New Partner strengthens banking & financial services offering at SGH Martineau

04 Apr, 2014

UK top 100 law firm SGH Martineau has added new partner Neale Downes to its renowned Banking team. Downes joins from Taylor Wessing.  Prior to that he also spent nine years with Trowers & Hamlins as Regional Head of Banking, based in their Bahrain office.

With more than 20 years’ banking and finance experience, Downes’ particular areas of expertise include asset-backed and asset-based financing (including securitisations), syndicated lending, project finance, acquisition finance and other leveraged and structured finance.

Whilst his general banking and finance skills will undoubtedly prove useful to SGH Martineau, Downes is particularly respected for the strength of his work in Islamic Finance, having been involved in some of the region’s best known financing transactions.

Commenting on his appointment, Downes said; “The global Islamic Finance market is growing rapidly and is becoming increasingly important for the UK economy. SGH Martineau is building an impressive reputation for their work with Islamic Finance matters, particularly inward investment to the UK structured in a Shari’ah compliant manner.

“The senior management impressed me with their strategy and SGH Martineau appears a very ambitious firm. It is an exciting time to be joining and I’m confident I can help them realise their ambitions. Now is a good time to be working in Islamic Finance in London. London doesn’t just want to be the centre of Islamic Finance in the West, but to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the world’s Islamic Finance hubs.”

Senior Partner Andrew Whitehead, commented: “Neale has been based in the Middle East working on Shari’ah compliant transactions for much of the last decade. He brings with him an unrivalled knowledge of the region and its financing requirements when seeking investment opportunities at home, in the UK and farther afield.

“We expect Neale’s experience and contacts will significantly enhance our Banking offering, but we are confident his undoubted expertise acting on all aspects of finance, particularly Islamic Finance, will help us build a sector leading practice.”

Based in London, Downes will also work in Birmingham, home to the first retail Islamic Bank in the western world, with the Islamic Bank of Britain choosing the city for the centre of its growing operations. The bank is a long-standing SGH Martineau client and the growing awareness of Islamic Finance and the services the bank offers, has generated a lot of work for the firm.

Whitehead believes the appointment of Downes is another step in implementing the firm’s ambitious strategy; “We recently posted revenues of £14.3m for the first six months and although that slightly exceeded our expectations, we have a bold strategy based around our sector strengths and we’re confident this will deliver significant growth over the next five years.

“The appointment of such a noted expert in the field of banking, corporate and construction/development projects in the Islamic Finance arena, signals our intent to build on our growing reputation for advising leading families, numerous Government bodies and institutions across the Middle East.“

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