BLP’s finance department recruits ninth lateral since January 2012 – Claire Watson joins real estate finance team

International law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) today announced that it has hired real estate finance expert Claire Watson, ranked as a leading individual by both Legal 500 and Chambers, to join its real estate finance practice.

Joining from Linklaters, where she currently heads the real estate finance practice in London, Claire has been a partner in the banking department since 1998.
Claire’s practice involves acting for banks, funds and corporates across the real estate finance discipline in the UK and Europe. Her experience includes investment and development finance, senior and mezzanine lending, opco/propco structures, and real estate finance restructurings. She is also experienced in investment grade syndicated lending.

In recent years she has acted on a number of high profile restructurings for both bank and borrower clients, reflecting changing demand in the real estate finance market. Her expertise relating to these deals has significant synergies with BLP’s real estate finance practice which has worked on numerous major real estate finance related transactions across the bank lending and structured finance spaces, including Project Isobel, the £2bn structured portfolio disposal for RBS.

Whilst specialising in real estate finance, Claire has also worked across the broader finance remit including investment grade lending, acquisition finance and structured finance. At BLP, she will utilise her extensive experience in responding to a challenging and shifting market.

BLP’s finance department’s international strategy is to service the client’s need for high quality advice in both the UK and globally across multiple sectors, with particular emphasis on the financial institutions and real estate sectors. Claire’s appointment alongside other recent international heavy weight appointments, including Russian and CIS projects specialist Andrei Baev, are designed to broaden the firm’s expertise.

Claire is one of a number of recent lateral appointments to BLP’s growing finance practice. Others include banking specialists Derek Hrydziuszko and Paul Simcock, structured finance partners Simon Small, Prashanth Satyadeva and Richard Todd, real estate finance specialist Steve Clark and Frankfurt based Dr Thomas Prüm.

Matthew Kellett, BLP’s head of finance, said: “Claire has an excellent reputation in her field and we are delighted that she is joining us. Her appointment extends the scope and breadth of expertise we can offer clients who are grappling with an increasingly complex real estate finance market.”

Claire said: “This is a significant move for me, the firm is both ambitious and innovative. In recent years I have watched BLP’s real estate finance team grow in capability and stature, and I am looking forward to being part of that growth going forward. The team has the strength and depth to meet the needs of clients whilst providing a platform to enable me to continue to transact complex, multi-disciplinary deals.”

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