Financial institutions and other players involved in trade and export finance worldwide rely on the highly respected counsel of Sullivan's Trade & Export Finance Group. Clients regard our lawyers as responsive, well-networked and solution-oriented advisors with the depth, experience and attitude necessary to close sophisticated transactions under challenging deadlines. 

Our market-leading, London and New York-based group advises clients on transactions in a wide range of jurisdictions, with a focus on emerging markets, including Africa, Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Middle East and Latin America. We provide efficient, partner-led management of our clients' trade and export finance interests, bringing together multidisciplinary experience in:

  • Trade and export finance
  • Receivables finance
  • Project and asset finance
  • Securitization and securities law
  • Insurance
  • Tax and compliance issues
  • Dispute resolution

We advise on complex deals involving all types of commodities, including softs, metals, and oil and gas.

We are also well versed in fintech developments that are affecting and improving trade finance.

Our Clients

More than 45 major trade and export finance banks and financial institutions turn to our group for advice. In addition, there are funds, corporate borrowers, agents and trustees, national and international organizations and the insurance market, ranging in size from small to very large. Our clients also comprise non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs).

We advise on transactions involving English law and New York law as their principal law as well as advising on cross-border issues and coordinating work on local law issues. For example:

  • Commodity financing: large syndicated pre-export financings, prepayment transactions, borrowing base, reserve base lending, inventory financings and commodity repos
  • Receivables financing: multi-jurisdictional supply chain finance programs, invoice discounting, factoring and forfaiting transactions
  • Structured financing: asset acquisitions, distribution, securitizations, hedges, credit derivatives and synthetic securitizations
  • Trade services: advising on trade finance instruments and the application of uniform rules of practice
  • Export credit agency (ECA) finance: short, medium and long-term export credit agency and multi-source finance
  • Insurance: advising insureds, banks and financial institutions, insurance brokers, investment funds, government agencies on commercial insurance arrangements including those which support structured trade, commodity and pre-export financing
  • Trade disputes: representing clients in disputes in fora through the world, including the International Chamber of Commerce, the London Court of International Arbitration, American Arbitration Association, and ad hoc arbitrations, as well as traditional courtroom proceedings

In addition, we regularly advise clients facing regulatory (Basel III in particular), bribery and corruption issues and sanctions issues, particularly in the context of trade and export finance.

We act for industry bodies including BAFT, ITFA and ICC on documentation and rules promulgated by them in trade finance. 

Accolades

  • Trade Finance Magazine named Sullivan "Best Law Firm of the Year" at its Trade Finance Awards for Excellence, 2019.
  • Trade Finance Global named Sullivan "Best Trade Finance Law Firm 2019" in its International Trade Finance Awards 2019.
  • Global Trade Review named Sullivan "Best Trade Finance Law Firm" in the GTR Leaders in Trade Awards 2019. The firm was also recognized in 2015 and 2016 and shortlisted for the 2018 award. In addition, the firm also won two GTR Deals of the Year 2016 awards.
  • Trade & Forfaiting Review (TFR) named Sullivan "Best Law Firm in Trade Finance" in its 2016 TFR Excellence in Trade Awards and 2015 and 2014 TFR Excellence in Trade Awards.
  • The Legal 500 UK 2019 ranked the firm in Tier 1 for Trade Finance. The Legal 500 UK 2016 also named Geoffrey Wynne, Simon Cook and Mark Norris as Leading Individuals in this practice.
  • IFLR1000 2017 recognized Sullivan in the category of "Financial and Corporate" for its leading trade and export finance practice.
  • Chambers UK 2017 named Geoffrey Wynne and Simon Cook as Ranked individuals in Tier 1 and Tier 2, respectively.

Delivering on Your Next: Case Studies

Bringing a client's idea to reality

Challenge

A large, European based financial institution in the softs commodities market needed advice and documentation for the purchase of receivables from coffee producers in a series of transactions.

Getting to Next

Working across multiple time zones and under tight deadlines, we helped the client securitize the arrangements using its own electronic platform for the transactions. 

Results

The client closed the main transaction in late 2018.

Guiding a major financial trade organization through an industry agreement update

Challenge

BAFT (the Bankers Association for Finance & Trade) ­ a leading international financial services association ­ wanted to update its English law Master Participation Agreement (MPA) and associated usage guidelines.  

Getting to Next

BAFT, together with ITFA (International Trade and Forfaiting Association), put together a working group of industry professionals to review the existing forms and identify necessary changes based on current market practice.

Results

The original English law MPA, drafted more than 10 years ago, serves as the industry standard for secondary market transactions to facilitate the buying and selling of trade finance-related assets globally. The update helps to standardise documentation for trade finance transactions and will ensure that bank clients, government bodies and investors better understand and utilise trade finance assets.

The Sullivan team was led by Trade & Export Finance partner Geoffrey Wynne and Managing Associate Hannah Fearn in London. 

Representative Client Work

We represent and advise a wide array of global corporations in complex trade finance transactions, including the following:

  • A consortium of international Scandinavian banks on a buyer finance commercial loan to an East African borrower to finance the $400 million purchase of telecommunications equipment
  • Dints International, a specialist equipment supplier in Africa, on a unique Vendor Managed Inventory contract with one of West Africa’s largest gold producers. This transaction was supported by the UK’s export credit agency, UKEF
  • JP Morgan as Mandated Lead Arranger and Agent on a US$multi-million loan made by UKEF under its direct lending facility to the Kurdistan Regional Government to finance the preliminary scoping phase of a significant US$1.2bn contract with the British water engineering company Biwater
  • A leading international bank on a $175 million commodity financing facility for a UAE/Pan-Africa trading group, involving the taking of security over commodities in multiple African jurisdictions
  • A major international bank on a major jurisdictional survey relating to structuring and implementing commodity repos in several jurisdictions around the world, covering a variety of commodities including agriculture, metals and oil
  • The UK subsidiary of a Nigerian bank on a $70 million commodity financing facility to UAE/Singapore borrowers involving the taking of security over commodities in multiple African jurisdictions
  • A regional development bank in Africa on a $5 million equipment import and installation facility for a Ghanaian corporate borrower and a Chinese supplier involving the taking of security over certain equipment and other assets
  • A number of banks on various facilities to energy companies to finance the sale and purchase of oil through the Kenyan oil open tender system (OTS)
  • A hedge fund in relation to the provision of a prepayment facility to an international mining and mineral exploration company to finance the operations of a mine in Morocco
  • A club of international banks on an ECA supported financing in excess of $170 million in relation to an electricity infrastructure project in Zambia, supported by a government guarantee. The financing involved both an ECA and a commercial facility
  • A number of international banks on the use of credit risk mitigants and the application of Article 194 of CRR. These include insurance policies, cash deposits and receivables
  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and its members on the application of Article 194 to various rules namely UCP 600 (standby letters of credit only), ISP98, URDG 758 and URR 725 (regarding reimbursement obligations)

Key Contacts

Related Practices

Related Industries



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Trade Finance Awards 2019

GTR Leaders in Trade Award 2019

The Legal 500 UK 2019, Top Tier

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