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China > Banking and finance > Banking and finance: foreign firms > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance: foreign firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Emma Zhang - Ashurst

The team at Allen & Overy LLP is particularly well known in the project finance space, but handles a wide variety of financing transactions including acquisition finance, real estate finance, fund transactions and leveraged finance. Yvonne Ho, who heads the department from the Beijing office, assisted a domestic investor with the loan arrangements for the acquisition of a Hong Kong-listed company; the funding is a combination of public takeover financing and private equity financing. Ho also acted for Bank of China Luxembourg Branch in relation to the provision of a syndicated loan to two Chinese corporates for the acquisition of Robert Bosch and its Dutch subsidiary. In the Shanghai office, Matthew Bisley advised Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) on the provision of a high-value loan to Baoxin Auto Group and China Grand Automotive Services. Bisley has also acted for lenders in a number of property acquisition financing transactions, which included the provision of a loan to a new property fund for the acquisition of a retail outlet mall in Tianjin. Daniel Lau left the firm for Ashurst.

Working across an established network of regional offices, Clifford Chance LLP's banking team is regularly involved in market-leading acquisition finance, privatisation, refinance and project finance transactions. Jointly led by Anthony Wang in the Hong Kong office and Nicholas Wong in Singapore, the regional finance department acts for major Chinese commercial banks, policy banks and investment corporations, international banks, private equity firms and global asset managers. Among the group's stand-out work, Edith Leung led a team that advised a consortium of 17 Chinese and international lenders as lead arrangers, bookrunners and underwriters of a $5.5bn secured senior facility for CNAC Century's partial refinancing of its existing $12.7bn facilities. Leung also assisted Bank of China (Hong Kong) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China with the parallel financing to subsidiaries of one of China's largest state-owned electricity companies to finance the acquisition of a concession for the operation of a hydroelectric power plant in Brazil. Additionally, Maggie Lo acted for Ping An Bank Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone Branch and China CITIC Bank Shanghai Branch in relation to the provision of a $100m facility to finance the acquisition of Wall Street English by the private equity funds of CITIC Capital and Baring Private Equity Asia. The team, which includes Matthew Truman, has also handled the financing aspects of multiple privatisation transactions. Timothy Democratis and Jiahua Ni are key contacts in the Beijing office.

Linklaters¬†is among Greater China's most active firms in financing private equity-backed leveraged buy-out transactions, and is also particularly well-known for its structured lending expertise. In the lending space, a team including¬†Xiaohui Ji¬†acted for a bank consortium including Bank of China and China Construction Bank on the provision of a ‚ā¨211m loan to finance the acquisition of the remaining shares of an Italian biomedical company by a group of Chinese investors. Similarly,¬†Frank Cui¬†advised Bank of China Macau Branch and Taishin International Bank on the provision of a $225m loan for the privatisation by Blackstone of Global Sources. Ji has also been instructed by a number of domestic policy and commercial banks in relation to project finance transactions across the Middle East and Central Asia. On the borrower side, the team assisted State Grid International Development with the ‚ā¨1.2bn financing arrangements with Chinese lenders for its acquisition of a controlling stake in the largest power distributor in Brazil. Ji and Hong Kong-based¬†Davide Mencacci¬†acted for China Development Bank, as borrower, in relation to the client's first syndicated loan agreement with offshore commercial banks.

Working across its Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China offices, Ashurst fields a team of China-focused finance specialists, which clients have identified as 'one of the region's best in terms of pragmatism' and 'certainly the best in terms of responsiveness'. The department is perhaps most active in the project finance space, where Chin Chuan Chen, who splits his time between Singapore and Beijing, has advised Chinese lenders on a host of project finance transactions involving, among others, mining, road, rail and power generation projects. In one example, Chen is acting for China Development Bank and Bank of China London Branch in relation to multiple loans for the development of gas pipelines connecting China to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Beijing head Patrick Phua, who is instructed by major Chinese commercial banks and PRC sovereign funds, has particular expertise in derivatives and structured products, and cross-border financing transactions. In the Hong Kong office, counsel Steven Choo is 'an extremely hard-working lawyer and overall a safe pair of hands'. The Hong Kong team was further strengthened by the arrivals of Eric Tan and Daniel Lau, who joined from Fangda Partners and Allen & Overy LLP, respectively. Counsel Emma Zhang is also recommended.

With 'strong domestic and cross-border capabilities', Baker McKenzie FenXun is instructed by a range of bank lenders in acquisition finance, trade finance, derivatives, project finance and aviation finance deals, among others financing transactions. The team 'really differentiates itself by the level of involvement from its partners', such as Allen Ng, who is 'friendly and pragmatic' and is 'among the most experienced aviation finance lawyers in the Chinese market'. Working alongside her regional colleagues, Rose Zhu advised China CITIC Bank, CNCB Investments and CNCB International on the HKD6.6bn bridge and term loan facilities for part of the equity contributions for the acquisition and privatisation of Belle International. Hong Kong-based Sally Hung acted for a syndicate of lenders including Mizuho Bank in the provision of a $390m offshore syndicated loan to Bank of Communications Macau Branch, which was the first offshore syndicated loan agreement for the borrower. Additional contacts include Hong Kong-based partners Andrew Lockhart and Barry Cheng. Harvey Lau retired, but the team picked up a number of new associates and foreign registered lawyers.

Norton Rose Fulbright is perhaps best known in the project finance space, where it advises lenders on the gamut of cross-border oil and gas, power generation and mining projects. Among the team's major highlights, department head Fei Kwok advised a lending syndicate  on the provision of multibillion-dollar facilities for the development of a thermal power plant. The team has also been involved in various mandates concerning projects in Indonesia and Malaysia, where Kwok acted for a Chinese bank in relation to the provision of a loan for the development and construction of a major cable and telecoms project. Additional contacts include Paul Wee Ei Don, who specialises in cross-border project financing mandates and has particular expertise in transactions involving oil and gas projects in Venezuela.

White & Case LLP's clients rate the Greater China banking team highly for its work in international acquisition and corporate finance matters. Moreover, the department is among the region's 'go-to groups for China-related private equity deals'. Key highlights in 2018 included the 'exceedingly professional' David Li acting for a real estate company, as borrower, in relation to an acquisition finance facility provided through a hybrid financing structure. Conversely, on the lender side, Li and recently promoted partner Gee Hou Tng advised one of China's largest commercial banks on the provision of a substantial bilateral term loan in connection with an acquisition in the real estate sector. Also recommended are Frank Shu, 'a dedicated and meticulous' senior legal consultant, and Hong Kong-based partners Baldwin Cheng and Eugene Man, who have also been instructed by Chinese lenders such as China CITIC Bank International. Hallam Chow left the firm for Mayer Brown JSM.

Finance partners in DLA Piper's Hong Kong and Beijing offices are perhaps best known for advising international lenders on commodity and asset finance transactions involving Chinese borrowers, though the team has also acted for Chinese financial institutions. Recent highlights have included Paul Lee acting for Huatai Financial Holdings, as financial adviser, in relation to a HKD3.5bn loan to finance the privatisation of Bloomage BioTechnology Corp. Having grown considerably since 2016, the Hong Kong team has continued to make significant hires, having recently brought to the team Douglas Murning from Kirkland & Ellis and of counsel Tom Van Hoof from Watson Farley & Williams. Additional contacts include Hong Kong-based department head Matthias Schemuth and Carolyn Dong, who specialises in the energy sector and splits her time between Hong Kong and Beijing.

Acting across a range of industry sectors,¬†Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer¬†is especially active in acquisition finance transactions, where it is instructed by domestic and international lenders and borrowers. Major highlights have included¬†Richard Perks¬†advising Midea, as borrower, on a ‚ā¨4.6bn bridge loan from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to finance its acquisition of Kuka, which marks the largest ever acquisition of a German company by a Chinese buyer. On the lender side,¬†Thomas Ng¬†assisted Industrial and Commercial Bank of China with the provision of a $368.9m export credit facility to Housing Development Corporation in the Maldives.¬†The Greater China finance team is headed by¬†Andrew Heathcote, and¬†also includes¬†Daniel French. All lawyers mentioned are based in Hong Kong.

Working across the firm's Hong Kong and Singapore offices, the Greater China finance practice at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP acts for Chinese banks and private lenders in structured finance and cross-border lending transactions. The Hong Kong group is led by Alexander Aitken, whose recent work has included advising Industrial and Commercial Bank of China on the provision of a $100m term loan to finance the development of a hydropower plant in Laos. Aitken has also been instructed by China Construction Bank and China International Capital Corporation, which he advised on the financing aspects of a share buyback transaction. Foreign registered lawyer Ellen Mao is another name to note in the Hong Kong office, and Adrian Cheng heads the regional finance practice from Singapore.

According to a client, Hogan Lovells International LLP maintains 'one of the most seamless Hong Kong and Greater China banking practices in the region'. Headed by Owen Chan, the team is particularly 'skilled at dealing with PRC clients in private equity and credit investment transactions'. In the Beijing office, Jun Wei specialises in assisting multinational companies and financial institutions with investment transactions, and also has experience with acquisition and project finance transactions. Acting alongside the Singapore team, Wei advised the Tianjin Branch of China Development Bank on the provision of a $275m loan to Comsys (Tianjin) Leasing to facilitate an aircraft lease transaction. Another contact in the Greater China team is senior associate Shantay Cong, who practices across the firm's Shanghai and Hong Kong offices and has been involved in significant acquisition and property finance matters.

The Hong Kong-based banking team at Paul Hastings LLP demonstrates 'strong knowledge of debt finance and real estate finance matters in the domestic Chinese market'. Clients singled out David Blumenfeld and Paul Guan in particular, both of whom have expertise in real estate finance. In one matter, Blumenthal advised ICBC International on the provision of a $160m offshore loan to finance the acquisition of the Xingchuan Technique Plaza development. Additional contacts include James Ma, who is acting for COSCO SHIPPING Holdings in relation to its $4.3bn external debt financing for the acquisition of Orient Overseas. Also recommended in the Hong Kong team are Vivian Lam and Brett King, who is 'a leading player in Hong Kong's acquisition finance market'.

Simmons & Simmons acts for domestic lenders and Chinese branches of foreign banks in a variety of finance transactions including cross-border commodity, trade and leveraged finance. The Beijing team is led by Yongmei Cai, whose practice encompasses acquisition finance, structured finance and regulatory compliance. Cai's work has included advising Chinese borrowers on acquisition finance matters, assisting domestic lenders with financing outbound investment matters, and advising international banks on commodities and trade finance and OTC derivatives transactions and compliance. Additional contacts include Jolyon Ellwood-Russell and Richard McKeown, who are based in the firm's Hong Kong office and have experience with China-facing finance matters.

Stephenson Harwood's Hong Kong banking team advises Chinese and international banks on bilateral loan transactions and a variety of general banking matters. Though the firm is often instructed by the Hong Kong branch of Chinese banking institutions, the Hong Kong team has also been instructed by the Beijing head office of one of the country's most prominent banks in relation to cross-border lending transactions. Agricultural Bank of China Hong Kong Branch and Bank of China (Hong Kong) are among the team's major Chinese clients. Key figures in the department include practice head Mark Reed and Stephanie Wong.

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