The team at Clifford Chance remains one of the outstanding practices in the City, with an incredible breadth and depth of service in all key areas. The massive department has experienced a steady flow of high-end refinancings, investment-grade work and significant activity in the amend and extend area, as well as leveraged finance. The firm continues with its expanding emerging markets coverage, with a recent opening in Casablanca. Peers and clients both have no doubt about the practice's position: "It's clear that it is right on top of the market and it knows exactly what is going on." A source was especially impressed by "its ability to throw in the resources and specialisations in different areas, and the individuals would always be up to speed whenever it brought new people in." The team acted on one of the headline-grabbing deals of 2011, the USD12.5 billion refinancing of SABMiller/Foster's, as well as a range of other big-ticket transactions such the EUR2.5 billion facility provided by Barclays Capital and Nordea Bank Finland to Fortum.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Bates "will tell you what is important and what isn't and he has the ability to cut to the chase and push things along," clients say. He is one of the firm's most visible lawyers, and has a sterling track record in handling cross-border and structured finance deals. He recently acted for Commerzbank as the mandated lead arranger on the EUR1.2 billion revolving loan facility to Vestas Wind Systems.
Global head of finance Mark Campbell is commended as a "technically extremely able" practitioner, and as someone who "knows the loan market inside out." He advises on leveraged finance and syndicated lending issues.
Charles Cochrane has a "massive intellectual capability, and the uncanny ability to think one step ahead," earning him the moniker "two-brains" from one admiring client. Sources highlight him as a go-to person for highly complex and demanding situations that require a creative solution.
Well known for his "top-notch" expertise in private equity sponsor work, Alan Inglis recently acted for EQT on several issues including the fund's acquisition of Dometic Group, involving SEK6.6 billion of senior facilities and a EUR200 million PIK bond.
Peers regard James Johnson as a standout name in the field who "more than anything else is pragmatic and knows how to get a deal done."
Jim MacHale assisted the mandated lead arrangers on a USD280 million loan to OMERS Private Equity for the acquisition of the V Group. Peers say he is "impressive, very pragmatic and well respected by his clients."
Peers emphasise Nicola Wherity as someone who is great to work across from, with one source noting: "She always wows me. She is a complete standout for me; the overall package is great."
Roderick McGillivray acts for several private equity clients including CVC, whom he represented in the EUR300 million acquisition financing of RAET.
Robert Lee handles syndicated loans, MBOs, structured financings and corporate restructurings, both domestic and cross-border. He is noted for his commercial approach and sector knowledge.
Emma Folds's remit is LBOs and acquisition financing, with a focus on the European market. She advised Citigroup Global Markets and BNP Paribas on two large facilities for WPP.
A "user-friendly lawyer with whom you can have a discussion," Karen Hodson's recent work includes a EUR900 million multicurrency revolving credit facility for stainless steel manufacturer Outokumpu.
New entry Taner Hassan is active on sponsor files, especially LBOs and acquisition finance. He recently assisted Arle & Stork Technical Services on its acquisition of RBG.
Senior partner Malcolm Sweeting remains one of the best-known names in the market, with an incredible depth of experience in financing issues.