CC wins RBS debt restructuring work

Clifford Chance has won a place on the roster for debt restructuring work at the newly merged Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The firm joins CMS Cameron McKenna, Denton Wilde Sapte, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters & Alliance and Norton Rose as favoured outside counsel for workouts and turnarounds.`Clifford Chance finance partner James Johnson won his firm the role through a prior relationship with banker Geoff Cruickshank. Cruickshank had been head of credit risk management at NatWest, and when NatWest was taken over by RBS last year, he moved to head the corporate restructuring division.`Johnson said: “We’ve done work for Geoff and his team since the merger. They’re very loyal to their friends and their friends are very loyal back.”`The merged RBS is one of the dominant names in debt restructuring, particularly in the domestic arena. Prior to the merger, the NatWest side of the business used Wilde Sapte (now Denton Wilde Sapte) and Linklaters almost exclusively, with the former getting the majority of the mandates. Dentons partner Graham Paine and Linklaters partner Robert Elliott are still known to retain the lion’s share of the work, but the merger with RBS has allowed firms such as Camerons, Norton Rose and now Clifford Chance to start picking up restructuring work from the bank.`It was Johnson’s former incarnation as finance partner at Wilde Sapte, where he acted regularly for NatWest on workouts, that has given him a foothold in the merged bank. Johnson joined Clifford Chance in January 2000, leaving Wilde Sapte just before its Denton Hall merger.`Clifford Chance has been trying to beef up its restructuring capability. In January, The Lawyer revealed that it was hiring workout specialist Nick Frome from Lovells, who has strong contacts with lenders such as Barclays.`See feature, page 24