Financial transaction

They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40 – Mr. Shams Billah by Hughes Hubbard & Reed

Please describe two of your most substantial recent victories in practice.
In 2021, I led a large legal team advising Southeast Asian super app company Grab on its $2.0 billion Term Loan B Facility, agent of JP Morgan, the largest debt financing of the Asian technology sector. Oversaw over 80 local security documents in nine jurisdictions with over 20 legal entities. It was great to be part of a team that brought financial services to many unbanked people in Asia.

I also represented JPMorgan in 2021 on its $1.175 billion refinancing of a loan facility at AMC Networks. This transaction was significant as a demarcation of the evolution of media technology in the debt space and because of the specific advisors involved. It was a pleasure to negotiate with a former mentor, Robert Downes at Sullivan & Cromwell.

What is the most important lesson you learned as a freshman lawyer and how does it influence your practice today?
One Friday afternoon at the end of the Great Recession, an associate told me, “We’re in a service-oriented profession – if you don’t like that, you won’t succeed as a lawyer.” This advice informs everything I do as a lawyer to this day. As one of the few debt financing partners in the industry who represents both borrowers and lenders, I meet my clients during one of their company’s most important financial transactions or walk them through it. which is market and an appropriate level of risk to take to get ahead in the competitive landscape of debt providers. My role is to serve them and make their lives easier.

As this associate reminded me, for my borrowing clients, that means either guiding them through their first all-asset secured financings or, for my lending clients, giving them the confidence of knowing that I have reviewed and analyzed all problems and pitfalls. With these tips, I always seek to make life easier for my clients, which is the goal of my practice and how I succeed today.

How do you define success in your practice?
I’m successful when I’ve given my clients the comfort of knowing that they don’t have to read an entire 200-page credit agreement and that what I’ve negotiated for them is fair and consistent with market and on reasonable terms. On the borrower side, I really appreciate being able to guide companies and their leaders through transformative financing transactions, as well as building lasting relationships over the life of a credit facility, which is typically at least five years. On the lender side, I like to work in partnership with the client and have them trust me transaction after transaction to enable them to carry out transactions that will withstand their investment committees. Building these types of long-term relationships based on trust and ease with me is the key metric in how I define success in my practice.

What are you most proud of as a lawyer?
Practicing as a debt lawyer gives me the opportunity to negotiate solutions to complex financial issues for businesses at all stages of their life cycle, from start-ups early in the cycle to struggling businesses in the end. Two of my proudest moments relate to each of these inflections in this cycle.

I recently represented Grab, Southeast Asia’s largest mobile technology company, in a $2.0 billion credit facility that propelled the company to go public in December 2021. What I am most proud of is my role in helping Grab open up the Asian market, enabling it to provide financial services to large swathes of unbanked populations around the world. I’m constantly proud of the results my clients and I can achieve together, and now mentor other fintech companies who are making an equally positive difference.

At the other end of the cycle, I take great pride in helping businesses overcome financial difficulties while saving jobs and maintaining necessary operations. I was first exposed to this during my freshman year when I worked on Kodak’s bankruptcy financing and have since worked on many other bankruptcy financings, including helping companies in taken with the pressures of Covid.

Who is your greatest legal mentor and what have you learned from them?
I’ve been blessed with several mentors throughout my career, but one that stands out is Jay Clayton, a former partner at Sullivan & Cromwell and former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was one of my professors in law school and greatly influenced my decision to start my career at Sullivan & Cromwell. Incidentally, Jay was the partner who gave me the “service-oriented” advice during my first year. Through the customer-centric perspective he instilled in me, including showing me how he strategically schedules emails and calls with customers when they are most available and present, I learned to provide excellent customer service despite the stressful pressures of closing high value contracts. offers. Her calm demeanor and focus on emotional intelligence in her interactions with clients now permeates the way I run my practice today. My goal will always be to make life easier for my clients.

Just for fun, tell us your two favorite songs on your summer music playlist.
“Jalebi Baby” by Tesher and Jason Derulo. This song appears in the new Marvel series “Ms. Marvel”, which features a South Asian Muslim superhero that my daughter adores. Representation matters. Plus, it has a catchy tune that will continue to be a hit. this summer with my family.

The rest of my summer playlist is controlled by my kids’ Disney track. Their current favorite is “Surface Pressure” by “Encanto”, which I can personally relate to 😊.

Mr Shams Billah advises lenders and borrowers on general and specialized financial matters. The eldest son of Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants, he co-founded his firm’s Interfaith Lawyers Affinity Group to build camaraderie during the Covid-19 pandemic. A graduate of George Washington University, Billah was inspired to become a thought leader in the field of Islamic finance while studying abroad in Egypt.