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China > Banking and finance > Foreign firms > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

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

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Daniel Lau - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Frank Shu - White & Case LLP
    • Emma Zhang - Ashurst

Who Represents Who

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Allen & Overy LLPprovides a top-notch service and is very experienced in the banking and finance space’. The practice has a longstanding China presence and the client base includes Chinese and international investment and commercial banks, and local and multinational corporations, as well as a growing list of funds and other non-bank financial institutions. Key names include Bank of China, Asian Development Bank, Mizuho Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Wing Lung Bank. The team’s range of work includes lending products, such as secured and unsecured bilateral and syndicated lending; acquisition financing; real estate financing; and project financing. Other areas of strength include complex and innovative structured transactions, equity-backed financings and fund financings. Recent highlights include acting for China CITIC Bank, as global co-ordinator and mandated lead arranger, in a $12.7bn secured facility for ChemChina group to fund its acquisition of Syngenta. Hong Kong’s Roger Lui and Beijing-based Yvonne Ho, who is recommended for project financing, export credit financing, structured lending, acquisition finance and asset finance, are highly rated; and Shanghai-based Matthew Bisley acts in real estate finance, project finance (including energy), export credit finance, asset finance (including aviation and shipping), and general corporate finance transactions. Bisley and Ho are ‘definitely lawyers that clients want on their team; they are technically sound, have deep industry knowledge, and provide commercially workable solutions to issues that arise’. Beijing counsel Daniel Lau has experience advising major Chinese banks on financing overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies.

A go-to firm for complex cross-border financing transactions, Clifford Chance LLP’s ‘lawyers are knowledgeable and helpful, and respond to questions in a timely manner, even during public holidays’. It has highly rated expertise in complex syndicated financings, bilateral and corporate loans, leveraged and acquisition finance, and project and infrastructure finance. The team is also recommended for real estate and development financing, as well as structured finance transactions. It advised Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank Corporation and The Export-Import Bank of China on the $1.5bn-plus financing of an oil shale-fired mine mouth power station and open cast oil shale mine in Jordan, which was provided on the basis of an export credit insurance granted by China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure). Other work highlights saw the firm acting for a consortium of investors, led by CREAT Tiancheng Investment Holdings Company, in a €940m financing for the takeover offer by Tiancheng (Germany) Pharmaceutical Holdings to acquire Biotest, a blood products business. Jiahua Ni, who divides time between Shanghai and Beijing, focuses on significant outbound financings for major Chinese banks, including export credit finance, project finance, structured finance, and general corporate finance. In Beijing, recently promoted finance partner Timothy Democratis and financial services expert Tiecheng Yang are other key advisers. In Hong Kong, Maggie Lo has extensive experience advising Chinese and international financial institutions on cross-border financings, including project finance, acquisition finance, receivables finance, pre-IPO finance and corporate loan transactions. Anthony Wang (‘an extremely clever, experienced and careful lawyer, who provides perfectly watertight finance documents’) and Singapore’s Nicholas Wong, were recently appointed co-heads of the Asia Pacific finance practice.

Well staffed at all levels’, Linklaters’ ‘excellent team impresses with its overall level of service, which includes prompt responses at all times and at any hour, and in-depth legal analyses’. The practice focuses on sophisticated matters involving syndicated lending, leveraged and acquisition financing, structured finance, and margin loan transactions. It is well known for its advice to arrangers during private equity-backed LBOs, with a particular emphasis on China-related acquisitions; and the firm fields lawyers with sector specialisms in financial services, TMT, real estate, and energy, resources and infrastructure. It acted for Bank of China, China Merchants Bank and CTBC Bank on facilities for the circa-$2bn acquisition of the China and Hong Kong business of McDonald’s; it also advised China Construction Bank, and other banks, on a headline HK$39bn term loan facility for China Cinda Asset Management Co.’s acquisition of Nanyang Commercial Bank. Beijing’s Xiaohui Ji specialises in project financing, acquisition financing and general corporate loans; and Hong Kong’s Asia Pacific banking head Nathalie Hobbs is ‘a well-rounded lawyer and a great team leader, who is good at communicating with clients and understanding their needs’. Also in Hong Kong, Davide Mencacci and Frank Cui are key figures. The practice enhanced its Shanghai base through the hire of project development and finance partner Andrew Ruff from Shearman & Sterling LLP.

Baker McKenzie FenXun Joint Operation Office’s advice spans the full range of banking and finance services in the Greater China region. The team’s areas of specialisation include syndicated loans, project finance, structured financing and financial services regulation. Additional areas of note include acquisition and trade finance, derivatives and restructuring, and it has particular aviation finance experience. Hong Kong-based Sally Hung advised Hang Seng Bank in a secured term loan facility for Fosun Property Holdings for the acquisition of shares in an overseas company. Simon Leung in Beijing is also recommended, as are Hong Kong-based department heads Andrew Lockhart and Barry Cheng.

Norton Rose Fulbright is strong in asset finance (particularly shipping), acquisition finance, project finance, export credit finance, structured trade and commodity finance, and general bilateral and syndicated lending; and the practice has sector strengths in energy and resources, infrastructure, mining and commodities, transport, and financial institutions. It acted for China Development Bank in its largest US-dollar loan in recent years, which was granted to a US subsidiary of Qingdao Haier (QH) to support QH’s acquisition of General Electric’s appliance business. China banking and finance head Fei Kwok, who divides time between Shanghai and Beijing, advises on inbound and outbound project financings, regarding oil and gas, renewable energy and petrochemicals, as well as the asset financing of ships, aircraft, rail and large equipment. Beijing-based Paul Wee Ei Don is a project finance lawyer, who works predominantly on outbound project and export credit financings, with a particular focus on the mining and metals, oil and gas, power and infrastructure sectors; and Tom Luckock advises Chinese sponsors on international energy and infrastructure projects, and has particular knowledge of power projects in Pakistan. Shanghai-based Simon Barrell is a key senior associate and Peter Haslam is head of the Hong Kong banking and finance team.

White & Case LLPprovides a consistently good service at reasonable rates’. The practice is highly rated for its experience in leveraged acquisition finance and high-yield deals, asset finance and project finance transactions. Highlights included advising a group of Chinese banks on an aggregate $2.63bn secured term loan, provided to a consortium to finance the acquisition of US-headquartered Lexmark International, which manufactures laser printers and provides enterprise software. Beijing-based David Li, who is ‘extremely responsive and has great business acumen and market knowledge’, is highly regarded for inbound and outbound financing transactions in China; and Hallam Chow is noted for project financing and structured financing, and is also experienced in asset-based financing, including equipment and facility leasing. Hong Kong-based Asia-Pacific banking and restructuring practice co-head Baldwin Cheng, global banking practice head Eric Berg, who divides time between the firm’s Hong Kong and Singapore offices, and Eugene Man are also recommended. In Shanghai, senior legal consultant Frank Shu is a name to note. Former China practice head Xiaoming Li left for Han Kun Law Offices.

Providing good value for money’, Ashurst’s ‘service is very timely and evidences excellent industry and regulatory knowledge’. The Beijing office has highly rated project finance and real estate finance expertise, as well as cross-border margin loans experience; recent highlights include advising Industrial and Commercial Bank of China on its facility to Republic of Cameroon, regarding the design and construction of a hydroelectric power project. Patrick Phua, who ‘has solid and comprehensive understanding of the market and the relevant legal issues, and whose advice is clear and to the point’, is the managing partner of the Beijing office, where he heads the firm’s derivatives and structured finance practice in China. Chin Chuan Chen, who divides time between Singapore and Beijing, has a strong track record of working extensively with Chinese financial institutions on their outbound financing transactions, particularly in the energy, mining and infrastructure space. Emma Zhang is a highly regarded Beijing counsel.

DLA Piper’s practice includes acquisition finance, asset finance and leasing, and project finance. Other notable strengths are real estate finance, restructuring, structured trade and commodity finance. Recent work included advising Haitong International Securities Company on the financing aspects of the mandatory unconditional cash offer by Gorgeous Investment Group Holding Co. to acquire all the issued shares and outstanding convertible bonds of China Smarter Energy Group Holdings. Hong Kong-based Paul Lee is Asia finance and projects head; and Carolyn Dong, who divides time between Hong Kong and Beijing, leads the China energy practice. Matthias Schemuth joined the Hong Kong office from Ashurst.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s recent work was characterised by cross-border acquisition financings; a large number of corporate treasury matters; and ongoing high-level activities by international and Chinese banks, development banks and private equity funds. The practice advised China’s Midea Group (Midea) as borrower under a €4.6bn bridge loan from ICBC to finance Midea’s headline acquisition of Frankfurt-listed robotics company Kuka. In Hong Kong, Andrew Heathcote is department head, and Daniel French, Thomas Ng and Richard Perks are highly rated.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has particular expertise in structured financings, real estate finance and trade finance. It has also developed experience in lending transactions for non-bank lenders, many of which are highly structured off-market private deals. Other areas of strength are cross-border deals, including export credit and trade finance transactions; and the group also assists with commercial bank lending, debt capital markets, project finance and asset-based finance. The team advised Agricultural Bank of China, as English law legal advisers, on its total commitment of $6.75bn in facilities to be granted to ChemChina-related companies, with respect to ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta, a European agribusiness company. Hong Kong-based Alexander Aitken leads the Greater China finance team and William Ku is also highly regarded. Fergus Smith left for White & Case.

Hogan Lovells International LLP advises international financial institutions, private equity funds and multinational companies on complex and structured cross-border transactions. The practice has a particular focus on onshore and offshore financings involving PRC banks and borrowers. It is also recommended for China outbound financings in Africa, Latin America and the wider Asia region. The team acted for a syndicate of banks, led by Citibank, on facilities granted to Tencent Asset Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tencent Holdings. Beijing-based Jun Wei and Hong Kong-based Owen Chan are the key figures.

Kirkland & Ellis International LLP is recommended for private equity, borrower and credit fund matters. The practice advised Blackstone Singapore on a senior leveraged financing, partly to fund its acquisition of a majority stake in Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s stake in Mphasis, an India-based outsourcing firm. David Irvine is department head, and Daniel Abercromby and recently promoted partner Daniel Lindsey are also highly regarded. All named lawyers are based in Hong Kong.

Latham & Watkins LLP handles Asian bank and English law financings, loan facilities and high-yield bonds, as well as advising on both the lender and borrower side in significant acquisition finance transactions. It acted for HSBC, as sole financier, on the financing for Kuala Lumpur Kehong Berhad’s offer for London-listed M.P. Evans. Gary Hamp co-chairs the global banking practice and Howard Lam heads the Hong Kong finance department. Posit Laohaphan is also a key practitioner and Manas Chandrashekar joined as counsel from White & Case. All named lawyers are based in Hong Kong.

Paul Hastings LLP’s key areas of strength and expertise include real estate and infrastructure finance, project and leveraged financing, and shadow banking. The team acted for China Everbright, an environmental solution provider, in its provision of a $350m loan facility to Beyond Border Investments. Brett King, Vivian Lam and Raymond Li are highly rated; and James Ma was promoted to partner. All partners mentioned are in Hong Kong.

Simmons & Simmons is highly rated for its trade and commodity finance, fund finance, acquisition finance and margin finance practices. Among its significant acquisition financing transactions that involve multi-jurisdictional security packages, the team acted for United Overseas Bank in a facility provided to MSREF Century Palace (Retail). Beijing’s Yongmei Cai is a key name, Hong Kong-based Rolfe Hayden is Asia financial markets head, and Richard McKeown and Jolyon Ellwood-Russell are also highly rated.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has a particularly strong borrower-side practice that it deploys during the financing of PRC going-private acquisitions deals and other acquisition transactions. Recent highlights include the team’s advice to Baidu on its $2bn syndicated loan facility. Hong Kong-based Clive Rough heads the firm’s banking and finance practice in Asia.

Acting both for lenders and borrowers, Stephenson Harwood is highly rated for its asset finance and trade finance experience. Mark Reed heads the non-contentious side of both the finance group and the financial services group; King Tak Fung specialises in international trade law; and Stephanie Wong advises local, PRC and international banks on banking transactions, including ship finance. Elton Chan was made partner. All named practitioners are based in Hong Kong.

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