I get involved in cutting-edge projects in infrastructure, project finance, corporate mergers and public private partnership (PPP) deals both at home and internationally. These deals or projects either haven't been done before at all or are new to the client or the country they are in.
Tel: +44 (0)121 214 1040
Best brains in ...
Privatisation and concessions, project agreements and strategic commercial agreements, particularly in infrastructure, defence and rail transactions of all kinds.
Highlight of your career so far?
Being asked to lead the legal team advising the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on its groundbreaking £3.9 billion alliance with the UK shipbuilding industry to design and build two new huge aircraft carriers in the UK. We were asked to provide the MoD with a step change in industry contracting, incentivising best for project performance and negotiating a transaction the like of which has never been seen before. We applied contractual principles in an innovative way and were awarded "stand-out" status in the 2009 Financial Times Innovative Lawyer awards for our work.
Most challenging job you've ever done?
Over 30 years there have been many highlights I'm pleased to say. One recent challenging and rewarding example involved being the lead international lawyer as part of the International Finance Corporation's core team. We advised the Government of Kenya on a 25-year project financed concession of its entire railway system jointly with Uganda's railways. Working with the International Finance Corporation, we developed the concession design, completed it internationally, changed the law to accommodate it and successfully achieved financial close as Kenya's first concession. We liaised very closely with the Steering Committee of the two governments to advise, brief, explain and negotiate so as to really make a difference to key infrastructure in East Africa which was very rewarding and challenging. We always provided a solution to every problem, despite plenty of obstacles to overcome. Working on the deal for over four years required excellent communication, team work and benefit of the doubt. The transaction teams came from Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, England and the US. Everyone went the extra mile because it was a job which needed to be done.
An international highlight
I advised Railway Systems of Zambia in documenting its deal to rehabilitate, operate and maintain Zambia Railways. We had to rewrite the concession agreement to comply with the law and the bid criteria yet make it bankable. We also had to enable the client to make a commercial return. During the agreements, the copper mining concessionaire handed back the keys. As the mines provided the bulk of the traffic for the railway, this tightened the knot on efforts to make it all work. But with the same very focused negotiation and innovative drafting we arrived at a deal which satisfied the Government of Zambia, the concessionaire, the shareholders and the bank. The work was intensive and fast moving, requiring drafting and re-drafting at high speed, together with critical negotiation tactics round the clock for many months. The railway has been running profitably ever since.
Best example of a creative legal solution?
Cummins Engine Company came to me to ask for advice on the contractual arrangements for the design, build and whole-life overhaul and maintenance of the engines and power packs for the Virgin Voyager diesel tilting train. The contractual risk balance was all wrong and there were no provisions dealing with the overhaul and maintenance regime. So, using my knowledge of railways and commercial contract law, I worked with the senior Cummins management team to design, draft and negotiate to fill the gap.
Most ground breaking transaction?
I led the international legal advice working with 'Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement' (OCCAR) on the re-negotiation of a ground-breaking €20 billion contract for the development and supply of up to 170 A400M military transport aircraft from Airbus Military S.L. This landmark, high-profile project involved working with seven European nations. It demanded a thorough understanding of the defence sector, a pragmatic, commercial approach and an ability to work with different Nations with diverse legal systems but working to understand and deliver a contract governed by English law. That's exactly what we delivered. The use of an innovative standstill structure gave the parties breathing space to agree revised commercial terms and allow the project to go forward.
What new challenges have you faced?
I was recently appointed to head up development of the firm's international infrastructure practice - expanding our footprint in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to build on the successful railway concession work I have completed in Africa and gain confidences and develop opportunities elsewhere. We have already been successful in developing our infrastructure advisory work in Dubai and Abu Dhabi where we have offices, and I looking at the opportunities opening up in Myanmar as it heads down the road towards attracting foreign investment. It was fascinating and rewarding to discuss issues face-to-face with Aung San Sunkyi on the first British trade mission in July.
What's your single greatest contribution to Wragge & Co's corporate responsibility?
I've been Chairman of The Trustees of Birmingham Railway Museum Charitable Trust for very many years. We have taught many young people new engineering skills in restoring old steam engines to full working order so they are capable of running tourist trains at speed all over the national network. The Prince of Wales came to thank us for retraining over 800 people and successfully returning them to work in local industry. A very satisfying contribution and the trains are great!
What's been written or said about you that you're most proud of?
'Project manager with a good strategic view' (Chambers UK)