Wednesday 25 March 2020 1:51 pm

Freshfields and Slaughter and May advise government on covid corporate finance facility

The Treasury and the Bank of England have called up Magic Circle law firms Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to advise on the government’s emergency corporate covid financing facility (CCFF).

The CCFF will purchase commercial paper, a debt instrument, from companies in order to boost their liquidity.

It is available to UK companies that “make a material contribution to the UK economy,” the Treasury said.

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Freshfields is acting for the Bank and Slaughters is representing the Treasury.

The pair took similar roles during the £500bn bail out of the banks during the 2008 financial crisis.

Freshfields’ team is being led by financial services head Michael Raffan, alongside structured finance partner Flora McLean.

Slaughters has fielded a team led by finance partners Oliver Storey and Guy O’Keefe, debt capital markets head Matthew Tobin and equity capital markets head Nilufer von Bismarck.

One person close to the project said: “It was very heavy over the weekend, we had a big team involved trying to make contingency plans for all the different situations that could arise. There will be lots of ongoing work as companies start to try and work out whether it applies to them…it’s going to be heavy and ongoing.”

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A City legal source said most of their large clients were planning on accessing the CCFF, and said those who did not fulfill the entry criteria were trying to work out ways they could become eligible.

“Everybody is interested in the CCFF, everybody. People are trying to get private ratings so they can fall within it,” they said.

The Treasury said the scheme is open to companies that had a short or long-term rating of investment grade at 1 March.

Freshfields has acted for the Bank of England since the firm was founded in 1743. Raffan, who is the Bank’s relationship partner at the firm, led Freshfields’ team that advised the Bank during the 2008 crisis.

Slaughters too has a long relationship with the Treasury, with von Bismark helping lead the firm’s team handling negotiations between the banks and the government during the 2008 bailout.