Asset finance law

Asset finance often involves the sale or leasing or aircraft, ships or railways
Types of work

In practice: we spoke to Paul Nelson, partner at Allen & Overy

What kind of deals do you work on?

I'm in asset finance.

We assist with financing purchases of aircraft, ships, and railways, the actual sale transactions, and the subsequent leasing of these assets.

What kind of clients do you act for?

Typically we work for banks lending money to finance asset purchases, companies buying and leasing out assets, and operators of transport services.

We also sometimes act for private equity firms investing in these assets, private individuals buying or selling them, and governments financing asset deals.

Can you describe one of your deals?

I've worked for Iberia on the financing of their aircraft for a number of years.

When their merger with British Airways happened we had to renegotiate the finance contracts for every one of their aeroplanes - they have around 100, so that was a hugely complicated process!

What do you enjoy about your practice area?

I like the fact that what we do is tangible. When a client has bought an Airbus, someone on the team will go down to Toulouse (where Airbus's headquarters are) for the handover - seeing an airline flying a plane you've just financed is great!

I also like the fact that deals don't drag on for too long which means the work is varied - on average they take about a month.

What kind of person is suited to your practice area?

Some people like to get into the technical details of the big, shiny objects flying or floating around that we work with.

Others enjoy the type of legal work we do - our financings often have complicated structures.

What are the current big issues in your practice area?

Some banks are trying to get out of asset finance deals and we're seeing different types of lender coming in - for example, private equity firms.

Private equity firms are also getting involved in the industry by looking for opportunities to buy assets cheaply from companies in financial trouble.

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