Kirsty, now a solicitor in Ashurst London, reflects on her time as a second-seat trainee in Ashurst Sydney and as a junior associate in Ashurst Hong Kong.
Banking and finance is a constantly developing and evolving practice area. For example, Ashurst was recently involved in the first transaction where SONIA (Sterling Overnight Index Average) was used as an alternative to LIBOR (London Inter-bank Offered Rate) which will shortly be retired. This was a market first and a great example of our leading position in the market. Global loans is a great seat to experience as part of your training contract.
What is global loans?
At Ashurst, global loans encompasses a number of loan-related product areas, including but not limited to acquisition and leveraged finance, corporate lending, fund finance, insurance finance, loan portfolio transactions and real estate finance. The work is multi-jurisdictional, high-profile and one of the firm’s key practice areas. To date, most of my experience has been obtained in three areas:
• Acquisition and leveraged finance involves advising lenders and purchasers (often private equity funds) on debt financing arrangements for acquisitions to fund a significant proportion of the purchase price. Loan documentation is usually prepared prior to a purchaser (as a bidder) offering to acquire a target for the purpose of fulfilling a ‘certain funds’ requirement (ie demonstrating that a purchaser has sufficient funds to acquire the target). At Ashurst, the size of our team means we can run several ‘deal trees’ for a potential target.
• Corporate lending focuses on the funding needs of companies which range from high-profile multi-jurisdictional financings to domestic mid-market funding. Ashurst advises on bilateral, club and syndicated facilities to businesses in various industries including manufacturing, real estate, retail, healthcare, resources, infrastructure, financial services and technology.
• Fund finance involves lending to funds using various financing structures including subscription finance (also known as equity bridge or capital call facilities), secondaries financing, asset backed facilities (NAV facilities), hybrid facilities and general partner facilities. We advise banks, funds (including private equity funds, real estate funds and direct lending funds) and other industry participants on these financing structures.
Benefits of working in global loans
My second training seat was spent in the Sydney global loans team and, as a junior associate, I sat in the Hong Kong global loans team before joining the London team earlier this year.
Working in global loans gives trainees and junior associates an insight into how multi-jurisdictional transactions are co-ordinated seamlessly across the entire firm. I am currently working on transactions involving Ashurst offices in Continental Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia and the United States.
In Hong Kong, I gained experience in syndicated loan facilities and structured financings, including advising lenders on syndicated facilities made available to Hutchison entities, advising a major European bank on a facility for a major F&B company in China and playing a key role in a highly structured landmark financing for the acquisition of the Hong Kong skyscraper ‘The Center’ at a record price of US$5.1 bn.
While trainees will initially learn how to run and interpret company searches, maintain conditions precedent checklists and review corporate formalities, the team will create opportunities for trainees to get involved in more complex tasks such as drafting facilities agreements, amendment agreements, legal opinions, accession documents and security documents.
What are the key skills needed to be a trainee in global loans?
Transaction management skills are crucial for trainees in global loans. Trainees will get exposure to a wide range of matters and will be trusted to proactively run with tasks on a timely basis, continuously liaising with the team.
Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential as you will need to interact with the internal team, our clients and other parties, as is the ability to prioritise, to ensure that all transactions are completed in an orderly manner.
Trainees will be expected to develop a commercial approach in transaction management by the end of their seat, with the ability to apply commercial context to the tasks that they have undertaken.
With 27 offices in 16 countries and a number of referral relationships, we offer the reach and insight of a global network, combined with the knowledge and understanding of local markets. Our 400 partners and further 1,300 lawyers work across ten different time zones, responding to our clients wherever and whenever they need us.
Our clients are at the heart of our thinking; our ambition is to be our clients’ most incisive partner. You will see we have a prestigious client base, with whom we build strong partnerships working closely together on large and complex multi-jurisdictional transactions to deliver incisive and insightful commercial solutions. Our global reach provides opportunities for our people to work in numerous jurisdictions with leading international organisations across the world.
You will enjoy an inclusive culture which genuinely values the breadth of individual perspectives and contributions that we gain from having a diverse workforce. As part of a truly collaborative team working in partnership together with openness and respect across offices, geographies and specialisms, we support each other to achieve great things for our clients. We take exactly the same approach with our people: we’re interested in understanding each other, finding new and better ways to bring out each individual’s talents, and simply enjoying the interaction with other high-calibre, down-to-earth people. It’s a strong, shared culture that will enable you to apply your intellect, develop yourself and thrive as an international lawyer.