Clifford Chance’s finance operation is a complex beast, divided into two groups with some overlap. On the one hand there is the global financial group which includes lending and acquisition finance, derivatives, financial regulatory advice, insolvency and restructuring, real estate finance, project finance and asset finance. This group is headed by Mark Campbell.
Then there is capital markets, which includes both equity and debt capital markets, and high-yield work, with David Dunnigan at the helm. Together, they form a combined internal management group – finance and capital markets, or ‘FaCM’ .
While the global financial group has put in a steady performance in recent years, the capital markets side of the practice deserves a second look. Clifford Chance has poured investment into the area and, according to figures from Thomson Reuters, the strategy is paying off.
In the global debt, equity and equity-related rankings – which include IPOs, follow-ons, convertible bonds, investment grade corporate, high-yield corporate, agency/sovereign debt, federal credit agency, and emerging markets corporate debt – the firm has increased its number of issues from 89 in 2010, to 141 in the first nine months of 2013 alone. That takes the firm from eighth to second in terms of issue volume worldwide, only one deal short of ranking leaders Allen & Overy.
Curiously, the capital markets group’s headcount does little to reflect this. In the past three years, partner numbers for the combined FaCM group has increased slightly year-on-year, from 220 in 2010/11 to 227 in 2012/13. But while the number of partners in the global financial group has crept up from 141 to 149, the figure for capital markets has tumbled from 79 to 74.
This is particularly surprising given the flurry of exits from the firm’s structured finance practice since 2011. Departures include Rachel Kelly, who left for Macfarlanes in June that year, Prashanth Satyadeva who went to Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in January 2012, and shipping finance head Simon Lew who joined Norton Rose Fulbright in July 2012. Matthew Cahill headed to Sidley Austin and Neil Hamilton to Paul Hastings in September the same year. This April, derivatives and structured products partner Claude Brown left for Reed Smith, where he will be reunited with former colleague Peter Zaman, who moved to the US firm last
Fortunately, it seems Clifford Chance has been plugging the gaps faster than it has been springing leaks. In the past few years it has made up more associates to partner in its finance practice than any other part of the firm.
In 2013 the group’s eight partner promotions on the finance side and two in capital markets have accounted for half of Clifford Chance’s worldwide promotions.
Around 40 per cent of Clifford Chance’s finance partners are based in the City, with the remainder scattered around the globe.
However, there has been a notable shift of focus towards the Asia Pacific region in recent months.
The firm relocated corporate banking and structured finance partner Caroline Jury from London to Sydney earlier this year, in addition to hiring Alastair Macaulay to help build up Clifford Chance’s newly established maritime finance offering in Hong Kong in March.
Notable recent finance deals
– Advised a syndicate of lenders comprising more than 90 banks in connection with the revolving credit facilities totalling $12.47bn (£7.76bn) for Glencore International and Glencore Singapore in April 2012
– Acted as UK and Spanish counsel to the bank agents – HSBC, Bank of America, the RBS, BNP Paribas, Citi, BBVA, Banco Santander and JP Morgan – on the refinancing of $7.3bn debt of Mexican building materials supplier CEMEX
– Advised on Barclays’ £5.8bn rights issue in September this year – the world’s largest rights issue by a bank since 2009
– Instructed by management of German publisher Springer Science on a dual-track IPO/private sale process, that reportedly raised around $993m