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About: Finance

Winckworth Sherwood’s finance team blends experience in banking, securitisation, corporate, tax, housing and regulatory advice in a single offering. We have a reputation for being at the forefront of new and innovative finance structures and are well placed to provide our clients with quality financial advice for the changing economic environment. We have advised clients on private finance transactions with a value of over £5 billion.

Our housing finance team are specialists in the social housing sector. We use our vast experience of acting for lenders and borrowers in the market to help clients develop and complete new and effective funding solutions. As an integral part of one of the UK’s largest social housing teams, our clients benefit from extensive market knowledge, wide ranging experience and a focus on the bigger picture.

We have many years’ experience in supporting clients (both as lender and borrower) in traditional debt, capital markets, institutional finance, structured transactions and placing security. We also work closely with our Commercial and CorporateLocal and Central GovernmentInstitutional Investment, Real Estate and Charities and Social Enterprises teams.

Our clients include leading providers of housing, pension funds, investors and management companies.

Our areas of expertise include:

  

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Latest Case

Winckworth Sherwood advises Sovereign Housing Association on £250m unsecured club deal with five lenders

As recently featured in 24 Housing, Winckworth Sherwood advises Sovereign Housing Association on £250m unsecured club deal with five lenders. Winckworth Sherwood’s specialist Housing Finance team has advised Sovereign Housing Association on the first unsecured club facility in the social housing sector.

The loan agreement, which makes a £250m revolving credit facility (RCF) available to Sovereign, is unsecured. Completed in June 2019, it took around 4 to 6 weeks to agree with the lenders (NatWest, Lloyds, MUFG, National Australia Bank and SMBC). Initially available for three-years, the RCF also contains the option to extend the facility twice, by 12 months on each occasion, taking the prospective maturity to five years.

Louise Leaver, Head of the Housing Finance Team, said: “we were delighted to act for Sovereign on the largest unsecured RCF in the sector to date. Loan agreements with multiple lenders have a number of benefits for borrowers. On this transaction, although there was a syndicate of five lenders, negotiations on the documentation were conducted through the agent, NatWest. This streamlined the process from Sovereign’s point of view and reduced the need to negotiate separately with all five lenders to reach an agreed position. Multi-lender facilities like this offer other benefits to borrowers: larger loans should be available, as lenders can spread the risk. There should also be operational efficiencies, as the borrower has a single facility agreement with one set of covenants and liaises with one contact (the agent) – rather than multiple agreements, with different covenants and lenders to deal with.”

The RCF is unsecured, so properties do not have to be charged to the lenders. As is common in unsecured lending, however, there is an unencumbered asset test. A key benefit of unsecured lending, Louise Leaver says, is to utilise the value of a wider pool of assets, which provides greater flexibility for borrowers. The test can include some types of properties that are traditionally not charged or are difficult to charge, such as properties under development, market rent and shared ownership. “As for all unsecured loans, it was particularly important to Sovereign that the parameters for calculating the unencumbered asset covenant were well thought through and agreed by all parties from the outset”.

Find out more on unsecured lending in a recent article written by Louise Leaver.