By Alan Hatfield
Vinson & Elkins is expanding its global finance practice with the addition of partners David Berkery and Niels Jensen, expert advisors on all aspects of the acquisition, leasing, finance and trading of aircraft, the law firm said in a statement.
They will be joined by a team of associates including Demetria Hueth and Coral O’Connor from Milbank in New York, the statement said. The move comes amid the firm’s push to grow business outside of its Texas home. Counting Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) among major clients, V&E is entering a very active market in the aviation space, which saw more than $2.5 billion raised by aviation SPAC mergers last year, according to Pitchbook.
“Vinson & Elkins has decades of experience in the infrastructure, transportation and, specifically, aviation, businesses and the addition of David, Niels and their team takes us to the next level in terms of the range of services we can offer clients as they also expand into this sector,” V&E Vice Chair Jim Fox said in the statement. “We see extraordinary opportunities not only in the leasing and financing space, but also in capital markets, M&A, joint ventures and restructuring – all areas where our existing talent is well-positioned to collaborate with this leading aviation group.”
Berkery’s focus areas are in asset backed securitizations (ABS), airline and aircraft lessor restructurings, secured and unsecured lending, aircraft portfolio sales, industry-specific joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions, the statement said. Jensen’s expertise is in corporate debt and asset-backed financing transactions, as well as restructurings, portfolio trading and joint ventures—including ABS, enhanced equipment trust certificates, secured corporate bonds, term loans and warehouse facilities, it said.
With major airlines having made substantial PIPE investments in a number of aviation startups in the last year, V&E enters the space amid a spike in general interest around the future of aviation technology. New entrants such as eVTOL (Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft could aid in reducing carbon emissions, mitigating urban congestion, and solving for persistent supply chain issues on the ground.
Alan Hatfield, Director of Research