Restructuring Team of the Year

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Amid high regulatory costs and increasing competition in the sector, the Monarch Group turned to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to restructure its airlines business.

Prior to October 2014, the Monarch Airlines’ staff earned up to 35 per cent more than their peers, while the company itself had a pension deficit of £158m and owned too many aircraft.

However, within just 16 weeks, Freshfields helped the company to remove 25 per cent of its £800m cost base and cut the fleet from 42 to 34. It also liaised closely with the Civil Aviation Authority in a bid to secure the regulator’s support through what Monarch CEO Andrew Swaffield called an“existential crisis”. Other notable deals over the past year include the restructuring of European coal miner New World Resources, in which Freshfields devised a twin-track scheme of arrangement to lead to a fully consensual restructuring.

The firm also advised IVG Immobilien on its financial restructuring in the largest debt/equity-swap by way of an insolvency plan in Germany. Such swaps can trigger corporate income taxation under German law, yet the firm ensured around €1.8bn of syndicated loan and convertible bond debt could be converted in a way that minimised such taxation.

Runner up
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Following a year’s worth of negotiations, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton was finally able to bring forward a deal for the restructuring of United Company Rusal’s $5.15bn pre-export finance facilities (PXF facilities). Under the terms of the PXF facilities, any amendments would require 100% lenders’ consent. However, Cleary managed to orchestrate a deal that would require the approval of just 75% of the lenders.

The parallel schemes of arrangement in England and Jersey (being the governing laws of PXF facilities and Rusal respectively) were the largest ever schemes proposed by a group with its main operations in Russia and the CIS.

Third place
  • White & Case

White & Case earned a new client in New World Resources as the latter turned to the firm to restructure and reduce its debt position. Aware that the restructuring depended on a large number of uncertain events, White & Case built a ‘plan B’ option into the dual track scheme to provide a fall back option if ‘plan A’ had to be aborted.

By running the processes in parallel for the first time in the history of schemes, White & Case was able to remove substantial execution risk and speed up the transaction.

  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld
  • Ashurst
  • Kirkland & Ellis International
  • Latham & Watkins