A&O steals a march on Freshfields with Iberia

Allen & Overy (A&O) is carving out a brand new book of business for Iberia, despite the Spanish airline’s traditional relationship with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for financing advice.
A&O asset finance partner Mario Jacovides has already closed two Japanese operating lease (JOL) deals for Iberia and is now working on a complex JOL with tranched debt. Madrid banking partner Eduardo Sebastiàn is working with Jacovides. It is understood that this kind of work would usually have gone to Freshfields, but Iberia wanted to bring in a fresh adviser.
Jacovides caught Iberia’s eye from the opposite side of the table last year. He was advising the European Investment Bank as the senior lender on a $215m (£129.2m) JOL relating to two Airbus A340-300 aircraft to be operated by Iberia, with Freshfields advising the airline.
Jacovides was then invited to make a formal pitch earlier this
year and made a presentation with two A&O Madrid partners. “Following that we got our first instruction,” said Jacovides, whose main contact is with Madrid-based head of financing Patricia Lormeau.
The first deal was a JOL for an Airbus A321-200 aircraft (worth around $45m (£27m)), which was delivered on 25 April this year. The debt was provided by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, while Diamond Lease Company provided the equity. The second deal involved an Airbus A320-200 aircraft (worth around $40m (£24m)), with KfW providing the debt and Sumisho Lease Co the equity. White & Case Tokyo advised the debt, while White & Case’s London office advised the equity on both deals.
For Jacovides, the work is particularly interesting because Iberia has now started to source equity itself, rather than using a bank as arranger.
Lormeau said: We and our counsel have a bigger role because we have the big picture of the deal. We’re dealing direct with the debt and equity providers and other parties, and the deals are also becoming more complex.”
The current A340 deal is much larger and requires a more complex financing structure. Clifford Chance and White & case are advising the debt and equity respectively.
The Iberia win builds on Jacovides’ success forging a new relationship as European counsel to Australia’s national airline and flag carrier Qantas. Earlier this year, he advised Qantas on its first ever European export credit deal and has continued to work with the client since.