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Herbert Smith Freehills wins top award at Infrastructure Investor awards

The firm was awarded global law firm of the year while Clifford Chance won in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa.


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Herbert Smith Freehills walked away with the title of Law firm of the year, global,while Clifford Chance won in three regions at this year’s Infrastructure Investor awards.

Law firm of the year, Global

  1. Herbert Smith Freehills

2. Clifford Chance

3. Allen & Overy

Law firm Herbert Smith Freehills advised on a chunky selection of infrastructure deals this year, including the Deal of the Year, Global recipient: US fund manager I Squared Capital’s HK$14.5 billion ($1.86 billion; €1.58 billion) acquisition of Hong Kong fixed-line business Hutchison Global Communications, part of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison Group.

The law firm worked on several Australian deals including the landmark New Grafton Correctional Centre PPP project, sponsored by John Laing Investments, John Holland, Serco and Macquarie Capital. Once completed in 2020, it will be the largest facility of its type in Australia with room for 1,700 inmates. It reached financial close in June 2017.

Law Firm of the Year, Europe

1. Clifford Chance

2. Allen & Overy

3. Watson Farley & William

It’s now four in a row for Clifford Chance in this category, as the firm continued to be active in some of the most significant infrastructure events across the continent in 2017.

In two of the most high-profile deals, Clifford Chance acted as advisor to KKR Infrastructure on its €2.95 billion buyout of Q-Park and to Global Infrastructure Partners on the acquisition of a 50 percent stake in the Borkum Riffgrund 2 offshore wind farm project, a deal worth almost €1.2 billion. Elsewhere, the firm acted for Rock Rail, SL Capital and GLIL Infrastructure on the largest single UK rolling stock deal, for which all debt provided came from institutional investors, worth about £1 billion ($1.4 billion; €1.1 billion).

Clifford Chance was also an important player on the fundraising side. It acted as counsel to Infracapital on the raising of its £1.25 billion greenfield fund, the first ever such dedicated strategy.

Law Firm of the Year, North America

1. Latham & Watkins

2. Mayer Brown

3. Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy

Latham & Watkins was involved in more than a dozen infrastructure transactions in North America in 2017, making it one of the most prolific law firms in the region.

The firm had its hand in deals across transportation, energy and utility infrastructure. In the power space, Latham represented the sponsor on the $2.3 billion AES Southland Energy Project in Arizona and Colorado. Along with two gas-fired power plants totalling 1.24GW, the project includes two battery storage systems comprising 110MW. Latham was also active in several green energy projects, including the private placement of Duke Energy’s 710MW Texoma Wind portfolio in Texas and Oklahoma.

In the utility space, Latham advised Orion Energy Partners as it provided $75 million in backing to Future Energy Solutions Lighting Group to support its energy efficient infrastructure business. The firm also represented AMP Capital in the financing of a portfolio of US telecommunications assets.

Law firm of the Year, Latin America

1. Clifford Chance

2. Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy

3. Paul Hastings

Clifford Chance had a hand in many of the region’s major deals across the transportation, telecommunications and energy space.

In April, Clifford Chance helped guide through one of the year’s biggest telecoms deals: the $1.8 billion financing for the Red Compartida wholesale shared mobile network. Mexican construction consortium Altán Redes was backed by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, the International Finance Corporation, the China-Mexico Fund, CDPQ and the Mexican Afores. In June, the firm advised Citigroup Global Markets in its backing of Costa Rica’s Ruta 27 toll road, as the bank structured a $350.75 million bond offering.

In renewables, Clifford Chance advised AELA Group, a joint venture comprising Actis and Mainstream Renewable Power, on financing two wind farms in Chile. The $410 million portfolio includes the 170 MW Sarco and 129 MW Aurora wind farms. The firm cited the deal as a model for future Latin American renewables project.

Law Firm of the Year, Asia-Pacific

1. Baker & McKenzie

2. Latham & Watkins

3. Ashurst

The international law firm was involved in an impressive list of deals, particularly in the energy space. By the end of 2017, it had advised on 12 deals with a combined project value of nearly $4.3 billion, according to Infrastructure Investor data.

One of the key transactions was the financing of a 400MW gas and fuel oil-fired power station, in Bangladesh’s Sirajganj district. The law firm acted for the project company and sponsors in the transaction representing the first PPP project with a foreign investor in the power sector in the country.

The firm was also active in the renewables space across the region. In Japan, it participated in the country’s first solar project involving offshore sponsors. What’s more, the 25MW project, in Iwate Prefecture, was financed despite being subject to a potentially unlimited curtailment regime. In a very different market context, the firm also advised sponsors on the development and project financing of a 70MW wind farm in Indonesia – the first project-financed wind IPP in the country. In addition, it advised the UK’s Foresight Group on the acquisition of Barcaldine Solar Farm in early 2017.

Law firm of the Year, Middle East and Africa

1. Clifford Chance

2. Norton Rose Fulbright

3. Allen & Overy

Clifford Chance was in on some of the largest and most innovative infrastructure deals throughout the Middle East and Africa market, leading to its title of the region’s top law firm.

As a legal advisor to Saudi Arabia, Clifford Chance helped secure an agreement to let private companies operate five Saudi airports under public-private partnerships. Clifford Chance said the deals are the first major non-utility PPPs to close in Saudi Arabia and is part of the government’s plan to offload 27 of its domestic and international airports by 2020.

Clifford Chance also advised a consortium of Chinese investors on a $2.1 billion deal to finance Jordan’s first oil shale power project. The firm also helped a consortium of developers in Africa reach financial close on a project to build a peat-fired power plant in Rwanda that generates between 80 to 120MW.