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WINNER: Macfarlanes

Macfarlanes may not be the City's biggest name in fundraising but it led this year's standout mandate in the field. The firm advised Haymarket Financial, a specialist finance group comprising former Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch partners and directors, on its quest to access funding under the Business Finance Partnership (BFP), with partners Alex Amos acting on the fundraising and Damien Crossley on the tax and structuring.

The deal was notable because Haymarket Financial was one of only four managers to access funding through the BFP, a state-backed funding project designed to increase lending to small and mid-sized businesses in the UK without the use of banks. Macfarlanes' design of the onshore structure was replicated by other managers who also won funding from the BFP.

The deal marks a remarkable stretch of work by Macfarlanes for Haymarket Financial that has seen it advise the client on all aspects of its fundraising. Indeed, it was Macfarlanes that suggested the BFP route to Haymarket Financial. One judge commented: “An important issue for the UK economy right now is the lack of funding available to SMEs. Macfarlanes stepped right up and identified the BFP concept to its client and supported its client in creating an innovative structure to help its client to diversify the sources of financing available to businesses – through non-bank channels. This is a law firm visibly going the extra mile to help its client grow by identifying opportunities that the client may not be aware exist.”

About JTC Group

JTC Group is delighted to sponsor the inaugural ‘Funds Team of the Year’ award. We have seen, over recent years, the challenges that fund promoters face in terms of a more challenging environment to raise investor funds, the changing demands of investors before committing capital, greater regulatory pressures such as AIFMD/FATCA and a more restricted lending and banking environment to name but a few.

These have all led to a more complex and challenging environment for fund lawyers to operate successfully in when advising clients. It is against this backdrop that the most respected teams have risen to the challenge and we are proud to recognize them through this award.

JTC Group offers fund administration services across the full range of fund types and regulatory spectrum, within a diverse range of asset classes including real estate, renewable energy, private equity and media. We also provide services to both closed and open ended funds established in Jersey, Guernsey and Luxembourg, as well other non-domiciled fund structures in jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, Singapore and the BVI including entities listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market and Alternative Investment Market as well as the Channel Islands Stock Exchange.

2ND: Wragge & Co

Wragge & Co comes second for its role advising on the establishment of what is referred to as the UK's first-ever venture capital trust (VCT) allowing investors to put large funds into social enterprise businesses. Tax partner Neil Pearson and a Wragges team led for David Hutchison, the chief executive of Social Finance, which develops financial products for charities and social enterprise businesses. A Wragges corporate and financial services team also advised Social Finance on its IPO. A judge noted: “Pearson was identified by an external third party as the right person to help achieve this groundbreaking initiative, based on his experiences over the past 10 years of VCTs. It was reassuring that Neil undertook vital research to test the feasibility of the project before they went ahead with structuring the fund and spending all of the client's money – the results of which only increased the client’s appetite to proceed.”

The Wragges team worked to create a structure that allowed the fund to invest in the social sector while still complying with HMRC and providing a return for investors, going as far as to meet the relevant HMRC person and persuade them of the potential benefits for the localities where the trust would operate.

3RD: Osborne Clarke

Osborne Clarke, not immediately known for its investment funds practice, closed an impressive €2.2bn real estate fund for Niam Nordic, with Tim Simmonds leading for Niam alongside Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton on US law and Wistrand on Swedish law. The mandate represented a new client win for Osborne Clarke, which only acted for Niam following Simmonds' hire from Berwin Leighton Paisner in 2011. The role was particularly hefty as the firm had to negotiate more than 10 separate closings over 15 months with various investors, largely consisting of US state pension plans, supranational organisations, sovereign wealth funds and company pension schemes.

One of the judges remarked: “Osborne Clarke showed that they were willing to support the client to help with competitive pricing as well as use their knowledge and experience of the market to negotiate with heavyweight investors from a position of strength, thus balancing their client’s commercial needs with attracting investors into the fund. This is an example of a very good law firm delivering on a complex transaction involving the launch of a global fund.”