Practices

We function as a specialized cross-border deal team, focusing on three key areas: Impact Investing and Social Finance, Private Equity, and Private Client Service.

We work closely with our foundation, family office, advisory and corporate clients to help structure and execute capital investments into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention of generating social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. We help our clients make investments in both emerging and developed markets, and structure deals to target a range of returns from below market risk adjusted, to market rate, depending on the specific investment thesis and impact objectives.

Our experience shows that an investment that is able to generate a risk adjusted financial return is more likely to be both sustainable in the long run, and also have a greater propensity for delivering a more meaningful social impact. We draw upon our deep private equity and commercial finance experience to help structure impact transactions to achieve long term, measurable results.

We have advised on matters across a broad range of sectors, including sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, affordable housing, clean technology, and financial services for historically excluded populations.

Key Contacts:

Some recent examples of our work include:

  • Solar Energy – M-KOPA Solar: We represented Blue Haven Initiative and another major family office on multiple rounds of investment in M-KOPA Solar, Africa’s leading pay-as-you go solar energy provider.  Outcomes & Impact: In a country where 77% of the population has no access to electricity, M-KOPA has installed over 200,000 mobile solar power generation units, providing a cheap, reliable and clean alternative to kerosine-based power sources.  Read recent press articles on M-KOPA.
  • Renewable Energy – Biomass Fuel Plant: We represented an impact investor group who had invested in the development of a 6.8MW biomass energy plant, in anticipation of cash grant under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. When we were engaged, the project was in disarray, and the tax grant had been placed into jeopardy.  Outcomes & Impact: We replaced existing deal counsel (two AmLaw 100 law firms), restructured the transaction, helped engage a new management team, brought on specialized tax advisors, and saw the project through the successful receipt of the tax grant. The plant has the equivalent capacity as a 20 hectare solar farm, and because of its strategic location, it allows for fuels to be easily transported to the plant for energy recovery. The operation of this plant also offsets the negative impacts of open burning and land filling, reducing atmospheric pollution and waste of landfill space.
  • Solar Energy – Crowd Finance: We represented an impact investment advisor and the interests of certain of their clients interested in making a significant investment into an early stage online solar project financing platform. Our deal team worked with the investor group and the company to bring their deal documents up to market standards for investment transactions, as well as into compliance with then-existing laws governing crowd financing. Outcomes & Impact: Our clients were able to structure a significant direct investment into the platform, helping to launch it and quickly become one of the leading sources of crowd based financing for renewable energy retrofitting projects.
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Bonds: We represented a group of foundation and family office clients seeking to make an investment into a fund focused on helping building owners take advantage of existing public-private partnership programs for funding energy and water efficiency, and renewable energy solutions.  Outcomes & Impact: Our deal team, working closely with counsel for another major foundation, helped to restructure the financing transaction to bring greater focus on measurable impact, as well as market standard repayment terms and investor protections.
  • Financial Services for Historically Excluded Populations: We represented a group of foundation investors providing financing to a leading pay-as-you go solar energy provider in Africa. Together with the Commercial Bank of Africa, we worked to structure a multi million dollar financing credit facility. Outcomes & Impact: Following this financing round, we have represented investors on a subsequent equity round, and the company has become a market leader, having installed over 150,000 residential solar systems in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and is now connecting over 500 new homes each day.
  • Sustainable Agriculture, Education and Early Stage Clean Technology Ventures: For clients looking for professionally managed fund solutions focused on triple bottom line outcomes (social, financial and environmental), we have coordinated with impact investment advisors to review, vet and in many cases, improve fund documents and investment terms for our clients. Outcomes & Impact: To date, we have advised on the placement of over $500million in impact driven fund investments.
  • Family Foundations:  We have helped to build a number of 501(c)(3) organizations for families and individuals focused on a broad array of philanthropic endeavors.  In addition to formation, we have provided guidance on compliance and grant-making activity, as well as part time general counsel representation of these foundations. Outcomes & Impact:  From Major League athletes such as Robinson Canó’s RC24 Foundation to private families to high net worth individuals looking to engage in philanthropic activities, we have helped to develop dozens of foundations and events across the world.

Related News and Content:

The Impact Attorney: A Vanderbilt Financial Group interview with Chintan Panchal

Impact over Structure: The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative Announcement

The Legal Fundamentals of Impact Investing: A Rapidly Growing World (Lawline CLE Course)

Download our Social Impact Practice brochure here.

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