Morgan Lewis adds highly-rated global aviation finance team from K&L Gates

Three partners and a further five lawyers join US firm in London, Dubai, and Singapore

(l-r) Sidanth Rajagopal, Manuela Krach and James Bradley Images courtesy of Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Top 10 US law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius has added an eight-strong aviation finance team in London, Dubai and Singapore from K&L Gates. 

Partners Sidanth Rajagopal, James Bradley and Manuela Krach are joining the firm alongside counsel Sourabh Bhattacharya and Terry Chang and three associates. The team focuses on complex cross border financing, leasing, and restructuring issues in the aviation industry and represents industry players including financial institutions, lessors, restructuring specialists and airlines. 

“We co-counsel today with this team on several transactional and litigation matters and there are exciting opportunities for our US aviation finance and UK aviation litigation practices to collaborate with our new colleagues, who are well-known throughout the EMEA and Asia-Pacific region,” said Bruce Silvers, partner and a leader of the firm’s global aviation finance practice. “We advise more than 100 financial institutions in connection with aircraft investments, so having a coordinated, transactional aircraft leasing and restructuring practice within the US, London, the UAE and Singapore further establishes our resources for clients in the aviation industry.”

London-based Rajagopal was practice group coordinator of the global banking and asset finance group at K&L Gates and counsels clients in the areas of financing, leasing, purchasing, restructuring and repossessions for both commercial and business aircraft. According to legal rankings guide The Legal 500 he has a particularly strong reputation for advising on cross-border deals with a nexus to Southeast Asia and the Middle East and as such is ‘adept at assisting with not only conventional but also Shari’ah-compliant financings.’ 

Bradley, who will be resident in Singapore, advises on financing, leasing and restructuring across a variety of jurisdictions in relation to aircraft, engines and corporate jets. He brings extensive transaction experience in the transportation and finance sectors in Asia, where he has been primarily based for more than 20 years.

Meantime Krach advises clients on complex cross-border and multi-jurisdictional aviation transactions involving airlines, lessors, financiers and manufacturers. She has experience advising on operating as well as finance lease agreements from the lessee and lessor side, negotiating all aspects of a transaction. She will be based in Morgan Lewis’ London office. 

Back in 2018 the trio was part of a team that advised longtime K&L Gates client Vietjet on its purchase of 150 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, with the orders valued at close to $20bn. The team was led by aviation finance group lead Philip Perrotta, with whom Rajagopal moved over from Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholar in 2017. 

“[Morgan Lewis] has a deep and strong bench across the EMEA region and the US in a range of core practice areas that complement the work we do from investment management, litigation and corporate to name a few, not to mention the existing work the team does in India, which present significant opportunities to collaborate,” Rajagopal said. “We look forward to working with colleagues to hit the ground running.” 

The team’s departure from K&L Gates, aviation clients of which include Empire Aviation, Qatar Airways and flydubai, leaves the firm with 25 lawyers in its aviation practice globally as listed on its website, including 12 partners. 

The team’s arrival at Morgan Lewis brings the firm’s aviation practice to around 35 lawyers globally. Its clients include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and air cargo carrier Atlas Air. 

Since the start of last week Morgan Lewis has also added tax partner Todd Smith in London from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, litigation partner Pardeep Khosa in Singapore from Davinder Singh Chambers, investment management partner Divya Thakur from KPMG, also in Singapore, and in the US IP litigator Meaghan Kent and telecoms infrastructure lawyer Denise Wood from Venable and Amazon respectively. 

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