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Walkers' Global Asset Finance Practice Shines on World Stage in 2020

Walkers is pleased to announce that its global asset finance practice has been recognised for its role in seven award winning transactions identified by the leading industry publications throughout 2020.

In the recent Airfinance Journal Awards 2020, Walkers' offices were involved in three award winning transactions with significant roles on the ABS Deal of the Year (JOL Air $554m ABS), SLB Deal of the Year (Air Europa US$215m Sale Leaseback and PDP financing) and Equity Deal of the Year (Titan Aviation's $400m Aviation Fund). The JOL Air transaction was also lauded in the Asia-Pacific market where it won the Asia Pacific Overall Deal of the Year Award at the Airline Economics Aviation 100 Asia Pacific Awards and the In-House Community Asian-Mena Counsel Deal of the Year 2019.

Prior to these awards, Walkers' Irish office celebrated winning two aviation-related Dublin Finance awards in the Financing category (SMBC Aviation Capital’s GAEL aviation equity fund) and in the M&A category (InterGlobe’s acquisition of Airborne Capital).

The SMBC transaction was noteworthy for its involvement of Walkers' lender client with SMBC Aviation Capital's inaugural aviation equity fund, providing an entry point into the aircraft leasing market for Japanese institutional investors that had not previously invested in aviation. Walkers was delighted to advise the client on the Irish and Cayman aspects of this innovative eight aircraft transaction, which demonstrated the ability of the team to work closely with onshore counsel to bring transactions of this complexity to financial close.

The InterGlobe transaction demonstrated both the expertise of Walkers' corporate team in financial services and aviation, M&A and corporate restructurings and their growing presence on such deals within the market. The deal has facilitated Airborne with its plans to expand its aircraft operations and its transformative effect was seen late last year when Airborne completed a US$637 million asset back securitisation in respect of 17 aircraft.

Commenting on these recent awards wins, Partner and Head of the Ireland Asset Finance practice, David McGovern said, "The awards show a market recognition and endorsement in respect of our team of internationally trained lawyers. The experience of Walkers' Asset Finance practice and detailed knowledge of the aircraft finance and leasing sector from a legal and commercial perspective results in our ability to document transactions in a practical and commercial manner. We are grateful to have been recognised by the Airfinance Journal and by Finance Dublin as a leading asset finance service provider."

Earlier in the year, Walkers was also delighted to have been involved in three award winning transactions at the Airline Economics Awards in January 2020 including acting as Cayman counsel on the Aviation 100 Asia-Pacific Editor’s Deal of the Year (MACH 2019-1 ABS) and Cayman and Irish counsel on the Aviation 100 Fund of the Year (New Fund) (Global Aviation Equipment Leasing fund). These successes highlight the strength, breadth and technical ability of the global asset finance team.

James Burch, partner in Walkers' Cayman Islands office, notes that these awards "are testament to the expertise and connectivity of our global asset finance teams and we are proud to support our clients in the industry on these innovative and market leading transactions."

In the first new aircraft type delivered by a commercial aircraft manufacturer to a new customer during the COVID-19 pandemic, Walkers acted as Cayman Islands counsel in connection with the financing by ABSA Bank Limited and African Export – Import Bank of six De Havilland Dash 8-400 aircraft to TAAG Angola Airlines.

The Bermuda office also led a multi-disciplinary cross office team acting as Bermuda, Cayman and BVI offshore counsel to Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. on three separate significant financing transactions, equating to $2bn which were completed during May as well as acting as Bermuda counsel in connection with Carnival's US$6.6bn debt and equity offerings.

Walkers' market leading asset finance team comprises 53 lawyers, in ten offices practicing the laws of six jurisdictions. Together with our experienced fiduciary colleagues in Walkers Professional Services, Walkers can provide a comprehensive solution across all major aviation jurisdictions for the establishment and ongoing operation of asset finance SPVs.

New Faces as Walkers' Adds to Disputes and Private Capital Teams in Guernsey

Walkers' Guernsey office has added lawyers across its disputes and private capital teams during the lockdown period as its growth continues.

The new lawyers – Jamie Bookless (senior counsel, Insolvency and Dispute Resolution), and Kathryn Macken (associate, private capital and trusts – join the firm from another offshore firm, and an in-house counsel role respectively.

Walkers' Guernsey managing partner Louise Hall said: "We are delighted to welcome Jamie and Kathryn to the team, further strengthening our Insolvency and Dispute Resolution and Private Capital and Trusts practice groups.

"We're now at the point at which our headcount is 73% higher more than it was just two years ago, and we have more recruitment announcements planned for the coming weeks and months."

Of the newcomers:

  • Jamie Bookless is an experienced offshore litigator who has practised in Guernsey for five years – before that he worked in the disputes teams of two major Scottish firms.
  • Kathryn Macken worked in London for ten years before moving offshore – her previous role was an in-house counsel legal position at an international fiduciary business.

Fraser Hern, the head of Walkers in the Channel Islands, said: "This growth in our Guernsey team, as well as recent hires in our Jersey office, reflect our confidence and optimism about the islands.

"I am very pleased to welcome Jamie and Kathryn to the team, and we look forward to making more announcements soon."

Walkers' Growth in Jersey Continues With Three New Hires

Walkers' Jersey office has added three lawyers across its banking, disputes and investment funds/corporate teams during the lockdown period as growth continues.

The new lawyers – Julia Keppe (senior counsel, Banking & Finance), Tom Fothergill (senior associate, Investment Funds and Corporate) and Charlotte Matthews (associate, Insolvency and Dispute Resolution) – join the firm from another offshore firm, an in-house government position and a City law firm respectively.

Walkers' Jersey managing partner Jonathan Heaney said: "Continuing to recruit and build our practices is the best possible demonstration of our confidence here in Jersey, and it is particularly pleasing to see growth across all legal disciplines.

"We're now at the point at which our legal headcount is more than 70% higher than it was just two years ago, and we have more recruitment announcements planned for the coming weeks and months.

"We are also very pleased to welcome senior counsel Guy Morris back to the office after a sabbatical, adding further strength to our Investment Funds and Corporate team."

Of the newcomers:

  • Julia Keppe is a Banking & Finance specialist who spent over ten years with Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in London and New York before moving offshore in 2018. She advises on fund financings, real estate financings, restructurings and complex leveraged financings.
  • Tom Fothergill is a senior associate in the Investment Funds & Corporate team, and also advises on regulatory matters having been a senior financial services policy adviser in the Government of Jersey on policy and law drafting in relation to AML/CFT, beneficial ownership and economic substance.
  • Charlotte Matthews is an associate in the Insolvency and Dispute Resolution team, who joins the firm from the London office of Stephenson Harwood, where she worked in the marine and international trade disputes team.

Fraser Hern, the head of Walkers in the Channel Islands, said: "This growth in our Jersey team, as well as recent hires in our Guernsey office, reflect our confidence and optimism about the islands.

"I am very pleased to welcome Julia, Tom and Charlotte to the team, and to welcome Guy back to us, and we look forward to making more announcements soon."

Walkers Ranked as Leading Firm in Chambers High Net Worth Guide

Walkers' Global Private Capital & Trusts ("PC&T") practice has been highlighted in the independent Chambers & Partners High Net Worth Guide for 2020 for its Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey practices. Walkers' Cayman office was ranked as a jurisdiction-leading practice having received an overall Band 1 rating, with clients commenting:

"[Walkers] is a big-name brand and has a loyal client following, they have the strength and resources to do this work on a global scale;" and "If I could pick any team in Cayman I'd go to them."

Walkers' Jersey and Guernsey teams also ranked and, in total, seven of Walkers' PC&T lawyers have been ranked in the directory.

The ranking comes just six months after Walkers was named Law Firm of the Year for the Caribbean at the prestigious 2020 Citywealth International Financial Centre Awards ceremony, a designation that highlights excellence in private wealth advisors and managers in major international financial centres.

The following members of the PC&T practice were highlighted by Chambers & Partners:

Monique Bhullar, Cayman Islands: "is "a very good lawyer" who advises on complex trust matters. One industry source says: "She is extremely bright, practical and has good business sense with regard to wealth structuring and high-value trust matters." Another peer remarks: "She has a very good attitude, is driven and pleasant to deal with," adding that "she is a real expert in unit trusts."

David Pytches, Cayman Islands and BVI "expert based abroad": "is well regarded for his broad range of expertise in offshore trust matters. He is highly responsive and gives excellent legal advice, but he also has good commercial nous," observers a trusts expert, who continues: "What distinguishes him from other lawyers is that he is someone who can advise us beyond just the legal issues." A US attorney notes that "he has a brilliant legal mind and is a very cerebral lawyer."

Shelley White, Cayman Islands: "is "a brilliant lawyer" who is "an excellent litigator" according to sources. One market insider notes: "She is incredibly bright and has real intellectual rigour. She can cut through legal issues very incisively and she also brings good commercial acumen," adding that "she brings both sides of the coin to the table." Another source remarks that "she fights your corner until the bitter end."

Lucy Diggle, Cayman Islands: "is "a standout attorney worthy of recognition," says a source, and another interviewee notes: "She has intellectual rigour and real common sense." An industry expert says: "She is very personable and very intelligent," adding that "she is easy to work with and friendly." "She can always see the broader picture to give you the right overview and put complex pieces together," comments a London adviser."

Rajah Abusrewil, Guernsey: "is described as a well-regarded trusts attorney with a "very good reputation". A private client adviser reported that "Technically, she is very personable, and good with clients."

Rupert Morris, Guernsey: "is head of the private capital and trusts team in Guernsey. A source says he is "a very good contentious lawyer who can also handle trust planning work," and another reports that "he has a strong reputation here and people know he is good."

Robert Dobbyn, Jersey: "is "very knowledgeable, very commercial and has a very broad range of experience", says an offshore expert, who also remarked that "he is good in understanding the intricacies of structuring laws and rules in Jersey, as well as other markets."

Over the last year, Walkers has steadily grown its global PC&T practice. The Cayman team saw the promotions of Monique Bhullar and Clive Thomas to the partnership, and Jo-Anne Stephens to senior counsel. Meanwhile, in Guernsey, trust and fiduciary expert Rajah Abusrewil joined the firm as a Group Partner. All 10 of Walkers' offices are accredited as a STEP Employer Partner, a partnership that supports the professional development of its team members in the trusts and estates industry.

The PC&T team at Walkers spans the globe with lawyers on the ground in the Cayman Islands, BVI, Guernsey and Jersey, who collaborate closely with colleagues in London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Because of its strategic locations, Walkers is able to consider factors such as language barriers and time zones, and address them by choosing what's most appropriate and convenient for the client.

"We are often instructed on matters involving multiple jurisdictions providing a single point of contact for the client," commented Philip Paschalides, lead partner of the PC&T group. "But, our group structure also allows us to remain agile and recommend the jurisdiction which best suits the client's needs."

Walkers Continues to Expand with the Addition of Bermudian Compliance Services

Walkers Professional Services is pleased to announce the expansion of its Bermuda business into regulatory compliance services with the hiring of former Deloitte compliance professional, Michael Wynne.

In his new role as Senior Vice-President of Regulatory Compliance Services, Michael will work closely with Melanie Fullerton of Walkers' Global Regulatory & Risk Advisory legal practice to provide the Bermuda market with integrated compliance and legal solutions to regulatory matters.

This new service offering will encompass a broad range of regulatory and operational compliance engagements, ranging from compliance framework construction, assessment and remediation to training and internal controls testing.

Michael was formerly a part of Deloitte’s Financial Crime Compliance team and was integral in the initial establishment and development of the department. During his time there, he managed C-suite level compliance engagements, advising Bermudian and BVI financial institutions on regulatory matters relating to their AML/ATF and Sanctions compliance framework. Prior to this, Michael worked as a compliance officer at Earthport plc (now Visa Payments Limited), a London based financial technology company.

Walkers partner Natalie Neto commented: "The recruitment of Michael is a key next step in the expansion of our WPS business. In our view, the joined-up approach provided by WPS and Walkers Bermuda is unique in Bermuda and will provide clients with assurance that their regulatory framework is legally sound and operationally effective from a compliance perspective. Clients will benefit from Michael's 'Big Four' advisory experience and Melanie's company law background and regulatory and risk experience at the BMA. This is a hugely exciting development for our business".

Walkers Lawyers Sole Cayman Recipients of IFLR's Top Women Leaders Recognition

Walkers' partners, Ingrid Pierce and Caroline Williams are the recipients of the 2020 IFLR1000 Women Leaders Guide award for the Americas region. The IFLR1000 is a leading legal directory, which ranks the world's most prominent financial and corporate law firms and lawyers. Ingrid and Caroline are among 69 women in the Americas recognised in the annual index and are the sole representatives in the Cayman Islands.

The Top Women Leaders award recognises women at the top of their professions who have impressive track records and are consistently recommended by clients and peers for the quality of their advice and service. The recipients are chosen through a rigorous research process based on transactional experience and market feedback.

Ingrid Pierce is Walkers' Global Managing Partner and heads the Global Investment Funds Group. She has extensive industry experience and is recognised as one of the world's leading investment funds lawyers. She is regularly featured in top legal directories as a market leader, described as a "phenomenal" lawyer and is sought for her thought leadership. She is a frequent speaker at industry events and guest commentator on various media platforms including Bloomberg, CNBC and Fox Business. Ingrid was also recently featured in a '20 Women to Watch in 2020' article in Women & Wealth Magazine.

Caroline Williams is a partner in the firm's Global Investment Funds and Corporate groups. She has extensive private funds experience, specialising in both hedge funds and private equity. Caroline is also regularly featured in top legal directories in the areas of Investment Funds, Private Funds and Corporate & Commercial as a "terrific" and "hugely well respected" market leader. She is also a frequent guest speaker at prominent industry events, including the Annual Women in Alternative Investment Summit, which brings together an influential group of more than 450 senior-level women in the financial industry.

Commenting on the guide, partner Caroline Williams said: "It is a tremendous honour for two Walkers lawyers to represent IFLR's Women Leaders in the Cayman Islands. Our practices are built on the foundations of client service and collegiate problem solving and I would therefore like to thank our clients and colleagues for all their support over the years".

Walkers' Global Investment Funds group was among five practices to be ranked 'Tier 1' in the 2020 IFLR1000 rankings, and both Ingrid and Caroline were recognised by the directory as market leading lawyers. The group offers Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey and Irish law advice on investment funds and is one of the largest specialist International Financial Centre funds teams worldwide.