CC shifts Severs to Tokyo for attack on real estate finance

Clifford Chance is stealing a march on rivals by sending a property finance partner to Tokyo.

Paul Severs is going to Japan as the firm positions itself to capitalise on an upturn in the demand for property securitisations due to new legislation.

Clifford Chance claims that the move puts it ahead of rivals Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, both of which have yet to put dedicated property finance partners on the ground.

Severs is experienced in UK residential housing and commercial mortgage securitisations, as well as pan-European commercial real estate securitisations.

London-based securitisation partner John Woodhall says: “Real estate has been one of the worst hit in the recession, so securitisation can provide financial support there. And as the market bounces back, real estate is the first to get going again.”

Japan has just introduced new legislation to bring in the US concept of Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits). They are designed to encourage investment into Japanese real estate from both institutional and smaller investors and are due to come into effect in January.

Woodhall says: “Paul Severs is really officially on a look-see. We’ll decide whether he should go there permanently in December.”

The firm now has five partners in Tokyo. The Asian capital markets and structured finance head Stephen Roith is relocating to Hong Kong.

Shapiro’s clients include Hilton Hotels, Hyatt hotels and casinos and American Pharmaceutical Services.