Herbert Smith team in Merrill Lynch coup

Herbert Smith has put more meat on the bones of its investment bank strategy by advising on its first structured finance deal for Merrill Lynch.
Jane Borrows led the Herbert Smith team on a £150m secured warehouse facility made available by Merrill Lynch International Bank to a UK plc.
Simmons & Simmons capital markets partner James Bresslaw advised the plc on the private deal.
Merrill Lynch is a key target across Herbert Smith, with the relationship led by US-qualified corporate finance partner Jim Wickenden. “Jim’s ECM [equity capital markets] and advisory work has gone really well and that’s given us the opportunity to extend our workflow into other areas. This is the first significant new transaction debt instruction that we’ve had,” said head of finance Clive Barnard.
Borrows, who led on the deal because it was under English law, said Wickenden was instrumental in bringing the transaction to the firm.
The facility will be secured on mortgage loans over commercial, residential and mixed-use properties. This mix of assets made the deal unusual. “They’re quite different in terms of how rating agencies look at them,” said Borrows.
Herbert Smith was instructed in January after a presentation to Merrill Lynch. It has since quoted unsuccessfully on another deal for the debt side of the bank, but remains optimistic about building up its debt work with Merrill Lynch.
Herbert Smith has developed its relationship with the bank over the last few years and is one of three ‘focus’ firms for Merrill Lynch. The other two firms are understood to be Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
Other developments for Herbert Smith’s investment bank relationships include winning a place on Société Générale’s panel in March this year. Last year the firm expanded its existing relationship with Credit Suisse First Boston to include debt work – partner Dina Albagli worked with Spanish best friend Cuatrecasas on a Spanish synthetic securitisation for the bank.