Strength in Depth
Devonshires has one of the largest specialist banking, capital markets and securitisation teams working in the UK dedicated to social housing. The combined offering consists of 8 partners and 20 lawyers who are consistently rated for excellence in advice and delivery. We couldn’t put it better than Chambers & Partners, who describes our team as: “Committed to working with its clients in a proactive way to ensure targets are met whilst offering a value-for-money service”.
The legal directories (both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500) recognise us as Tier 1 (the leading firm) in social housing finance, a reflection of us having one of the largest dedicated banking and securitisation teams working on social housing finance matters in the UK. Our Partnership is comprised of leading individuals who are ranked practitioners and recognised sector specialists, of whom include: Julian Barker, Andrew Cowan, Gary Grigor, Gareth Hall, Sharon Kirkham and Chris Drabble.
Banking and Finance
We advise borrowers, issuers, lenders, bondholders and trustees alike on a range of financial arrangements, including syndicated and bilateral loan facilities, facility restructurings, merger activity, group collapses, interest rate derivatives and high-value private and public bond issues.
Our advice to RPs and RSLs (both companies limited by guarantee and community benefit societies) and their group members (including JV vehicles) primarily focuses on loan facility documentation (including new facilities and restating or varying existing facilities) to fund both general corporate activities and individual development sites on a standalone basis. These facilities range from small bilateral facilities to large syndicated loans of well over £100 million, either direct to RP/RSL borrowers or through treasury vehicles.
Our advice also extends to:
- derivative documentation including ISDA agreements (and associated credit support annexes and schedules);
- guarantee arrangements and put and call options;
- intra-group funding arrangements (including joint ventures); and
- security trust arrangements (both designation and numerical apportionment arrangements).
Capital Markets and Private Placements
We are also at the forefront of innovation when it comes to advising on additional sources of private finance. We have acted on over 50 own name bond issues (including retail and wholesale bonds) and private placements since 2008. We believe this is more than any other firm in the sector. A flavour of the bond issues we have acted on include: A2Dominion, L&Q, Circle, Moat, AmicusHorizon, WM Housing Group, Together Housing Group, Raglan, Bromford Group, Radian, Great Places, Notting Hill, Catalyst, Orbit, Hyde, Genesis, Newlon and Suffolk Housing, Thrive Homes and BPHA.
Our practice consists of experienced lawyers who also act for institutional investors and we therefore believe that we are uniquely positioned to understand the challenges of the investor community and help cut through negotiations in the knowledge of how far to push the boundaries.
We have the largest specialist social housing property charging team working in the country, with extensive experience in security arrangements for traditional core facilities to capital markets issuances. The property charging team has an unparalleled capacity to charge properties in accordance with tight deadlines and ensuring a streamlined and smooth transaction. We have a skilled team fully conversant with market practices dedicated to helping clients achieve their goals. Our experience enables us to anticipate issues, including e.g. identifying properties which will be unacceptable as security and those properties which will have their value restricted to EUV-SH.
Our Team and Ethos
When it comes to delivery, our ethos is:
- our teams are Partner led, with partners heavily involved in negotiations, which assists in resolving issues speedily and ensuring timely completion of transactions;
- we are familiar with “market standards” in the social housing sector and we are therefore ideally placed to ensure that negotiations do not become unnecessarily protracted, ensuring strategic milestones are met on target and know where the flexibilities lie;
- we provide solutions, given our extensive experience of RPs and RSLs, rather than problems;
- we cut through negotiations in the knowledge that we have healthy relationships with law firms who act exclusively for funders. These relationships are built on mutual trust and respect for getting deals done. (Indeed, our partnership comprises of lawyers who previously acted exclusively for funders and who are able to acutely assess and dismiss points that might otherwise be confined to funder “policy” decisions); and
- we pride ourselves on being responsive and committed to offering the highest quality of service.