CC, Freshfields snubbed on key asset finance panel

In a development that has caused consternation in the asset finance market, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have been overlooked for the export credit agencies’ (ECAs) first ever joint aviation legal panel.

Instead, the successful firms are Allen & Overy, Denton Wilde Sapte, Lovells, Norton Rose and White & Case. Nine firms are understood to have pitched for the places.

The panel is effective from October and is being operated jointly by the three major European export credit agencies: the UK’s Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), France’s Coface and Germany’s Euler Hermes.

The agencies, which help finance airlines buying Airbus aircraft, act as guarantors to the commercial lenders.

A number of asset finance lawyers have expressed extreme surprise at the decision. Along with Norton Rose, Clifford Chance and Freshfields are seen as the leading players in aircraft finance, but pricing is understood not to have been an issue.

However, two well-placed sources told The Lawyer that the banks could rebel against any imposition placed on the choice of ECA panel firms.