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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
    • Matthew Bisley - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Yvonne Ho - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Xiaohui Ji - Linklaters
    • Harvey Lau - Baker McKenzie
    • Patrick Phua - Ashurst
    • Andrew Ruff - Shearman & Sterling

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Allen & Overy LLP’s ‘highly rated PRC banking and finance team is very strong indeed; it combines technical excellence with a pragmatic, solution-focused approach to commercial and legal issues’. The practice is a particular favourite among bank clients for outbound acquisition financing. Shanghai-based Matthew Bisley, who is ‘technically excellent and whose hands-on approach is particularly valued’, led the advice to Asian Development Bank on proposed loan facilities for CT Environmental Group to finance the development of SME industrial wastewater and sludge treatment plants. Beijing counsel Daniel Lau is experienced in advising on debt-related transactions, such as structured, acquisition finance, real estate and project finance, and syndicated loans. In Hong Kong, practice head Roger Lui is recommended for his advice on corporate loans, pre-IPO financing and equity-backed financing; he is also highly rated for a range of structured, acquisition, real estate and project financing. In borrower-side refinancing, ‘the very responsive’ Beijing-based Yvonne Ho has been advising commodity trading company, Noble Group, on a high-value credit facility to contribute towards repayment of existing revolving credit facilities and for general working capital requirements; Ho ‘has astute commercial sense and is a brilliant lawyer who is hardworking and business-oriented’.

Clifford Chance LLP has experienced a number of changes with Timothy Democratis being promoted to partner, Beijing-based China private equity head Terence Foo and Tim Wang being elected co-managing partners of the mainland China offices, and Maggie Lo relocating from Beijing to Hong Kong. Former mainland China managing partner Stephen Harder retired from the firm after 20 years; former counsel Paul Wee Ei Don joined Norton Rose Fulbright’s Beijing office as partner; and former associate Priscilla Chen joined Ashurst in Hong Kong as counsel. Jiahua Ni, who divides his time between Shanghai and Beijing, focuses on significant outbound financings for major Chinese banks, including export credit, project, structured and general corporate finance.

Linklaters stands out for its assistance to arrangers on private equity-backed LBOs. Beijing-based Xiaohui Ji is ‘a truly impressive adviser and negotiator, who always keeps clients’ objectives firmly in mind’; she advises Chinese and international banks on cross-border financing transactions and her recent outbound experience includes being part of the team advising CDB, ICBC and CCB on the project financing of Thar Block II coal mining and the 2×330MW coal-fired IPP in Pakistan. Hong Kong-based advisers include practice head Nathalie Hobbs, David Kidd, recently promoted partner Frank Cui and Davide Mencacci, who relocated to the Hong Kong office from Milan. Hong Kong-based James McLaren and Stuart Salt are project finance experts. David Irvine joined Kirkland & Ellis in Hong Kong.

Baker McKenzie is recommended for advising on complex commercial loans, including syndicated facilities, and project finance. Other areas of specialisation include structured finance, financial services regulation, acquisition and trade finance, and aircraft and asset finance. Shanghai-based Harvey Lau’s practice is focused on PRC lending and aviation and equipment financings; he advises on syndicated and bilateral loan transactions involving PRC borrowers and security providers, and regularly advises financial institutions and other corporate clients on financial regulatory issues in China. Other recommended practitioners include Beijing-based Simon Leung and department co-heads Andrew Lockhart and Barry Cheng, who are both based in Hong Kong.

Norton Rose Fulbright hired project and export credit finance lawyer Paul Wee Ei Don from Clifford Chance LLP to become a partner in Beijing; the addition enhanced the practice’s outbound project finance capability and strengthened its offering to Chinese banks, particularly for cross-border lending and outbound investment. Outbound highlights for the practice included advising Industrial and Commercial Bank of China on the financing of solar projects in India. Head of China banking Fei Kwok divides her time between Shanghai and Beijing; she advises on financings of oil and gas, petrochemicals and LNG projects, as well as renewable energy and independent power projects, and the asset financing of ships, aircraft, rail and heavy industrial equipment. Beijing-based Tom Luckock specialises in projects in the power, infrastructure and water sectors, while Shanghai-based senior associate Simon Barrell is noted for asset, structured, trade and project finance. Jinnan Li left the firm.

As part of its mainland growth drive, White & Case LLP relocated ‘brilliant and reliable’ project and asset finance specialist Hallam Chow from Hong Kong to Beijing. Recent acquisition finance highlights for the team include advising Bank of China and China CITIC Bank on an aggregate $1.6bn secured term loan provided to a consortium (led by Apex Technology and Pacific Alliance Group) to finance the headline purchase of Lexmark International. Other major matters included the Hong Kong and Beijing offices acting for Bank of China Macau Branch and Ping An Bank on the $2bn financing of the take-private transaction for Shenzhen-headquartered Mindray Medical International. Beijing-based Xiaoming Li and David Li are also recommended, as are Hong Kong-based Baldwin Cheng and global banking practice head Eric Berg, who splits his time between Hong Kong and Singapore. Since publication, Xiaoming Li has joined Han Kun Law Offices.

Ashurst’s ‘team is outstanding and provides better service and value for money than some of the other international law firms’. The practice is recommended for acquisition and asset finance, but is especially strong in structured finance; its expertise also spans outbound investments for Chinese banks and the team has substantial energy and infrastructure sector experience. Beijing-based Patrick Phua heads the PRC banking, derivatives and structured finance practice; he has ‘a wonderful grasp of legal and regulatory developments in the China market and translates his understanding of China issues for international clients in a concise and effective way’. Energy and financing transactions specialist Chin Chuan Chen, who divides his time between Beijing and Singapore, is also recommended, as are Beijing senior associates Zhibin Fan and Emma Zhang. The firm hired Hong Kong counsel Priscilla Chen from Clifford Chance LLP.

DLA Piper’s recent work includes advising on complex cross-border financings, RMB dim sum bonds, project finance, syndicated loans and secured lending. Hong Kong-based Asia finance and projects head Paul Lee led the advice to Mettlesome Investments (Cayman) II (as borrower) on the approximately $1.2bn loan to fund the acquisition of Ironshore. China energy head Carolyn Dong, who divides her time between Hong Kong and Beijing, acted for the lenders on a $1bn club facility to Sinopec Canada Energy to refinance its inter-company loan; the matter was connected to the purchase of a stake in an LNG project and upstream oil and gas assets in Canada.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s banking team maintains a strong record of international and M&A-driven financings. It also stands out for its corporate treasury practice and its work with international investment banks and private equity funds on complex financing products. Daniel French, Thomas Ng, Richard Perks and Andrew Heathcote are all highly rated. All named practitioners are based in Hong Kong.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP stands out for its experience in trade, real estate and structured finance. Greater China finance head Alexander Aitken is well known for borrower and lender-side secured financings of companies, as well as outbound infrastructure, real estate and projects for borrowers and lenders; Fergus Smith is another key contact and the team recently recruited debt capital markets partner William Ku from King & Wood Mallesons. All named advisers are based in Hong Kong.

Hogan Lovells International LLP has a solid name in the market for acquisition, export, corporate and project finance, as well as sovereign lending matters. Beijing managing partner Jun Wei is recommended for project finance matters and Michael Zou is a highly rated counsel, who is recommended for his advice to state-owned oil companies and Latin American experience.

Paul Hastings LLP’s ‘team provides a high-quality service to clients and gives sensible and commercial advice’. The practice distinguishes itself through its notable expertise in real estate and infrastructure finance, project and leveraged finance, and shadow banking. The key advisers are Hong Kong-based Vivian Lam, who is ‘a very experienced partner and is very diligent and conscientious in her work’; Raymond Li, ‘a smart, quick thinker who often thinks outside the box’; and Brett King.

Shearman & Sterling’s project finance specialist Andrew Ruff divides his time between Hong Kong and Shanghai. Hong Kong and Beijing-based Xiaogang (Sean) Wang is a member of the firm’s project development and finance group; he regularly represents large Chinese SOEs and state-owned banks on their outbound transactions globally.

Simmons & Simmons’ key specialisms are acquisition and margin finance and trade and commodity finance. Beijing-based Yongmei Cai is a partner in the financial markets group, who specialises in banking, cross-border finance, derivatives, debt capital markets and real estate finance work.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP acts for lenders but has a particularly strong borrower-side practice. The team has been especially busy advising on financings for PRC take-private acquisitions, as well as syndicated and bilateral loans. Department head Clive Rough in Hong Kong has over 15 years’ experience in the Asia finance market.

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