WINNER: Carey Olsen
For the last three years Carey Olsen has executed a significant programme of expansion that has underlined its status as an offshore powerhouse. In 2015 it opened in Singapore, in 2016 in Hong Kong and in 2017 the firm launched in its fifth legal jurisdiction with an office in Bermuda. Eschewing merger, Carey Olsen has opened new offices with targeted hires and subsequent growth. With Caribbean jurisdictions of increasing interest for Asian clients, the launch in Bermuda underpins the firm’s continued growth across the Asia region. Meanwhile work in the Channel Islands, the firm’s home base, continues to be strong in both contentious and non-contentious work. Carey Olsen was the leading listing agent for The International Stock Exchange in 2017, advises over 1,200 funds across the Channel Islands and nine of the world’ top ten private equity clients – and is now targeting fintech. A strong year from a confident partnership. ‘Real market leadership, innovative initiatives and impressive expertise,’ said the judges, praising the firm’s international growth strategy.
Highly commended: Ogier
Commended: Bedell Cristin
Bedell Cristin’s strong run of deals in Jersey, Guernsey and BVI were noted by the judges, who commended its ‘substantial’ work and its ‘great ambitions’.
Highly commended: Osborne Clarke
In 2015 the government mandated local government pension scheme (LGPS) funds pool their assets with the intention of reducing costs and reorganising resources so that the funds could become larger investors in infrastructure. An Osborne Clarke team consisting of partners Helen Parsonage, Mark Womersley, Mark Weser and Catherine Wolfenden carried out the project, noted by the judges for its ‘high degree of regulatory innovation and project management’ and for its impressive technical competency’
Thorntons has rapidly made a name for itself as a progressive, growing firm in Soctland. 2017-18 saw it revamping its processes and client service delivery and acquiring Pagan Osborne from administration – a deal that accelerated its ambition to be a £30m turnover business by 2020. The judges noted its ‘strong leadership’, ‘smart initiatives’, ‘innovative pricing models’ and clear focused strategy’.
Commended: PCB Litigation
Asset recovery and fraud specialists PCB Litigation has enjoyed a streak of high-profile, high-value work over 2017 and 2018, including headline cases such as the Hellas Telecommunication trial, in which it acts for leading private equity house TPG – one of The Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2018. ‘With high-stakes, high-profile cases, this firm is one to watch’, said the judges.
Supported by Clifford Chance, the in-house legal team planned, structured and negotiated the highly complex deal under stringent time constraints and involving different, fast-paced work streams.
It ultimately led to a High Court Order for the last 8 weeks of the 2016/17 PL season as a “trial run” which was then renewed for the 2017/18 season. The judges were wowed by the BT team, calling their work ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘creative’.
Highly commended: Visa
Creative problem solving took centre stage, as the in-house team at Visa worked on the launch of a new internal innovation centre. Under the leadership of former Deutsche Bank in-houser Emma Slatter, the team worked on the launch of an environment for investment in fin tech startups to come up with creative solutions for payment products. Novel legal issues encountered in the TMT sector meant that the team had to develop a new way of handling the disclosure of confidential information. The Lawyer Awards judges described this work as “tangible progress in a highly regulated sector”.
Commended: Litigation Team, Sky Legal
WINNER: Clifford Chance
This year’s corporate team of the year award goes to Clifford Chance. M&A partners Lee Coney and Katherine Moir led for Imagination Technologies, a British “tech darling” involved in a David and Goliath dispute, when it found itself up against tech giant Apple. The UK chip designer put itself up for sale after a “very public and high stakes” dispute over licensing patents with Apple in June 2017. By September, it had received a takeover approach from Chinese-backed private equity firm Canyon Bridge, for £550m
WINNER: Paul Hastings
This year’s finance team of the year award goes to Paul Hastings, led by partner David Ereira. The team oversaw one of the biggest bail-outs of the year, succeeding on the restructuring of the beleaguered Co-operative bank within the space of a few weeks. Paul Hastings acted for the fund management companies, stitching together a rescue package to save the bank before a £400m bond was due to fall for repayment.
As well as meeting the requirements of the bank, the deal had to satisfy the needs of the funds, agreeing to convert their claims to equity and providing the new capital particularly to ensure a more appropriate management and governance structure could be put in place.
The full restructuring solution was agreed and implemented within just a few weeks, requiring no public money and with no bank resolution.
The judges commented that the restructuring of the bank was an “impressive, broad based team effort” which juggled “a number of different and competing issues”. They concluded that the entry is “a stand out”.
“Most impressively they seem to have devised an alternative scheme to the one originally proposed, to the very significant benefit of their clients and the other stakeholders and interested parties”.
Highly commended: Reed Smith.
Commended: Neil Block, 39 Essex Chambers
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