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White & Case Advises on Isoclima Financing

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised Crédit Agricole FriulAdria as lender on the extension of a super senior revolving credit facility entered into by Isoclima to finance its working capital needs.

White & Case concurrently advised Pemberton Asset Management as provider of senior secured notes that were refinanced at closing.

Controlled by Stirling Square Capital Partners, Isoclima is a world leader in the production of high performance transparent glazing solutions. It has several production facilities across Europe, Mexico and the United States.

The White & Case team in Milan that advised on the transaction consisted of partners Iacopo Canino and Gianluca Fanti together with associate Stefano Bellani and lawyer Angelo Salis.

A&O launches Silicon Valley tech team as Linklaters hires litigation star

In a major expansion of its US operations, Allen & Overy (A&O) has made an eye-catching move for seven White & Case technology partners to establish a new Silicon Valley presence.

Making the switch are partners Shamita Etienne-Cummings, Bijal Vakil, David Tennant, Eric Lancaster, Adam Chernichaw, Daren Orzechowski and Alex Touma. The new multidisciplinary team will be headed by Orzechowski and Vakil, with all of the arriving partners operating from the current locations in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York and Washington DC.

The team will offer a combined strength in technology disputes, transactions, patent litigation and intellectual property. As well as a new Silicon Valley hub, the team transfer will also provide A&O with a new San Francisco office.

A&O senior partner Wim Dejonghe said: ‘All businesses are technology businesses now. Our clients have been asking us when we will have a presence in Silicon Valley and now we are adding an offering that we will grow to serve as the firm’s centre of excellence in a range of technology areas. This is truly a top team and integrating them into our existing practice will be game-changing for us, not just in the US, but in our capabilities to serve clients in the key markets of Europe and Asia as well.’

Continuing the Magic Circle’s US push this week, Linklaters has appointed litigation heavyweight Richard Smith as a partner in Washington DC, a rare exit from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. With over 30 years’ experience, Smith has an established reputation in litigation, particularly in white-collar defence.

Prior to private practice, Smith spent 15 years as a senior government prosecutor and was the former principal deputy chief for litigation of the fraud section of the US Department of Justice, Criminal Division.

Adam Lurie, head of Linklaters’ dispute resolution practice in the US, commented: ‘I’ve worked across from Richard on high-profile cases and our clients will benefit from his extensive experience, outstanding judgement and exceptional advocacy skills.’

In the UK, Walker Morris has made a significant addition to its real estate group, hiring partner George Bacon from Eversheds Sutherland. Ranked by The Legal 500 as a ‘leading individual’ for real estate in Yorkshire and the Humber, Bacon was previously head of real estate for Eversheds’ Leeds office.

Bacon said: ‘As a unique one-site firm located in Leeds, Walker Morris’ entrepreneurial philosophy, excellent reputation and breadth of expertise give it a distinctive edge and I am looking forward to being a part of one of the strongest specialist real estate teams in the country.’

Bird & Bird has expanded in London with the addition of experienced corporate finance partner Nick O’Donnell, who joins from Baker McKenzie. O’Donnell has spent 20 years advising clients across the technology, healthcare, energy, retail, media and financial services sectors on M&A, equity capital markets and ESG matters.

He has significant pedigree, having worked at Allen & Overy for over a decade with secondments at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

Matt Bonass, head of Bird & Bird’s corporate group in London, said: ‘He has an excellent track record of advising on upper mid-market, cross-border deals; and his reputation is outstanding. We’re looking forward to having him onboard!’

Finally, in New York, Squire Patton Boggs has hired tax partner Jeffrey Koppele from Ashurst. Koppele has a wide practice advising clients on both domestic and international transactions, as well as dispositions, bankruptcy and restructurings, funds and investments, capital markets transactions and real estate investments.

Mitch Thompson, global head of the tax strategy and benefits practice group, said: ‘The expansion of our US tax team is an important part of our global growth strategy and Jeff will be significant boost our US and international tax offering to clients.’

Singapore jostles with London for top arbitration spot

Singapore now rivals London as the most popular seat for international arbitration, with Hong Kong coming a close second, a global survey has found.

A study by international firm White & Case, in partnership with Queen Mary University of London, has revealed that the popularity of Asian arbitral hubs has grown significantly in the past five years. Asked to select their preferred seats, 54% of respondents chose London and Singapore – the latter making the top spot for the first time. Meanwhile, half of the 1,200 respondents picked Hong Kong.

In 2015, Singapore garnered just 19% of the votes, while Hong Kong was picked by 22% of arbitration users.

According to the report, the increases enjoyed by Asian seats ‘may correlate with a relative reduction in the percentage of respondents who included traditionally dominant European seats, such as London, Paris and Geneva, in their answers.

‘London was selected by 64% of respondents in 2018, making it the most selected that year, but it dropped to 54% in this edition of the survey. Paris fell even further, from its second place showing in 2018, with 53% of respondents including it in their selections, to fourth place this year, as a seat of choice for 35% of respondents.’

The report also revealed a lack of enthusiasm for remote proceedings among arbitration users. While just 16% of respondents said they would ‘postpone the hearing until it could be held in person’, only 8% would actively prefer to hold substantive hearings remotely rather than in-person or using a mix of in-person and virtual formats.

The survey found a significant preference for international arbitration in conjunction with alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as opposed to on a stand-alone basis. This follows a trend over recent years.

 

City lawyers need to embrace their inner entrepreneur

Ahead of tomorrow’s event, ‘Life on the frontline of the global economy’, White & Case counsel Catherine Andrews looks back on her career in capital markets

Despite fears that global economic growth is slowing, investment into emerging infrastructure markets remains buoyant. According to White & Case counsel Catherine Andrews, the demand for increased spending on roads, ports and energy facilities often follows a so-called “infrastructure funding gap”, where governments look to institutional investors to enable them to realise their extensive energy and infrastructure requirements. Bridging this funding gap, however, is costly and requires external advice and structuring, as Catherine explains:

“There’s only so much funding a government can give for an energy or infrastructure project. So, there’s always a need for private investment and financing — regardless of the state of the global economy.”

As a capital markets lawyer specialising in infrastructure, Catherine advises government entities and corporations on accessing the international capital markets to raise the required funds by way of a bond issuance (effectively a form of debt security). This type of transaction gives investors a steady return of interest and principal over a prescribed period of time, and provides government entities and corporations with a viable and cost effective way of funding large projects as an alternative or complementary source of funding to traditional bank loans. Catherine, along with her team, help prepare the underlying legal documentation, including a bond prospectus which “drills down into the detail” of the project and explains the transaction to investors.

In the past year, London-based Catherine has represented a number of high-profile oil and gas and infrastructure clients from the Middle East issue bonds worth billions of dollars. Africa’s capital markets, too, are seeing heightened activity. “Africa is a key area of focus for White & Case — huge infrastructure is on the agenda,” says Catherine, who’s currently advising a Nigerian oil and gas company on its debut capital markets issuance.

But this buoyant practice area remains “extremely sensitive” to shifting geopolitics and market confidence Catherine explains. “The difficulty is that when you’re having to access the markets at a time where there is underlying turbulence or uncertainty, a number of uncontrollable external factors can have an immediate negative impact on market conditions on any given day. This means that ultimately, issuers can be forced to agree to a higher rate of interest on the bonds to be issued in order to successfully close a deal with investors, or risk waiting for market conditions to improve before closing that can cause an unlimited amount of delay.”

Amid ongoing US-China trade tensions, and an increasing use of economic sanctions by governments worldwide, capital markets lawyers must remain aware of what is going on in the world and where the introduction or expansion of sanctions legislation could impact a transaction. “Sanctions were hardly mentioned when I qualified but are now a big part of every transaction we do,” says Catherine, who studied modern history at the University of Oxford.

Being proactive in advising clients aligns with the entrepreneurial mindset typical of lawyers at leading US law firms, such as White & Case. Catherine explains: “It’s about being able to pre-empt challenges and offer advice before market developments hit news headlines, so you can immediately ring up your client and say, ‘I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but it may impact you. Would you like me to prepare some advice for you on this?’”

This readiness to act stems in part from Catherine’s experience of the 2008 financial crash. “I qualified in September 2008 — Lehman Brothers collapsed two months later. The international credit markets were effectively frozen. For us lawyers, it was an extremely difficult time,” recalls Catherine.

The crash signalled an end to the economic boom and the seemingly endless supply of work for City lawyers. “When I entered law, I saw it as a job for life. You could go in, train at a big firm and then you’re set up with a ‘guaranteed’ job. But the economic crisis was a big wake up call to everybody. Work is not guaranteed; you can’t take it for granted.”

Fortunately, Catherine qualified at a magic circle law firm in Dubai, whose economy remained relatively robust during the crisis. “In the fall-out from Lehman, the Middle East, which was traditionally seen as a risky commercial environment, was now regarded as a safe haven for bond investors, and was somewhat shielded from the financial crisis. So, while my colleagues were twiddling their thumbs back in London, I was extremely busy and cutting my teeth on some really interesting and novel deals,” she tells us.

In 2012 Catherine joined White & Case’s Abu Dhabi office, which offered greater opportunities to specialise in government-led project financing. Three years later, she transferred to the firm’s London office.

Despite the long hours and the challenge of overseeing several deals at once, Catherine enjoys the “thrill” of building new client relationships. “When you represent a client on a bond transaction, you have the ability to become their trusted legal advisor. Walking them through the steps of issuing a bond also means you get a real insight into their business, which offers up plenty of opportunities to cross-sell other legal services to them.”

So, what does it take to make it at a big US law firm? Well, according to Catherine, it’s showing that you’re a team player:

“It doesn’t matter how much you know about a practice area; always remember that you are a vital part of a team. Regardless how mundane the work you are set, a whole team of partners and associates deeply rely on you carrying out those tasks extremely well. We can teach you how documents can be drafted, but what we can’t teach is good work ethic.”

Demonstrating such diligence from the get-go is vital. “Trainees should view each seat on a training contract as a six month job interview. By the end of your seat, you should be regarded as someone that’s indispensable in the team and ultimately a safe pair of hands who can be relied on to execute at the highest level,” Catherine advises.

 

White & Case Advises on Polish MoF €2 Billion Green Bonds Issuance

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised the Polish Ministry of Finance on the €2 billion issuance of ten- and 30-year euro-denominated ‘Green Bonds’, maturing respectively on March 7, 2029 and March 8, 2049.

The €1.5 billion issuance of the ten-year Green Bond yields 1.057% with an annual coupon of 1%. The €500 million issuance of the 30-year Green Bond yields 2.071% with an annual coupon of 2%.

The bonds were issued under the Republic of Poland’s €60 billion Euro Medium Term Note Programme, and the proceeds will finance environmental projects according to the Green Bond Framework developed by the Ministry of Finance in line with the ICMA Green Bond Principles.

The buyers of the ten-year and 30-year Green Bonds were well diversified with, respectively, 47 percent and 43 percent of the allocations going to designated green accounts.

The White & case team which advised on the transaction was led by local partner Andrzej Sutkowski (Warsaw), with support from counsel Doron Loewinger (London) and associates Katarzyna Grodziewicz, Damian Lubocki (both Warsaw) and Luiza Salata (London).

London City

White & Case’s London rampage continues with finance hire

White & Case has continued its hiring spree in the City, this time calling in Taylor Wessing’s financial services regulatory head Jonathan Rogers. This is the first US firm Rogers has worked at, having spent 10 years at Taylor Wessing, and seven years as an associate at Hogan Lovells before that.