SCI CRT Awards: Law Firm of the Year

Category: Capital Relief Trades ABS

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Winner: Clifford Chance

In a year that was heavily affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic, and the extension of the STS regime to synthetic securitisation, Clifford Chance has stood out as the leading law firm on all aspects of credit risk transfer transactions.

“We’ve always felt we have the largest and most experienced practice in this market and it is nice to win an award like this that recognises that. We have been there through the financial crisis when this was an unfashionable market. And as the market has returned since 2012, we have always been at the forefront of new developments,” Tim Cleary, partner at Clifford Chance, explains.

Clifford Chance’s primary strategic goal is to remain the ‘go to’ firm for originator banks looking to execute risk transfer transactions, in all jurisdictions, whatever the transaction type or relevant regulatory framework.

The firm has acted for many banks across both Europe and North America, and covering a wide range of asset classes. This includes both first-time originators looking to enter the market and established players looking to execute their next transaction.

In Europe, the firm was also intensively involved with market participants and industry bodies during the negotiations for the new STS rules for synthetic securitisation, and has since acted for all of the originators on STS synthetics that have closed to date. The firm invested heavily to ensure that it was able to advise clients on the new regulatory position as soon as the new regime came into effect.

Cleary adds: “When the new STS regime was being negotiated in Europe, given our extensive experience, we were asked to join a lot of calls with the various parties involved in the negotiations, including the European Commission, the EBA and many of the national central banks and finance ministries. We have since executed six STS transactions, acting for the originator bank on all of those. It’s been interesting to see the way in which structures need to change, and it’s been an opportunity to do something new.”

Another notable highlight for the firm over the last 12 months has been the work the firm has done in Europe. Alongside its continued dominance in its traditional key markets of the UK, Spain and Germany, it has also worked on a number of transactions in France and Italy. And during 2021, Clifford Chance acted for the originator on the first Greek synthetic securitisations to come to market.

Honourable mention: Linklaters

Linklaters is still the go-to law firm for investors in SRT transactions, with partners Matthew Monahan and Toby Gray and counsel Leanne Banfield advising many of the major sellers of protection. However, the firm has also established itself as an advisor to originators and arrangers, having drafted a number of significant transactions.

This year, Linklaters has worked on one of the first synthetic STS securitisations and has seen an increasing number of trades with an ESG angle. Notable transactions that Linklaters were involved in include advising a key investor in NatWest’s Chowa transaction and drafting Credit Suisse’s innovative Elvetia SLG transaction.