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Walkers' Global Asset Finance Practice Shines on World Stage in 2020

Walkers' is pleased to announce that its global asset finance practice has been recognised for its role in seven award winning transactions identified by the leading industry publications throughout 2020.

In the recent Airfinance Journal Awards 2020, Walkers' offices were involved in three award winning transactions with significant roles on the ABS Deal of the Year (JOL Air $554m ABS), SLB Deal of the Year (Air Europa US$215m Sale Leaseback and PDP financing) and Equity Deal of the Year (Titan Aviation's $400m Aviation Fund). The JOL Air transaction was also lauded in the Asia-Pacific market where it won the Asia Pacific Overall Deal of the Year Award at the Airline Economics Aviation 100 Asia Pacific Awards and the In-House Community Asian-Mena Counsel Deal of the Year 2019.

Prior to these awards, Walkers' Irish office celebrated winning two aviation-related Dublin Finance awards in the Financing category (SMBC Aviation Capital’s GAEL aviation equity fund) and in the M&A category (InterGlobe’s acquisition of Airborne Capital).

The SMBC transaction was noteworthy for its involvement of Walkers' lender client with SMBC Aviation Capital's inaugural aviation equity fund, providing an entry point into the aircraft leasing market for Japanese institutional investors that had not previously invested in aviation. Walkers was delighted to advise the client on the Irish and Cayman aspects of this innovative eight aircraft transaction, which demonstrated the ability of the team to [work closely with onshore counsel to] bring transactions of this complexity to financial close.

The InterGlobe transaction demonstrated both the expertise of Walkers' corporate team in financial services and aviation, M&A and corporate restructurings and their growing presence on such deals within the market. The deal has facilitated Airborne with its plans to expand its aircraft operations and its transformative effect was seen late last year when Airborne completed a US$637 million asset back securitisation in respect of 17 aircraft.

Commenting on these recent awards wins, Partner and Head of the Ireland Asset Finance practice, David McGovern said, "The awards listed above show a market recognition and endorsement in respect of our team of internationally trained lawyers. Our experience provides the Walkers Asset Finance practice with a detailed knowledge of the aircraft finance and leasing sector from a legal and commercial perspective and results in our ability to document transactions in a practical and commercial manner. We are grateful to have been recognised by the Airfinance Journal and by Finance Dublin as a leading asset finance service provider."

Earlier in the year, Walkers was also delighted to have been involved in three award winning transactions at the Airline Economics Awards in January 2020 including acting as Cayman counsel on the Aviation 100 Asia-Pacific Editor’s Deal of the Year (MACH 2019-1 ABS) and Cayman and Irish counsel on the Aviation 100 Fund of the Year (New Fund) (Global Aviation Equipment Leasing fund). These successes highlight the strength, breadth and technical ability of the global asset finance team.

James Burch, partner in Walkers' Cayman Islands office, notes that these awards "are testament to the expertise and connectivity of our global asset finance teams and we are proud to support our clients in the industry on these innovative and market leading transactions."

Since the global pandemic began, "locking down" many of the world's most prominent nations, Walkers' has remained busy in the markets in which it operates.

In the first new aircraft type delivered by a commercial aircraft manufacturer to a new customer during the COVID-19 pandemic, Walkers acted as Cayman Islands counsel in connection with the financing by ABSA Bank Limited and African Export – Import Bank of six De Havilland Dash 8-400 aircraft to TAAG Angola Airlines.

The Bermuda office also led a multi-disciplinary cross office team acting as Bermudian Cayman and BVI, offshore counsel to Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. on three separate significant financing transactions, equating to $2bn which were completed during May as well as acting as Bermudian counsel in connection with Carnival's US$6.6bn debt and equity offerings.

Walkers' market leading asset finance team comprises 53 lawyers, in ten offices practicing the laws of six jurisdictions. Together with our experienced fiduciary and accounting colleagues in Walkers Professional Services, Walkers can provide a comprehensive solution across all major aviation jurisdictions for the establishment and ongoing operation of asset finance SPVs.


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