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

Watson Farley & Williams LLP
26 AVENUE DES CHAMPS-ELYSEES
75 008 PARIS
France

Shipping finance Tier 1

Watson Farley & Williams LLP's team has 'expert knowledge of the maritime industry'. The firm has a global reach which ensures it 'covers all jurisdictions in Europe, the Middle East and Asia'. Clients, including lenders to the shipping industry and export credit agencies, have instructed the practice to advise on a number of restructurings, work-outs and enforcements. Between them, joint practice heads Laurence Martinez-Bellet and Alexia Russell are 'qualified under French and English law, which is a big asset'.

Testimonials

Expert knowledge of the maritime industry. Ability to support clients in different jurisdictions and with different structures. Very responsive and very professional.

WFW has an historical presence within shipping finance and large coverage of the main maritime clusters with dedicated teams. Good coordination and relationship between its teams is a real strength. Low turnover of key individual persons is really a plus.

The team is highly specialised in shipping finance and covers all jurisdictions in Europe, the Middle East and Asia for instance.

Combination of excellent expertise in shipping finance and a pragmatic approach makes the team very reliable.

What has always struck me at WFW Paris is the combination of a particularly fine and detailed knowledge of law and jurisprudence, with an analysis and a broad view of things. The latter is the most distinctive characteristic compared to other law firms. When some companies are still preparing papers and court decisions, WFW gives the singular impression of keeping one step ahead (at least). This sense of anticipation, this innate ability to identify the most strategic points, allows this company to address emerging issues earlier than its competitors. WFW knows how to make the most of its international network and the relationships between partners from different countries seem to offer a simplicity that is not repeated in all other companies. The general feeling is that you can establish a tailor-made relationship with WFW, whereas other firms provide you with off-the-shelf content.

Alexia Russell always has concrete answers to specific legal issues occurring during negotiations with our counterparts. She is the brightest and best law partner currently practising in Paris under English law for shipping transactions.

Alexia Russell shows a great availability and a first-line commitment in the negotiation and documentation process. Compared to other international law firms where the partners appear only at the first meeting, Alexia remains involved in the whole process.

Laurence Martinez-Bellet is dedicated to her clients, highly knowledgeable and excellent in negotiation. One of the best lawyers in her sector and very pleasant to work with.

Very supportive/reactive and deeply involved on each legal issue. Easily reachable which makes a huge difference from other law firms in this sector.

Alexia and Charles are both qualified under French and English law, which is a big asset.

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Brittany Ferries

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

DFDS

Société Générale

TechnipFMC

Aviation finance Tier 2

Watson Farley & Williams LLP advises on high-value international financing arrangements for major banks and financial institutions, with the Bank of China a notable new client win. The team advises on complex alternative funding structures, including debt capital markets financing of leasing transactions, while the team's expertise has been recognised by its seat on the global Aviation Working Group panel, advising on the Global Aircraft Trading System. Charles Viggers relocated to Singapore in 2019.  Alexia Russell is the key name in Paris.

Testimonials

Very approachable team providing to-the-point advice. Excellent ability to get to the main issue quickly and very good negotiation skills.

The team met very demanding deadlines and were solid in their deal implementation.

The team’s services are very strong. We enjoy the fact that WFW have a number of international offices which can add expertise to local law matters. The firm is innovative and assisted us with aviation related private placement note issuances, which were understood to be market firsts. The team are also able to meet tight deadlines and are constantly able to deliver.

Excellent availability across the whole team and consistent hard work and application. Consistently keep to even difficult deadlines.

The Aircraft Finance and Banking team was exceptional. They linked in very well to their London office and provided a seamless solution across the offices. The team met very demanding deadlines and were solid in their deal implementation! Would use them again and again!

Charles Viggers was a great lead partner in the Paris office and was able to pull in the correct people within the office to cover off specific technical points. Philippe Wolanski’s knowledge of French banking and finance law was very good and he was able to explain difficult concepts well!’

The team shows great tactfulness in defusing the tension inherent to demanding transactions. Often, I have seen this team work for adverse parties but managing to get the best expectable result for all parties involved.

Key clients

Bank of China

BNP Paribas

BRED Banque Populaire

China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

Crédit Industriel et Commercial

DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise

European ECAs (ECGD, Bpifrance Assurance Export and Euler Hermes)

Export-Import Bank of the United States

Hamburg Commercial Bank (fka HSH Nordbank)

ICBC Financial Leasing

Investec

KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH

La Banque Postale

Natixis

Société Générale

Industry focus: Energy Tier 2

Watson Farley & Williams LLP combines strong public law, finance and project expertise with strength in corporate and tax law, all with a focus on the renewable energy sector. The group is primarily active in domestic greenfield and brownfield projects and has attracted a large client base made up of developers, funds and banks. The team handles a high number of solar and wind farm projects, but also advises on other matters, such as cogeneration, biomass, corporate PPA and new electricity initiatives. The practice is co-headed by finance expert Laurence Martinez-Bellet, corporate partner Arnaud Félix and public law specialist Laurent Battoue. Thomas Rabain's arrival from Norton Rose Fulbright at the beginning of 2019 brings further strength to the practice.

Testimonials

‘The team has very good public law and energy law expertise.’

‘The team has excellent knowledge of the French market while also retaining global capabilities and has the ability to deal with complex deals.’

‘A very strong team endowed with very high-level technical skills.’

‘Laurent Battoue provides very high-level input on transactions and is very reactive. He is a great energy law expert of the renewables energy industry. He is always reassuring and a pleasure to work with.’

‘Laurence Martinez-Bellet is a very practical, solution-oriented and smart lawyer. She always seeks the best solution to ease both parties.’

Key clients

Amundi Transition Energétique

Akuo Energy

BayWa r.e.

Crédit Agricole Assurances

Infrared/TRIG

La Banque Postale

Omnès Capital

Renault

RIVE Private Investment

Société Générale

Technique Solaire

Valorem

Total Eren

Banking and finance: transactional work Tier 3

'The team stands out for its capacity to accompany clients on their journey into innovative areas, and its ability to adapt to its clients' needs', remarks a client of Watson Farley & Williams LLP. The firm handles a diverse range of work from small-cap to large deals and is particularly strong in asset finance, project finance, acquisition finance and capex financing. It has English and French law capability in Paris and frequently acts on cross-border matters for large banks and corporates. Practice head Laurence Martinez-Bellet who stands out for cross-border shipping finance transactions, Alexia RussellCharles Viggers and Philippe Wolanski are the main practitioners.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

The team is known for its availability, professionalism and great skill but above all it has a capacity to understand commercial issues and to put forward strong proposals.

Charles Viggers and Alexia Russell are great experts in their field – always available, always looking for solutions and providing advice that takes into account commercial issues. They are more than just lawyers, they are true business partners.

I appreciate Alexia Russell’s dual qualification in English and French law, which is a rare characteristic and is very useful in asset finance.

Excellent partner availability and a superb all-round team. It is hard to beat its expertise and knowledge.

Consistently available throughout the whole of the transaction and the team provided to-the-point advice. It worked to even the tightest deadlines.

We have a strong relationship and the team’s advice is tailor-made. It has developed a strong and faithful partnership in our strategy of growth.

WFW is a very experienced firm in project finance and it has provided us with outstanding services on several projects in recent years. The team is very capable, always available and at our disposal in case of questions and comments, patient with us and our customers in negotiations or detailed explanations whenever necessary, always mindful or our interests in the transactions, and truly reliable throughout the process.

We worked with Alexia Russell and her team on various transactions and we were very satisfied with the outstanding services provided. They are proactive and always offer appropriate solution to problems faced during the transaction process.

The aircraft finance and banking team was exceptional. They linked in very well to their London office and provided a seamless solution across the offices. The team met very demanding deadlines and were solid in their deal implementation! Would use them again and again!

Charles Viggers was a great lead partner in the Paris office and was able to pull in the correct people within the office to cover off specific technical points. Philippe Wolanski’s knowledge of French banking and finance law was very good and he was able to explain difficult concepts well!

It has very strong experience in asset finance and the partners stay involved.

Laurence Martinez-Bellet has a very deep knowledge of the shipping market. She has very good communication skills too.

Response times are very good, so we can meet clients’ deadlines and WFW is always ready to go the extra mile in considering their advice on legal issues arising in the course of agreement negotiations.

Partners at WFW are highly skilled and have a large expertise as partners in one of the leading shipping legal firms. The large number of transactions they process give them a clear competitive advantage.

We have been working with partners Alexia Russell and Laurence Martinez-Bellet for many years. Their dedication and willingness to defend our interests are highly valued within our institution.

Key clients

AMP Capital

BNP Paribas

Bpifrance

BRED Banque Populaire

Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations

Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

Engie Solar

Ermewa

Investec

Société Générale

Total Eren

Administrative and public law Tier 4

Watson Farley & Williams LLP has a strong focus on advising developers and investors on the building, financing and acquisition of domestic renewables energy farm projects. The ten-lawyer practice also advises on public infrastructure contracts in other areas. It is notably assisting the Ministry of Defence on several major tender projects. Laurent Battoue is in charge. Arnaud Troizier is the other key name in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

‘The team has good on-the-ground experience, and a strong ability to turn complex ideas into succinct and meaningful outputs.’

‘Laurent Battoue is very reactive, practical, efficient and solution-oriented.’

‘Arnaud Troizier has strong expertise advising on public-private partnerships and public law contracts. He is very responsive and makes himself available for his clients. He provides excellent advice.’

Key clients

Amundi Transition Energétique

Bpifrance Financement

BTP Impact Local

French Ministry of Defence

Mirova

Renault

Séché Environnement

Tax Tier 4

Headed by Romain Girtanner, who is 'very knowledgeable about French tax lease structures', Watson Farley & Williams LLP's 'dedicated and extremely competent' team is adept in the tax structuring of asset finance transactions in the shipping and renewable energy areas. It provides key support during transactions handled by the firm, assisting developers and lenders. The team also advises on corporate transactions, both in the renewable energy area and other sectors. In addition, the practice provides tax advice to several private families.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

‘The team is very knowledgeable in relation to the intricacies of French tax lease structures’

‘The team is dedicated to its clients and extremely competent’

‘Romain Girtanner is very knowledgeable about French tax lease structures and their application to shipping transactions. He brings solutions rather than adding problems. He is truly dedicated to his clients, providing a tailored-made approach to complex situations’

Key clients

DIF France

Access Capital Partners

Amundi Transition Energétique (ATE)

Akuo Energy

Compagnie fruitière

EnBW AG

Geogas

Groupe Maisons de Famille

KGAL

La Banque Postale

RES

Rgreen Invest

Seaway Heavy Lifting

Société Générale

Technique Solaire

The Renewables Infrastructure Group