The Banking & Finance Group is split into three teams:
- Property Finance
- Acquisition Finance
- Project/Asset Finance
The Group offers advice on all aspects of banking and finance with an increasing emphasis in 2015 on property finance transactions. The Group has strong relationships with a number of higher education institutions as well as notable retail banking groups. The Group certainly finds itself on the region’s highest profile deals and is the “go to team” for Santander UK plc’s highest profile deals, e.g. Home Grown Hotels Limited, Haskins Garden Centres Limited and Vislink plc.
Notable clients are Santander UK plc, Lloyds Bank plc and developers such as Drew Smith Homes Limited and Alfred Homes Limited. James McNeil is the lead partner who has a reputation for delivering transactions on time and is known for his commerciality.
In 2015 alone, the Group has advised on over £300m worth of debt finance (ranging from acquisition and asset finance to project and property finance transactions), involving a variety of deal values across a wide range of market sectors.
I work in partnership with my clients in order that I can, as quickly as possible, fully understand what is and what’s not important to them so that we can get the matter completed as efficiently as possible. I believe good communication skills are vital, as is the ability to place myself in my client’s shoes.
I act for:
- borrower and corporate clients who need/utilise debt finance in order to operate their businesses. I have acted on loans to all types of borrowers (domestic and overseas) including UK or offshore property companies, investment funds, partnerships, joint ventures and unit trusts
- lenders in connection with financing of a wide variety of assets – prestige office buildings, portfolios of industrial and retail properties, hotels, cinema complexes and other recreational facilities
I also, in conjunction with my corporate colleagues, advise lenders and borrowers in connection with funding acquisitions. I have advised on the majority of financing structures which are commonly used, including acting for agent and arranger banks on syndicated transactions, lenders on bilateral debt, senior, mezzanine and quasi-equity, conduit lenders and loans for ultimate securitisation.
Recent Work Highlights
- A cross discipline team of over 20 Paris Smith lawyers led by James McNeil (including corporate, finance, planning, property and construction law experts) acted for RB Sport and Leisure Holdings Plc (previously known as Rose Bowl plc) (RB plc) and its subsidiaries upon:
- the £6.5m sale and leaseback by RB Sport and Leisure Holdings Plc (previously known as Rose Bowl plc) and its subsidiaries of Hampshire’s international cricket ground and concert venue to Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC)
- £32m worth of development funding provided by EBC pursuant to a finance lease to enable a 4* Hilton branded hotel and facilities to be built and
- The deal also involved the subscription by certain investors of £6.5m worth of loan notes in RB Sport and Leisure Holdings Plc
- James McNeil and the Banking and Finance team acted for Santander UK plc in connection with a development and acquisition finance facility made available to Home Grown Hotels Limited (the latest venture of Robin Hutson who was one of the founders of the Hotel du Vin chain) in order to refinance their existing financial indebtedness and to finance the purchase and development of sites and companies. This has enabled Home Grown Hotels Limited to develop and acquire three further “Pig” branded hotels in Southampton, Studland and Bath. The team advised Santander UK plc in the negotiation of all finance documentation, the share purchase agreement, the collation of CPs and all property aspects (including preparations of reports on title)
- James McNeil and the Banking and Finance team advised Yacht Haven Group Limited (YHG) in connection with its refinance of its existing loan facilities pursuant to a revolving credit facility and an overdraft facility to be provided by Lloyds TSB Bank plc. This refinance enabled YHG to acquire Drimmelen Marina in Holland (1500 berths, freehold land/water and pontoons all assets. approx. 60 acres) from Biesbosch Marina Drimmelen or BMD (Dutch BV owned by local municipality) pursuant to a Dutch law asset purchase agreement
- Does an equitable assignee need to give notice?
- Is it reasonable to comply with a reasonable endeavours obligation?
- Lloyds Bank plc v McBains Cooper  EWHC 2045 (TCC)
- How can you be bound by something you haven’t even signed?
- Further capital raising for ECB banks
James McNeil is well regarded for his asset-based, property and debt finance practice. A client reports “He is prepared to negotiate hard on your behalf and see things from both parties’ point of view and anticipate what the other party might see“.
Chambers & Partners Legal Directory 2019
Clients enthuse that he “offers extra value-added advice over and above what we usually ask for and helps us with understanding the issues.”
Chambers & Partners Legal Directory 2018
‘Goes beyond the call of duty to meet client deadlines’. Practice head James McNeil has ‘outstanding commercial and legal acumen’.
Legal 500 2017
Recommended for his expertise in leveraged finance and real estate finance, and is the firm’s relationship partner for major lender clients such as The Co-operative Bank and Santander. He is noted as “straightforward, friendly and easy to deal with”.
Chambers & Partners Legal Directory 2017