Simmons in line for repeat work from Santander after CDO advice

Simmons & Simmons has closed its first deal for Banco Santander Central Hispano after advising the Spanish bank on its first managed collateralised debt obligation (CDO), and is in line for repeat instructions on the programme.

The deal, a managed synthetic CDO, is the first transaction of its type structured by the Spanish bank and was backed with high-grade collateral assets through a portfolio credit default swap.

The Simmons team was referred to the Madrid team by a financial institution client in London and fielded partner Jonathan Hammond. Hammond led a team comprising assistant Samidha Malhotra, capital markets partner Charles Goodall, tax partner Nick Cronkshaw and tax assistant Zoe Feller.

Hammond said: “There was an incredibly tight timeline, but we could do it because it was off a repackaging platform, which does lead itself to quick execution. Structurally, it’s more akin to a medium-term note programme rather than a traditional CDO in that it’s intended to be a repeatable platform, which means bigger transactions can be done more easily and on a greater scale in future.”

Unlike many other finance practices, Simmons is building its CDO track record from its repackaging and structured finance practice, since it lacks a large debt capital markets business. Simmons regularly acts for UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse First Boston and JPMorgan on repackaging transactions.

The bank’s affiliate asset management company Santander Carteras, which will manage the portfolio of entities within the pool, was advised by Clifford Chance.

Managed CDOs have started to take off in the last 18 months and now represent a growing section of the market, especially on repackaging platforms. While still not a flow product, their increasingly commoditised nature has made them more attractive as an investment, even to retail investors.

Last year Simmons advised Bank of America on the first managed multi-sector synthetic CDO for Asian investors – the first of its type available to investors in Asia that was managed by an investment manager – in this case UOB Investment Asset Management.