Real Estate Team of the Year

Linklaters & Alliance

2nd place: Allen & Overy
3rd place: Lovells
Shortlisted: Eversheds, Birmingham; Herbert Smith; Nabarro Nathanson
The winner of the Real Estate Team of the Year Award, sponsored by Countrywide Legal Indemnities, goes to the Linklaters & Alliance team, led by Simon Clark, for a year that has seen a spectacular show of strength, from pure property to the groundbreaking PFI-style outsourcing of Abbey National's entire property portfolio. The firm advised Mapeley, which won the bid to take on more than 1,000 Abbey National properties in a £457m structured sale and leaseback.
Linklaters also fielded the multidisciplinary team, which has helped Swiss Re in its acquisition of the former Baltic Exchange site in 1997, through the vagaries and pitfalls of English law to the start of construction in January 2001. The team also acted on the disposal of MEPC's entire shopping centre portfolio, worth around £1.1bn. It is this variety and strength in depth that has made Linklaters a worthy winner.
Second place goes to A&O for the dramatic strides the department has made over the last year. July 2000 saw Adam Cleal take up the reins as head of real estate. He started with a shock commitment to shaking off the department's reputation as a corporate support function by increasing the amount of property-led work. Its commitment to pure property was symbolised by WestLB's £357.5m joint venture with British Land Company to acquire a group of four prestigious properties in the City. The deal marked an exciting development in the German bank's approach to investment in UK property, revealing a move into principal finance, and it was also the first WestLB deal to be led out of A&O's property department.
Third place goes to Lovells for a year full of innovation. Following mergers in Germany and the Netherlands and the addition of teams in Warsaw and Munich, Lovells has created a pan-European corporate real estate practice. Lovells' property deal of the year was acting for Abbey National on its outsourcing. Robert Kidby's team continues to take the lead in this new market.