Neale Downes



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Neale Downes

Summary Open

Neale Downes is a partner in the Finance Group in Dubai. He has spent over 12 years in the Gulf (based in Bahrain and Dubai) and has worked on transactions across the region.  He has extensive experience of working on infrastructure projects (power & water, oil & gas, rail, ports, schools, hospitals) and transactions in the real estate, leisure, construction and development, telecoms, Islamic finance and ethical investment sectors. He also has significant experience of acting for lenders and sponsors on both UK and international PPP/PFI structured projects.

Neale’s practice focuses on structured finance (including securitisations and asset-backed and asset-based lending), acquisition finance, trade finance (including Islamic trade finance), project, construction and development finance and in particular, Islamic Finance. He also has significant experience of establishing and acting for funds and other collective investment vehicles (particularly those complying with Shari’ah principles).

Experience Open

    Project Finance
    • Hajj Terminals Complex, Jeddah – Acted for the Saudi Binladin Group, in connection with the US$205m limited recourse project financing, on an istisna’a and forward lease (ijara fil thimmah) basis, of the Hajj Terminal Complex at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. The deal was wholly Islamically financed and utilised a novel structure, involving the sale and leaseback of concession rights and other intangible assets.
    • Shoiaba/Shuqaiq IWPPs (KSA) – Acted for the sponsors on the Islamic tranches of both the US$2bn Shoiaba and US$1.9bn Shuqaiq IWPP project financings, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
    • Naseej BSC(c) – Advised Naseej BSC(c) and its co-sponsors on negotiations with the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry Of Finance of the Kingdom of Bahrain, in connection with the concession to build and manage (on a BOT basis) 3500 social housing and low cost housing units for Bahrain’s first social housing PPP and then advising on structuring for the US$500m Islamic financing and US$350m equity financing of the project.
    Islamic finance
    • Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) –  Advised Etihad Etisalat, the mobile telecoms company, on what was then the world’s largest ever Islamic financing. The US$1.6bn murabaha funded the winning US$3.5bn bid for Saudi Arabia’s second GSM and 3G mobile telecom licences.
    • Gulf Finance House B.S.C – Acted for GFH on multiple commodity murabaha and wakala fiancings, including its US$100m murabaha financing with Citibank, separate convertible murabaha financings with Deutsche and Alden Capital and many smaller inter-bank murabahas with Bahrain and other Gulf based banks.
    Conventional Facilities
    • Citibank N.A. – Acted for Citibank N.A., Bahrain Branch in connection with a US $200 million secured working capital facility made available to the Saudi based industrial group, Saudi Oger Ltd.
    • Baxter Biotech – Advised Baxter Biotech Holdings AG and its European subsidiaries, in connection with a US$800m, multi-currency revolving credit facility.
    Construction/Development Finance
    • Bahrain Bay Development – Acted for Bahrain Bay Development on the landmark US$4bn Bahrain Bay Development mixed use real estate development project.
    Asset Finance
    • Targetline Investments Limited –  Acted for Targetline Investments Ltd, on its financing for the purchase and delivery of a mobile self-propelled drilling rig Drillmec model MR8000 double drum, manufactured in Italy and for use in the oilfields of Libya. Kuwait Finance House made available a US$10m master murabaha facility to Targetline to enable it to finance the transaction.
    • Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) –  Acted for ABC and APICORP, as mandated lead arrangers and lenders in connection with a US$75m term loan facility and a later US$ 39m term loan facility, both of which were extended to Arab Drilling and Workover Company, a Libya-based rig-owning company, in connection with the purchase and importation of two 1500HP land rigs from an Italian supplier. The facility was secured by a pledge of the relevant rig and certain spares and ancillary equipment and by an assignment of cashflows from the chartering of the rig on the “spot” market in Libya.
    Securitisation/Receivables/Asset Based Lending
    • Morgan Stanley – Acted for Morgan Stanley Real Estate as arranger of a US$330m commercial mortgage backed securitisation.
    • Centreline Reinsurance LLC (Centreline Re) – Acted for Centerline Re in connection with a wrapped securitisation of Japanese auto loans.
    • Khaleeji Commercial Bank B.S.C. (KHCB) – Acted for KHCB, in its respective capacities as security agent and trustee, account bank, cash manager and investment manager to Villamar Sukuk Company Limited (VSCL) in connection with the issue by VSCL of US$190m sukuk-al-musharaka, the proceeds of which were to be applied in connection with the construction and development of the “Villamar” real estate project in Manama, Bahrain.
    • Ithmaar Bank B.S.C – Advised Ithmaar Bank BSC, the Bahrain based investment bank, in connection with its US$300 million sukuk al wakala transaction. Advised on the structuring of the transaction from a Shari’ah compliance perspective and negotiated and drafted the offering document and supporting transaction documents. (aborted at point of market launch).
    • Central Bank of Bahrain – Client partner for the CBB at T&H and leading the team appointed to undertake the external administration of The International Banking Corporation BSC(c) (in administration), a bank embroiled in the Al Gosaibi/Maan Al Sanea family disputes and worldwide litigation.
    • Arcapita Bank BSC(c) – Advised Arcapita (as part of a team) on possible insolvency and bankruptcy protection options, including UK and Bahrain based schemes of arrangement, administration under the CBB Law and Chapter 11 proceedings under the US Bankruptcy Code.
    • Gulf Finance House BSC(c) – Advised GFH in connection with the restructuring of its US$200m sukuk issue, its core US$250m murabaha facility and numerous of its other secured and unsecured financjngs, after the global financial crisis
    • Global Investment House K.S.C.C. – Acted for Global Investment House in the structuring and establishment of, among other funds:
      A. a US$100m Shari’ah compliant GCC focused real estate fund;
      B. the “Global Opportunistic Fund I”, a US$500m conventional pre-IPO fund, focusing on private equity opportunities in the MENA region; and C. the US$300m Global MENA Ijarah Real Estate Fund.  This was the first fund registered as an “exempt CIU”  under Bahrain’s then newly issued Collective Investment Undertakings Regulations.
    • Instrata Capital – Acted for Instrata Capital, a Bahraini based investment firm, in connection with the establishment of “Bunyah”, a US$450m GCC and MENA focused Shari’ah-compliant infrastructure fund.

Education Open

  • Guildford College of Law 1989-90
  • Girton College Cambridge 1986-9 (BA Hons and MA)
  • Hills Road Sixth Form College Cambridge 1983-5
  • Berkhamstead Boys School 1977-83

Author/Speaker/Awards Open

  • IFN 2011 Issuers & Investors Asia Form in KL
  • Euromoney 2011 Islamic Finance Summit, London
  • 2011 Sukuk Summit in London
  • 2011 and 2013 World Islamic Banking Conference in Bahrain
  • 2014 City UK and Central Bank of Bahrain – Islamic Finance Workshop (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
  • 2014 Islamic Investors Conference – Jumeirah Carlton Tower


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