Richard Hakes has returned to Reed Smith after seven years at Allen & Overy to lead the firm’s London-based aviation finance practice.

Richard Hakes

Hakes, 34, joins Reed Smith as a partner in London. His move comes two months after Reed Smith announced the launch of its aviation and aerospace finance practice in the US, co-headed by New York-based partner Elizabeth Evans and Delbert Smith, who is senior counsel in Tysons, Virginia. Both joined the firm from Dentons at the end of May.

Hakes, who specialises in both aviation and shipping finance, said he was excited to return to the firm, where he will spearhead its London aviation finance practice.

“From my perspective, it was exciting to come back with an opportunity to contribute to the shipping finance practice, but also to diversify that into the aviation sector. It gives us an opportunity to twin some of our existing expertise and clients. There are an awful lot of synergies in the ship finance practice that we can introduce to the aviation finance world,” he said.

Hakes said he looked forward to “breaking new ground” within Reed Smith’s asset finance team, which he characterised as ambitious and energetic, with a significant depth of talent.

Rob Wilkins, a partner at Reed Smith in London, said Hakes would help cement the firm’s growing presence in aviation finance.

“His move speaks volumes of the transformation and growth of our asset finance team in recent years, based around our market leading reputation in shipping and a growing reputation in aviation. The team has been extremely busy for a number of years and continues to grow rapidly across the US, Europe and Asia,” Wilkins said.

“Many of our hedge fund and investment bank clients are active in aviation, so for us, it is a natural step to diversify and grow that practice. We’ve always had some aircraft expertise in different places within the firm, but the idea is to bring that together and recruit top talent to supplement that. That is why we have taken Richard on board.”

Hakes is well known to the Reed Smith team and has done extremely well since he left to join Allen & Overy, Wilkins said.

“He went to A&O as he wanted to do complex, high value and high-profile transactions, which perhaps seven years ago Reed Smith’s London office wasn’t doing. Our practice has changed a lot in those years. It seems a natural fit for Richard to come back and help our shipping team, but also to focus on the aviation side and link up with the new team in New York,” Wilkins said.

Hakes, whose formal start date was 31 July, leaves Allen & Overy after seven years, where he worked as a senior associate. He joined the firm in 2010 from Reed Smith, where he trained and qualified.

“I think everyone always has a soft spot for the firm where they trained. I spent seven years at A&O and they’re a great firm, but when you look at the work done by Rob and his team here, it is such a compelling proposition,” Hakes said.

While at Allen & Overy, Hakes worked on the Doric/Floreat Aviation portfolio at the end of 2016, funding the purchase of an Airbus A330, which included the issuance of shariah-compliant notes. He also worked on several transactions with Stellwagen Capital, including the purchase and lease of an Airbus A380 to Emirates, the first A380 operating lease to be entirely financed by Korean investors, and a deal with Seraph Aviation Management for another Emirates A380, which was financed in conjunction with Dubai Islamic Bank, together with EMP Structured Assets.

Allen & Overy declined to comment when contacted by GTDT Aviation Law News.