Capital markets at Davis Polk

A look at Davis Polk's international capital markets practice in the US and around the world.


If you don't give a fig for finance, Davis Polk most likely isn't the place for you. The firm's financial institutions group (or FIG for short) handles a host of famous money-mongers and London's debt and equity capital markets practices are well regarded by Chambers UK. The team recently advised BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley alongside other underwriters on a $1 billion note offering by Anglo American Capital. It also handles numerous IPOs; on one matter it acted for a number of underwriters including Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan on the €2.1 billion IPO of Dutch insurance and investment company NN Group.

The London practice works closely with its counterparts in California and New York, with US associates often swinging by the UK to help out here. The firm's stateside capital markets and credit practices are both top-ranked by Chambers USA for advising on deals worth eye-popping millions. In New York, the firm's corporate capital markets clients include Comcast/NBC, FedEx, PepsiCo and Exxon Mobil. In 2010 the team advised General Motors on what was at the time the largest ever IPO by a US issuer. It also works on high-yield debt offerings for financial institutions, for example advising educational finance specialist Sallie Mae on a $3.1 billion offering and assisting Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank on their handling of Hilton Hotels' $1.5 billion notes offering. In a sign of the growing significance of Chinese credit, lawyers also advised the Agricultural Bank of China on its $22 billion Hong Kong and Shanghai IPO in 2010.

As well as bases in New York (opened 1849) and Washington DC (opened 1980) Davis Polk also has a California office in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley (opened in 1999 during the dot-com boom). As well as being home to more start-ups than you can shake a stick at the Valley has become something of a hub for high-end finance too. Venture capitalists have set up shop on Sand Hill Road, which has been called the Wall Street of the private equity world (in the mid-noughties, real estate here was more valuable per square foot than in Manhattan). Davis Polk joins law firms like Orrick, McDermott Will & Emery, and Goodwin Procter in the area, and lends a helping hand to Cali tech firms such as E*Trade, Equinix and Ingram Micro. It manages debt offerings, equity offerings and IPOs, advising on $314 billion worth of corporate debt in 2013 alone.

US sources told our sister publication Chambers Associate that "workloads are very dependent on the stock market," and at the time of our calls, the practice area was buzzing. They reported that "we're very, very busy, and everyone has a steady stream of work." This state of affairs is partly due to Obama's 2012 JOBS Act, which had a host of capital markets-friendly implications, including relaxed restrictions on IPOs and streamlined regulations on private offerings.

This feature is an amended version of one which first appeared in our US sister publication, Chambers Associate. In that publication you can read more about the experience of junior lawyers at Davis Polk stateside.