A top law firm for conventional generation in North America requires strong capabilities in the full range of capital markets products as well as syndicated bank loans, and Kirkland & Ellis has all the bases covered, according to PFR’s judging panel.
The firm “had a fantastic year” in 2019, said one project finance banker. Kirkland advised on most of the major landmark deals in gas-fired power in the US, from the paradigm-shifting project bond for Ares Management’s 620 MW Hill Top Energy Center in March to an amend-and-extend transaction for The Carlyle Group’s 596 MW Rhode Island State Energy Center that capped the year.
Another highlight for Kirkland was advising the lenders on the biggest new-build combined-cycle gas-fired project financing of the year – Competitive Power Ventures’ 1,836 MW Guernsey Power Station in Ohio.
On the sponsor side, the firm advised the Blackstone Group on the refinancing of its Lonestar Energy gas-fired portfolio in Texas.
“I’ve always had great experiences with them,” says one private equity official. The head of another energy fund manager notes Kirkland’s fund formation expertise as a bonus alongside its transactional capabilities.
The firm’s position in project finance has been bolstered by several key additions in recent years.
Among the firm’s leading lights is Rohit Chaudhry, who joined as a partner from Chadbourne & Parke in 2018. He works out of the firm’s office in Washington, DC, and is best known for representing borrowers, but acted for the lenders on Guernsey. “He’s my number one favorite,” said a project finance banker.
New York-based partner Kelann Stirling also joined in 2018 and “does a great job on leveraged finance,” according to a capital markets official at another private equity fund manager.
See all of the 2019/2020 awards