Freshfields, Norton Rose pitch in to Middle East peace process

Norton Rose pitch in to Middle East peace process” />Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Norton Rose have advised on a $238m (£116.63m) investment deal that could bring the Middle East peace process one step closer to settlement.

The firms, working on a pro bono basis, advised on a framework that will allow US agency Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Palestine Investment Fund to invest in Gaza and the West Bank.

The programme, known as the Middle East Investment Initiative, will provide capital to Palestinian small and medium-sized enterprises, which according to Norton Rose have struggled to raise cash due to the conservative nature of the regional banks.

The new lending vehicle will guarantee that up to 70 per cent of funds lent by banks can be paid back to lenders, hopefully allowing a less conservative outlook on borrowing.

The advisory role was taken on two years ago by Freshfields when Sir Ronald Cohen, founder of private equity firm Apax and chair of The Portland Trust, approached the magic circle firm about taking on the debt structuring role.

During this time Freshfields senior associate Sean Crosky moved to Norton Rose, taking the English law arm of the project with him after the two firms agreed his expertise would be vital to a successful completion of the deal.

Crosky continued to be overseen by Freshfields partner Simon Hall, who led on English law, while New York finance partner Ellen Hayes led on US law matters.