Baker McKenzie energy partner Kieran Whyte with awards judge Sandy Oberholzer, Tiger Brands

Finalists: Allen & Overy (Highly Commended); Anjarwalla & Khanna; Bowmans; Covington; ENSafrica; Hogan Lovells; Norton Rose Fulbright; White & Case.

Baker McKenzie triumphed in the Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Team of the Year category for advising BHP Billiton and the International Finance Corporation on the issuance of a bond designed to protect forests by giving investors the option of being repaid in carbon credits or cash.

The deal – the first of its kind – is structured in such a way that if investors choose to receive coupon payments in cash, then BHP Billiton guarantees to purchase the carbon credits. Those credits are being used to fund a United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, project in Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor, a scheme that offers economic incentives to indigenous communities to prevent deforestation and to raise awareness of climate change. The project will protect an area that is home to more than 370 species of mammals, birds and bats.

Led by Baker McKenzie’s Martijn Wilder, the firm played a key role in developing the concept of the bond and providing legal and strategic advice to BHP, IFC and Conservation International. “Clearly demonstrates innovative deal structuring for a worthy project. It can only be hoped that the precedent that this investment vehicle sets could lead to more such projects in Africa and other parts of the world,” said a judge.

To return to the full list of winners, click here.