Watson Farley & Williams (“WFW”) is delighted that two deals it advised on have been named ‘Global Lease Deal of the Year’ and ‘European Restructuring Deal of the Year’ respectively at the Airline Economics Aviation 100 Global Leaders Deals of the Year Awards 2023.
WFW acted for a syndicate of lenders comprising Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Development Bank of Japan Inc. and La Banque Postale in the first ever sustainability-linked aircraft non-payment insurance (“ANPI”) supported JOLCO financing of an A350 aircraft leased to Air France which was named ‘Global Lease Deal of the Year’.
The deal was more complex than usual JOLCO financings as it built in coverage from a new-to-market ANPI product brokered by Piiq Risk Partners and a sustainable margin ratchet linked to various sustainability performance targets that Air France must fulfil. The deal also uniquely involved the first ANPI coverage with multiple policies enabling the participation of JOLCO lenders from Japan and Europe under the same covered facility.
WFW also advised a broad group of lessors on safeguarding and receivership proceedings initiated before the French courts in relation to the French subsidiaries of Indonesian airline group Lion Air, which was named ‘European Restructuring Deal of the Year’.
The lessors collectively owned approximately 30 aircraft and engines in Lion Air’s fleet and after several months of negotiations under the aegis of the court-appointed administrators, bilateral agreements were reached with all lessors enabling the Paris Commercial Court to validate an exit from the proceedings without the need to present a continuation plan and by extinguishment of liabilities. This consensual and innovative contractual exit made it possible to carry out a €1bn+ restructuring involving multiple international lessors, whilst preserving the confidentiality of all individual bilateral agreements.
The cross-border WFW Aviation team that advised the lenders on the sustainability-linked ANPI JOLCO financing was led by Partner and Global Aviation Sector Co-Head Charles Viggers working closely with Counsel Richard Williams and Associate Margaux Ith in Singapore. Paris-based Banking and Finance Partner Philippe Monfort led on the French law aspects of the deal supported by Associates Lisa Tavlaridis and Hugues Hounkpati.
The WFW Paris Restructuring team that advised the lessors on the Lion Air transaction was led by Partner Pascal Roux who worked closely with Partners Philippe Wolanski and Alexia Russell, as well as Senior Associate Pierre Chipaux, Associates Louise de Vogüé and Hugues Hounkpati, and Lawyer Chloé Léonard. WFW Hong Kong Assets & Structured Finance Partner Jackson Chow and Associates Alfred Yu and Vivienne Zhao also provided assistance.
Charles commented: “We are delighted that two deals that we advised on have won deal of the year awards. These award wins, which come on the tail of further recent successes, showcase just some of the depth of expertise of WFW’s aviation practice globally as well as our ability to successfully advise on ground-breaking, first-of-their-kind transactions and high-value restructurings involving multiple international lessors. A huge congratulations to all those involved in these deals”.