Watson Farley & Williams LLP > Paris, France > Firm Profile

Watson Farley & Williams LLP
28 Avenue Victor Hugo
75116 Paris
France

France > Shipping finance Tier 1

Watson Farley & Williams LLP‘s shipping finance team in Paris includes English law capabilities with several dual-qualified team members, making it a go-to firm for complex multijurisdictional financings. The Paris team is led by Alexia Russell on the English law aspects, who has a ‘great expertise in the sector’, and by Laurence Martinez-Bellet on the French law aspects. With experience working for export credit agencies, the firm is often assisting key market players with the provision of finance and credit support to ships under construction.

Testimonials

‘Thanks to its expertise in the maritime sector, the firm remains an undeniable firm to help us with the legal structuring of our financing.’

‘We work regularly with Alexia Russell on our shipping files. Each time, we benefit from her great expertise in the sector and her negotiating skills to better defend our position.’

‘We have a long-standing relationship and the team has adapted to our usual legal requirements which allow us to focus on important points when negotiating documentation.’

‘Working with Alexia Russell provides the reassurance that the deal will go through smoothly and that every minute is used cleverly.’

‘Young, responsive and very available team. Excellent expertise on maritime law subjects.’

‘Excellent knowledge of the shipping sector and market practice resulting in efficient, commercially-focused legal advice.’

‘Alexia Russell is extremely proactive and responsive, providing clear and concise expert advice at all times.’

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

Société Générale

Work highlights

  • Advising a working group of creditors comprising leading French banking groups on the shipping aspects of the debt restructuring of French shipowner Bourbon Maritime.

France > Aviation finance Tier 2

Watson Farley & Williams LLP‘s ‘very personable and professional team’ continues to advise a broad range of manufacturers, export credit agencies, arrangers, lessors and banking clients on a range of English and French law transactions. Alexia Russell is the key contact in the Paris office. The hire of Philippe Monfort from Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP in January 2020 and the May 2021 counsel promotion of Marc-Alexandre Tremblay bolstered the French team.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

‘Very personable and professional team. Accessible, prompt and friendly.’

‘The team is responsive and proactive, there is no need to relaunch or follow the process, the team does not just advise but genuinely drives the deals until closing.’

‘Marc-Alexandre Tremblay is pragmatic and does not create unnecessary tensions or debates. This makes it possible to be more efficient and ultimately to limit legal costs.’

‘Very responsive, thorough, dedicated, and helpful team. Very good fees structure.’

‘The WFW team is very pro-business and has the ability to offer innovative solutions. It does not seek to impose ready-made solutions, but looks at each transaction with a fresh eye.’

‘Easy to access and professional, the WFW team is a real business partner in the progress of cases. Alexia Russell, Marc-Alexandre Tremblay and Isabella Roberts are available and provide good advice. Their pragmatic approach makes them great lawyers to work with.’

‘Broad experience and knowledge in French insolvency procedures. Willing to share knowledge and information about the matter, able to provide straight and swift answers to customers’ questions.’

‘Especially enjoyed working with partners Alexia Russell and Pascal Roux, and senior associate Pierre Chipaux. All were highly professional, reliable, punctual, clear in communication, experienced, easy to work with and trustworthy.’

Key clients

French Ministry of Defence

HSBC

Eurazeo

Work highlights

  • Providing assistance to French Ministry of Defence in relation to the carrying out of their A400M aircraft programme and in connection with the preparation of new contracts and amendments to the existing contractual documentation.
  • Advising subsidiaries of HSBC Leasing France on (i) the finance leasing to Turkish airline MNG Airlines (lessee) and cargo conversion of two Airbus A330-300 aircraft with MSN 879 and 889 and (ii) the transition from LIBOR to SOFR.
  • Advising 2A Leasing managed by Eurazeo, as buyer/lessor, in relation to the guaranteed sale, leaseback, subleasing and forward purchase of two (4) Airbus Helicopters EC135 helicopters operated in France by entities of the HBG France group.

France > Banking and finance: transactional work Tier 2

The banking team at Watson Farley & Williams LLP, which houses lawyers qualified in both French and English law, handles a wide range of finance mandates in the large, mid and small-cap markets. Representing leading financial institutions and export credit agencies, the group particularly stands out for its expertise in the energy, infrastructure and transportation sectors. The practice is led by Laurence Martinez-Bellet, who focuses on the financing and refinancing of energy and infrastructure projects and is particularly well regarded for her work in shipping transactions.

Practice head(s):

Laurence Martinez-Bellet

Other key lawyers:

Philippe Wolanski

Testimonials

‘Great commercial flexibility and ability to take into account the expectations of mid-market customers.’

‘The WFW team has a focused and compact finance team that can handle all types of financings with great skill and efficiency. Strong partnership involvement ensures technical expertise and oversight, and provides confidence for clients. At the same time, their approach is always commercial and pragmatic, and never unduly focused on technicalities that might otherwise slow progress unnecessarily.’

‘Philippe Wolanski is an excellent partner who maintains a personal involvement in and responsibility for his transactions to ensure the quality of the documentation and the confidence of his clients.’

Key clients

Société Générale

BNP Paribas

BPCE

Banque Palatine

Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank

Crédit Mutuel

Akuo

HSBC

CIC

Technique Solaire

La Banque Postale Leasing & Factoring

Work highlights

  • Assisted a large working group of creditors comprising leading French banks with the shipping-related aspects of the debt restructuring of French shipowner Bourbon Maritime. The restructuring resulted in decreasing Bourbon’s overall debt from circa €2.7bn to circa €1.065bn.
  • Acted for Crédit Agricole Group on a €230m loan facility for the AdVini group.
  • Advised Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and CA Centre France acting as arrangers and a pool of banks comprising CACIB, CA Centre France, HSBC, CIC, Banque Populaire Auvergne Rhône Alpes, Banque Nuger and KBC on the financing of the acquisition of Movianto, subsidiary of America’s Owens & Minor, by EHDH (since renamed “Walden”).

France > Industry focus: Energy Tier 2

Energy is one of Watson Farley & Williams LLP‘s core focus industry of involvement. The practice offers a comprehensive range of expertise and demonstrates particular strength in finance, public and corporate matters. The practice focuses on France’s renewables sector work as well as on innovative energy transition projects, such as new hydrogen and electricity storage. The busy caseload includes matters for lenders, investors, developers and utilities, with notable matters including landmark offshore and floating wind farm projects, as well as interconnection electricity projects. The group is also involved in corporate PPAs and electricity storage projects. Abroad, the practice acted on a power plant project restructuration in New Caledonia and on a solar project in Uzbekistan. The team’s experience in corporate and brownfield transactions is also noted. Its ability to draw on the firm’s other departments for complementary expertise in the field of transport is another asset. The practice is co-headed by regulatory and public law expert Laurent Battoue, structured finance expert Laurence Martinez-Bellet, corporate partners Arnaud Félix and Thomas Rabain, and tax partner Romain Girtanner.

Practice head(s):

Laurent Battoue; Laurence Martinez-Bellet; Arnaud Félix; Thomas Rabain; Romain Girtanner

Key clients

Predica

BW Offshore

Glennmont Partners

Akuo

Technique Solaire

RES

ING

Société Générale

Groupe Crédit Agricole

Bpifrance

Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (Banque des Territoires)

Work highlights

  • Advising Predica on its share acquisition of the Renvico 329 MW Franco-Italian wind portfolio from Engie.
  • Advising BW Offshore on the acquisition of Ideol, the French floating offshore wind technology specialist, to create BW Ideol, a global integrated floating offshore wind company.
  • Advising Akuo on the debt and equity refinancing of the 103 MW Phoenix solar and wind portfolio.

France > Administrative and public law Tier 4

Watson Farley & Williams LLP regularly handles work in relation to energy infrastructure, one of the firm's core sectors. The team advises on various solar, wind and hydrogen projects, and has recently been involved in the development of electric battery stations. The practice is also frequently solicited to advise on M&A transactions pertaining to renewables assets. The practice’s strong public contract expertise earns it regular mandates in other areas. A particularly busy line of work is assisting private entities, including lenders, for example on high-profile public real estate construction projects. Additionally, the group has been advising on several matters concerning port assets in France and Africa, and is developing its activity in the French rail sector. The practice is led by practice head Laurent Battoue and Arnaud Troizier.

Practice head(s):

Laurent Battoue

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘Unique experience in infrastructure projects concerning electric vehicles, supporting large-scale or legally innovative projects.’

‘Excellent responsiveness; the level of practice is quite on par with a large business firm.’

‘Quality of expertise. Excellent knowledge of its clients and the eco-system.’

Key clients

RES

Predica (Crédit Agricole Assurances)

Work highlights

  • Advising French independent renewable energy producer RES on the signing of long-term green Corporate Power Purchase Agreements with SNCF Énergie, a subsidiary of SNCF Voyageurs, the French national railway company.
  • Advising Predica, an investment subsidiary of Crédit Agricole Assurances, on its share acquisition of the Renvico 329MW Franco-Italian wind portfolio from Engie.

France > Mergers and acquisitions Tier 5

Watson Farley & Williams LLP

Practice head(s):

Arnaud Félix; Pascal Roux

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Rabain

Testimonials

‘Responsiveness, practical in their advice and hands-on.’

‘Arnaud Felix stood out as he was responsive, hands-on, worked fast and very practical.’

‘Good responsiveness and great solution proposal.’

‘Thomas Rabain, good advice points to be agreed on during negotiations.’

Key clients

BW Offshore

Glennmont Partners

Predica

Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (Banque des Territoires)

Work highlights

  • Advising BW Offshore on the acquisition of Ideol, the French floating offshore wind technology specialist, to create BW Ideol, a global integrated floating offshore wind company. Following completion of this acquisition and of a private placement, BW Ideol’s shares were admitted to trading on Euronext Growth Oslo.            
  • Advising Glennmont Partners in relation to the sale of 8 operational onshore wind farms across Northern France with a total capacity of ca. 100 MW to the Belgium developer TTR Green Fund IV and its co-investors.
  • Advising Predica, an investment subsidiary of Crédit Agricole Assurances, on its share acquisition in the Renvico 329 MW Franco-Italian wind portfolio from Engie.

France > Tax Tier 5

Watson Farley & Williams LLP

Practice head(s):

Romain Girtanner

Testimonials

‘A team of tax specialists, well integrated into the firm, working in harmony with the other legal teams in order to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ service of excellent quality.’

‘Romain Girtanner has detailed knowledge of the legal framework and mechanisms and explains them easily and clearly to his clients. He also helped us a lot in structuring, often offering creative solutions to meet multiple constraints.’

Key clients

BW Offshore

Akuo

DIF Capital Partners

Naxicap

Crédit Agricole Group

Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (Banque des Territoires)

Elektrizitätswerk der Stadt Zürich (ewz)

Work highlights

  • Advising BW Offshore on the acquisition of Ideol, the French floating offshore wind technology specialist, to create BW Ideol.
  • Advising Akuo, an independent global renewable and distributed energy power producer and developer, on the legal and tax aspects of the debt and equity refinancing arrangements of a 103MW solar and wind Phoenix portfolio.
  • Advising Naxicap on all the legal and tax aspects of the acquisition of Swiss company myStromer AG.

Singapore > Banking and finance: foreign firms

Watson Farley & Williams LLP‘s Singapore practice is well integrated into the firm’s global office network, and is regularly instructed on finance deals throughout the Asia Pacific region for creditors and borrowers. The group is led by Mei Lin Goh, an asset and project finance specialist focusing on the energy and natural resources sectors. Charles Viggers is another key name in the asset finance team.

Practice head(s):

Goh Mei Lin

Other key lawyers:

Charles Viggers; Arrow Zhang

Key clients

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited

Crédit Industriel et Commercial (CIC)

European ECAs for Airbus exports (Euler Hermes, UK Export Finance and Bpifrance Assurance Export)

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

BNP Paribas

Société Générale

Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank

Woori Bank

Deutsche Bank

Bank of America NA

Bank of Communications Co., Ltd.

BW Maritime Pte Ltd

Credit Suisse

Crédit Industriel et Commercial, Singapore Branch

DVB Bank SE

ING Bank N.V., Singapore Branch

Korea Development Bank, Seoul Branch

MUFG Bank Ltd

Nord LB

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, Limited

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

ANZ Banking Group Limited

Mizuho Bank Ltd

Commerzbank AG

Work highlights

  • Advising MUFG Bank Ltd and Development Bank of Japan Inc. as lenders on the US$155m Tangguh LNG Carrier Refinancing. Together with WFW, WTL advised MUFG Bank as Facility and Security Agent, and Development Bank of Japan Inc. as lenders on two non-recourse credit facilities totalling US$155m for the international, cross-border refinancing of two LNG carriers owned by joint venture companies belonging to NYK Line, Sovcomflot Group (and Samudera Shipping Line Ltd. The loans comprise tranches with tenors of four and eight years.
  • Acting as English law counsel for Buss in relation to a US$150m term loan facility led by Wells Fargo Securities LLC as administrative agent. We reviewed the English law documents and issued legal opinion to the creditors.
  • Advising European banks on the refinancing of Singapore flagged vessels m.v.s. “PSU First” and “PSU Tenth” under one facility and refinancing the m.v. “PSU Ninth” under a separate facility.

Dedicated to client care, industry focus and investment in our people
We are a sector specialist international law firm in the energy, transport and infrastructure sectors advising on complex transactions and disputes through local knowledge and an integrated international network.

Our business exists to help our clients achieve their goals, partnering with them to meet the challenges they face today and will face tomorrow.

Our values rest on developing deep and long-lasting relationships externally and internally through respect, sharing, communication and integrity.

We strive for excellence in all that we do and view investment in our people as key to achieving our business goals and values.

Our teams are integrated across legal disciplines and offices delivering consistently high levels of service locally and in combination across borders.

History: Sector focus has been at the heart of our strategy since we opened for business in 1982.  Having started life as an asset finance boutique focussing on the maritime and aviation industries, our transport focus quickly expanded to other supply-chain led industries, most notably, renewable and conventional energy and infrastructure across these industries.

Through our offices around the world, we provide a full suite of services within our core sectors enabling us to deliver exceptional value to our clients.

Facts

  • Founded 1982
  • 175+ partners
  • 580+ lawyers
  • 17 offices

Senior Partner: George Paleokrassas
Managing Partner: Lindsey Keeble

Global Sector Heads:
Aviation: 
Jim Bell, Charles Viggers
Energy: Malte Jordan, Henry Stewart
Infrastructure: Florian Kutzbach and Jose Maria Anarte
Maritime: George Macheras, George Paleokrassas
Mining & Commodities: Jan Mellmann
Oil & Gas: Chris Kilburn

PhotoNamePositionProfile
Laurence Martinez Bellet photo Laurence Martinez BelletLaurence has over 20 years’ experience advising domestic and international clients on…
Alexia Russell photo Alexia RussellAlexia specialises in asset finance, leasing and project finance, where she acts…
Philippe Wolanski photo Philippe WolanskiPhilippe advises on a broad range of banking and finance transactions, including…
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