Who’s Who Legal brings together Lance Brasher, Ira Eddymurthy and Philip Stopford to discuss issues facing project finance lawyers and their clients in the industry today, including the effects of the recent drop in commodity prices, the future of yieldcos, the current state of legal competition and the availability of funding for projects in emerging markets.
The 12th edition of WWL: Project Finance comprises 631 individuals across 277 firms and 84 countries.
International powerhouses Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance dominate our research this year, demonstrating their tremendous strength in the global project finance space.
White & Case, Latham & Watkins and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy also perform well this year. With listings across the US, Europe and Asia, the depth and breadth of their expertise is clear.
The project finance space continues to diversify, as companies and firms alike look for ways to navigate the current landscape. Among other issues, 2015 saw practitioners tackle the aftermath of the drop in oil prices and a subsequent need to broaden their practices. The field has also been dominated by limited access to funding for projects, with companies relieving this pressure by looking to alternative sources of financing. Despite these challenges, the past year has witnessed an uptick in the number of renewable energy and infrastructure projects internationally, with global investment in renewable energy at $286 billion in 2015 – indicating a positive future for the market.
The 11th edition of Project Finance is a one-stop guide to the global market, listing 539 individuals from 246 firms across 82 countries.
The market is dominated by international law firms with the strength and depth to handle complex and innovative projects around the world. Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy boast the most comprehensive networks with market-leading practitioners in over a dozen key financial centres. Fellow London-based powerhouses Linklaters and Ashurst also field a wealth of talented individuals in Europe, the Middle-East and Asia.
US white shoe firms White & Case, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, Latham & Watkins and Shearman & Sterling all command an impressive transatlantic and Asia presence, while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Chadbourne & Parke are particularly strong in the US.
Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright is the only firm to boast listings in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia.
In this section, we also highlight the most highly regarded individuals in the EMEA, North America, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.
“Adapt and diversify” is the advice from leading lawyers worldwide with regards to the current state of the project finance industry. The significant drop in the price of oil, EU and US sanctions against Russia, and election years in emerging markets have led to many projects being put on hold or abandoned, and there are fears it could get worse before it gets better. It is a challenging time for all involved – from sponsors and lenders to the lawyers advising them – as the nature of activity changes. Project finance transactions for new oil projects are being delayed and it is expected that restructuring and distressed M&A work will pick up later in the year.
This year we identify 529 practitioners from 231 firms and 79 countries who are considered leading lawyers in this field. Several firms particularly stand out due to the number of listings they achieve, with Clifford Chance once again boasting more practitioners than any other firm. Following closely behind is Allen & Overy, whose London office is especially well represented. US-founded firms Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy and White & Case both boast a strong number of inclusions.
We also single out the most highly regarded individuals in the EMEA, the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions, with Latham & Watkins being home to four of these lawyers.
Project finance is the preserve of the elite. The practice requires skilled banking and finance lawyers who can assist parties in reaching a workable consensus in complex negotiations, and who also have a sufficiently strong understanding of project development to identify any risks. As their work increasingly stems from emerging markets in the East, access to the resources of a large international firm is a definite advantage.
In this section we analyse the findings of our research in greater depth to identify the firms and practitioners who performed most strongly overall. Clifford Chance emerges as the most recognised firm in our research, with 27 of its lawyers featured from offices in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US. It is followed by Allen & Overy which fields 22 lawyers, with Dubai emerging as its largest stronghold of talent. The "greatly respected" Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, international "heavyweight" Latham & Watkins and "globally renowned" White & Case each achieve an impressive number of listings, with practitioners from their offices around the world recognised for their expertise in this area.
Who’s Who Legal analyses the recent trends and developments in the global project finance legal market. Our research uncovered that the past year has given lawyers a taste of what one source called “a world without banks”. The absence of traditional project lending from banks around the world, and in Europe in particular, has obliged clients and lawyers to look elsewhere for funding. The increased role of the public sector in lending has meant a greater emphasis on governmental influence in the projects, while the emerging markets have continued to show their huge potential, with clients appearing increasingly keen to expand into Africa and less-developed countries in Asia.
With the benefit of over 15 years of research and tens of thousands of votes from clients and private practitioners, Who’s Who Legal takes a closer look at developing trends in the project finance legal marketplace worldwide.
In this section we analyse the findings of our research in greater depth to identify the firms and practitioners who stand out worldwide.
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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.