charterer, and CIT Bank, as owner.
  • Lead counsel to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation in the refinancing of an existing revolving credit facility, involving PNC Capital Markets, PNC Bank, and National Association (as administrative agent)

Watson Farley & Williams (New York) LLP

Watson Farley & Williams (New York) LLP advises on all manner of shipping transactions, including public and private financings and large-scale restructurings. The team handles a whole range of US law issues, but is also able to advise on Marshall Islands, Liberian and Vanuatu corporate and maritime law matters. Key figures in this space include Daniel Rodgers, who heads the New York office and specializes in asset-backed finance, structured project financing and lease financing, and Steven Hollander, who has expertise in a range of private equity, securities and corporate transactions, and is particularly experience in acting for entities formed in the Marshall Islands. Other contacts include John Benson, a name to note for cross-border asset-backed transactions; Marsila Karpida, who acts for international shipping banks and ship-owning entities; and Will Vogel, who recently joined the team from Seward & Kissel LLP. All names attorneys are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Rodgers; Steven Hollander

Other key lawyers:

John Benson; Will Vogel; Marsila Karpida

Key clients

Hartree Maritime Partners

Capital Product Partners

Teekay Corporation

Seadrill Partners

Offshore Merchant Partners Asset Yield Fund

Deutsche Bank

Work highlights

  • Acted for Seadrill Partners in connection with a one-for-ten reverse unit split.
  • Represented Offshore Merchant Partners as purchasers of $35m of Series G redeemable convertible perpetual preferred shares of Tsakos Energy Navigation.
  • Acted as Marshall Islands counsel to Capital Product Partners in a spin off transaction, wherein assets of CPLP were spun off for a minority interest in a new public company known as Diamond S. Shipping, in exchange for which CPLP unitholders received stock in Diamond S. Shipping.

Holland & Knight LLP

Holland & Knight LLP is recognized for its expertise in a number of industry segments, from advising banks and non-traditional lenders in public and private financing transactions, to cross-border vessel leasing deals and private equity transactions. The team stands out in particular for its ability to advise on Marshall Islands and Liberia-related flagging and regulatory matters, most recently in the context of multi-national insolvencies. Jovi Tenev heads the maritime finance practice, which also includes Richard Furey and Gerald Morrissey in Washington DC, the latter of whom joined from Winston & Strawn LLP. Morrissey brings additional expertise in advising institutional lenders and corporate borrowers on asset-backed lending, leasing matters, and large public financing transactions. Named lawyers are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Jovi Tenev

Other key lawyers:

Richard Furey; Gerald Morrissey

Key clients

DNB NOR Bank

Nordea Bank Finland

Citibank

CIT Bank / CIT Finance

Olympic Shipping /Onassis Foundation

BTMU Capital Corp. (Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi)

Deutsche Bank

Work highlights

  • Representing Eletson Holdings and its subsidiaries in an offer to exchange the $300m in aggregate principal amount outstanding of 9.625% first preferred ship mortgages notes due 2022 previously issued by the Company and Eletson Finance, for new first preferred ship mortgage notes (with PIK option) due 2022.
  • Acting as US maritime, Liberian and Marshall Islands counsel to senior secured lenders in connection with the Seadrill Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.
  • Acting as Liberian counsel to The Bank of Nova Scotia, as mortgagee, respecting the reflagging from Bahamas to Liberia of the CSL ACADIAN and the recordation of a Liberian first preferred ship mortgage covering the vessel.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright's New York-based shipping team advises on complex structured transactions and leasing deals, acting for bank lenders and corporates in public and private financings, as well as for non-traditional ship financiers, such as funds, governmental finance support entities. The maritime team and the wider transportation group are headed by Brian Devine, who has also been increasingly active in the financing of new LNG carriers and floating storage regasification unites. Also recommended are associates Kassandra Savicki and Nicholas Santangelo, who work alongside Devine in the team's most complex mandates.

Practice head(s):

Brian Devine

Key clients

ABN AMRO Bank

Banco Santander

Bank of America

Citibank

Deutsche Bank

Gener8 Maritime

Northern Fund Management America

Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken

National Australia Bank

DNV GL

Work highlights

  • Advised a group of lenders led by ABN AMRO in original $210m financing of fleet of twenty one bulk carriers and subsequent exercise of $34m accordion to fund an additional three vessels for publicly traded Eagle Bulk.
  • Advising Citi and others on the approximately $2.2bn restructuring of major offshore and shipping operator, Toisa.
  • Advised Citigroup and other lenders on the $2.2bn restructuring of NYSE-listed Danaos Corp (DAC), one of the world’s largest independent owners of modern, large-size container ships.
  • Advised the lenders, ABN AMRO Bank and Citibank, on a New York law amendment to a $760m facility to finance a fleet of 18 newly constructed and under construction LPG carriers of Dorian LPG.

Reed Smith LLP

Reed Smith LLP handles all aspects of the financing of vessels, offshore assets and other related capital equipment, leveraging expertise in syndicated and bilateral debt finance, ECA-backed loan facilities, and structured financings, as well as in sale and leaseback transactions. Historically known as a borrower-side practice in financing deals, the team has continued to strengthen and develop its reputation in the sector, and is increasingly advising private equity entities and lenders, in addition to maintaining a strong borrower client base. Key partners in the New York office include Greg Chase and Jane Freeberg Sarma; associate Han Deng is also of note.

Practice head(s):

Greg Chase

Other key lawyers:

Jane Freeberg Sarma; Han Deng

Vedder Price

Vedder Price has 'a tremendous amount of knowledge in the maritime industry, coupled with a breadth of expertise' across a variety of transaction types, including syndicated and bilateral lending, export-credit facilities, debt capital markets transactions, and cross-border leasing matters. In addition, the team also lends its hand to cross-border bankruptcies and restructuring matters. The New York-based maritime group is led by Francis Nolan, 'a well known figure in the industry' and 'a safe pair of hands' for the financing of US- and foreign-flagged vessels and off-shore infrastructure, leasing transactions and Jones Act issues. Other key figures include John Bradley, who focuses on the financing of terminal and port projects, and John Imhof Jr., who specializes in vessel finance and other equipment finance. Dean Gerber left the firm in 2019 for an in-house role at ORIX Aviation.

Practice head(s):

Francis Nolan

Other key lawyers:

John Bradley; John Imhof Jr.

Testimonials

‘Vedder Price’s New York group has a tremendous amount of knowledge in the maritime industry coupled with bread of expertise to handle all manner of transactions.’

‘Francis Nolan III, head of team is a well known figure in the industry, a safe pair of hands even in the most complex of transactions’

Key clients

Bank of America Leasing & Capital

Wells Fargo Bank

CIT Group (Including CIT Bank)

General Dynamics Corporation

Triton International

Maher Terminals

Touax Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for the National Bank of Greece in matters relating to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Aegean Marine. The Bank held first preferred ship mortgages against the product tankers Leros (Liberian flag) and Kalymnos(Panamanian flag), which were assets in Aegean’s estates.

Winston & Strawn LLP

Winston & Strawn LLP is very active in vessel-related transactions, including Jones Act financing and foreign investments in Jones Act vessels and companies, Title XI-guaranteed financings and matters involving the Capital Construction Funds program. The maritime team is headed by Constantine Papavizas, who has a wealth of experience in corporate and financing deals in the maritime sector, and is also well placed to advise on regulatory issues impacting US offshore infrastructure, namely offshore wind projects. Associate Allison Skopec is also recommended. Gerald Morrissey left for Holland & Knight LLP. All named lawyers are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Constantine Papavizas

Other key lawyers:

Allison Skopec

Key clients

Liberty Maritime Corporation

Mizuho Bank

Black Diamond Capital Management

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company

The Mosaic Company

Columbia Ship Management (Deutschland)

Harley Marine Services

Macquarie Bank

Aletheia Capital Management

Stellex Capital Management

BNP Paribas

Work highlights

  • Advised Mizuho Bank and certain of its affiliates on multiple lease finance transactions involving transportation assets, including traditional owner tax lease structures, trust structures, and direct lending against lease receivables.
  • Advised Mizuho Bank Eastside River Brokerage Company, and CGB Enterprises on a lease-finance and chartering transaction providing financing for the purchase and long-term financing of a fleet of approximately 50 inland river barges.
  • Advised Aletheia Capital Management and the vessels SMIT Rio Muni and Bioko on corporate transactions which created a complex ownership and management structure.  
  • Acting for Stellex Capital Management in the joint process for the acquisition and merger of Vigor Industrial (a Portland, Oregon-based infrastructure, defense, and maritime services company) and MHI Holdings (a ship repair, maintenance and other ship husbandry services company based in Norfolk, Virginia)

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP's New York-based maritime team has experience of a variety of transactions in the sector, though the team is best known is known for representing creditors and bondholders in large restructuring matters, as well as in Chapter 11 and other bankruptcy proceedings. Richard Brand co-chairs the corporate practice and recently represented Evercore as financial advisor to Global Ship Lease in its combination with Poseidon Containers Holdings. Other key figures include Joshua Apfelroth and Gregory Petrick, who chairs the financial restructuring group and divides his time between the London and New York offices.

Practice head(s):

Richard Brand

Other key lawyers:

Gregory Petrick; Joshua Apfelroth

Key clients

Evercore

Safe Bulkers

Work highlights

  • Represented Evercore as financial advisor to Global Ship Lease in a stock-for-stock combination valued at more than $780m with Poseidon Containers Holdings.
  • Representing Safe Bulkers in connection with ongoing SEC filings and disclosure matters.