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News Dec 18, 2014

Reynolds, Urda Kassis Named Law360 MVPs

Shearman & Sterling partners Barney Reynolds (London-Financial Institutions Advisory & Financial Regulatory) and Cynthia Urda Kassis (New York-Project Development & Finance) were named to Law360’s list of MVPs.

Reynolds earned a spot on Law360’s list of Banking MVPs for his work counseling Intercontinental Exchange Group (ICE) on its $11 billion purchase of NYSE Euronext and for guiding UK-based Co-operative Bank on its creditor bail-in. Law360 noted the complexity of ICE’s merger, calling it a “highly politicized process that involved negotiations with officials in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and the UK.” Said Reynolds, “It wasn't just checking the regulatory boxes—if a company has adequate capital levels and such—it's having the countries' finance ministers say, 'it's acceptable to us.’ And each of the four countries had a different view. It was almost like being party to foreign policy discussions between four states as to who gets what and where things go." Reynolds’ work on Co-operative was equally complex and pressurized. The challenge: convince UK regulators to sign off on a plan in which a group of about 18 hedge funds would execute a £1.5 billion ($2.5 billion) restructuring and acquisition of control of Co-operative Bank. "The key was persuading the regulators that the best solution was the bondholders owning a stake in Co-op rather than the equity holders —who should be wiped out," Reynolds told Law360. "It's a better result for the bank, because you have better owners taking it forward into the future." Reynolds also noted that post-financial crisis he and the firm’s Financial Institutions Advisory & Financial Regulatory practice have been guiding banking clients through a difficult regulatory environment while maintaining profitability and long-term strength. "It's always been that way, but the stakes now are so high that such advice is prized almost above all else," he said. "It's key for these institutions that they can organize themselves in such a way that they minimize their enforcement actions and litigations."

Urda Kassis’s excellence in executing high-profile mining and energy deals was acknowledged in a year she termed “healthy” for project finance. Urda Kassis noted that several trends—including growth in cross-border financing and the participation of non-traditional lenders—set the stage for a number of significant transactions in 2014. “There was a diversity of activity across numerous jurisdictions throughout the whole hemisphere and all the different industry sectors were active,” she said. Urda Kassis worked on a number of major deals, including Augusta Resource Corp’s $1.9 billion Rosemont copper project in Arizona; the $1.25 billion GNL del Plata, Uruguay’s first floating liquefied natural gas terminal; the development and financing of the Gasoducto Sur Peruano, a 621-mile, greenfield pipeline in Peru estimated to cost $5 billion; and advising the Brazilian Development Bank in connection with financing of a $3.2 billion portfolio of deepwater drilling units by Sete Brasil Participacoes SA. Urda Kassis told Law360, “I would expect there to be a continued quiet period in greenfield mining—perhaps made up for with a number of asset trades. In addition, I would expect various of the O&G midstream projects to be shelved and perhaps some realignment to occur in the industry.” In the end, though, Kassis believes that deal activity will remain strong—and that will keep her very busy for the foreseeable future. “It is very satisfying as all the pieces of each project puzzle come together into one cohesive arrangement that all the stakeholders are comfortable with,” Urda Kassis said. “It also makes all the difference when you can do that in a way that enables the parties to keep working together for a very, very long time—sometimes a decade or more.”