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WINNER: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

It doesn't get much bigger than this. Greece's sovereign debt crisis has been the catalyst for much of the eurozone woes. In July 2011 the council of the EU agreed a second bailout for the country and the Greek government turned to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton for advice.

A team led by seven partners across eight Cleary offices came in to help Greece through the legal aspects of the agreement with Europe, which was finalised in February 2012. The 'private sector involvement' transaction (PSI), worth around €206bn, is reportedly the largest-ever bond exchange and part of the largest-ever restructuring of sovereign debt.

The PSI deal saw private sector investors in Greek debt agree to write off more than 50 per cent of the face value of the bonds they held. The government had proposed legislation to force the haircut had bondholders not agreed to the deal.

Cleary's team leveraged its expertise in sovereign debt transactions to make the deal happen, including using a cofinancing agreement which linked new bonds issued by Greece to a portion of the €150bn loans made to the country by the European Financial Stability Facility.

The success of the PSI was crucial to reach agreement on the second bailout and help Greece out of what could have been a fatal crisis. As one of the judging panel commented: “A different resolution to this problem could have had a severe prolonged impact on global markets.”

Another judge added: “Undoubtedly one of the major restructurings of 2012.”

About Cork Gully

Cork Gully is delighted to have sponsored the Restructuring Team of the Year award at The Lawyers Awards 2013. We would like to congratulate all the shortlisted finalists for the quality of their submissions and in particular the winners upon their success.

Cork Gully has been a leading name in restructuring for the last 100 years. Built on a solid heritage we are an independent financial advisory firm specialising in restructuring. We advise the boards and other stakeholders of main listed companies as well as owner-managers upon their options and facilitate the implementation of restructuring plans across a wide range of sectors and jurisdictions.

More information about Cork Gully can be found at

2ND: Allen & Overy

A cross-border team from Allen & Overy (A&O) was involved in advising German residential property company Deutsche Annington on a truly innovative deal, which saw an English scheme of arrangement used to implement the restructuring of €4.3bn of listed notes issued by the German Residential Asset Note Distributor (Grand).

When the notes were issued in 2006, Grand used the proceeds to buy real estate finance (REF) notes issued by Deutsche Annington, which matured earlier than its listed notes. However the market was incapable of supporting a €4.3bn refinancing and Deutsche Annington decided to renegotiate a rescheduling for the listed notes.

An English scheme had never been used before in such a case. A&O's team, led by partners Mark Sterling and Olaf Meisen, also managed to extend the maturity dates of the notes and refinance with an injection of shareholder equity. Ultimately over €3bn of shareholder value was preserved and the market value of the notes rose, while bankruptcy of borrowers was avoided.

Judges praised A&O's “novel” and “innovative” work on a complex deal.

3RD: Nabarro

Nabarro leveraged its long relationship with UK Coal when it advised the company on its restructuring last year.

The deal was sparked by ongoing financial issues at UK Coal, caused by spiralling costs and performance issues at key mines, coupled with an increasing pension deficit. Nabarro corporate partner Ben Hendry led a cross-practice team to advise the company's board as the business was split into two.

The restructuring had to address a range of issues, such as tax efficiency, regulatory approval, trade union negotiations, new banking facilities and a restructure of the company's pension scheme and joint ventures.

Nabarro's involvement saw a move from a premium listing to a standard listing, in order to assist the shareholder approval process, and forging a deal which saw the pension scheme trustees take an interest in the new property division. The restructure saved 2,500 jobs and ultimately safeguarded the business's future, ensuring coal production for up to a decade.

“This transaction, although not large in size or high-profile, was an extremely complex restructuring with virtually no precedents,” one judge commented.