(L-R) Allen & Overy associate Matthew Kimber, special global counsel Philip Wood and senior associate Hannah Valintine with awards judge Geoffrey Green, chairman of the Financial Reporting Review Panel and former Ashurst senior partner

Finalists: Ashurst (highly commended); Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Linklaters; Norton Rose Fulbright; Paul Hastings (highly commended); Slaughter and May; Sullivan & Cromwell; White & Case.

Allen & Overy snapped up the restructuring team of the year award for helping Ukrainian steel and iron ore producer Metinvest create a bond moratorium scheme that will likely have a lasting impact on the way bonds are handled in cross-border restructuring deals.

As Metinvest struggled with its finances amid depressed steel prices and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the company defaulted on its debt. With minority creditors seeking to take enforcement action to get their money back (which would have pushed Metinvest into bankruptcy), Allen & Overy’s team designed a moratorium scheme that effectively put a standstill on a series of bonds issued by Metinvest’s Dutch holding company.

The moratorium meant that those minority creditors were forced to participate in the wider restructuring process regardless of which bonds they held – the first time an English scheme had been used this way – staving off bankruptcy and giving Metinvest the time to negotiate a deal with all bondholders.

The scheme provides bond restructurings with an equivalent of the bank standstill agreement that has been in place for syndicated loan restructurings for the past 25 years.

The process has already been replicated in another restructuring case and is now commonly being referred to as ‘scheme-lite’. “Out and out winner,” one judge said.