HK Helen Sohn is a prominent name in the market who draws effusive praise from peers for her deep understanding of finance transactions, purchases and leases across the aviation sector.
HK Helen Sohn is a partner (senior foreign attorney) in the banking and finance group of Lee & Ko. She specialises in aviation finance, project finance, capital markets and general banking transactions.
Helen is one of the very few aviation finance lawyers in Korea who is a true pioneer of growth in this industry. She is the most experienced and widely recognised aviation finance lawyer, and is second to none in the Korean aviation finance sector. Helen is widely known as the “go-to person” in Korea for aviation financing and investment. Her major airline clients include Korean Air (KAL), Jeju Air, Jin Air, and T’Way Air; she also advises major investment banks and leasing companies on various types of aircraft investment projects.
Helen is well known for her recent work in connection with the award-winning Project Labrador, the first and largest aircraft portfolio deal in the Korean aviation investment market and winner of Airfinance journal’s Deal of Year Award, as well as Airline Economics’ Innovative Deal of Year Award, in 2017. It is quite rare for a single deal to win multiple awards in the aviation industry. She also advised certain Korean investors on Project Kestrel, the second largest aircraft portfolio deal in the Korean aviation investment market and winner of Airline Economics’ Capital Markets Deal of Year award in 2019.
Helen’s other prominent work includes Jeju Air’s first financing of three B737-800 aircraft with the Export-Import Bank of Korea and Standard Chartered Bank (2018). She has also undertaken several projects on behalf of KAL, including the financing of their first delivery of B787-9 aircraft (the Dreamliner) (2017); the financing of 10 A-220-300 aircraft with Canadian economic development agencies (2017-2018); the AFIC-guaranteed financing of B777-300ER aircraft with ING and Kiwoom Securities; (2018) their first SACE-guaranteed financing of two B787-9 aircraft with HSBC (2018); and the financing of a B787-9 aircraft with the Export-Import Bank of Korea and NHIS (2018). Most notably, Helen coordinated the restructuring, and led to the successful closing, of what was then KAL’s entire fleet of over 50 aircraft, on both on finance leases and operating leases; the total deal value exceeded US$400 billion (2008–2009).
Helen has been recognised as a leading lawyer by Asialaw since 2016 and by WWL (in aviation finance) since 2014.
Helen has contributed the Korea chapter of Aircraft Finance (Thomson Reuters) since 2008, and also co-authored an article, “Recent Trends in the Korean ABS Market”, for IFLR in 2006.
Helen is admitted to the New York State Bar and is bilingual in English and Korean.