In a challenging year for the middle market, one of the most active law firms was Milbank,Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. The global firm grew its practice in several ways, hiring more M&A attorneys and advising on some innovative deals. Milbank remains committed to expanding its presence in the sector.
One industry in which Milbank stood out was aviation—which accounted for a significant number of the firm's M&A transactions over the last few years, says Alexander Kaye, head of the corporate/M&A practice. During 2015, Milbank advised on a particularly interesting deal in the sector—the first aircraft-backed securitization deal in Asia. Historically, bank financing in China has been cheap, but as the economy there continues to fall, funding has become less available and aircraft leasing companies have had to look for new means for financing.
The firm served as advisers to Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of China International, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley on Singapore-based Shenton Aircraft Investments I Limited’s (SAIL) sale of $807.9 million of senior notes which closed in December. The notes were backed by 24 aircraft SAIL acquired from global aircraft leasing company BOC Aviation. The deal involved attorneys in Milbank’s New York office.
The firm was also active in the energy sector, advising private equity firm ArcLight Capital Partners on the sale of a natural gas and dual-fuel fired portfolio to Eastern Generation LLC, from Tenaska Capital Management. In the service sector, the law firm advised Penn National Gaming (Nasdaq: PENN), a Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based casinos and racetracks operator, on its $360 million acquisition of the Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Hotel Resort. Milbank also advised private equity firm EQT Mid Market in its acquisition of technology solutions and services provider Stamford, Connecticut-based FocusVision.
During 2015, Milbank grew its M&A practice, increasing the number of lawyers for the team from 106 to 114. Notable recruits included Robert Kennedy (not related to the late U.S. attorney general) and Brien Wassner, who moved from Jones Day to join Milbank's global corporate practice in New York. Both Kennedy and Wassner focus on private equity-backed M&A, including in the infrastructure, energy, retail and business and financial services, among other sectors.
“We have a laser focus on increasing our size,” Kaye says. “Our sweet spot is $500 million-$1 billion. We are half as large as our next competitor, but we punch well above our weight.” Kaye added: “We believe that we provide New York top-quality law firm service to all of our clients and all of our deals. We need to be lean and mean. We staff our deals in a fashion that makes our clients come back.”
With more than 600 attorneys, Milbank has offices in Beijing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo and Washington, D.C.