HSBC's use of long-term adviser Norton Rose, led by Peter Thorne, comes as no surprise, but Railtrack's instruction of Clifford Chance is a real coup for the firm. It is understood that Clifford Chance won the work last year in a competitive pitch where it came up against Railtrack's preferred long-term adviser Simmons & Simmons. Although Clifford Chance has done smaller pieces of work for Railtrack in the past, this is the first major financing deal it has handled for the company.
The deal is the first fixed-rail infrastructure UK tax leasing facility. The structure exploits tax efficiency because the bank holds the tax ownership of the assets. Both the tax lessor and the rail regulator had to negotiate on structure and regulatory issues. Although the structure is common in financing, this is the first time that the rail industry has tapped into the market.