NatWest’s First SONIA Loan To National Express Group PLC

Ashurst advised NatWest on its inaugural SONIA (Sterling Overnight Index Average) loan to corporate customer National Express Group PLC.

The loan is the first in the pilot the bank is running with a small number of customers, before launching the product to the wider market later this year in response to calls from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to accelerate the transition away from LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) to Risk-Free Rates by the end of 2021. Taking methodology already used in the sterling public bond market, SONIA will be applied using daily compounding with a five-day reset lag, and represents the convention of choice by the market so far.

National Express is a leading public transport operator with bus, coach and rail services across the UK, Europe, North Africa, North America and the Middle East, delivering nearly 900 million journeys in 2018.

National Westminster Bank, commonly known as NatWest, is a major retail and commercial bank in the United Kingdom.

The Ashurst team was led by partner Tim Rennie (Picture), assisted by senior associate Darren Phelan and trainee Anna Burns.

The Burges Salmon team, which was led by head of Banking Richard Leeming, with assistance from senior associate Ed Hobbs and associate Christopher Herford, advised National Express on all legal aspects of the deal.

Involved fees earner: Darren Phelan – Ashurst; Tim Rennie – Ashurst; Christopher Herford – Burges Salmon; Ed Hobbs – Burges Salmon; Richard Leeming – Burges Salmon;

Law Firms: Ashurst; Burges Salmon;

Clients: National Express Group; National Westminster Bank;