Alastair MacAulay will join the Hong Kong office of Clifford Chance as a partner to lead its shipping finance business, the international law firm said yesterday. He has been recruited from Mayer Brown JSM, although his starting date has yet to be finalised.
MacAulay will become the fourth partner in the firm's Asia-Pacific asset finance team, which also comprises 20 associates. The team’s primary focus has been in asset and structured finance for the aviation sector, as well as leasing transactions that include telecommunications, shipping and project finance.
The addition of MacAulay should add expertise to the firm’s maritime and offshore finance advisory business. His position is a new role.
“We will be able to provide a leading maritime finance capability in Asia-Pacific and strengthen our global capability in this area," said Peter Charlton, regional managing partner for Asia-Pacific, in a statement.
MacAulay specialises in asset and project finance, particularly in the transportation and energy sectors. He has acted on behalf of banks and financial institutions on a wide range of loan, guarantee, leasing and other credit transactions across many jurisdictions. He has particular expertise in LNG transportation and offshore maritime services as well as restructurings in the maritime sector.
MacAulay’s recent work includes advising Mitsui OSK Lines in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship project for the transportation of LNG from Papua New Guinea and Australia to customers of Exxon Mobil. He also advised Colbun and AES Gener, the Chilean electricity generation companies, on the long-term charter of a floating storage and re-gasification unit from Hoegh LNG of Norway.
"Joining Clifford Chance provides a great platform to develop a leading maritime finance practice,” said MacAulay. “The firm’s capabilities in debt finance, capital markets, M&A and restructuring will allow us to provide outstanding levels of service to clients in this area as the industry seeks new sources of funding," he added.
Clifford Chance already has a presence in the shipping sector within the region, and has advised on several high-profile deals.
Along with Al Jadaan & Partners, last year it advised The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) on the proposed $1.3 billion merger of the fleets and operations of Bahri and Vela International Marine, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Saudi Aramco.
In 2011, the firm advised a syndicate of banks led by Santander, BNP Paribas and HSBC on the $530 million K-sure (Korea Trade Insurance Corporation) supported financing of up to seven large ore carrying vessels for Vale. It also advised a group of lenders on a project finance facility for Armada TGT off the coast of Vietnam.
Clifford Chance’s activities in the aviation sector include advising Krung Thai Bank on the financing of new aircraft for Thai AirAsia, and a group of lenders on a commercial financing for the first A380-800 to be operated by Thai Airways.
Clifford Chance operates across Asia-Pacific and has offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Perth, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo. It employs more than 400 lawyers within the region.
"Our asset finance practice in Asia-Pacific has grown steadily over the past several years and we see opportunities for further growth. We will continue to invest as needed to support client needs," said Mark Hyde, head of finance for Asia-Pacific.
Hyde, the firm’s global head of restructuring and insolvency, was elected to serve a four-year term as Asia-Pacific finance practice area leader in September 2012 and relocated to Hong Kong at the beginning of this year.
"Asian banks are becoming more active in the offshore energy sector, creating more demand for sophisticated asset finance transactions. [MacAulay] brings experience and a market leading position in maritime and LNG project finance in Asia-Pacific and globally," Hyde said.