United Kingdom

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: The Law Society of England & WalesThe Law Society of Northern IrelandThe Law Society of Scotland

Competition authority: Competition & Markets Authority (CMA)

Financial regulator: Financial Conduct AuthorityPrudential Regulation Authority

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction: 

Bank lendingFinancial restructuring, Project finance, Capital markets : Debt, Capital markets : High yield, Capital markets : Derivatives, Capital markets : Equity, Capital markets : Structured finance and securitisation, Investment funds, Financial services regulatory, M&A, Private equity, Project DevelopmentRestructuring and insolvency

Jurisdiction overview

The United Kingdom is a combination of three legal systems: England & Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The systems in England & Wales and Northern Ireland are common law systems, while in Scotland the system is a civil law one with common law elements.

In England & Wales lawyers are split between solicitors and barristers. Solicitors qualify by registering with the Law Society of England and Wales as a student member before undertaking a Legal Practice Course (LPC). Barristers join one of the four Inns of Court and then complete the one-year Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

In Northern Ireland solicitors undertake a Certificate of Professional Studies while barristers take a Bar Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies.

In Scotland lawyers are split between solicitors and advocates. Solicitors can practise in the lower courts of Scotland, while advocates can appear in the superior High Court of Justiciary and Court of Session.

Once qualified, solicitors in England & Wales or Northern Ireland can apply to practice in the region they are not qualified in without the need to take further exams but Scottish solicitors must undertake additional qualifications.

Foreign lawyers can be registered with the Law Society of England and Wales via the Qualified Transfer Scheme (QLTS).

The UK legal market is one of the most sophisticated in the world and English law is often used to govern financing contracts around the globe.

The market is largely made up of UK or US law firms with the latter group expanding their practices aggressively since the turn of the millenium, with many hiring English law qualified lawyers to work alongside existing US teams often made up of New York qualified or dual qualified lawyers. Many other law firms from all around the world also have offices in London though their lawyers often only practice the law for their home country, with the offices acting as a client hub in the important financial centre.

Financial and corporate
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s London office has strong links with the Russian market and various emerging markets in the CIS region. The firm is probably best known in London for its finance and restructuring work. The firm has an industry sector strength in oil and gas matters.

In banking the firm focuses on borrower side new lending matters and financial restructuring matters and the team also emphasises its links to the firm’s funds and derivatives teams. In project finance the firm highlighted its CIS credentials acting for Lukoil on the financing for the development of the Gissar gas fields in Uzbekistan.

In the debt capital markets space the firm highlights its focus on private placements, including work for unconventional issuers like education institutions, livery companies and family trusts. The firm also has a specialism acting for noteholders in restructurings and has advised holders of notes from the likes of Premier Oil and Carillion. 

Highlight work includes advising CEVA Group on senior secured notes and PIK notes issues on the Irish Stock Exchange; and work for Alliance Data Systems on an issue of senior notes also on the Irish Stock Exchange.

In the equity capital markets area a clear highlight was work for a UK subsidiary of TORM on an exchange offer and listing on the Nasdaq Copenhagen.

The financial services regulatory team covers both contentious and non-contentious matters with both members of the contentious team, Helen Marshall and Rosemarie Paul, having experience of working at the UK regulator. On the contentious side the team advised clients on a number of FCA investigations, the non-contentious team advised clients on a range of matters including MiFID II, AIFMD and EU market abuse rules.

A clear highlight for the M&A team saw the firm advise Bridas Corporation in relation to the formation of Pan American Energy Group through the combination of stakes in PAE and Axion Energy. Elsewhere the firm also advised USM Holdings on the sale of its stake in Mail.Ru Group to Megafon and acted for Brunswick Rail on its takeover by Amalgam Rail Investment. In the private equity space the firm acted for Oaktree Capital on the sale of shares in the Mars mortgage servicing business and advised Outrider Master Fund on the sale of its stake in Madagascar Oil.

While the firm’s work in the oil and gas sector is largely corporate in nature, with the team acting on a number of M&A deals, bond issues and financings, the firm has acted on some project development matters as well, most notably advising Soma Oil & Gas on an exploration project off the coast of Somalia.

In the restructuring and insolvency area the firm’s expertise is in acting for creditor clients and the firm has a particular specialism in acting for bond and note holders in restructuring cases. The firm also points to a focus on matters arising from the energy and offshore sectors. Recent work highlights include advising the private placement noteholders in regard to the potential restructuring of Carillion; acting for the ad hoc bondholder group on the restructuring of the Seadrill Group; and advising the private placement noteholders on Premier Oil’s debt restructuring.

Staffing changes include the addition of project finance partner Julian Nichol who joins from the oil and gas focused team at Bracewell, Finance partner Lisa Hearn has also relocated to Houston. In the debt capital markets team Fred Heller retired from the firm. In the regulatory team Christopher Leonard went in-house at Elliott Advisors.

Allen & Overy

Allen & Overy is one of London’s premier law firms and is highly ranked across almost all of our ranking tables. It is difficult to single out just a few specialisms but the firm is a clear leader in areas such as bank lending, structured finance and securitisation and derivatives and restructuring and insolvency. Private equity and high yield debt have been areas of growth in recent years.

The team is well placed in debt capital markets and points to impressive deal statistics in a variety of sub areas including MTN matters, convertible bonds and regulatory capital. The firm also has a credible high yield practice. Deal examples include advising HSBC in relation to a perpetual non-cumulative resettable additional tier 1 notes issue by Danske Bank; advising the lead managers on the establishment of Nigeria’s GMTN programme; advising the lead managers on convertible bond issues by RSA Insurance Group; and acting for Citigroup Global Markets in relation to The Hellenic Republic’s (Greece) debt exchange offer. On the high yield side the firm advised Iceland Foods on a senior secured notes issue as part of its refinancing; advised the bookrunners on a senior secured notes issue by Empark; and advised Intralot on its debt issue.

In the equity capital markets the firm provides both English and US legal advice from London. Examples of the firm’s work includes advising the Irish Government on the IPO of Allied Irish Banks (AIB), in a deal that was an IFLR Award winner; advising Quilter on its demerger from Old Mutual and subsequent IPO on the LSE and secondary offering in South Africa; and advising Arqiva Group, DP Eurasia and Kuwait Energy on their LSE IPOs. 

When it comes to structured capital markets the firm splits its practice between securitisation and derivatives and structured products. As well as acting on the range of product types the firm has also been active providing clients with regulatory advice and has developed client tools such as MarginMatrix and - most recently - BrexitMatrix a tool allowing clients looking at moving part of their businesses to other EU countries to manage documentation and processes. Work highlights include advising Napier Park Global Capital on three CLOs; advising VTB Capital on a number of commodity financing transactions; advising Morgan Stanley as arranger on a number of convertible pass-through notes issues; and advising Citibank as arranger in relation to two securitisations that provided financing for the sale of buy-to-let mortgage loans originated by Bradford & Bingley and Mortgage Express.

In M&A the firm acts on some of the biggest deals in the market. Just some highlights from the research period include work for Allianz on the £500 million acquisition of a 49% stake in LV =; work for 21st Century Fox on the sale of its TV and international businesses to Walt Disney; work for Worldpay on its sale to Vantiv; and work for EG Group on its acquisition of The Kroger Co’s convenience store business.

In the private equity space highlights include advising Apax Partners on the acquisition of Safetykleen Europe; acting for Exponent Private Equity on its bid for The CEB Talent Assessment Business, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and Enva Group; and work for AMP Capital on its acquisition of Leeds Bradford Airport.

In the restructuring space the firm has one of the largest departments in the city and acts on the range of corporate and financial restructurings. Just two highlights from the past year include work on the financial restructuring of Premier Oil and on the debt restructuring of Budapest Airport, in both cases the firm acted for the lenders.

Client feedback

"Allen & Overy is a leading firm for equity capital markets work in the UK and the rest of EMEA, particularly the Middle East and emerging markets such as South Africa and Turkey. They are a great team, a pleasure to work with, and they get the job done." – Capital markets : Equity

"Blue chip law firm that has core excellence in private equity, M&A and related disciplines. Excellent partner interaction, superb associate level ability. Depth of bench is highly impressive in both the individuals (within practice areas) and complementary practice areas themselves." – M&A

"I enjoy working with Allen & Overy on LBO transactions. They have developed their presence in high yield transactions, making them one of the firms we can use globally." – High yield

"Outstanding. Surpasses all of the other firms we have used in terms of client service, responsiveness, commerciality, and absolute top value for money. In addition, the quality of legal service is in a class of its own." – Capital markets : Debt

"Top notch law firm." - Derivatives

"Very strong technical and advisory skills, good commercial acumen, personable, approachable and professional." – Banking, M&A

"Very thorough advice that is sympathetic to the commercial perspective, joined-up approach amongst network of offices and appropriate partner involvement." – Capital markets : Equity

Arnold & Porter

Arnold & Porter in its current guise was formed from the merger of the firm with Kaye Scholer. Debt capital markets work, in particular sovereign issues, and investment management work are two of the firm’s strengths globally and the London office also picks up work in these areas. In the corporate space healthcare and life sciences are industry specialities.

In the banking space the firm focuses on general corporate finance along with specialist areas including REIT financing and distressed lending. It acts for its US client base including investment banks and private equity houses. Highlights include advising APCOA Parking Holdings on a refinancing; acting for EMK Capital and Bregal Capital on the financing of the sale of QA Group; and acting for Unifrax on a refinancing.

In the debt capital markets space the firm’s London practice leverages of it global reputation for advising on sovereign debt issues. A clear highlight from the research period was work for the Federal Republic of Nigeria on its debut offer of diaspora bonds. In addition the firm also worked for the Republic of Turkey on a sukuk issue.

The firm’s financial services regulatory team has advised its client base on matters such as MiFID II and AIFMD. The team focuses on investment management so frequently advises investment funds and asset managers.

Closely linked to the above area is the firm’s investment funds practice. Alongside the regulatory component the firm specialises in fund formation and management matters in the alternative investment space including advising on hedge funds and UCITS. Work examples include work for IPM Informed Portfolio Management on matters related to its Cayman and Delaware funds; work for RoboCap on the formation of an offshore Cayman master fund; and work for Castellain Capital on the establishment of an Irish UCITS ICAV.

The firm focuses on certain key sectors within M&A including life sciences and healthcare. Highlights include work for Carestream on the sale of its dental digital business and work for Health Partners International on its sale to DAI Global Health. In the private equity space deal highlights include advising EMK Capital and Bregal Capital on the sale of the QA Group and further work for EMK Capital on the acquisitions of Luminati and Reconomy Group

Client feedback

"Very strong, detail oriented and does not leave important work to associates."

Ashurst

Ashurst has a broad practice across all of the core financial and corporate areas with particular strengths in banking and finance and project development and financing work in the energy, transport and waste sectors.

The firm has a broad finance practice which covers general corporate lending, leveraged finance and fund finance. Highlights from the research period include work for AVEVA Group on the financing of the combination of the group with Schneider Electric; work for Tritax Big Box REIT on a revolving credit facility; and work for Oakley Capital Private Equity on the financing of its acquisition of Schuelerhilfe. On the lender side the firm acted for Lloyds Bank on a revolving credit facility provided to Kier Group and advised JPMorgan Securities and Nomura Bank on financing provided to Financiere CEP.

In the debt capital markets space work examples include work for Allianz Global Investores on an index-linked bond issue related to student accommodation funding; work for the banks on an update to the MTN programme of DS Smith; and work for Shawbrook Group on an issue of additional tier 1 notes. The firm has also acted for the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group on various note and covered bond programmes.

In the structured finance and securitisation space the firm acted for Credit Suisse on the update of five multi-product base prospectuses. In the derivatives psace the fimr has acted on a number of matters for investment banks.

The firm has a strong client base of investment banks including Lloyds, Santander and Goldman Sachs who it advises on regulatory matters such as MiFID II, AIFMD and EMIR. The firm has also developed an online MiFID Gap Analysis Tool to assist clients. Highlights include work for Goldman Sachs on its Marcus fintech project; and advice given to BP on the regulatory aspects of its BPme project.

In the M&A space highlights include work for Aveva Group in relation to its reverse takeover by Schneider Electric and work for Ladbrokes Coral in relation to its acquisition by GVC. The firm has also taken up roles acting for financial advisers on a number of other projects including Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners’s bid for Paysafe Group; Micro Focus’s acquisition of certain software assets from Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Vantiv’s acquisition of Worldpay Group and Informa’s acquisition of UBM.

In the project development space the firm acts on both energy and waste utility projects both in the UK and abroad. Highlights from the research period include advise to the Banks Renewables on the development and financing of the Kype Muir, Middle Muir and Moor House onshore wind farms. The firm also acted for The Japan Bank for International Cooperation on the financing of the 950MW Moray Offshore Wind Farm. In the infrastructure space the firm acted for TfL on the development of the Silvertown Tunnel, it also acted on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project and the London Crossrail project. In the waste sector the firm acted for Green Investment Group and Brockwell Energy on the development of a waste to energy project in Grangemouth.

In the restructuring and insolvency space the firm has a focus on loan portfolio transfers. Highlights from the research period include work for Bank of Cyprus on the restructuring of the debt of the Louis Group; work for Archer on a Bermudian scheme of arrangement; and work for the ad hoc committee of holders of unsecured debt of Concordia in relation to its balance sheet restructuring.

During the research period the finance team was enhanced with three new hires in the forms of Tamer Bahgat from Allen & Overy, Natalia Sokolova from Linklaters and Don Brown from Gateley. The firm also hired a new securitisation partner in the form of Thomas Picton from Clifford Chance. In the M&A area two partners departed the firm with James Wood leaving for Sidley Austin and Dominic Ross joining White & Case. In the restructuring and insolvency team Dan Hamilton retired.

Client feedback

"Ashurst are market leaders in structured products and are one of our most trusted and valued advisors. I can always rely on Mike Logie and his team to provide technically excellent, efficient and commercially sound advice." – Structured finance and securitisation

"Ashurst have provided an excellent service throughout the time I have used them. They have retained key personnel and continue to provide high calibre junior resource to support them. I always receive prompt advice that I can rely on. I find Ashurst's error rate to be very low. Most importantly, I can always rely on them being on my side, both in getting me the best position and spending my money wisely and efficiently." – Banking, project finance

"Ashurst's restructuring practice is excellent. It has always been technically very strong, and that has been a real focus of the firm. They are also extremely easy to get along with and work very effectively as a team." – Restructuring and insolvency

"In our contact with the firm during a high value M&A mandate, we found the whole Ashurst team to be excellent. Their advice and counsel were invaluable throughout the process. In particular, the experience of the partners, who were heavily involved throughout, meant potential issues were identified and resolved early. The whole team was very proactive in reaching out to us and readily available." – M&A, private equity

"Excellent service, very pragmatic and commercial with good understanding of our business and the market." – Project development, project finance

"Good knowledge, proactive and anticipates client needs." – Capital markets : Debt

"In M&A and project finance space, the team is extremely strong and understands our businesses needs. Anthony Gray and Gabby Jones are both a real asset to the firm and go above and beyond the normal call of duty to accommodate deadlines and structures. They approach our relationship as more than adviser/client and view it more as a partnership. They have good partner input when required; Jason Radford is able to cut through obstacles on deals and work with his team to put forward mutually agreeable deal structures." – M&A, project finance

"Strengths: Commercial advice, technical expertise and creative thinking." - Banking

"The firm is generally very strong in finance."  - Banking

"Very pragmatic and commercially focused." – Investment funds, regulatory

"Strong understanding of the issues, both from a technical and market perspective." - Regulatory

"Technically excellent, responsive and good to work with." – Capital markets, regulatory

"Very knowledgeable about the company and our financing arrangements, long standing business partner for our legal requirements, supportive of the innovative aspects of the transactions we have done together, and provided the leadership to create these new aspects. Knowledge is concentrated in key individuals." – Banking, derivatives

"Ashurst have a very comprehensive array of lawyers working on a number of sectors. I find that they have a good ability to provide sound advice and have the ability to understand the issues at hand. They are good at providing a commercial view point which is useful and beneficial in projects." – Banking, capital markets, project finance

Bracewell

Bracewell in London is focused on the energy sector, particularly oil and gas work. The firm advises on financings, acquisitions and general projects work in this sector acting on projects primarily in the UK, the Middle East and Africa.

In the banking and finance space, the firm points to a speciality in upstream oil and gas financings and advising sponsors on power plant projects. The firm has also advised on a number of financings of private equity acquisitions. Highlights include advising Delek Drilling on the financing of the development of the Leviathan gas field off the coast of Israel; acting for Cheiron Petroleum Group on the financing of its bid for an interest in the Cardenas and Mora fields, the first upstream debt transaction for an independent company in the deregulated Mexican oil and gas market; and work for Neptune Energy Group Holdings on the financing of the acquisition of a majority stake in ENGIE E&P International.

In the M&A space the firm’s energy sector focus is again seen. Highlights include work for Eni on the sale of stakes in the Shorouk upstream concession in Egypt to Rosneft and BP; work for Apache on its sale of its interest in the SAGE System and the Beryl Pipeline to Ancala Partners; and work for Ophir Energy in relation to a joint venture with OneLNG to develop the Fortuna FLNG project in Equatorial Guinea.

In the projects space the firm has seen the bulk of its work emerge from the Middle East and Africa. Highlights include work for Alcazar Energy Partners on the Al Shobak and Al Rajef wind farms in Jordan; work for Engie on its bid for the 300MW Sakaka solar plant; and work for Africa Renewable Energy Holdings in relation to the Corbetti geothermal power plant in Ethiopia.

Client feedback

"Best in class law firm in relation to Oil & Gas financings, particularly result based lending. Their Senior Partner, Jason Fox is recognised as the top specialist in this area." – Banking, project finance

"Bracewell is a highly skilled law firm specialized in oil and gas sector. Thanks to its long track record in emerging markets, result based lending and acquisition finance, Bracewell is able to advise on and document complex transactions." - Banking

"Bracewell is one of the go-to oil and gas law firms. With a relatively small team and strong focus, they have a good view of current market developments and provide pragmatic and commercially sound legal advice." – Banking, project finance

"The Bracewell reserve based lending (RBL) team is fast, efficient and of high quality. While they are top-notch at what they do and the vast majority of the RBL transactions we look at are structured in London, they would benefit if their firm had a more extensive network in other countries." - Banking

"Their lawyers are excellent with deep industry knowledge and amazing network of contacts." – Banking, project finance

Burges Salmon

Burges Salmon is based out of London and Bristol and is a leader in regional matters in the West of England, the firm is not limited to this though and acts on a range of nationwide deals. Within the financial and corporate space the firm is strongest on funds and regulatory work and domestic M&A in sectors such as energy, food and beverage and leisure.

The investment funds team handles the full range of fund matters but has a particular specialism in pension fund work. Highlights for the investment funds team during the research period include advising St. James Place on changes made to a number of its authorised unit trusts including the launch of eleven new trusts including six fund-of-funds. The firm also acted for a number of county councils in Wales on pooling their pension schemes into an open ended authorised contractual scheme. The firm also advised a number of clients on regulatory matters related to their funds business.

In the regulatory space the firm highlights a focus on funds, fintech, employment, insurance and pensions work. Clients include the likes of Bank of Ireland and Royal London Mutual Insurance Society.

Within M&A the firm points to strengths in the energy, food and drink and hotels and leisure sectors. This is backed up by its deal highlights, which include acting for Maas Capital Renewables on a joint venture to install rooftop solar panels; work for Virgin Active on the sale of 35 gyms and health clubs to Nuffield Health; work for Pukka Herbs on its sale to Unilever; and work for Yeo Valley in relation to a bid made by Arla Foods for Yeo Valley Dairies.

In private equity the firm focuses on the mid-market. Examples include work for Lloyds Development Capital on the MBO of Amberon Holdings; and work for the management of Hydro International on its secondary buyout by Agilitas Private Equity.

In the restructuring and insolvency space highlights for the team include advising Agent Provocateur on its pre-pack sale, bankruptcy and restructuring; and work for the trustees of the Silentnight pension scheme on matters relating to a warning notice issued by the Pension Regulator about the loss of value in insolvency, the firm arguing that insolvency was not the only option. The firm also advised Menzies on the pre-pack sale of chemical company Prom Chem.

Team changes during the research period include the addition to the team of funds partner Jeremy Bell from Ashurst, fintech specialist Sarah Kenshall and restructuring lawyers Gareth Grand and Nick Middleton.

Client feedback

"We have a very close working relationship with Burges Salmon. We have always found them to be responsive, client-focused and practical, and their work is always top-notch." – M&A, private equity

"Excellent corporate finance team led by partner Richard Spink. They completed the sale of two separate subsidiaries to two separate US buyers simultaneously." - Banking

"I was very impressed with Burges Salmon from day one, and they continued to impress throughout the process. This was my first M&A experience, and I can say without any doubt, it's not something I would have got through without the help and guidance from Burges Salmon. It was an extremely complex process involving lawyers from different countries, but this didn't phase Burges Salmon, and they were able to navigate us through the various pitfalls by bringing in their own experts at the right time. I simply can't fault their work." – M&A, private equity

"Very high standard, responsive and commercially practical." - Regulatory

"Responsive, professional and helpful." - Corporate

"Strong assistance in strategic and tactical aspects of negotiation and contracts." – Project bonds

"They are knowledgeable and pragmatic." – M&A

"They have an in-depth knowledge of the UK investment fund industry and law. They are responsive, easy to work with, produce work that I can trust without having to extensively review, and are good value for money." – Investment funds

"Burgess Salmon has represented my interests for 8 years, during which time, they have helped me acquire and sell a number of business and complete restructuring projects. Many of these deals involved private equity. I have been very impressed by the professionalism shown by the partners and associates within the business. They have always acted to ensure that my interests and objectives are achieved while maintaining a smooth flowing process and finding solutions to any blockages arising through the process." – Banking, M&A

Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft

Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft’s reputation in London is strongest in the structured finance and securitisation area and is known for work on CLOs in particular. The firm is also known for restructuring and insolvency work, although this practice took a hit during the research period with the departure of a prominent team.

In the banking space the firm acts on a variety of matters but with a focus on real estate financing and investment fund funding acting for both borrowers and lenders.

Within structured finance and securitisation the firm acts on a range of ABS, CLO and insurance-linked securities transactions. The firm has been involved in a number of firsts including advising Premium Credit on Europe’s first public insurance premium loan securitisation. Elsewhere examples include acting for Deutsche Bank as arranger and senior lender on a warehouse securitisation; work for Santander Consumer Finance on a securitisation of Finnish hire purchaser receivables; and work for Neyber on what the firm believes is the first securitisation of salary-deduct consumer loans.

The firm’s funds practice is within the investment management practice. The firm has acted on a range of hedge funds, commodity funds and collective investment trusts during the research period.

The restructuring and insolvency department took a hit during the research period with the departure of a number of partners (see below). The firm acts often acts for bond and noteholders on financial restructurings. Highlights include work for the underwriters of new financing provided as part of Abengoa’s restructuring; work for the senior convertible noteholders of the Roust Corporation in relation to its Chapter 11 restructuring; and work for Hemen Holdings as a new money provider on the Chapter 11 restructuring of Seadrill.

Staff changes include the departure of a restructuring team to Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy that included Yushan Ng, Karen McMaster, Sinjini Saha and Jacqueline Ingram.

Client feedback

"Excellent in all regards. Jeremiah Wagner is the best in the business." - Securitisation

"Strength: In depth knowledge of the market, user-friendly, responsive and commercial front office but conservative enough for legal market." - Securitisation

"Best in the business." – Investment funds

Charles Russell Speechlys

Charles Russell Speechlys is active on UK real estate deals, mid-market M&A and equity listings and work related to investment management and private wealth.

In the banking space the firm has a specialism in real estate finance and private wealth. Deal highlights include advising Downing on the financing of the development of KAO Data Campus; work for Octopus Property on the financing of the acquisition of the former Brighton Astoria Cinema; and work for Aerium H20 on the refinancing of its headquarters in Luxembourg.

The firm’s regulatory practice is split between a private banking and wealth management team and a broking, trading and markets practice. The team has acted for the likes of Mariana Capital, Shadowfall Capital and Research and Sarasin.

The firm has acted on a number of IPOs of funds during the research period including those of The People’s Investment Trust and India Capital Growth Fund. The firm has also acted on formation work advising Shadowfall on the launch of a new hedge fund.

Staffing changes during the research period include the addition of funds lawyer Melville Rodrigues. Equity capital markets partners Clive Hopewell and Adam Carling left to join Bird & Bird.

Client feedback

"Very professional forward thinking team, good breadth of knowledge and friendly. The company's expertise is across many sectors but we only use their corporate and funds side." – Banking, investment funds

"I think that Victoria Younghusband is a leading London practitioner in the area of hedge funds and listed closed ended investment trusts. She has complete knowledge and experience in structuring and restructuring investment funds. She is a pleasure to work with and always has an eye on detail and the bigger picture." – Investment funds

"Charles Russell Speechlys provides regulatory advice to our business in relation to consumer lending and mortgage regulations in a prompt, succinct and cost effective manner." - Regulatory

"The law firm provides support across a number of matters including private equity shareholder arrangements and M&A transactions. They are user-friendly and have some very good lawyers who provide a good service. They are generally very responsive and provide good commercial advice at reasonable fee levels. They do usually provide value for money." – Derivatives, private equity, real estate finance

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has a focus on banking, capital markets and M&A work in the UK. Work originating in Russia or the Nordic region is an additional focus and the firm also has a specialism in sovereign finance. A unique feature of the firm’s structure is its fluid teams, with lawyers not separated out into strict practice areas.

In the banking space Cleary is strongest on borrower side mandates advising on acquisition and general finance facilities for its corporate client base. Highlights from the research period include advising Belron on a senior secured financing; acting for Aperam on an unsecured revolving credit facility; and advising Alpha on the financing of its acquisition of Ipcom.

In the debt capital markets the firm has strengths in sovereign issues and work originating from Russia. It tends to act, though not exclusively, for investment banks. Highlights include work for the underwriters on a series of notes issues by BP Capital Markets; work for Credit Suisse Group on TLAC qualifying notes offering; and work for the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Iraq on their respective sovereign debt issues. On the high yield side the firm acted for the likes of 4finance, Loxam and Atalian.

In the equity capital markets, the firm also has a clear Russia focus and also has a reputation for acting on issues in the Nordic region. It frequently advises on the underwriter side. Highlights from the research period include work for Credit Suisse Group on a capital increase; work for the underwriters on the IPO of Digi Communications in Romania; work for the bookrunners on the IPO of Nordic tech company EVRY; and work for the underwriters on the IPO of Global Ports Holding.

The regulatory team took a hit with the departure of Bob Penn in June 2018 (see below), the market will wait to see how the firm reacts. Highlight work from the research period includes advising Credit Suisse Asset Management on the regulatory aspects of its spin out of a majority interest in Credit Suisse Quantitative and Systematic Asset Management; work for ISDA on the development of the Resolution Stay Protocols; and advice given to the Institute of International Bankers in relation to the proposed US TLAC rules.

In the M&A space some of the firm’s biggest deals include advice given to the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) on its acquisition, as part of a consortium, of 61% of the UK National Grid’s gas arm. The firm also advised QIA on the acquisition of a 19.5% stake in Rosneft; and advised McCormick & Co on the acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser. On the private equity side the firm acted for TPG Capital on the sale of a 25.1% stake in Strauss Coffee; and advised Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic on the sale of a 50% stake in Santander Asset Management.

In the restructuring and insolvency area the firm points to strengths in emerging markets and in sectors such as natural resources and mining. Much of the firm’s work during the research period has related to bond restructuring including advising Far Eastern Shipping Company on the restructuring of its Eurobonds; work for the holders of project bonds of Odebrecht Oil & Gas on its restructuring; and work for the holders of bonds issued by Oi. The firm also advised the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire on a liability management exercise.

Staffing changes include the departure of financial services regulatory partner Bob Penn who returned to Allen & Overy.

Clifford Chance

As one of the UK’s so-called ‘magic circle’ Clifford Chance is one of London’s leading firms across almost every area of financial and corporate work.

The firm has a broad finance practice that handles all types of lending work acting for borrowers, lenders and sponsors. Highlights from the research period include work for CK Infrastructure Holdings and CK Asset Holdings on the financing of their acquisition of ista International; work for the lenders on the financing of Reckitt Benckiser Group’s acquisition of Mead Johnson Nutrition Company; work for the lead arrangers on the refinancing of Springer Nature; and work for Techem on a cov-lite term loan B and a revolving credit facility.

In the debt capital markets the firm acts on the full range of debt issues and points to work recently on matters including regulatory capital issues, green bonds, sovereign bonds and project bonds. Highlights from the research period include work for Nordea Bank on consent solicitations in relation to Tier 1 and 2 notes; work for the Co-op Bank on the restructuring of senior notes issues; work for the joint lead managers on non-step-up non-cumulative co-co perpetual preferred Tier 1 bonds issued by Banco Santander; and work for the joint lead managers and bookrunners on a sovereign issue by the Republic of Belarus.

In the equity capital markets space highlights include advising the Co-op Bank on the equity capital raising element of its restructuring, the firm also handled the debt aspects; work for the Intertain Group on its re-domicile and listing as Jackpotjoy on the LSE; and work for the sponsors and bookrunners on the IPO of TI Fluid Systems. In addition, in a novel matter, the firm acted for EJF Investments (EJFI) and EJF Capital (EJF) on the listing of the former’s shares to the LSE’s specialist funds segment. As well as being EJF’s first public listed fund the listed entity’s former structure had also only recently been restructured.

In structured finance and securitisation the firm acts on a wide range of asset classes including secured corporate lending platforms, portfolio disposals, asset backed financings, trade receivables securitisations and covered bond issues. Highlights include work for Prudential Investments on a bid for part of the ‘Ripon’ buy to let mortgage portfolio from Bradford & Bingley; work for JPMorgan on the establishment of a covered bond programme for Andbank, the first in Andorra; work for XPO Logistics on the establishment of a trade receivables securitisation programme; and work for Banco Santander on the synthetic securitisation of a number of SME loans.

In the financial services regulatory space the firm has put in place various client initiatives including a Brexit hub and a Financial Markets Toolkit. The firm has acted for the likes of UKFinance, the BBA and the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) in undertaking Brexit impact assessments. The firm has also advised clients on matters such as EMIR implementation, MiFID2 and the European Benchmarks Regulation.

In the investment funds space the firm has been particularly active on private equity, energy and infrastructure fund formation. Highlights from the research period include advice to Stirling Square Capital on the formation of its fourth fund; work for ICG-Longbow on the formation of two new real estate debt funds; and work for Allianz Global Investors on its first UK infrastructure debt fund.

The firm is one of the premier M&A firms in London acting on a vast array of deals. Just some of the highlights from the research period include work for Imagination Technologies Group on its takeover by Canyon Bridge Capital Partners; Booker Group on its merger with Tesco; Patron Capital on its offer for Punch Taverns; and work for Global Infrastructure Partners on its acquisition of Equis Energy’s renewable assets in the Asia-Pacific region in what is believed to be the biggest renewable energy acquisition in history. On the private equity side the firm acted for acquisition vehicles established by China Investment Corporation (CIC) on its bid for Logicor; advised Blackstone on its acquisition of a majority stake in The Office Group and separately Clarion Events; and acted for Cinven on its bid for Stada.

The firm’s projects offering is split between energy projects and infrastructure and PPP and PFI work. The core teams are also supported by the firm’s construction and environment teams. The firm’s work is split between domestic UK projects and work further afield with the firm acting on a number of projects in the Middle East and across Africa. Highlights include advising the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on its involvement in a number of Round 1 and 2 solar projects in Jordan; acting for the sponsors on the financing of a power and LPG project near the Terma Oil Refinery in Ghana; and work for the sponsors on the development and financing of the Bumbuna II hydropower PPP in Sierra Leone.

In the restructuring and insolvency space the firm has a broad and deep team able to handle almost any aspect of corporate or financial restructuring, it most commonly acts for lenders/creditors. In addition to work completed for the Co-op Bank (mentioned above), other highlights include advising the lenders on the restructuring of Spanish media company Prisa; work for the lenders on the restructuring of Carillion; work for the ad hoc committee of Novo Banco bondholders in relation to the bank’s liability management exercise; and work for the lenders on the restructuring of the International Bank of Azerbaijan.

Staffing changes during the research period include the move of banking partners John Dawson and Caroline Jury to Vinson & Elkins and Morrison & Foerster respectively and the moves of capital markets lawyer Thomas Picton to Ashurst and M&A lawyer Kathy Honeywood to Baker McKenzie.

Client feedback

"Clifford Chance provides excellent service and seems to be available 24 hours a day. They have strong experience and expertise in private equity, IPO and other transaction areas. They are resourceful and show strong initiative in moving transactions to a close." – M&A

"Excellent." – M&A, private equity

"Extremely capable and experienced private equity team with depth and breadth." – M&A, private equity

"Jonny Myers and his team have great technical, commercial and market knowledge. Clifford Chance has a relatively wide as well as deep bench which ensures that client service remains a priority regardless of how busy they are. The team is very effective in negotiations, advising and drafting. They are also a pleasure with which to work. As with all City firms of that stature, fees can be high, but Clifford Chance has always demonstrated a willingness to make the fees reflect value which is greatly appreciated." – M&A, private equity

Cravath Swaine & Moore

Cravath Swaine & Moore’s strength in London is in the capital markets where the largely US qualified team act on equity and debt issues with a particular focus on New York law governed debt issues, both high yield and investment grade. 

In the debt capital markets the firm has a balanced practice between issuer and underwriter mandates. The team points to work on innovations including standardisation of European intercreditor agreements and the promotion of toggle notes in European issues. Highlights include work for the European Investment Bank on five separate bond issues during 2017-18; work for British American Tobacco on an issue of fixed and floating rate notes; and work for the initial purchasers on an issue of notes by Celulosa Arauco Constitución. On the high yield side the firm acted for Drax Finco on a senior secured notes issue; work for INEOS Finance on a senior secured notes issue; and work for the initial purchasers on senior secured notes issues by Arrow Global, Infopro Digital Group and Inter Milan.

In the equity capital markets the firm acts on a mix of issuer and underwriter side matters. Highlights include work for the managers on a rights issue by Credit Suisse Group, work for EDF on a Reg S share offer; work for RWE and Innogy on the latter’s IPO.

Cravath’s M&A team in London has worked on a number of impressive deals during the research period. Examples include work for Anheuser-Busch InBev on the sale of a stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa; work for AXA on the acquisition of XL Group; work for Banco Santander Rio on the acquisition of the on-shore consumer credit card and consumer brokerage and retail banking businesses of Citigroup; and work for Punch Taverns on the sale to Vine Acquisitions. 

Crefovi

Crefovi is a boutique focused on sectors such as fashion, art and luxury goods and its based out of Paris and London.

While the firm’s work is confidential it can be said that it has acted on matters such as equity fund raising and corporate matters.

Davis Polk & Wardwell

Davis Polk & Wardwell has steadily built up its team and presence in London having first added English law capacity in 2012 to contemplate its client base and brand recognition. The firm is now a notable player on large ticket corporate and corporate finance matters.

In the banking space the firm acts for both borrowers and lenders on acquisition, asset and general corporate finance. Highlights from the research period include work for Comcast on a bridge financing and term loan linked to its bid for Sky; work for Temenos Group on its bridge facility linked to its acquisition of Fidessa Group; and work for Noble Clean Fuels on its commodities asset-based revolving credit facility.

In the debt capital markets the firm acts for both issuers and underwriters. Examples from the research period include advising the initial purchasers on a notes issue by British American Tobacco; work for The Royal Bank of Scotland Group on a senior notes issue; work for BMW Group on its Rule 144A/Reg S notes issues; and work for the joint bookrunners on a Rule 144A/Reg S issue by notes by Anglo American Capital. In the high yield space the firm acted for the Ocado Group on a senior secured notes issue.

On the equity side the firm’s deal highlights from the research period include advising the joint bookrunners on a rights offer by Deutsche Bank; work for ContourGlobal on its IPO on the LSE; work for the sponsor, global coordinators and bookrunners on an IPO by Charter Court Financial Services Group on the LSE; and work for Boozt on its IPO in Stockholm.

The M&A team has acted on a range of significant deals during the research period, often finding itself opposite the 'magic circle'. Examples include work for Comcast on its bid for Sky, advice given to Temenos on its bid for Fidessa; work for AP Møller-Mærsk on its sale of a 50% stake in Egyptian Drilling Company; and work for Natura Cosméticos on its acquisition of The Body Shop.

Debevoise & Plimpton

US firm Debevoise & Plimpton has a focus in London on banking, investment funds and private equity work. The firm also has a well-established Russia practice.

In the banking space the firm acts on acquisition, corporate and fund finance. Deal highlights from the research period include work for Clayton Dubilier & Rice on the financing of its acquisition of Carestream Dental; B&M on a refinancing; and work for International Paper Company on the financing of the merger of its North America Consumer Packaging business with Graphic Packaging.

In the investment funds space the firm has a particular focus on private equity fund work. Deal highlights include work for Metric Capital on the fundraising of MCP Private Capital Fund III and work for EQT Partners on the fundraising of EQT Credit Opportunities III.

In the broader M&A space the firm has a focus on private equity matters, specifically secondary transactions.

Staffing changes during the research period include the hires of fund partners Simon Witney from King & Wood Mallesons and Patricia Volhard from P+P Pöllath + Partners.

Client feedback

"Debevoise & Plimpton has assisted us in forming our latest fund, handling difficult negotiations and some complex questions. We have been consistently impressed by the calibre of their lawyers and quality of their work." – Investment funds, private equity

"Very proactive and solution oriented." – Investment funds, private equity

"Very strong market knowledge, deep analysis and good advice." - Banking

"High quality, very responsive and pragmatic." – M&A

Dechert

Dechert’s London practice is best known for its work on debt capital markets, private equity and investment funds work. The firm has also made a concerted effort to establish its finance practice with the hire of several partners in the past few years.

In the banking space the firm generally acts for lenders and sponsor side parties. Highlights from the research period include work for the lenders on the financing of Phoenix Equity Partners’ acquisition of a stake in Forest Holidays Group; work for CVC Credit Partners and HSBC on the financing of Inv3 Bidco’s acquisition of TWMA Group; and work for the lenders on the refinancing of Wireless Logic Group.

In the debt capital markets practice the firm has developed a notable practice advising on corporate and sovereign issues from emerging markets, in particular the MENA, CEE and CIS regions. Highlights from the research period include a number of landmarks including work for the banks on Lebanon’s largest sovereign debt issue to date and work for the Kingdom of Bahrain on a bond and trust certificate issue that was the largest ever syndicated debt sale in the country. The firm also worked for Egypt on its latest sovereign GMTN issue and the Kingdom of Jordan on its sovereign notes issue.

In the corporate debt space highlights include work for JSC National Company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy on a notes issue and work for bank muscat and JPMorgan Securities on a notes issue by OmGrid Funding.

In the funds space though most of the firm’s work is confidential it can be said that it has acted on a range or private, hedge and real estate fund formation matters during the research period.

In the M&A space deal highlights from the research period include work for SK hynix on the acquisition of Toshiba Corporation’s NAND flash memory and solid-state drive business; work for Crown Holdings on the acquisition of Signode Industrial Group Holdings; work for Chrysaor Holdings on the acquisition of various assets in the North Sea; and work for Sun European Partners on its sale of Albéa.

In the restructuring space the firm often acts for issuers or noteholders on restructuring exercises. During the research period highlights include work for Argentem Creek Partners in a challenge to a restructuring of notes issued by Berau Coal group; work for the ad hoc committee of bondholders in relation to the debt restructuring of Far-Eastern Shipping Company; and work for the ad hoc committee of noteholders of PrivatBank on the potential restructuring of certain bonds.

Staffing changes during the research period include the addition of banking and finance partner Robert Bradshaw and M&A partner Chris Field from Kirkland & Ellis. In the funds space Peter Astleford departed the firm. Monica Gogna joined the regulatory team.

Dentons

Dentons has a broad practice in the UK market and has one of the widest global networks of any international firm. In the last 12 months alone the firm has moved into new markets in Europe, Central America, Africa and Asia through new office openings, mergers and associations. In the UK market itself the firm has merged with Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens. The practice is best known for its work in the banking, debt capital markets, M&A and projects areas.

In the banking area highlights from the research period include work for Aprirose on the financing of its acquisition of QHotels group; work for the lenders on financing provided to ICBC; and work for NYX Gaming Group on its latest financing.

In the debt capital markets space the firm generally acts for issuers and highlights during the research period include work for Hurricance Energy on its fundraising including both an equity issue and a convertible bond issue; work for Lietuvos Energija on its first green bond issue; work for Cola Içecek Anonim Şirketi on its 4.215% notes issue. On the bank side the firm advised HSBC as arranger in relation to the establishment of Finnvera’s EMTN programme and various issues under it and separately as joint lead manager in relation to notes issues by RELX.

In the equity capital markets the firm acted for DP Eurasia and PRS REIT on their IPOs and Quiz on its IPO on the London AIM market. The firm also advised the Housing Development Finance Corporation on a share issue including a qualified institutions placement.

In the structured finance and securitisation area the firm points to strengths in areas such as RMBS transactions, CLOs, consumer and commodity finance and reserve-based lending. Highlights from the research period include work for Hefesto on the securitisation of an NPL portfolio; work for the banks on mortgage securitisations by Bluestep Mortgages Securities No. 4, Friary No. 4 and Silk Road Finance Number Four; work for Barings on a Euro CLO; and work for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries on a trade receivables securitisation. The firm’s derivatives work is all confidential but it can be said that it has advised on swaps and repo transactions.

Highlight matters for the regulatory team include work for American Express Travel Related Services Company in relation to an escheatment survey, work for Uber on a multi-country vehicle solutions survey, and work for various banks on regulatory reviews.

In the funds space the firm has picked up a number of fund finance matters during the research period as well as general regulatory matters and fund IPOs.

In the M&A space highlights include work for Apirose on its acquisition of QHotels; Tenaga Nasional Berhad on its acquisition of a UK solar power portfolio; and work for Deutsche Post DHL Group on the sale of Williams Lea Tag. On the private equity side the firm advised KKR on the acquisition of Travelopia and Unilever’s spreads business and advised Blackstone on the acquisition of Solvay’s Acetow business.

The firm has a broad project development practice with work emerging from the energy, oil and gas and infrastructure areas. The firm has acted on a number of projects in Africa during the research period. Highlights included work for the Government of Mozambique on the LNG projects in the Rovuma Basin; work for Persero on the development of a refinery in East Java Indonesia; and work for Bugesera Airport on the development of a new international airport in Rwanda.

In the restructuring and insolvency area a clear highlight during the research period was the team’s work for Carillion on matters relating to its collapse. The firm also acted for PwC as the administrators of LB Holdings Intermediate 2 on the Waterfall Proceedings court cases emerging from the Lehman administration; advised the special administrator of FBME Bank; and acted for FRP Advisory in their role as liquidators of the BHS property portfolio.

Staffing changes from the research period include the departure of finance partner Richard de Belder; the addition of structured finance and securitisation partner Catriona Lloyd from Linklaters; the addition of derivatives partner Alex Tostevin from Weil Gotshal; the addition of corporate partner Cameron Half from Allen & Overy; the addition of regulatory partners Jonathan Garforth from Allen & Overy and Celyn Armstrong from Linklaters; the departure of funds partner David Young to Pinsent Masons and the retirement of Nick Rutter; the departure of project finance partner Robert Turner.

Client feedback

"The firm's biggest strength lies in their culture which enables them to work as one with my team. Numerous individuals possess real technical strength and in-depth experience providing pragmatic advice with fantastic foresight." – Corporate, insolvency

"Dentons has been advising us on M&A work for a number of years and has supported us considerably in our significant acquisition-led growth over the past 4 years. Our main contact is Matt Wilmott who is a trusted adviser to us with excellent knowledge of the automotive retail industry. The firm is strong in providing a well-resourced and capable team to support major acquisitions." – M&A

"Exceptionally high quality legal advice which is pragmatic and focussed on their knowledge of our requirements. Very quick turnaround times and will pull out all the stops to help us get a deal over the line." – Banking, project development

"Highly skilled team headed by Peter Voisey who is one of the leading lawyers within his field. Always delivers high quality work, together with excellent service." – Capital markets : Debt, derivatives

"Precise and informed advice." - Insolvency

"Strong relationship with some key individuals. Flexible, always available for calls and excellent client relationships. Good cost control and reasonable on pricing and quotes." – Capital markets, project development

"First class offering. Always available, commercial and pragmatic." – Investment funds

Fieldfisher

Fieldfisher is best known in the London market for its work in areas such as structured finance, securitisation and derivatives. The firm also has notable teams in funds and in financial services regulatory.

In the banking space the firm has grown its practice in certain areas in recent times, specifically in the energy and real estate sectors. Highlights from the research period include work for KMG Kashagan and KazMunayGas on an upsizing of its existing finance facility; work for the trustee of the Drax Power Group on the group’s refinancing; work for the VTB Capital in relation to a sovereign loan provided to the Republic of Ivory Coast; and work for Globaldata on its latest financing.

In the structured finance area highlights from the research period include work for Banca IMI on an uncollateralised securities loan. The firm also advised the joint lead managers on a securitisation undertaken by Trafigura and acted for Link Asset Services in relation to the refinancing of various RMBS transactions. On the derivatives side highlights include work for BAML FLS on a tender for the role of hedge counterparty relating to the issue of floating rate senior secured notes.

In the regulatory space the firm has a focus on fintech and asset management and has developed its own alternative legal solutions offering in the form of its Condor platform. Highlights from the research period include work for Sumitomo Mitsui Trust International and World Fuel Services on their individual MiFID II compliance projects. The firm also advised Redburn in relation to its arrangements with BNP Paribas around clearing and settlement services. On the funds side the firm advised the Monetary Authority of Singapore on aspects of UK open-ended investment company structuring and advised Pictet Asset Management on the UK tax effects of Luxembourg funds.

In the funds space itself, alongside the regulatory projects the firm also advised on various platforms, including advising WHEB Asset Management in relation to the management of an Australian investment trust; and acting for Ten Insurance Services on the setup of a new fund structure.

In the restructuring and insolvency space highlights from the research period include work for FRP Advisory as administrator of four biogas companies and separately Redx Pharma; and work for ReSolve Partners as the administrators of Deep Purple (Overseas).

Staffing changes during the research period include the addition of derivatives and structured finance lawyers Dougall Molson and Stephen Moller from Freshfields and K&L Gates respectively, and the addition of restructuring and insolvency partner Stewart Perry from Clyde & Co.

Client feedback

"The firm provided brilliant support along with flexible and speedy responses on multiple mandates during our group's restructuring process. They also introduced us to other legal firms in different territories." – Banking, insolvency

"Clear advice, no surprises on fees and very commercial. The insolvency and restructuring team are top draw." – Banking, insolvency

"Good firm with which to work. Makes effort to engage with clients.” – Regulatory, securitisation

"In-depth knowledge of subject matter. Lawyers are very experienced." – Capital markets : Debt

"Magic Circle service at mid-market pricing, strong attention to detail and gets to know the operational side of the client's business - all really good strengths. The firm could benefit with wider geographic spread in the EU countries." - Securitisation

"Very good team, especially Matt Hinxman. FieldFisher has an office in London and Amsterdam which helped us very much in these two jurisdictions. FieldFisher also has a partner law firm which allowed us to cover all jurisdictions in arranging prepayment financing." – Project finance

"Very responsive and knowledgeable with strong commercial and pragmatic advice." – Banking, regulatory

"The team are very informed, responsive and approachable." – Investment funds

Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson

In the London market Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson is best known for its work in banking, investment funds and private equity with a large proportion of its client base originating for the broader asset management area.

In the banking space the firm is best known for representing borrowers and also acting on fund finance matters. Highlights from the research period include work for Navios Maritime Partners on an increase to an existing finance facility; work for Luxfer Holdings on an amendment and restatement of existing finance facilities; and work for Palatine Private Equity on a revolving credit facility.

In the funds and asset management space the firm acts on both fund formation and general regulatory issues. Notable clients include the likes of Blackrock, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs who the firm advised on the Vintage VII Funds and the West Street Capital Partners VII fund. The firm also advised BlueBay Asset Management on the raising of its Senior Loan Fund

In the M&A space the firm focuses more on private equity matters and during the research period acted for AEA on the acquisition of Excelitas Technolgies, work for Francisco Partners on the sale of an interest in BluJay Solutions Group; and work for 3i Infrastructure on the acquisition of a portfolio of assets from EISER Global Infrastructure Fund including Belfast City Airport.

For the restructuring and insolvency team a clear highlight for the team during the research period was work for Sberbank in a challenge to International Bank of Azerbaijan's application for a moratorium against creditor action in relation to its restructuring.

Staffing changes include the addition of M&A partner Simon Saitowitz who joins from Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s practice in London is focused on corporate work and thus the firm has a clear focus on M&A, the associated acquisition financings and share issues and IPOs.

In the banking space the firm primarily acts on borrower side mandates, specifically acquisition financings. Highlight deals from the research period include work for Liberty Hall Capital Partners on the financing of its acquisition of Dunlop Aircraft Tyres; work for Kindred Group on the financing of its bid for 32Red; and work for Iason Hellenic Shipping on the restructuring of tow loan facilities.

In the capital markets on the equity side highlights include work for the global coordinators on the IPOs of J2 Acquisition and Ocelot Partners and work for Next Games on its Finnish IPO.

In the firm’s core practice area of M&A deal highlights include work for Atwood Oceanics on its acquisition of Ensco; work for PCCW on the sale of Transvisions Investments; work for Investcorp on the acquisition of 3i’s debt management business; and work for United Parcel Service on the acquisition of Marken. In the private equity space the firm acted for 3Si Security Systems on its sale to LLR Partners.

Staffing changes include further expansion of the firm’s corporate capabilities with the addition of Anna Howell from Herbert Smith Freehills and Jeremy Kenley from Mayer Brown.

Greenberg Traurig

Greenberg Traurig’s primary focus is on banking and M&A in the London market but the firm has also made strides in the private equity fund market after the hire of an entire team focused on this area.

In the banking space the firm focuses on borrower side work, notable deals includes advising Nomad Foods on its refinancing; work for Tele-Fonika Kable on a multi-currency loan; work for DRC Capital on the refinancing of German real estate; and work for Concord Music Group in regard to its latest financing. 

In the equity capital markets highlights include work for J2 Acquisition, Ocelot Partners and Landscape Acquisition Holdings on their respective LSE IPOs; work for AlzChem on its Frankfurt IPO; and work for Stars Group on its accelerated bookbuild offer of shares.

On the debt capital markets side highlights include work for Nomad Foods on its high yield notes issue and work for the underwriters on the debut sovereign bond issue by Republic of Tajikistan.

In the funds space the firm expanded significantly with the hire of a team of lawyers from King & Wood Mallesons. The move gives the firm a solid base in the private equity real estate area. Deal highlights from the research period include work for CBRE Global Investment Partners on the establishment of a new open-ended real estate fund Global Alpha; work for Europa Capital on its fifth fund; and work for Revcap on the close of Kitty Hawk IV and Hawkeye II.

In the M&A space deal highlights include work for Rentokil Initial on the acquisition of a stake in in a joint venture with PCI Pest Control; work for AstraZeneca on the divestment of its interest in Zomig; and work for Goldman Sachs International on its offer for all the shares in Robyg.

Client feedback

"The firm has excellent partner level coverage on deals. They provide precise and concise advice at every stage of the IPO process and understands issues faced by brokers and NOMADs. They're also proactive at chasing other advisers." – Capital markets : Equity

"The firm adopts a commercial and problem solving approach. They are well informed on the current market trends, which is incredibly helpful when launching a new product." – Investment funds, real estate finance

"They are very solution focused. The advice helps to get things done and is very practical." – M&A

"Very good service." – Capital markets : Equity

"Business-minded and very responsive." – M&A

"I have been consistently impressed by the firm's quality of advice, responsiveness and commercial pragmatism. Their approach to client service is second to none, and all of the lawyers I have worked with have been technically excellent, very personable and proactive. I would have no hesitation in recommending any one of them. I would highlight, in particular, the corporate M&A team and the environmental team who have consistently provided excellent support on all our transactions. It is difficult to point to weaknesses; however, a wider international network would be ideal, but they have good connections globally, so I have never found this to be an issue." – M&A

"Very pragmatic and user friendly. Highly commercial." – M&A

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills has a broad-based practice with strengths across the financial and corporate sphere. The firm has particular specialisms in projects, restructuring work and oil and gas matters. It has a strong client base among FTSE100 companies.

In the banking and finance space the firm acts for both borrowers and lenders and - alongside corporate finance - has specialisms in real estate and project finance work. The firm has also acted on a number of financings in emerging markets. Examples from the research period include work for British American Tobacco on the financing for its bid to acquire the remaining stake in Reynolds; work for the lenders on the financing of Ontario Teachers bid for Memora Group; and work for Coats Group on a new financing facility. In the energy sector the firm advised Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners on the acquisition and development of four biomass plants and a separate refinancing; and advised the lenders on Neptune Energy's acquisition of ENGIE's exploration and production business.

In the debt capital markets highlights include work for United Bank for Africa on a Rule 144A/Reg S senior notes issues; the lead managers on VE Sonnedix Finance's guaranteed senior secured notes issue; and work for Tideway on an update to its note programme.

In the equity capital markets a clear highlight during the research period was work for the underwriters on the Irish and London dual listed IPO of Allied Irish Banks. The firm also worked for the underwriters on the IPO of Energean Oil & Gas on the LSE; and worked for the underwriters on the proposed IPO of Kuwait Energy. The firm also picked up two notable deals in Turkey acting for the underwriters on the IPO of Enerjisa Enerji and the issuer on the proposed IPO of Şok Marketler Ticaret.

In the structured finance and securitisation area highlights include work for loan to loan facility deals advising the likes of Man Real Estate Debt Opportunities-EU Designated Activity Company and Morgan Stanley. The firm also advised the arrangers on the Kenrick 3 RMBS deal linked to loans originated by the West Bromwich Building Society.

The firm's regulatory team deals in both contentious and non-contentious matters and has recently provided advice on topics such as Brexit, cyber security and the Senior Managers and Certification Regime. It has acted on matters including the largest ever FCA-led competition dawn raid and work for PwC in relation to an FRC misconduct investigation into Barclays' compliance with the FCA's client asset rulebook.

In M&A highlights for the team during the research period includes work for Sky on the sale of Sky Betting & Gaming and work for the UK Government on the sale of the UK's Green Investment Bank. On the private equity side deal highlights include work for Metric Capital Partners on its investment into the MBO of St Francis Group and DSM Demolition; work for Three Hills Capital Partners on its investment into Byron Burgers; and work for Cabot Square Capital on its acquisition of a stake in SPF Private Clients' national mortgage, general insurance and wealth management business.

Project development work is handled by the firm's energy and infrastructure department. The firm has worked on a number of the UK's most significant infrastructure projects of recent times including the Hinkly Point nuclear power plant, the HS2 rail link and the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Other highlights include work for InterGen on the development of an open cycle gas power plant in Lincolnshire; and work on the restructuring of the Greater Manchester waste PFI.

In restructuring and insolvency the firm has had an impressive run of work during the research period including advising certain non-executive directors on the high profile Carillion insolvency; Sea Trucks International on disputes arising out of its insolvency; and further work for EY as administrators on the administration of Nortel Networks.

Staffing changes during the research period include the retirement of finance partner Ewen Fergusson and restructuring lawyer Laurence Elliot. In the projects team Julia Pyke left for EDF.

Client feedback

"Herbert Smith Freehills have been our trusted advisors for many years. They advise us on a wide range of areas with number of partner engagements. They are frequently our first port of call when we have a complex matter requiring fast and expert advice." - Regulatory

"The firm's securitisation and capital markets team is first rate. They're expert, responsive, and able to work to tight deadlines." – Capital markets

"Very professional, academically very capable and well thought out and balanced customer delivery. As opposed to magic circle firms, HSF has partner attention to the smallest details." - Derivatives

"Very strong practice with good partner coverage, excellent knowledge, ability to find commercial solutions to problems and quick response times." – Capital markets : Debt

"Thorough and responsive. Quick to get a grasp of a scenario and come up with solutions. Kept in close contact throughout the whole lengthy process, negotiating well on our behalf. We were always confident that we were in very safe and experienced hands." – Project finance

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells has a broad practice with particular strengths in equity capital markets, structured finance and securitisation, investment funds and projects work. 

In banking the firm’s strength is on the borrower side. Deal highlights include work for Claranet Group on the refinancing of its debt and on an acquisition finance facility; work for Swissport/HNA on its refinancing; and work for Wyevale Garden Centres on its financing. On the lender side the firm acted for Permira Capital and Investec Bank on the refinancing of Autovista Holdco UK's debt.

In the debt capital markets the firm has acted for both issuers and banks on a number of EMTN programmes. Highlights include work for Banca IMI as arranger on an update to its EMTN programme; work for Banco do Brazil on an issue under its EMTN programme; and work for Shaftesbury on an issue of guaranteed first mortgage bonds.

In the equity capital markets highlights include work for Canaccord Genuity as sponsor and bookrunner on the IPO of Aberdeen Standard European Logistics Income; work for Pershing Square Holdings on its LSE IPO; and work for Greensphere Capital on its LSE IPO

In structured finance and securitisation area deal highlights include work for a fund on the establishment of a note programme to finance export trade receivables; work for the UK Department for Education on a securitisation of income contingent repayable student loans; work for BNP Paribas as arranger on the UK’s first mobile phone handset securitisation; and work for Citibank as agent and lender on an auto loan securitisation.

In the investment funds space the team focuses on infrastructure and real estate funds. Highlights include work for CATCo Reinsurance Opportunities Fund on its capital raising; work for HICL Infrastructure Company on its latest fund raising; work for M&G Real Estate on the formation of its latest UK real estate fund; and work for Infracapital Partners on the launch of its third brownfield infrastructure fund.

In the M&A space highlights include work for AXA Investment Managers on its £230 million acquisition of a 15% stake in Agility Trains West; and work for the Paysafe Group on its acquisition by Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners.

In the project development area the firm acted for JGC Corporation, UIDC, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction on the development of the Sharqiyah IWP desalination plant in Oman; work for the IFC and the City of Belgrade on a waste to energy PPP; and work for Keele University on the procurement of a battery solution.

In restructuring and insolvency area the firm focuses on creditor side mandates. Highlights include work for the lenders and bondholders of Agrokor in relation to its restructuring; work for the senior noteholder of Mriya Agro Holding in relation to its liquidation; and work for the lenders and administrators of the Palmer & Harvey Group

During the research period the firm hired funds partner Jonathan Baird from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and energy lawyers Arun Velusami from Norton Rose Fulbright and Sarah Shaw from Allen & Overy. On the other side M&A partner Robert Darwin left to join Dechert.

King & Spalding

King & Spalding is best known for its projects work in the energy and oil and gas sectors but the firm also picks up work in the corporate sphere acting on M&A and equity capital markets matters.

In the capital markets space highlights from the research period on the equity side include work for Eddie Stobart on its AIM IPO and work alongside the German team on the Frankfurt IPO of Delivery Hero.

In the M&A space highlights from the research period include work for Armour Group Holdings on the acquisition of the landfill and gas operations of Cory Environmental; work for Global Payments on a joint venture with HSBC Mexico; work for Dimah Capital on the acquisition of Heref Basildon; and work for MxP Partners on the acquisition of Amber Taverns.

Staffing changes during the research period include the departure of capital markets partner Markus Bauman.

Kirkland & Ellis

Kirkland & Ellis is strongest in London in private equity and restructuring and insolvency work and all associated areas. Alongside private equity M&A the firm also excels at advising borrowers and sponsors on leveraged financings, advising on fund formations and restructurings and acting on debt issues including high yield. The firm has been active in the lateral hire market during the research period as outlined below.

In the banking and finance space the firm focuses on acquisition finance primarily acting for its private equity client base as sponsors or borrowers. Work highlights include advising Advent International on the financing of its acquisition of Safran; work for Blackstone on the financing of its acquisition of Clarion Events; work for Bain Capital and Cinven on the financing of their acquisition of STADA; and work for GlobaL Logistics Properties on the financing of its bid for Gazeley.

In the capital markets the firm has a specialty in debt issues, particularly high yield and the team primarily advises issuers and sponsors. Much of its work is linked to acquisition finance with highlights including advising Partners Group and PSP Investment on the senior notes issued to fund the acquisition of Cerba Healthcare. The firm also advised Banijay Group on its senior secured notes issue linked to the takeover of Castaway Television; and acted for Ardian, Goldentree and portfolio company Maxeda DIY Holding on the latter’s senior secured notes issue.

In the funds space the firm focuses on the alternative investment and private equity areas often acting for sponsors. Highlights from the research period include advising AMP Capital on the raising of its third infrastructure debt fund; acting for BGH Capital on its first fund; advising Basalt Infrastructure Partners on the formation of its second fund; and advising EOS Partners on a fund restructuring.

The financial services regulatory team have advised clients on matters such as AIFMD and MiFID II. In the funds area the firm acted for Warburg Pincus on the regulatory elements of the raise of its Financial Sector fund and advised Francisco Partners on the regulatory elements of the formation of its fifth fund. Elsewhere the firm acted for Rhône on the regulatory elements of its strategic partnership with Eurazeo.

M&A, specifically private equity is one of the firm’s core practice areas and the firm has had another impressive year. Highlights include work for Wyndham Worldwide on the sale of its European vacation business; work for GIC on its acquisition of a controlling stake in Accor Hotels; advice to Apax Partners on its acquisition of Matchesfashion.com; and work for Bain Capital on its acquisition of Bugaboo.

In the restructuring and insolvency area highlights for the firm include advising Algeco Scotsman on a restructuring including a scheme of arrangement that included a COMI shift and a change in the governing law; work for the CAA regulator on matters related to the administration of Monarch Airlines Group; work for Agrokor and the administrator on its restructuring; work for the senior secured lenders on the novel Chapter 11 and sauvegarde deal; and work for Toys “R” Us on its Chapter 11 and company voluntary arrangement in the UK.

The firm has made a number of hires in the finance space during the research period including the additions of Richard Semple from Vinson & Elkins, Ben Myers from Allen & Overy and Jonathan Birks from Freshfields. On the other side Robert Bradshaw left the firm to join Dechert. In the funds area the firm hired both Anand Damodaran and James Board from Ropes & Gray. In the regulatory team the firm added Sarah Thompson from Linklaters and Romin Dabir from Macfarlanes. In the private equity area the firm hired David Higgins from Freshfields but saw Christopher Field join Dechert. The firm also added restructuring partners Sean Lacey from Freshfields, James Watson from Stephenson Harwood and Matthew Czyzyk from Milbank.

Latham & Watkins

Latham & Watkins has expanded its London offering in several areas over the last few years. Beginning with private equity the firm then turned its attention to finance adding both transactional and regulatory capacity. The firm now has an impressive full service offering but maintains its traditional strengths in areas such as banking, project finance and debt capital markets.

In the banking area the firm has a diversified practice acting for borrowers, lenders and sponsors. Highlights include advising Blackstone and CVC on the financing of the acquisition of Paysafe Group; acting for the lenders on the financing of the acquisition of STADA by Bain Capital and Cinven; advising Credit Suisse as lender on the financing of Atlantia’s acquisition of Abertis Infrastructure; and advising Leonard Green & Partners on the financing of its acquisition of CPA Global.

The firm is one of the market leaders in high yield debt issues and while it is easy to simply point to the volume of issues it has worked on and the size of the team, the firm’s position is also due to its work on a number of innovative matters and the breadth of its offering with the firm having experience advising on all sides of deals. Highlights include acting for the banks on Wind Tre’s refinancing via a high yield issue, the largest ever euro-denominated high yield issue; work for the coordinators and bookrunners on the senior secured floating rate notes issued by AnaCap; and work for AkerBP on its senior notes issue.

In the equity capital markets deal highlights from the research period include work for TI Fluid Systems on its IPO on the LSE; work for the underwriters on the Warsaw Stock Exchange IPO of Play Communications; and work for FFI Holdings on its LSE IPO

In the structured finance, securitisation and derivatives space the firm advises on asset classes including securitisations, CLOs, structured equity and synthetic risk transfer. Highlight deals include work for Magnetar Financial on its investment into Red 1 Finance CLO; and work for Cairn Capital on its investment into a synthetic capital relief trade (Colonnade UK).

The investment funds team advises both fund raising managers and investors and focuses on private equity and real estate. Highlights from the research period include advising LaSalle on the formation of its fifth close-ended Asian real estate fund; acting for Citic Capital on the formation of a co-investment partnership; and work for Tata Capital on the launch of its second growth fund. The firm has also advised on funds related acquisitions and investments.

In the project development and finance area oil and gas and transport have been the busiest sectors for the firm during the research period and in terms of geography it focuses on emerging markets. Highlight work includes work for the borrowers and sponsors on the financing of the Penco Lirquén LNG terminal in Chile; work for Anadarko on the financing of the Mozambique LNG project; and work for Steelhead LNG on the financing of the Vancouver LNG export facility. The firm also advised African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) and the government of Somalia on the drafting of the concession for Mogadishu’s international airport.

Due to its strength in the debt capital markets it is no surprise that the firm is ranked highly for its work representing bondholders in restructurings, however it also picks up a variety of work for both creditors and debtors on insolvency and restructuring matters. Highlights include work for the holding company of Steinhoff Europe on the restructuring of the parent company; work for the creditors on matters related to investments in Prezzo; and work for Credit Suisse as security agent in relation to the restructuring and Chapter 11 of CGG.

The firm has enhanced its structured finance and securitisation capacity during the research period with the addition of Simeon Rudin from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and both Jeremy Green and Thomas Cochran from Goldman Sachs. In the funds space Tom Alabaster has left the team to join Linklaters. In the projects team the firm hired oil and gas financing specialist John Balsdon from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Client feedback

"Our choice firm in the area of high yield bonds in Africa and Middle East region. The quality throughout the team is always strong, and there is a decent amount of partner involvement. As a firm, they have a global database and experience to draw from, providing their clients with great confidence, particularly when working on debut bond transactions and/or in challenging jurisdictions." – High yield

Linklaters

Linklaters is one of the UK’s largest corporate law firms and a member of the so-called ‘magic-circle’. The firm has strength right across the financial and corporate sphere and is ranked Tier 1 across the vast majority of our UK tables.

In the banking space the firm acts on the whole range of financing matters but highlights margin loans, fund financing and deals involving incurrence covenants as particular specialities. Highlights from the research period include work for ING in relation to the refinancing of Dufry; work for the lenders on the financing of the acquisition of Paysafe by Blackstone and CVC; and work for a bank syndicate on the refinancing of a margin loan. On the borrower side the firm acted for Carlyle on the financing of its acquisition of Praesidiad and advised Reckitt Benckiser on the financing of its acquisition of Mead Johnson.

In the debt capital markets the firm points to strengths in equity linked issues, regulatory capital, green and sovereign bonds. Highlights from the research period include work for British American Tobacco Group on a bond issue linked to the financing of the acquisition of Reynolds American; work for Oxford University on its debut bond issue; work for TSKB on the first ever sustainable tier two bond; work for Reckitt Benckiser Group on its bond issue. On the high yield side the firm acted for Cortefiel and Haya Finance on their respective issues and also acted for the initial purchasers on the bridge to bond financing of Unilabs.

In the equity capital markets highlights include work for Allied Irish Banks on its dual listed IPO; work for Sibanye Gold on a rights issue; work for HSBC as listing adviser on an LSE share issue by Bank of Cyprus; and work for ABN AMRO Bank in relation to the IPO of Koninklijke VolkerWessels.

In the financial services regulatory area the firm has been active advising on MiFID II and Brexit and providing advice in the asset management and fintech sectors. The firm’s prudential regulation team meanwhile has advised on matters including ring fencing, clearing and regulatory capital. Highlights from the research period include advising various banks on the Senior Managers and Certification Regime and advising Nomura International on its MiFID II implementation project.

In investment funds the firm has focused on private equity and real estate funds during the research period. Highlights include acting for SoftBank Group on the formation of the world’s largest tech fund the SoftBank Vision Fund; work for Macquarie on the Macquarie Global Infrastructure Debt Fund; work for CBRE on the formation of CBRE Europe Value Partners 2; and work for Alinda Capital Partners on the formation of Alinda Infrastructure Fund III.

In M&A the firm has acted on a raft of notable matters including work for Glencore on the sale of a stake in its petroleum products storage and logistics business to HNA; work for Intu Properties on a bid for the company by Hammerson; work for Amec Foster Wheeler on its acquisition by John Wood Group; and work for City Developments on its acquisition of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels. In private equity the firm acted for The Carlyle Group on the acquisition of Praesidiad; advised Baring Private Equity Asia and Bright Food on the sale of Weetabix; and advised Partners Group and PSP Investments on the acquisition of Cerba Healthcare group.

In the projects area the firm has a broad industry sector spread. Highlights from the research period include work for Area4 Partners on the development and financing of the Coral FLNG project in Mozambique; work for the lenders on the financing of a railway line between Mozambique’s Moatize cola project to a port in Malawi; work for the lenders on the financing of the Yamal LMG Project in Russia; work for the project company on the financing and development of the Triton Knoll Wind Farm project; and work for the sponsors on the development of the Horn of Africa Pipeline Project across Djibouti and Ethiopia.

In restructuring and insolvency clear highlights include work for the joint administrators in relation to disputes arising from the insolvencies of UK Lehman Brothers companies; work for Sberbank as creditor in relation to the collapse of Agrokor; work for Seven Energy Group on its capital restructuring; and work for the trustees of the Co-operative pension scheme on its separation from the Co-op Bank.

Staffing changes include the retirement of three banking partners in the forms of Stuart Thomas, Brian Gray and Trevor Clark; the addition of two new banking partners in the forms of Sarah Mook from Goldman Sachs and James Douglas from Ropes & Gray; the departures of regulatory partners Umesh Kumar to Morgan Stanley, Daniel Csefalvay to what is now Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Sarah Parkhouse who retired; the addition of regulatory partner Clare McMullen from the FCA; the addition of funds partner Tom Alabaster from Latham & Watkins and the departure of Edward Smith; the departure of M&A partners Nicola Mayo, Stephen Griffin and Stuart Boyd; the addition of two new finance and restructuring partners in the forms of Sarah Mook from Goldman Sachs and James Douglas from Ropes & Gray; and the departure of restructuring and insolvency partner Yen Sum.

Macfarlanes

Macfarlanes is best known for its M&A and private equity work. The firm has a UK English law focused practice and as such is often chosen as a preferred referral partner by international firms. The firm also has credible banking, equity capital markets and fund practices.

In banking, the firm focuses on corporate finance in addition to real estate finance. Highlights include work for Medicover in relation to its revolving credit facilities; work for Hogg Robinson on its latest credit facility; and work for Cimpress on its refinancing.

In the debt capital markets highlights include work for Venn Partners on an amendment to a bond programme from PRS Finance; work for Ben Oldman Partners on an issue of real estate secured bonds; and work for Castle Trust on an update to Castle Trust Direct’s bond programme.

In the equity capital markets highlights for the team include work for Supermarket Income REIT on its LSE IPO; and work for the management of Xafinity on its LSE IPO.

In the structured finance and securitisation area highlights include work for Magnesita Refractários on a receivables purchase programme established by Banco Santander; work for RBS in relation to a warehouse origination facility; and work on synthetic and mortgage securitisations. In the derivatives space the firm has acted for a number of pension schemes on EMIR netting opinions; work for Sucden Financial on collateral structuring in relation to its role as an FX broker.

In the investment funds space the firm focuses on real estate and private equity funds. Deal highlights include work for Hayfun Capital Management on the establishment of its second Special Opportunities fund; work for Alcentra on the establishment of its second European direct lending fund; and work for SL Capital Partners and Standard Life Aberdeen on the establishment of a NURS fund of funds.

M&A and private equity is a strength of the firm. Highlights from the research period include work for Regal Entertainment Group on its merger with Cineworld Group; work for Kennedy-Wilson Holdings on its bid for Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate; work for The Walt Disney Company on its acquisition of 21st Century Fox; and work for Chiltern International Group on its sale to Labcorp.

In the restructuring and insolvency area highlights include work for GAME Digital on its restructuring; work for the administrators of Western Bio Energy; work for Oak Hill Advisors as a creditor on the restructuring of Co-op Bank; and work for an unsecured creditor on the administration of Nortel.

During the research period private equity partner Bronwen Jones left for Reed Smith, funds partner Simon Thomas joined Osborne Clarke and Emmie Jones joined White & Case. Tim Cornick retired from the partnership.

Client feedback

"The firm is commercial and solution led, and they try to fully understand the clients' needs while maintaining a professional approach. Lawyers from the firm have a broadened knowledge base which is essential for institutional clients. Their high quality advice is great value for money." – Banking, M&A

"Consistently professional, hardworking and reliable." - Banking

"Excellent work with good distribution between partner and junior workers." – Banking, capital markets, M&A

"Highly responsive, creative and commercial." – Real estate finance

"Macfarlanes provides a quality service with good responsiveness and value. However, they lack the network allowing us to mandate them for cross-jurisdictional mandates." - Banking

"Perfect mix of knowledgeable, commercial and easy to work with firm. In all the practice areas that I've used them, I haven't found a dud lawyer yet." – Investment funds, M&A

"They are excellent in every service line. Great people and very client focused." - Regulatory

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown is best known in the UK for its capital markets work including work on a variety of debt issues, continental European share placings and derivatives matters. The firm also a clear sector strength in real estate.

In the debt capital markets the firm primarily, though not exclusively, advises issuers. Highlights include work for the Canada Pensions Plan Investment Board on an update of its MTN programme; work for China Construction Bank on the establishment of a certificate of deposit programme; work for Novartis and Novartis Finance on the former’s latest notes issue; and work for the joint lead managers on a notes issue by Whirlpool Finance Luxembourg. On the high yield side the firm advised Progroup on a floating rate senior secured notes issue.

In the equity capital markets the firm has a strong record in European share issues, specifically advising Spanish issuers. Highlights from the research period include work for Liberbank on a rights offer and accelerated bookbuild; work for Metrovacesa on its Spanish IPO; work for Promotora de Informaciones on its rights issue; and work for Investec bank on a share placing in the Hollywood Bowl Group.

In the derivatives area, deal highlights from the research period include work for the BT Pensions Scheme Trustees on the implementation of new margin rules under EMIR and work for Zurich Group advising it also on the implications of EMIR. The firm has also acted on margin loans and total return swaps for various clients.

In the investment funds space the firm acts on both real estate and private funds work and points to a specialism in advising family investment firms and start ups on fund formation work. Highlights from the research period include work for Pension Protection Fund in relation to a regulated apportionment arrangement (RAA) with trustees of the Hoover pension scheme. The firm also acted on a number of confidential fund raisings.

In the M&A space the firm has picked up a number of real estate mandates during the research period including acting for the likes of LKK Health Products on the acquisition of 20 Fenchurch Street and acting for British Land on the sale of the Leadenhall Building. Elsewhere the firm advised Touchstone Innovations in regard to a bid for the company by IP Group; acted for Sparton Corporation on a bid for the company by Ultra Electronics Holdings; and advised Shearwater Group on the acquisition of Newable Consulting and SecurEnvoy. On the private equity side the firm advised Vitruvian Partners on the sale of Jac Travel and the acquisition of OAG Aviation; advised Stirling Square Capital Partners on the acquisition of The Magnum Corporation; and work for Active Partners on its investment in Leon Restaurants.

Staffing changes include the departure of funds and M&A lawyer Jeremy Kenley to Gibson Dunn; and the hire of M&A partner Neil Evans from Simpson Thacher.

Client feedback

"Enthusiastic and professional advice." – High yield

"Excellent firm comprising both talented and knowledgeable individuals with a can do attitude. Able to work under pressure alongside various complex work streams. The firm is value for money and always provides valuable constructive advice and responses to raised matters. They fully understand the matter at hand, especially enforcement scenarios." – Banking, M&A

"Great partner led team. Ed Parker combines a deep academic legal knowledge with commercial application, and that approach is clearly working with clients. Chris Arnold follows Ed's approach, and Ed is always available to run ideas by which to improve, thus, enhancing the output." - Derivatives

"High levels of expertise combined with people-centric approach to resolve matters." – M&A

"Mayer Brown has consistently rendered high quality legal services to us in all matters they have been instructed. When representing us in the dispute resolution process, they provided a high quality service demonstrating high skills in presenting complex legal and technical issues before the DAB and the arbitral tribunals. They have a strong team committed to provide the best advice in optimal timeframes." – Project development

"Their work is consistently well executed, commercial and delivered with a strong client focus. They have a very strong team in the mining sector, with a great deal of experience. We would probably use them more if they had similar expertise in the Canadian law markets. They're generally cost competitive and good at advising on any cost implications to delays in a financing process.  We have seen them act for both lenders and for the borrower, and their approach remains commercial in both cases." – Banking, derivatives

"They are leading in the derivatives field, and Ed Parker has a very direct common sense approach." - Derivatives

"This is one of my go to law firms. In particular, we use Kate Ball-Dodd a lot. She is commercial, technically able and generally a lovely person. She is able to give a different perspective and is knowledgeable on market practice." – Capital markets : Equity

McDermott Will & Emery

McDermott Will & Emery’s banking practice added Peter Crichton to the practice during the research period from CMS and he now heads up the London team. The firm has a focus on borrower side mandates.

Deal highlights from the research period include work for Intersnack Group on the financing of the acquisition of KP Snacks; work for Great Point Capital Partners on the financing of the acquisition of Softbox Systems; work for Softbox (Midco) on a refinancing; and work for Alcentra and Investec Bank on the financing of Linnaeus Group’s acquisition of Village Vet Holding.

Milbank

Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy is best known in London for its banking and project finance work but has been making a concerted effort to expand its offering in high yield and restructuring this year with the high profile hires of Leading Lawyers Apostolos Gkoutzinis and Yushan Ng and their respective teams.

In banking the firm has a good balance of borrower and lender side clients. For the former highlights include advising Porterbrook Rail Finance on a refinancing and Avanti Communications Group on a financing linked to its issued notes. The firm also advised the lenders on financing related to Bridgepoint Capital’s acquisition of Zenith Group Holdings; and work for the lenders on the financing of Bain Capital’s acquisition of Fedrigoni.

As mentioned above, the firm’s high yield bench has been strengthened this year. Highlights include work for SPCM on its senior notes issue; work for Entertainment One on its bond issue linked to its financing of its acquisition of Mark Gordon Company; and work for Morgan Stanley as initial purchaser on its senior notes issue.

In the structured finance, securitisation and derivatives space the firm focuses primarily on CLOs and derivatives. Deal highlights include work for Bain Capital Credit in relation to the Bain 2017-1 DAC CLO; Halcyon Loan Advisers on its new European CLO; and PGIM in relation to the Dryden 52 CLO.

Within M&A the firm points to strengths in the aviation and technology sectors and this is backed up by its deal list. Highlights from the research period include work for Terra Firma on the sale of aircraft lessor AWAS; and work for Hensoldt on the acquisition of the Kelvin Hughes Group.

In project development and finance the firm is best known for its work in the energy, mining and telecoms sectors in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Highlight work includes advising Centrais Electricas de Sergipe (CELSE) on the financing of a gas power plant in Porto de Sergipe, Brazil; work for the banks on the financing of the Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi; work for the banks on the development and financing of the OCTP oil and gas field in Ghana; and work for the lenders on the financing of the expansion of the Ptero Rabigh project in Saudi Arabia.

With the new hires mentioned above, Milbank has greatly enhanced its financial restructuring practice during the research period. Even before the new hires joined the firm the team had worked on a number of significant mandates including advising the lenders on the restructuring of the Ocean Rig Group; work for KKR on the restructuring of a PIK loan in connection with a scheme of arrangement of Algeco Scotsman; and work for the chairman and anchor shareholder of Seadrill on its Chapter 11. The firm also often takes up roles advising noteholders on restructurings including advising on a restructuring of Norske Skog.

As mentioned above the firm has added a number of new hires over the research period including high-yield specialists Apostolos Gkoutzinis, Rebecca Marques, Randy Nahle and Ana Grbec from Shearman & Sterling and a high profile restructuring team consisting of Yushan Ng, Karen McMaster and Jacqueline Ingram from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.

Client feedback

"Excellent legal and business advice from Tim Peterson. He is forward-thinking and very savvy. I cannot think of any weaknesses." – Banking, M&A

"Very responsive and reliable. Good commercial advice backed up with in depth knowledge of the law. Helfried Schwarz and Daniel Wayte were especially good." – M&A

"Following the arrival of Apostolos Gkoutzinis, the firm now has solid lawyers on both bank and bond side with franchise well represented in Europe by their superstar partners Suhrud Mehta and Apostolos Gkoutzinis. That being said, the firm has a long bench of very solid junior partners, counsels and associates. Overall, the firm is known for being creative, commercial and efficient." – High yield

"Very high quality advice and responsiveness, pragmatic and commercial. A key adviser for the company." – Banking, high yield

"We have been using the restructuring team led by Yushan Ng for several years, dating back to previous firms (Cadwalader and previously Linklaters). We have always found them extremely solid, hardworking, commercial and overall client friendly. We have, in the past, used several other restructuring practices at the top firms but never encountered the same level of quality." - Insolvency

"Very thoughtful and tactical approach to each situation, always available and never delegates crucial workstreams to junior staff." - Insolvency

"Our only contact at this firm has been Clive Ransome who advised us on a UK onshore wind energy project. Having worked with other lawyers in the past 20 years, Clive's understanding and exploitation of commercial opportunities within the constraints of the legal framework are in a different league to all the others. He has an incredible ability to assimilate enormous amounts of data very quickly and to analyse this in the context of his vast experience before making practical and digestible recommendations." – Project finance

Morrison & Foerster

Morrison & Foerster is best known in London for its derivatives and structured products work, but the firm also acts on financings, M&A deals and has a growing practice in investment funds.

The banking team acts for both lenders and borrowers and has acted on a number of refinancings during the research period. Highlights include work for Ciber on its financial restructuring; work for Aozora Bank in relation to the refinancing of Salesforce Tower and CityPoint Tower; and work for Just Eat on the amendment and restatement of its existing revolving credit facility and its refinancing.

In the capital markets the firm is perhaps best known for its work in the derivatives space but also picks up work on equity and debt issues. The firm focuses specifically on equity derivatives, structured products and general regulatory advice. During the research period the firm has advised clients on matters including regulatory advice relating to MiFID 2 and Basel III and picked up a range of equity derivatives mandates.

In the investment funds space the firm focuses specifically on private fund matters. The firm has been gradually building its team adding dedicated partners Oliver Rochman and Rob Mailer in the last two years. Highlights from the research period include work for Global Logistic properties on the formation of two new European funds – GLP Europe income Partners I and GLP Europe Development Partners I; work for Apis Partners on the close of Apis Growth Fund I; work for STAR Capital Partnership on the close of STAR Strategic Assets III; and work for Oxx on its spin out from Amadeus Capital and the formation of its first fund.

In M&A deal highlights include work for Toshiba on its sale of Landis+Gyr via IPO; work for Newgate Private Equity on the acquisition of Arle Capital Partners; and work for BioLineRx on the acquisition of Agalimmune.

The firm has picked up some notable mandates in the restructuring and insolvency space including advising Davidson Kempner in relation to the administration of Lehman Brothers International (Europe), specifically in relation to cases in the Court of Appeal. The firm also acted for the liquidators of Saad Investments Company and acted for the trustees in relation to the bankruptcy of Muhamad Al-Ansari.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright expanded significantly during the research period through its combination with US firm Chadbourne & Parke and Australian firm Henry Davis York. As well as adding strength the firm’s team the EMEA offering has been enhanced through the addition of Chadbourne’s Istanbul office.

The firm has a broad practice in London picking up work across the financial and corporate sphere. The team’s core strength remains projects work where it picks up mandates in the energy, mining, oil and gas and infrastructure sectors. Beyond this the firm has also been building its corporate and capital markets practices. Recent expansion include the opening of a Luxembourg office.

In the banking space, alongside its general corporate lending practice the firm also has specialisms in asset and Islamic finance. Highlights from the research period include work for Cell C on its financial restructuring including bank, bond and equity elements; and work for SNC-Lavalin on the financing of the acquisition of WS Atkins and a subsequent refinancing. On the lender side the firm advised Citibank and Mizuho Bank in relation to financing provided to Sasol; work for ABN AMRO on the financing of Aegean Marine Petroleum Network.

In project finance highlights from the research period include work for the IFC and other lenders on the Nubian Suns feed-in tariff financing programme related to various Egyptian solar plants; and work for CBG on the financing of the expansion of the Sangaredi bauxite mine.

In the debt capital markets highlights from the research period include work for The Go-Ahead Group on a guaranteed bond issue; work for Ecobank Transnational on a convertible bond issue; work for the Pakistan Ministry of Finance on a sukuk and Eurobond issue; work for the arrangers on project bond issues by the Universities of Essex and Sussex; and work for Albaraka Türk Katılım Bankası on an AT1 sukuk issue.

In the equity capital markets deal highlights include work for the banks on the IPOs of Landscape Acquisition Holdings and BioPharma Credit; work for Greencoat UK Wind on its latest equity offering; work for Vodacom Tanzania on its IPO; and work for PPHE Hotel Group in relation to subsidiary Arena Hospitality Group's share offer.

In structured finance and securitisation the firm points to strengths in RMBS, covered bonds, trade receivables and work in Southern Europe. Highlights from the research period include work for Al Rayan Bank on a shariah-compliant RMBS; work for the Kensington Mortgage Company on the Finsbury Square 2017-1 and 2 RMBS transactions; further work for Piraeus Bank on its covered bond issues; and work for the US Bank trustees on the Blue Mountain EURO CLO II

In the derivatives space deal highlights include work for a syndicate of banks on a repurchase transaction with the Central Bank of Egypt and work for JPMorgan on the provision of asset swaps to Blackrock European CLO III. Though most of the firm's other clients are confidential it can be said that the firm acted on matters including total return swaps and negotiations around CSA and ISDA agreements.

In the regulatory area the firm has advised clients on matters including MiFID II, Brexit, fintech and cybersecurity matters. Highlights include work for The Investment Association on an update to its model Investment Management Agreement. The firm also advised Web 3.0 Technologies Foundation on the regulatory aspects of its initial Coin Offering (ICO).

In investment funds the firm has largely focused on the IPOs of funds during the research period including the listings of Sherbourne Investors and Residential Secure Income.

In M&A notable work from the research period includes work for Shell on its sale of a 45% interest in the Corrib gas venture to the Canada Pensions Plan Investment Board; work for Hermes Investment Management as an investor in the acquisition of a shareholding in a gas distribution network from the UK national Grid; and work for Louis Dreyfus on the sale of its African fertilizers and inputs operations and its global metals business. On the private equity side highlights include work for AnaCap Financial Partners on the acquisition of a majority stake in Heidelberger Payment and the acquisition of StarTec Payment & Service.

In restructuring and insolvency a clear highlight was the firm's further work on the liquidation of Hellas II including work relating to a contentious private equity dividend recap. The firm also advised for 5 directors of Asa Resource Group on the company's administration.

Projects work is one of the firm's clear strengths and during the research period it acted on a number of notable mandates. Examples include work for Yara International on the financing and development of a new Potash mine in Ethiopia and a port in Djibouti; work for The City of Ottawa on the development of Stage 2 of its Light Rail Transit Project; and work for Eurasian Resources Group on the development of the RTR copper and cobalt project.

Staffing changes during the research period include the addition of capital markets partner Andrew Carmichael as a consultant from Linklaters; the addition of regulatory lawyer Pamela Reddy from Simons Muirhead & Burton; and the departures of regulatory lawyers Chris Warren-Smith and Melanie Ryan to Morgan Lewis and Elizabeth Bremner to CMS. Poupak Anjomshoaa joined the projects team while Nick Pincott departed.

Client feedback

"The firm provided invaluable support in our Bond issue, our first ever on the London Stock Exchange. They assumed nothing and supported well." – Capital markets : Debt

"They provided clear options with excellent boardroom credibility. They are very responsive even when cross disciplined responses were needed demonstrating good teamwork. Their understanding of the banking space and translation of regulation was a stand out." - Regulatory

"Excellent strength and depth in financial services. Great interface between financial regulation and IT law, which is much needed on fintech projects. Well co-ordinated across practice groups and exceptionally pro-active and available in emergencies. Becoming a go-to firm for financial services, regulatory and IT/fintech expertise." – Derivatives, regulatory

"Jonathan Herbst, Imogen Garner and Charlotte Henry are a great team. They're very nice lawyers who provide prompt, practical and insightful advice." – Banking, investment funds

"Nigel Dickinson and his team are the best derivatives and asset repack lawyers in the market. On SPVs and repacks, Nigel is even better than the magic circle. Principal strengths are Nigel's availability, response/turnaround time and his technical excellence across the product spectrum. Clients on the business side, such as traders, structurers and sales team, like Nigel a lot. He has a reassuring and trustworthy advisor charisma in abundance. The team is good and getting stronger. Vicky Nevins is especially hard working and has client handling/soft skills beyond her PQE. Overall, we are happy with Nigel and the team and have identified no weaknesses." – Derivatives, regulatory

"The firm provides a good working platform, and it was easy to discuss our issues in a complex first time transaction." - Securitisation

"The firm is extremely professional in its client approach, and it has consistently provided us with quality advice during very tight time frames. The team also provides a very personal touch to their services, taking special care to customize their advice to our personal needs. This has made them stand out in comparison with other international firms we have worked with. We have been consistently impressed by their awareness of issues specific to the sector in and their level and quality of advice, direction and opinions provided to us generally." – Banking, derivatives

"Very detailed knowledge of complex issues around derivatives exchanges, clearings and related areas. The firm has made huge efforts to get to know our business and provide advice that takes into account our business and culture and is pragmatic and commercial. Very responsive and thoughtful." - Derivatives

"Very good knowledge of the market, the programs and the applicable regulatory regimes (both of the UK and the issuer's home jurisdiction)." – Capital markets : Debt

"Very impressive. James Dunnett leads a great team, has all the technical knowledge and experience, and always makes himself available." – Banking, real estate finance

"We found Norton Rose to be strong on project management skills, knowledgeable and thoughtful on market developments. They were able to guide our various business units through the evolving landscape in an efficient and easily accessible way. We had some difficult issues that arose, and they were always responsive and timely and gave pragmatic legal and regulatory advice. While there were some personnel changes at an associate level over the duration of the project, these did not impact negatively upon agreed timelines or costs. There were a number of value added services that were provided as part of the project which we found very useful." – Derivatives, regulatory

Paul Hastings

In the UK Paul Hastings is best known for its structured finance and securitisation work but has been building its presence in debt capital markets, investment funds and restructuring and insolvency matters.

In the banking space the firm has had a clear focus on acquisition finance during the research period. Highlights include work for the lenders on the financing of Hellman & Friedman’s acquisition of Nets; work for the banks in relation to the financing of Advent and Bain’s acquisition of Concardis; and work for the lenders on the financing of Brammer’s acquisition of IPH Group

In the debt capital markets the firm has put a focus on high yield issues acting on both issuer and bank side. Highlights from the research period include work for the banks on a debt issue by Helios Towers Africa; work for Goldman Sachs as the initial purchaser on an issue of senior notes by Dynergy; work for the banks on a senior bond issue by Suddenlink; work for Starwood West on a bond issue in Israel; and work for Gulf Keystone Petroleum and Boparan Finance on the proposed refinancing of their respective high yield issues.

In the structured finance and securitisation area the firm has a particular focus on CMBS and RMBS and CLO transactions. Highlights from the research period include work for Kensington Mortgage Company on three separate RMBS transactions Finsbury Square 2018-1 and Residential Mortgage Securities 29 and 30. Elsewhere the firm has advised the likes of Oak Hill, Och Ziff, BNP Paribas Asset Management and Natixis Asset Management on CLO matters. In the derivatives space the firm has acted for the likes of Intermediate Capital Group on EMIR-related hedging structuring and cashpooling arrangements.

In the funds space the firm focuses on credit, private equity and real estate funds and also advises on fund finance matters. Highlights include work for Intermediate Capital Group in relation to Senior Debt Partners III; work for Pemberton Capital Advisors on the launch of two private debt funds; work for BlackRock on the launch of European Middle Market Private Debt Fund I; and work for Mayfair Capital on the launch of real estate fund Thematic Growth Fund.

In M&A highlights include work for NJJ Capital’s acquisition of eir Group; work for Madison Energy on the acquisition of the Centek Group; and work for Cabot Credit Management on the acquisition of Wescot Credit Services.

In restructuring and insolvency the firm has acted on some notable matters during the research period including a number of noteholder representations. Highlights include work for the ad hoc committee of Tier 2 noteholders in relation to the recapitalisation of the Co-op Bank that included the merger of shareholder and creditor schemes of arrangements and a consent solicitation; work for New Look on negotiations with its creditors; work for the ad hoc group of bondholders on the restructuring of Norske Skogindustrier; and work for employees of Lehman Brothers International (Europe) in relation to the Waterfall III proceedings.

Staffing changes include the addition of finance and restructuring partner David Manson.

Proskauer Rose

Proskauer Rose is best known for its private equity and fund work in London but the firm is also known for high yield debt issues and US law equity capital markets work. 

In the banking space the firm has acted for a range of alternative lenders including work for Ares Management on the refinancing of the Think Money Group; work for LGT European Capital on the extension of senior secured facilities to finance the acquisition of Thesis Asset Management by a consortium; and work for Ardian and HSBC as lenders in relation to the refinancing of Bellrock. 

In the debt capital markets the firm has a focus on high yield debt issues. During the research period this included work for Grifols on its senior notes issue and various issues and restructurings for other confidential clients. 

In the equity capital markets the firm acts on the US law elements of share issues. Highlights from the research period include work for Jefferies and Zeus Capital in relation to a share issue by Boohoo; work for Charter Court on its IPO; and work for IP Group on a follow-on share issue. 

In investment funds, the firm acts on a range of matters and points to a specialism in secondaries. highlights from the research period include HgCapital on the Hg Mercury 2 fund and its eighth buyout fund; Ardian on a strategic partnership with Mubadala Capital that saw Ardian commit $2.5 billion in what the firm says is the largest ever ‘stapled’ deal; and work for EMK Capital on its debut fundraising. 

In M&A the firm puts a focus on private equity. Deals include work for GIC on the acquisition of the speciality chemicals of Akzo Nobel; work for Oaktree Capital Management on the merger of its portfolio companies; and work for GIC on the acquisition of a 30% stake in Mergermarket. 

In restructuring and insolvency the firm acts on range of insolvencies and debt restructurings. Deal highlights include work for the unsecured claims committee of Westinghouse Electric Corporation in relation to the companies Chapter 11 filing; work for the liquidator of Onix Capital on the process; and work for a bondholder in ARM Asset-Backed Securities on litigation.

Reed Smith

Reed Smith is best known within the London market for its structured finance and securitisation work but has been building its presence in corporate finance and investment funds. The firm added a number of lawyers to its financial services regulatory team from King & Wood Mallesons during the research period in a boost to its London offering.

In the banking area the firm points to strengths in financing in the real estate and asset management sectors and in leveraged and asset-based finance work. Highlights from the research period include work for Graphite Capital on the financing of its sale of Micheldever Tyre Services; work for Xafinity on its pre-IPO financing; and work for ARUP on its refinancing; and work for Aareal Bank on the financing of the Princesshay shopping centre.

In the equity capital markets the firm picked up a number of mandates in the asset management space. A notable highlight was work on the IPO of Residential Secure Income, the firm also advised Warehouse REIT on its IPO on the London AIM market.

In structured finance and securitisation, one of the firm’s core areas, the practice has specialisms in auto loan and mortgage backed securitisations and CLOs. The firm also has a focus on advising trustees. Highlights from the research period include work for CBRE Loan Services on a CMBS; work for Link Asset Services on a new RMBS and the restructuring of the Great Hall Mortgages No. 1 RMBS; and work for Deutsche Bank on an auto lease securitisation originated by Multilease.

In the derivatives space the firm acts on a variety of matters and highlights a particular focus on commodity and equity derivatives and financing and treasury management products. Highlights from the research period include work for the Swedish State Pension Fund AP3 on the drafting of swap documentation relating to a catastrophe risk transaction; and work for Speedwell Weather Derivatives on the licensing of its weather derivatives platform. The firm has also acted on various total return swap transactions.

The addition of the team from KWM has given Reed Smith a clear boost to its regulatory offering. The firm has advised the likes of CME Group and City Credit Capital on issues including MiFID II and advised a number of trade associations including Commodity Markets Council Europe, the European Federation of Energy Traders and the Futures Industry Association.

The firm’s funds offering has expanded during the research period and the firm has added capacity in the finance and regulatory areas. The firm has a particularly focus on private equity funds. Highlights from the research period include work for the joint bookrunners on the secondary fundraising of BBGI SICAV; work for Signal Capital Partners on the fund raising of Signal Real Estate Opportunities Fund and Signal Credit Opportunities Fund.

In the restructuring and insolvency area the firm points to a particular focus on the energy and shipping industries. Highlights from the research period include work for Deloitte on the pre-pack sale of Bernard Matthews and work for the Civil Aviation Authority on the insolvency of Monarch Airlines.

Staffing changes include the addition of Andrei Baev and Bronwen Jones to the finance team and a whole team of regulatory lawyers from King & Wood Mallesons as mentioned above including David Calligan, Tim Dolan, Tamasin Little and Adrian Brown. The firm also hired funds partner Leith Moghli from Kirkland & Ellis.

Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling has a broad practice with particular strengths in banking and finance, debt capital markets, regulatory and M&A work. The firm has impressive bench strength in both English and US law qualified lawyers.

In the debt capital markets the firm has a balanced practice acting for both issuers and underwriters. Highlights include work for Nokia on two issues of senior notes; work for the underwriters on ACWA Power Management and Investments One issue of senior secured bonds; work for the underwriters on the Republic of Iraq’s sovereign bond; and work for Anglo American on two separate senior notes issues. The firm also advised the banks on high yield issues by the likes of Swissport and CMA CGM.

In the equity capital markets deal highlights from the research period include work for the banks on the IPOs of Terveystalo and Waberer's International in Finland and Budapest respectively; work for Abu Dhabi National Oil (ADNOC) on its IPO; and work for the underwriters on a capital increase by Portuguese bank Banco Comercial Português.

The firm picks up work in areas such as equity derivatives and structured finance. One example saw the firm act for Ardagh Group as guarantor on a financing that incorporates an existing securitisation structure.

As with most firms the firm has focused on advising clients on matters such as Brexit and MiFID II in the regulatory space. In the former area the firm has advised various clients on their Brexit strategy. Other highlights include work for ICE Futures Europe on an update of its exchange rules in the context of MiFID II and MiFIR.

In the investment funds space highlight work from the research period includes advising the IFC on the formation of its new private equity fund; work for Red Kite on the creation of several new fund structures; and work for Kinea on the launch of its new private equity fund.

In the M&A space the firm has acted on a number of high profile matters. These include work for GE on the acquisition of Baker Hughes; work for Liberty Global on the spin-off of its business in Latin America and the Caribbean; work for Sompo Holdings on its acquisition of Endurance Specialty Holdings; and work for Intercontinental Exchange on its acquisition of a strategic minority stake in Euroclear. In the private equity space the firm acted for CVC Capital Partners on the acquisition of a majority stake in Perseus Healthcare and advised Bridgepoint Capital on the acquisition of Evac Group.

The firm’s projects practice has a focus on energy and oil and gas projects in the Middle East and Africa. Deal highlights include work for Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) on its refinery upgrade program; work for Golar LNG on the development of the Fortuna LNG project; and work for the lenders on the financing for the modernisation and expansion of the Middle East Oil Refinery in Egypt. On the infrastructure side the firm advised the sponsors on the development of the Malkara – Çanakkale Motorway in Turkey.

In the restructuring and insolvency area the firm acts for both creditors and debtors on a range of financial restructurings. Highlights from the research period include work for Frigoglass on the restructuring of its bank financing and senior notes; work for various bank creditors on the restructuring of Agrokor; work for noteholders on the restructuring of Brunswick Rail; and work for various creditors on the restructuring of Edcon.

In early 2018 the firm lost high-yield partners Apostolos Gkoutzinis and Rebecca Marques to Milbank, however this was followed by the firm welcoming back partner and Leading Lawyer Ward McKimm from Freshfields. In M&A Jeremy Kutner moved to Sullivan & Cromwell in August 2018. In the project development space the firm hired counsel Lachlan Poustie from Allen & Overy.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is best known for its work in the private equity space acting for key clients including Blackstone and KKR. In support of this the firm has an impressive leveraged finance offering with banking, debt and high yield capability.

In the banking space the firm is focused on private equity acquisition finance. Highlights from the research period include work for Melrose Industries on the financing of its acquisition of GKN; work for TDR on the financing of its acquisition of Buffalo Grill and work for the lenders on the Formula One Group’s refinancing.

In the debt capital markets space the firm has a clear focus advising on high yield bond issues acting for issuers and the banks including the portfolio companies of its key private equity clients. Highlights include advising the initial purchasers on a senior notes issue by CSC Holdings; work for Aston Martin on two senior secured notes issues; work for the initial purchasers on two separate notes issue by Salt; and work for Viridian Group FinanceCo and Viridian Power and Energy Holdings on a senior secured notes issue.

In the equity capital markets, highlights include work for Gestamp Automoción on the US aspects of its IPO and work, in conjunction with the firm’s US office, on the IPO of Gates Industrial Corporation on the NYSE.

In M&A the firm’s focus is on private equity matters, as mentioned above. Deal highlights include work for AXIS Capital on its acquisition of Novae; Blackstone on the sale of Logicor to China Investment Corporation; work for KKR on its acquisition of Unilever’s spreads business; and work for Apax Partners on the acquisition of a controlling stake in Unilabs.

Staffing changes include the high profile hire of M&A partner Ben Spiers from Freshfields.

Client feedback

"Very knowledgeable and creative, both technically and commercially. They seem to know what's happening in other deals. STB finds cost-effective solutions to problems and opportunities while responding quickly." – High yield

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

Best known for its corporate and M&A practice Skadden’s London team also has impressive practices in banking, capital markets and restructuring.

Much of the firm’s work in banking is acquisition finance where the firm often acts on the borrower side. Deal highlights from the research period include work for Cineworld Group on the financing of the acquisition of Regal Entertainment Group; work for Moody’s on a bridge facility linked to the acquisition of Bureau van Dijk Electronic Publishing; work for Key Safety Systems on the financing of the acquisition of Takata Corporations global assets. On the lenders side the firm advised Morgan Stanley as lender on the financing of Global Business Travel Holdings’ acquisition of Hogg Robinson Group.

In the capital markets, on the equity side the firm acted for TMF Group on its proposed IPO on the LSE; advised M7 Real Estate on the establishment and IPO of a REIT; acted for IC Power on its IPO; and advised Banco Comercial Português (BCP) on a rights offering.

In the debt capital markets highlights include work for Brunswick Rail on the restructuring of its 6.5% guaranteed notes; work for HSBC Securities as underwriter on notes issues by HSBC Holdings; and work for Banco BTG Pactual in an issue of medium term notes.

In the regulatory space the team often acts in support of the firm’s capital markets and M&A offerings advising on the regulatory aspects of acquisition and debt and equity issue deals.

In the investment funds space the firm focuses on private equity and real estate fund work. Highlights include work for LetterOne Technology on the formation of a $16 billion private equity investment program; work for Broadwell Capital on its first time fundraising; and work for Quest Fund Placement on its fundraising.

M&A is one of the firm’s core practice areas and had another strong year of transactions. Highlights include work for Vantiv on the acquisition of Worldpay Group; work for Konecranes on the acquisition of Terex Corporation; work for Exxon Mobil Corporation on the acquisition of a 25% interest in the Area 4 block of the Rovuma Basin; and work for Twenty-First Century Fox on its acquisition by the Walt Disney Company.

In the restructuring and insolvency space highlights include work for Toshiba Corporation on the Chapter 11 filing of subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Company; work for Petrol Jersey and Windsor Jersey in the insolvency of Monarch Airlines; and work for Concordia International Corporation on its restructuring.

Slaughter and May

Slaughter and May is a member of the UK’s ‘magic circle’ and is noted for its strong client base of UK corporates including a large number of FTSE 100 companies. This is reflected in its practice area strengths which include M&A and issuer/borrower side banking and capital markets mandates.

In banking the firm is strong acting for borrowers on acquisition and general corporate finance. Highlights from the research period include advising Ørsted on the financing of its sale of a 50% interest in an offshore wind farm; work for Drax Group on the financing of the acquisition of Opus Energy Group; Dufry on its new financing; and Premier Oil and Seadrill on their respective refinancings.

In the debt capital markets the firm acts primarily for issuers, in the high yield space it acts on the English law elements of issues alongside its US partners. Highlights include work for ISS Global on its latest EMTN issue; work for RSA Insurance on an issue of contingent convertible notes; work for Santander UK Group Holdings on AT1 notes issue; and work for BHP Billiton on an EMTN issue and a repurchase of its US debt. On the high yield side the firm acted for Arrow Global Group.

In the equity capital markets the firm has an active issuer practice based on its enviable corporate client base. Highlights include advising Glenveagh Properties on its LSE IPO; work for SEGRO in its rights issue; and work for Kosmos Energy on a secondary listing on the LSE.

In the structured finance and securitisation area the firm has picked up a range of securitisation work during the research period including real estate and auto loan deals. Highlights deals include work for Santander Consumer (UK) and Santander UK on an auto loan securitisation - SCUK's Motor 2017-1; work for Holmes Master Issuer on a RMBS programme; and work for Hyundai Capital and Santander on an auto loans-backed warehouse transaction.

The firm’s regulatory team takes on notable work on both contentious and non-contentious matters and has taken roles on high profile investigations. Highlight work on the contentious side includes advising JPMorgan Chase in relation to investigations into foreign exchange trading; advising Deutsche Bank on investigations into interbank benchmark rates; advising Carillion on an investigation in to a trading announcement. On the non-contentious side the firm has advised various banks on ring-fencing activities

In investment funds space the firm acts on a number of M&A and equity capital markets deals in the asset management sector, in terms of formation work the firm points to a speciality in closed-ended listed funds. Highlights from the research period include work for the Cabinet Office and the Infrastructure and Projects on the formation of a Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund.

M&A is one of the firm’s core practice areas and the firm has notched up another impressive set of deal examples. Highlights include work for Actelion in relation to its acquisition by Johnson & Johnson; work for John Wood Group on its merger with Amec Foster Wheeler; Standard Life on the merger between it and Aberdeen Asset Management; and INEOS on the acquisition of the oil and gas business of DONG Energy. In private equity highlights include work for CVC Capital Partners on the acquisition of shares in Pensions Insurance Corporation Group by one of its affiliates; and work for Pollen Street Capital on its merger with Marshall Wace Eaglewood.

The firm had an impressive year in the restructuring and insolvency area picking up roles on a number of the most high profile mandates in the market. These include work for Carillion and later the liquidators in relation to the company’s restructuring and liquidation; work for Premier Oil on its debt restructuring; work for Seadrill on its restructuring; and work for Tata Steel on the restructuring of its European business.

Client feedback

"Excellent unparalleled service and responsiveness." - Banking

"Responsive, motivated and professional." – Capital markets : Debt

"Slaughter and May has offered us exceptional regulatory advice, becoming a trusted partner for the bank as we go through a large Brexit programme. Their advice is technically excellent yet practical and tailored to our needs." - Regulatory

"They're excellent. Their legal regression analysis and understanding of the regulators' perspectives are utterly rock-solid, which is essential for us in the re/insurance sector. They are great at pulling in specialists across the firm (whether that be other practice areas or offices) and patching it into the re/insurance context. They put a lot of effort in getting to understand what's important to us and our counterparty, so their input really pushes the transaction forward. They're all about finding a route to the solution and not raising problems. Their fees are lower than perhaps their reputation would suggest." – M&A

"Top class practice for EMTN issuance." – Capital markets : Debt

"Very strong on investment grade loan structuring and syndications, including refinancing." - Banking

"Very strong technical and sector expertise." – Restructuring and insolvency

"Slaughter's restructuring and insolvency practice is absolutely at the top of the market. They possess the rare and sought after combination of having the most elite level of legal knowledge and skill with both practical commercial sense and the highest level of market intelligence." – Restructuring and insolvency

"First class - the best available. Expensive but worth it for a large and complicated business." – Restructuring and insolvency

"They are very responsive towards changes in the transactions and helps business to find the most suitable solution. They are knowledgeable not only from a legal perspective but also the market." - Securitisation

"Exceptional work ethic. Their ability to work to challenging timelines is second-to-none, and they have excellent control and management of complex and multi-faceted projects. They have a wide knowledge base and cover a lot of areas well. They are proactive and good at pre-empting issues." – Capital markets, M&A

"High calibre individuals, especially partners. Attention to details and ability to commit resources." – Banking, capital markets

"Technically superb with genuine breadth of knowledge across products and disciplines. Uniquely good at tackling complex and bespoke matters." – Banking, derivatives, regulatory

"We enjoy a long term relationship with the team of Robert Byk. I greatly appreciate that I can work with the same team of lawyers on both bond issuances and bank facilities. Slaughter and May are very much in the driver's seat and happy to run much of the process themselves." – Capital markets : Debt

Sullivan & Cromwell

Sullivan & Cromwell is best known in London for its work on banking, M&A and project finance work. With a slightly smaller team that some US outfits the firm tends to focus solely on high end work.

In the banking space the firm has a balance between borrower and lender side mandates. Highlights include work for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in relation to a revolving credit facility; work for CNH Industrial in relation to a revolving credit facility; work for Beijing Shougang Fund on financing the acquisition of Indigo; and work for the lenders in relation to financing provided to TeleColumbus.

In the debt capital markets the firm primarily advises issuers. Highlights include work for Royal Philips on a Eurobond issue; work for BP on its US notes issues; work for CNH Industrial on its high yield issues; work for Enel on its Rule 144A/Reg S issue; and work for the underwriters on numerous Luxembourg Stock Exchange notes issues by the European Investment Bank. 

M&A is one of the core practice areas for the firm and this is backed up by its deal list during the research period. Highlights include work for Elis on the acquisition of Berendsen; work for Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate on its merger with Kennedy-Wilson Holdings; and work for Bayer on its sale of certain assets to BASF. The firm also worked on some notable capital markets linked work including advise to existing shareholders on the sale of shares in DONG Energy; and work for TeliaSonera and Sonera Holding on the sale of shares in Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri. On the private equity side the firm acted for Apollo Management on its bid for FirstGroup and Rhône Capital on its acquisition of Fogo de Chão and sale of BakeMark USA.

In the projects space the firm has a focus on the mining and oil and gas matters. Highlights from the research period include work for Tengizchevroi on the financing of the Tengiz oil and gas project in Kazakhstan; work for Rio Tinto and Oyu Tolgoi on the financing of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine project in Mongolia; and work for Intergeo MMC on the financing and development of Intergeo’s Ak Sug copper project in Russia.

In the restructuring space the firm offers both English and New York law advice and focuses on high end financial restructurings. Highlights include work for the bank creditors on the restructuring of Abengoa; work for the banks on the restructuring of Danaos Corporation; work for RBS on the restructuring of Gulfmark Offshore; and work for the senior secured noteholders on the restructuring of BrightHouse Group.

Sullivan & Worcester

Sullivan & Worcester has a focus on trade and commodity finance matters within the financial and corporate sphere in London.

Highlights from the research period include work for the lenders on the UKEF guaranteed financing provided to the Republic of Ghana for the development of the Kumasi Airport; work for Nedbank on a loan for the financing of the construction of hospitals in Zambia; work for JPMorgan as arrange in relation to a loan made by UK Export Finance to the Kurdistan regional government; and work for Africa Trade Finance as arranger of a club trade finance facility for United Bank for Africa.

Travers Smith

Travers Smith has clear strengths in M&A and equity capital markets work and is also a go to firm for financial services regulatory advice. The firm is one of the few London firms to have shunned international expansion (in terms of opening offices abroad) in favour of focusing on being a high class City shop providing English law advice.

The firm works across the banking sphere but is strongest on borrower and sponsor side acquisition finance work. Highlights from the research period include work for TA Associates on the financing of the acquisition of Old Mutual Wealth’s asset management business; work for Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management on the financing of its acquisition of Hargreave Hale; and work for Equistone Partners Europe on the financing of its acquisition of the Willerby Group. 

In the equity capital markets the firm has a notable presence acting on main market and AIM IPOs for UK corporates. The firm also points to experience in secondary equity block trades. Deal highlights include work for TruFin on its AIM IPO; work for the bookrunners and sponsors on JTC’s LSE IPO; and work for Zeus Capital and Deloitte on Xafinity’s LSE IPO.

In the derivatives area the firm has a focus on buy side clients. Highlights include work for Cheque & Credit Clearing Company on the launch of a new payment system for processing cheques; work for Micro Focus Group on the setup of an ISDA platform for FX/currency and interest rate swap transactions; and work for British Steel Pension Scheme on the derivatives elements of its restructuring.

The financial services regulatory team is well respected on both the contentious and non-contentious side. The firm has a particular strength in the investment fund and asset management areas and in regulatory capital. While most individual case highlights are confidential, public matters include the firm advising a variety of parties on their response to European Banking Authority proposals for a new regulatory capital regime for EU investment firms and work for CLS Bank International on the implementation of a new system for the settlement of FX derivative contracts.

On the contentious side the firm has been advising the Bank of England on a Serious Fraud Office investigation into crisis-era liquidity auctions.

In the funds space the firm focuses on private equity, real estate and closed-ended listed funds specifically. Much of the firm’s work during the research period has been linked to the capital markets including advising on various fund listings. Fund formation highlights include work for SV Health Managers on the fundraising of Dementia Discovery; work for Medicxi Ventures Management on the fundraising of Medicxi Growth I; and work for PiP Manager on the fund raising of its PiP Multi-strategy infrastructure fund.

The firm’s M&A practice is impressive and moves up in our rankings this year, it also has a notable private equity focus. Highlights include work for Micro Focus International on its merger with Hewlett Packard Enterprise's software business; work for Bridgepoint on the sale of Oasis Dental Care and separately the acquisition of Miller Homes; work for TA Associates on the acquisition of the single strategy asset management business of Old Mutual Wealth; and work for The Peel Group as a shareholder of Intu Properties in relation to an offer for it by Hammerson.

In restructuring and insolvency the firm acts for corporate and private equity clients. Much of the firm’s work is confidential but public matters include work for Arrowglass Capital Partners on the restructuring of Dreamland; work for Bridgepoint Capital on the debt restructuring of the A-Katsastus Group; and work for the trustees of the British Steel Pension Scheme on the separation of it from Tata Steel.

Banking partner Matthew Smith left to join Baker McKenzie during the research period.

Client feedback

"Very strong on both expertise and relationship building." – M&A

 "They worked with us on a complex bank fraud investigation and litigation. They appreciated the nuances of giving advice in a new jurisdiction and the sensitivities of joining an existing team of local lawyers. They brought excellent skills and support to the case. They were highly efficient, sound in their advice and first-rate in drafting skills. Caroline Edwards, lead partner, is very dedicated, while Eleanor Gill has a brilliant mind and works promptly. They were very pleasant to deal with throughout and won the respect of our mutual client quickly." - Regulatory

"As a client, I consistently receive comprehensible advice from Travers. They are very responsive, and I always feel like I am on top of their priority list. They have a light touch, and I always find it easy to pick up the phone to have a quick chat." – Banking, restructuring and insolvency

"Excellent - prompt, professional and commercial." - Regulatory

"Excellent service and attention to detail." – M&A, real estate finance

"First class work on our sale transaction with multiple commercial, regulatory and tax angles." – Banking, M&A

"I find the team to be very easy to deal with, as they combine detailed technical knowledge with a warm and friendly approach. Excellent in terms of technical ability." - Insolvency

"Provides good robust advice that proportionately balances legal requirements with commercial practicalities." – Investment funds, regulatory

"Technically excellent and sound commercial advice that is provided promptly." – Banking, capital markets, M&A

"They are responsive and understand our business well." – Investment funds

"They operate at the highest level and in my opinion, are the 'real deal'." - Regulatory

"Travers Smith is one of the strongest firms in the funds space with real strength across regulatory, tax, fund formation and restructuring. They are good to deal with, responsive and commercial. They tend to have excellent and dedicated associates." – Capital markets, investment funds, M&A, regulatory

"Travers Smith is a solid mid-range firm which provides high quality commercial and M&A advice." – M&A

"Travers Smith is, without a doubt, the market leading firm for regulatory matters. They provide an exceptional level of service and are our go to firm. They have depth across the team, are commercial, quick to respond and provide value for money." – Private equity, regulatory

"Travers Smith is an outstanding law firm. Travers Smith has outstanding attention to detail, provides timely advice and is capable of identifying issues on the horizon providing tailored and commercial advice of the highest standard." - Regulatory

"Travers Smith really understands our business, providing advice with both a strong legal foundation and awareness of the wider commercial context. In terms of banking specifically, the advice is always considered, and they are excellent at building consensus with legal firms working opposite' them." – Banking, M&A

"Very good, responsive, creative, thoughtful, always finds solutions to problems and understands the clients' business well. Would recommend to anyone." – Investment funds

"Very strong performance. Navigated through a difficult transaction bringing wide variety of skills necessary for what was a complex financing transaction. Managed the personalities in the transaction well, diffusing some very heated moments. Very good to work with, deep knowledge of the market, very practical and turned documents quickly and efficiently." – Banking, M&A

"We rate Travers Smith's private funds team extremely highly, and they have emerged as our preferred legal advisor owing to their commercial awareness, personal approach and great cultural fit with our business, all of which combine to provide a really strong all-round experience and at very reasonable value. Key strengths: The team has clearly taken time to understand our firm's strategy and needs, and this is reflected in the highly commercial advice that we receive. Their reviews are focused around the most pertinent and valuable points which saves us a significant amount of time and resource when working on investments or projects. Across the firm, they have made a concerted effort to develop close personal relationships with our team. This makes working with them both extremely efficient and infinitely more enjoyable. The team is highly responsive and has never failed to deliver on a project. They represent extremely good value for money, considering the quality of service and what we see from their peers. They have a really strong all-round offering with the breadth of expertise to help on a range of matters." – Banking, investment funds, M&A

"We started using Travers Smith as our main legal adviser when we incorporated our firm. Travers Smith immediately impressed us with their attention and the focus they gave on us when we were at an early stage of our firm's life. From day one, Travers Smith has shown to have a good understanding of our entrepreneurial aspirations and early challenges, and they helped us skilfully to navigate through the early years. As we have grown bigger and raised more capital, we have continued to rely on Travers Smith to structure and form our investment funds - and we have no regrets. The fund formation and fund structuring work has been of very high quality, and as a result, we are very satisfied with how our fund structures have turned out.  As a final comment, I should mention that we are very pleased with Travers Smith's response time to urgent matters. Travers Smith has proven to never be further away than a phone call." – Investment funds, regulatory

"Highly professional, engaging and consistent in meeting project timelines and goals. High degree of flexibility in accommodating changes to the client's project plan. High degree of versatility in supporting non-legal financial matters, such as operational implementation and tax issues, of the project." – Investment funds

Watson Farley & Williams

Watson Farley & Williams is best known for its work in the aviation, energy and shipping sectors acting on financing, capital markets, M&A and projects work.

In the capital markets highlights from the research period on the debt side includes work for a group of institutional investors on the financing of the acquisition of a stake in the Walney Extension wind farm, including a bond issue; work for Chaarat Gold Holdings on a fundraising consisting of secured convertible loan notes and equity; and work for Celeo on a refinancing via a project bond issue.

On the equity side the firm acted for Diversified Gas & Oil on its AIM IPO; advised TORM on a private placement of common shares; and acted for Tamesis Partners and Mirabaud Securities on a share placement by Prairie Mining.

In the M&A space work highlights include work for Statkraft UK on the sale of stakes in two offshore wind farms – the Dudgeon and Sheringham Shoal farms; work for Frasers Centrepoint on the acquisition of four UK business parks and separately the acquisition of the company owning the Farnborough Business Park; work for Mariana Resources on its merger with Sandstorm Gold; and work for OMV E&P on the sale of OMV UK.

Staffing changes during the research period include the hire of capital markets partner Rob Askew.

Client feedback

"Jan Mellman and his team at WFW are very knowledgeable and user-friendly. They are proactive and will work hard to achieve the stated objective, going above and beyond to ensure that a deal gets done. They are also really good fun to work with, and I would be very happy to work with them again. Jenny Hodges also deserves a mention for working tirelessly on a recent transaction and always staying on the front foot as the terms of the deal changed during the course of, what ended up being, a complicated multi-jurisdictional transaction involving several parties." – Capital markets : Equity

"Jan Mellmann and his team are experienced and knowledgeable in the area of M&A. They are consistently available, responsive, pro-active and pragmatic." – M&A

"Watson Farley & Williams have an excellent reputation which didn't disappoint. We've worked closely with them over a number of years and their knowledge, client and transaction management are first rate. Jan Mellman's ability to deal with the complex matters in a sensible and cost effective manner make him a go-to advisor for high level mergers and acquisitions. Jan is strongly supported by competent senior associate Jenny Hodges. Jenny's incredible ability to manage large cross-border transactions is a testament to her skill. I would welcome the opportunity to work with them again." – Capital markets : Equity, M&A

"Good technical skills paired with commercial acumen." - Banking

"High quality and diligent work." – Banking, M&A

Weil Gotshal & Manges

Weil Gotshal & Manges has built an impressive London offering off the back of its successful private equity offering. The firm now has broad coverage across financial and corporate with notable additional strength in banking, structured finance and securitisation and funds.

Within banking the firm’s traditional strong suit was advising sponsors but the firm also acts for lenders on a variety of leveraged and acquisition finance matters. Highlights from the research period include advising Shop Direct on a bank and bond refinancing; work for Advent International on the financing of the acquisition of Laird and Circet Groupe SAS; work for the arrangers on the financing of CVC Capital Partners’ acquisition of Zabka; and work for the lenders on the financing of part of Carlyle’s acquisition of the Belgium business of Betafence.

In the high yield area the firm has built its practice from its strength on the sponsor side but has picked up more deals for both issuers and underwriters during the research period. Examples include advising Odyssey Europe Holdco on the debt financing for the acquisition of Olympic Entertainment Group; work for the initial purchasers on the high yield refinancing of TeamSystem; and work for the Paprec Group on its senior secured notes issue.

Within structured finance and securitisation the firm has a clear focus on CLO work and is a leader in this area. The firm has also picked up work on a range of securitisation matters. Deal highlights include work for Barclays on a securitisation of income-contingent repayment student loans, the first of its type; further work for KKR Credit on the structuring of a servicing and credit platform linked to distressed Greek loan portfolios; work for Blackstone on the Willow Park, Palmerston Park and Clontarf Park CLOs; and work for Carlyle on Carlyle GMS Euro CLO 2017-1.

In the investment funds space Weil is a notable force in the private equity, infrastructure and real estate markets. In addition to its transactional team the firm points to its ‘strategic advisory’ role for clients, which brings in elements of commercial, banking and accountancy advice. Notable clients include the likes of Actis, Apax Partners, Brookfield, InfraRed, KKR and PAI Partners.

In the M&A space the firm is best known for its private equity work, in that area the firm has made a conscious effort to expand its infrastructure and real estate acquisitions practice in line with market trends. Deal highlights include work for Advent International and Bain Capital on the acquisitions of Concardis and Nets; work for Oaktree Capital on the sale of Fitness First; and work for Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan on the acquisition of a controlling stake in OGF. Outside of private equity highlights include advising Westinghouse Electric Company on its sale to Brookfield Business Partners; and work for Reynolds American on its merger with British American Tobacco. 

In restructuring and insolvency picks up a mix of creditor, debtor and bondholder mandates. The firm points to a particular specialism in insurance matters. Highlights from the research period include work for Westinghouse Electric on its Chapter 11 proceedings; work for KPMG as the administrators of MF Global; work for CHC Group on its Chapter 11; work for the ad hoc committee of Dan Gas sukuk certificate holders on its restructuring; and work for the senior secured noteholders on the restructuring of Edcon.

Staffing changes during the research period include the additions of Anthea Bamford to the real estate acquisitions practice from legacy firm Berwin Leighton Paisner and Paul Hibbert to the infrastructure acquisitions team from Baker McKenzie. On the other side Peter King departed to HM Treasury.

White & Case

White & Case has particular strengths in banking, debt capital markets, projects and restructuring work but has consolidated across the financial and corporate space over the last few years.

In the debt capital markets the firm points to particular expertise in sovereign debt issues, emerging markets issues, bond restructurings and green bond issues among others. Highlights from the research period include work for the Ukraine Ministry of Finance on its sovereign bond issue; work for the Republic of Nigeria on the establishment of a GMTN programme and the initial issues under it; and work for the coordinators and bookrunners on a notes issue by Kazakhstan Temir Zholy. On the high yield side highlights include work for Wind Tre on an issue of senior secured notes; and work for Puma International Financing on a senior notes issue.

In the equity capital markets the firm has picked up several deals from continental Europe or emerging markets including advising Avast on its LSE IPO; advising Energean Oil & Gas on its LSE IPO; advising Play Communications on its Warsaw Stock Exchange IPO; and advising Waberer on its IPO on the Budapest Stock Exchange.

In the structured finance and securitisation space the firm has picked up notable securitisations, CLO and covered bond work. Highlights include work for Crédit Agricole on a synthetic securitisation sold to the Mariner Investment Group and a securitisation of French SME and ISE loans; and work for Trafigura on the establishment of a “true sale” commodities securitisation programme. The firm also advised on a number of CLO and collateralised structured loan trades. In the derivatives space the firm advised the joint lead managers on the swap and collateral arrangements linked to a notes issues by Banque Ouest Africaine de Developpement (BOAD).

In M&A some of the firm’s deal highlights from the research period include advising the sellers on the sale of Sky Betting & Gaming to Stars Group; work for PPF Group on the acquisition of the CEE business of Telenor; work for GSO Capital on the sale of Miller Homes from Bridgepoint; and work for EPH on the acquisition of the Langage and South Humber Bank power plants.

In the restructuring and insolvency space the firm has a mix of debtor and creditor work including advising bondholders. The firm has picked up some impressive work during the research period including work for Kenya Airways on its restructuring; work for the noteholders in relation to a restructuring of Seven Energy’s capital structure; work for Ceona on its restructuring and work for EY on the subsequent administration.

Client feedback

"Extremely knowledgeable about their products, particularly in high yield bond issues for African credits. Melissa Butler is very user-friendly and combines strong technical skills with commercial approach." – Capital markets : Debt

"Highly responsive and good solid everyday staple law firm. Excellent expediting flow of work, including complex derivatives." - Derivatives

"High quality and solid legal services. Great staple firm for everyday capital markets needs. Reasonably priced. Highly recommended." – Capital markets

"One of the best in the business. Great attention to detail, ability to take the initiative and drive deal outcomes." – M&A

"Very strong partners who cover both emerging and high yield markets. I find W&C's service offering to be fantastic on account of the quality of the partners and their experience, the quality of the overall team and their overall helpfulness." – High yield

"White & Case offer an excellent service. They are client-oriented, commercial, very responsive and give clear and concise advice. They are my go-to law firm. They always make time for any of my queries, and their advice is always user-friendly. I would highly recommend them." – High yield

"We have worked with Ingrid York and Nathaniel Crowley on numerous derivatives transaction. The team is commercially focused, hardworking and reasonable in respect of legal fees." - Derivatives

"Very good restructuring practice. Proactive team who are really commercial." – Banking, restructuring and insolvency

Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Willkie Farr & Gallagher is best known for its work in the asset management area, acting on private equity and funds matters.

In the banking space the firm focuses on acquisition financing. Highlights from the research period include work for Tronox on a combined bank and bond financing; work for CVC Capital Partners Strategic Opportunities on the financing of the acquisition of Sebia; work for Davidson Kempner Capital Management on the vendor loan holdco PIK facility relating to the sale of a stake in eir; and work for Constantia Flexibles on the financing of the sale of its labels division.

In the debt capital markets space the firm acted for WFS Global Holding on its latest high yield issue; advised the ad hoc group of bondholders of Premier Oil's convertible bonds on the restructuring.

In the regulatory area the firm specialises in work related to investment funds and the insurance industry. During the research period the firm acted for the likes of GENSTAR, the Cowen Group and IK Investment Partners on the regulatory aspects of acquisitions. In the insurance space the firm acted for Barbican Insurance on its ILS transaction.

In the investment funds space highlights include work for Blue Water Energy on its second private equity fund; work for Adenia Partners on its fourth fund; work for Impax Asset Management on its third renewable infrastructure fund; and work for CardinalStone Capital Advisors on the establishment of its private equity fund.

The restrucuturing and insolvency team acts on corporate and bond restructurings. Highlights during the research period include work for ABN Amro on the restructuring of the Danaos Group; work for the Proserv Group on its cross border financial restructuring; and work for Afren and AlixPartners on the former's administration.

Staffing changes include the addition of funds lawyer Henrietta de Salis.

Client feedback

"The funds team at Willkie has given us confidence that we have the best counsel available on all aspects of fund formation, and it has been a pleasure to work with them. Key attributes that stand out are accessibility, strength of advice, and value for money. I would, unreservedly, recommend the Willkie team for private equity fund formation work." – Investment funds

Winston & Strawn

Winston & Strawn is best known in the UK for its projects work particularly in the LNG sector, but the firm also picks up work in banking and M&A.

In banking highlights include work for Argand Partners on the financing of the acquisition of Brintons Carpets and OASE Management and work for Cathay United Bank on a syndicated loan.

On the project finance side the firm acted for a number of institutional investors on the first project financing in the Faroe Islands, a project bond issue to finance a toll road.

In the M&A space highlights include work for Yioula Glassworks on the sale of its operations in Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania; work alongside the New York office for Silgan Holdings on the acquisition of WestRock; work for Superior Industries International on the acquisition of Uniwheels; and work for Beam Suntory on the acquisition of Sipsmith.

In the project development area LNG and oil and gas are key areas of focus. Work highlights from the research period include work for Electrogas Malta on the Delimara 4 LNG-to-Power Project. While much of the firm's other work is confidential it can be said that it has been active on projects in the Middle East and Africa.

Staffing changes include the hire of finance partner Ian Borman from King & Wood Mallesons.

Client feedback

"The firm's great client service and delivery is an excellent value for money for the client. They are experienced at complex cross border transactions and are able to offer commercial advice underpinned by excellent technical skills. Overall, the firm is more user-friendly and approachable than many other US firms in the city." – Private equity