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  1. Corporate and M&A: foreign firms
  2. Other recommended firms
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

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Clifford Chance LLP is highly rated for groundbreaking transactions for international and domestic businesses. The M&A team is experienced in advising on private deals and public transactions, whether inbound, outbound, domestic or multi-jurisdictional; it is also able to draw on experts from its regulatory, antitrust, anti-corruption, IP, finance, funds and capital markets practices. Beijing-based China private equity head Terence Foo and Tim Wang, who is particularly active in advising large Chinese SOEs on their overseas listings and outbound investments, were elected co-managing partners of the firm’s mainland China offices, succeeding the retired Stephen Harder; former Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific M&A head Roger Denny also retired. M&A highlights included Foo leading the advice to COFCO International on the successful closure of its $750m acquisition of the remaining 49% stake in global agricultural trading and processing platform, Noble Agri. He also advised State Grid Corporation of China on the establishment of a Russian joint venture company with JSC Rosseti, Russia’s largest power grid company; the joint venture will invest in the construction, renovation and subsequent operation of electrical grid facilities. Shanghai-based Glen Ma advised China Minsheng International on its $2.2bn offer to acquire Sirius International Insurance Group from White Mountains Insurance Group. In the same office, Kelly Gregory is experienced in M&A and joint venture transactions in the consumer goods, technology, automotive, aviation, industrials and energy sectors. Beijing-based Ying White heads the funds and investment management group in China and Jean Yu specialises in Hong Kong securities law issues, particularly including Hong Kong IPOs and other equity-related transactions. Emma Davies, who splits her time between Hong Kong and Shanghai, heads the corporate practice in mainland China and its healthcare and life sciences group in Asia; her experience includes acting for insurance clients on their investments.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has a go-to practice for M&A in China, particularly in cross-border matters. Beijing and Shanghai-based Alan Wang worked alongside colleagues in Frankfurt to advise Deutsche Bank on the sale of a stake in Hua Xia Bank to Chinese insurer PICC Property and Casualty Company; he also acted for ChemChina on its bid to acquire KraussMaffei Group, the Germany-based plastics and rubber processing machinery manufacturer, a deal which marks the largest China outbound deal to Germany to date. Richard Wang is a key contact in Beijing, while Shanghai-based Jack Wang and colleagues in Hong Kong acted for Creat Group on its definitive agreement to acquire up to 100% of Bio Products Laboratory’s issued share capital from Bain Capital and the UK Department of Health. In Hong Kong, Asia managing partner Robert Ashworth and China chair Teresa Ko are also highly rated.

Linklatersprovides an excellent level of service that includes commercial acumen and industry knowledge’, displaying particular strengths in the financial services, private equity, financial institutions group, energy, mining and resources and TMT sectors. Shanghai-based Jian Fang advised UBS on its strategic investment in Postal Savings Bank of China, which was one of the largest strategic investments in a Chinese financial institution in recent years and involved complex regulatory issues in both China and Switzerland. Simon Poh, Gilbert Li and senior consultant Richard Gu are also key Shanghai advisers and Beijing-based Pui Hong Chik is highly regarded; Matthew Middleditch, Robert Cleaver and Annabella Fu van Bijnen are notable Hong Kong practitioners. The practice promoted Beijing-based Eric Liu to partner but lost Betty Yap and Judie Ng Shortell to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP distinguishes itself through big-ticket M&A deals, particularly involving Chinese companies acquiring assets in the US; and the team is also recommended for major M&A deals in the TMT sector. It recently acted on several going-private transactions of US-listed Chinese companies; examples include Beijing office head Peter Huang and Daniel Dusek working alongside colleagues in Hong Kong to advise the Qihoo 360 Technology during its $9.3bn going-private acquisition by a consortium. Huang and Dusek also joined a multi-office team advising Anbang Insurance Group, as lead member of an investor group, on its proposed $14bn acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Beijing-based Jon Christianson and China M&A and corporate practice head Gregory Miao, who is based in Shanghai, are also recommended.

Allen & Overy LLP has a sweet spot for complex cross-border M&A and is highly experienced in M&A deals with a heavy finance component. The practice also stands out for corporate real estate and IP deal expertise, and regularly advises Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds on investments in China. The team advised Hewlett-Packard (prior to its division into two entities) on the formation of a strategic partnership to unify its Chinese enterprise technology assets with those of Tsinghua University; under the $4.5bn agreement, Tsinghua’s subsidiary, Unisplendour, bought a 51% stake in a new business comprising H3C Technologies and Hewlett-Packard’s China-based server, storage and technology services businesses. China department head Victor Ho and Ling Li in Beijing are highly regarded, as are Richard Kim and Ji Zou in Shanghai. Beijing-based counsel Richard Qiang and senior associate Taoye Ye in Shanghai are also recommended.

Baker McKenzie has over 40 years’ corporate and M&A experience in China, handling transactions relating to private and public listed companies; the team is also experienced in assisting Chinese companies and state-owned enterprises with their overseas investments. Beijing-based advisers include Boo Bee Chun, Jackie Lo, Jon Eichelberger and Stanley Jia. Together with the Madrid office, Shanghai-based Danian Zhang advised Bright Food on the acquisition of Miquel Alimentacio Grup (the second largest food distributor in Spain). Shanghai-based Howard Wu, Cherrie Shi and Zhenyu Ruan are other names to note.

DLA Piper expanded its Greater China corporate team with the addition of Shanghai-based Stewart Wang and Qiang Li, who is now co-managing partner of the firm’s mainland China offices alongside Roy Chan in Shanghai; Wang and Li joined from O’Melveny. Outgoings saw former Beijing corporate head John Shi and former of counsel Shan Lai join Bird & Bird. DLA Piper has an active practice advising Chinese insurance companies and, in the real estate space, it advised Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels on its strategic $1.3bn acquisition of Plateno Group from private equity funds. Shanghai corporate head Kit Kwok and Asia corporate head Paul Chen in Hong Kong are highly rated.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s team ‘provides excellent support through prompt, practical, business-oriented advice, and it has a good understanding of local markets’. The practice fields nearly 30 fee-earners, including seven partners located in the firm’s Beijing and Shanghai offices. Shanghai-based Asia corporate head Andrew McGinty ‘has great China experience that includes in-depth knowledge of the practical aspects of local regulations, as well as clients’ business needs’. Shanghai-based Michael Chin is another key contact, while Beijing office managing partner Jun Wei and Steven Robinson advised Unisplendour on its proposed $3.8bn investment in Western Digital Corporation, a US computer data storage company, and the decision to terminate the transaction. Other deal highlights included Beijing-based Liang Xu acting for Cinda, an investor in distressed assets in China, on the $1.6bn acquisition of a real estate project. Roy Zou is another highly rated Beijing adviser.

Norton Rose Fulbright regularly acts for prominent clients on substantial energy and technology deals, as well as healthcare M&A such as Shanghai partner Justin Wilson’s work alongside the Singapore office to advise new client Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care on its proposed acquisition of a 50% interest in five hospitals in China. Shanghai team head Sun Hong and Lynn Yang are highly rated, as are Beijing team head Wang Yi and Barbara Li. Jie Zhang joined Reed Smith Richards Butler.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP grew its practice by hiring Hong Kong-based Betty Yap and Beijing-based Judie Ng Shortell from Linklaters; Yap covers cross-border corporate and private equity M&A and investments, as well as joint ventures, and Shortell is known for China-related deals. The team’s M&A expertise is focused on the firm’s core areas of practice: TMT and private equity. Beijing-based Greg Liu advised Baidu on a $3.4bn exchange of its stake in Qunar, one of China’s largest online travel companies, for a 25% interest in Ctrip, another online travel company. The highly rated Jeanette Chan splits her time between Hong Kong and Beijing.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is recommended for high-profile inbound and outbound transactions. Evidencing the practice’s ability to act on outbound mega-deals, Shaolin Luo in Beijing (along with the New York and Houston offices) advised China National Chemical Corporation on its headline $43bn agreement to acquire Swiss agrichemical and seeds company, Syngenta; he also worked alongside New York colleagues when advising Apax Partners on its sale of a 55% stake in the Tommy Hilfiger joint venture to PVH Corporation. Hong Kong-based China practice head Celia Lam is also recommended.

White & Case LLP recently promoted Shanghai-based Lucy Xu to partner. Deal highlights include acting for Qingdao Haier, a Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer, on its strategic cooperation framework agreement with General Electric, which included the acquisition of the latter’s appliances business. The team also assisted Hepalink USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical, with its $206m acquisition of Cytovance Biologics. Shanghai-based practice head Alex Zhang is highly rated, as are Beijing-based Vivian Tsoi and Xiaoming Li. Since publication, Xiaoming Li has joined Han Kun Law Offices.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is recommended for representing major multinational corporations, private equity investors and hedge funds in inbound Chinese investment, joint venture transactions and pre-IPO investments, as well as advising Chinese companies on their outbound activities. Beijing-based Ling Huang has extensive experience in cross-border M&A, private equity and foreign direct investment transactions in China, while Denise Shiu’s practice is primarily focused on cross-border deals involving China. Huang and Shu advised China Life Insurance Company on its $3.6bn acquisition of a 23.69% stake in China Guangfa Bank; they also worked alongside colleagues in Hong Kong to assist Yinyi Group with its acquisition of ARC Automotive from The Jordan Company. Senior counsel Clayton Johnson divides his time between Beijing and Hong Kong.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP has a strong cross-border track record, especially for China outbound acquisition matters. Beijing-based Howard Zhang and Li He advised Postal and Savings Bank of China on its issuance and sale of $7bn-plus of shares to a group of strategic investors; they also acted for IDG Capital Partners on its investment in SouFun Holdings.

In August 2015, Mayer Brown JSM formed an association with PRC firm Jingtian & Gongcheng, but lost Henry Wang to K&L Gates’ Beijing office. Ian Lewis in Beijing advised Merlin Entertainments Group on its discussions with China Media Capital in relation to their cooperation arrangements to create world-class visitor attractions in China. Xiangyang Ge in Beijing and Betty Tam in Shanghai are recommended.

Morrison & Foerster LLPprovides an outstanding service’ and distinguishes itself through its financial services and technology deal experience. Along with the Hong Kong, San Francisco and Washington DC offices, the practice advised Intel on its $1.5bn investment in Tsinghua Unigroup’s semiconductor business. Beijing and Shanghai managing partner Paul McKenzie and Beijing-based Sherry Yin are key practitioners, as is Shanghai-based Maria Wang. Gregory Tan joined Temasek in Singapore.

Paul Hastings LLP’s team ‘produces high-quality work and comes up with creative solutions to transaction issues using its deep local knowledge’. The practice remains active in headline M&A in the TMT sector and is a prominent player in real estate M&A; it has a strong focus on outbound deals. Beijing and Shanghai co-chairs Jia Yan and David Wang, who ‘provides innovative and strategic advice on investments in China and helps his clients focus on the critical issues’, acted for Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment in a $7bn joint venture with Comcast and NBCUniversal to establish a Universal Studios theme park in Beijing. Vivian Lam, Raymond Li, Douglas Freeman and Victor Chen in Hong Kong are also highly rated.

At Shearman & Sterling, Beijing-based Lee Edwards has extensive experience in M&A and foreign direct investment transactions. The Beijing office formed part of a multi-office team advising Qunar on receiving a $500m strategic investment, which was led by Silver Lake. Xiaogang (Sean) Wang, who divides his time between Hong Kong and Beijing, has acted for large Chinese SOEs and state-owned enterprises and banks on their outbound transactions, both in the energy and banking sectors.

Sidley Austin LLP’s ‘lawyers are knowledgeable and very business savvy’, and are particularly strong in financial services, energy and technology deals, as well as life sciences and healthcare transactions; they regularly work with the real estate finance group on high-value investments. Outbound instructions included advising Gaea Mobile, a Chinese gaming company, on its acquisition of assets from Kabam, a US game-related business. Shanghai-based Zhengyu Tanghas excellent business acumen, great negotiation skills and is a well-rounded practitioner’. Joseph Chan is also recommended, as are Wenseng Wendy Pan, who divides her time between Shanghai and New York, Lan Tao in Beijing and Tom Deegan in Hong Kong. The Beijing office recruited Mengyu Lu from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP; she has considerable experience in capital markets transactions, with an emphasis on representing China-based issuers and underwriters in Hong Kong IPOs.

Sullivan & Cromwell is recommended for Asia-focused outbound investments and its robust going-private practice. Gwen Wong in Beijing is well known for advising on complex cross-border deals, public takeovers and privatisations, as well as private sales and purchases, consortium bids and private equity transctions.

In 2015, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP hired Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong-based Charles Ching as corporate partner and China practice head from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Hong Kong office; he is experienced in advising on complex private equity and M&A transactions and securities offerings. Together with the Hong Kong office, Ching advised HNA Group on the approximately $6bn acquisition – via Tianjin Tianhai Investment (China) – of Ingram Micro, a wholesale distributor and marketer of IT products and services, which marked one of the largest China outbound transactions into the US in 2016. Shanghai-based Suat Eng Seah and Li Li in Beijing are also recommended. Steven Xiang joined Huanxi Media Group.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s Beijing office advises Chinese firms and foreign investors on cross-border M&A and is well equipped to assist clients with US and Chinese law. Beijing managing partner William Rosoff advised Sequoia Capital on the $1.6bn sale of its stake in, an online local services marketplace platform in China. Together with the Moscow office, Beijing-based Li Chen acted for PJSC Lukoil on the $1.1bn sale of its 50% stake in Caspian Investments Resources to Sinopec.

Baker Botts L.L.P. hired energy law experts Michael Arruda in Hong Kong and Joanne Du, who splits her time between Hong Kong and Beijing, from Jones Day. Jeff Layman in Beijing advised oil giant Halliburton on the Chinese aspects of its approximately $34.6bn merger with Baker Hughes.

Bird & Bird’s Shanghai-based partner Sven-Michael Werner is highly rated and the mainland China practice was augmented by the recruitment of Beijing corporate head John Shi and Shan Lai as partners from DLA Piper. Recent work for the team saw it assist IAI, one of Israel’s three largest defence companies, with establishing a civil aviation maintenance and repair joint venture in China.

Clyde & Co LLP’s Shanghai office has a strong sector presence in insurance, commodities, healthcare, retail and shipping. Michael Cripps leads the China corporate group; he has particular experience in the Chinese healthcare, insurance, trade and commodities sectors. Carrie Yang assisted Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Insurance China with its integration of corporate governance structures and systems.

Eversheds LLP’s team ‘matches international needs with local knowledge and is able to find the best solutions’. China corporate head Jay Ze in Beijing is experienced in energy and natural resources deals; Ze advised China Development Bank on its participation in the £30bn Hinkley Point C nuclear new-build power project in the UK. Shanghai managing partner Jack Cai heads the firm’s China inbound M&A team.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s industry sector expertise includes financial services, energy, mining, infrastructure and TMT. In Beijing, office head Tom Chau advised TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings on its strategic tie-up with LeTV, a mainland online video operator, and Karen Ip acted for Amcor (China) Investment on the acquisition of BPI China. Other notable advisers include Beijing-based Monica Sun, Shanghai partner Nanda Lau and Hong Kong’s Asia corporate head Austin Sweeney.

Jones Day’s practice in Greater China focuses on the firm’s core client base of industrial and manufacturing clients, while the China team also advises on oil and gas, mining, cleantech, TMT and private equity deals and has growing work in the automotive, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and retail industries. The team acted alongside Hong Kong colleagues for Shenzhen Energy Corporation on the $542m acquisition of CPT Wyndham Holdings, the owner of China Hydroelectric. Beijing-based department head John Kao and Jessie Tang are recommended, as are Shanghai-based Liming Yuan and of counsel Patrick Hu, and Angel Huang, who splits her time between Shanghai and Beijing. Ian Liao joined K&L Gates’ Shanghai office.

In addition to Latham & Watkins LLP’s financial services focus, the practice also recently advised on transactions in the real estate, retail, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, energy, entertainment and TMT sectors. Shanghai managing partner Rowland Cheng is recommended for transactions involving Chinese investment into the US – together with colleagues in Hong Kong, he advised MBK Partners on the acquisition of a 43% equity stake in Apex Logistics International. Former Beijing managing partner Allen Wang relocated to Boston.

O’Melveny represented several Chinese companies in their investments overseas and has been acting for various special committees, issuers, management and private equity sponsors on going-private deals. Examples include advising Homeinns Hotel Group on its entry into a $1.75bn merger agreement with a consortium. Shanghai-based Walker Wallace is highly rated, as are Beijing-based David Roberts and Ke Geng. Qiang Li joined DLA Piper.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP recently acted on major M&A transactions in the technology and online/e-commerce sectors, and the practice has extensive experience in China outbound M&A and can leverage the firm’s strength in capital markets. Jeffrey Sun, who divides his time between Shanghai and Beijing, advised on the merger of its O2O business, JD Daojia, with Dada Nexus. Beijing-based Ning Zhang is also a key adviser.

Reed Smith Richards Butler hired Jie Zhang in Beijing from Norton Rose Fulbright; Zhang has a particular focus on energy and natural resources. Beijing managing partner Michael Fosh and Shanghai office head Jay Yan, who divides his time between Shanghai and New York, are also recommended.

Simmons & Simmons is best known for its strong focus on asset management and investment funds, financial institutions and TMT deals. China country head Dequan (Davis) Wang divides his time between Beijing and Hong Kong and Eric Lin is a key Beijing adviser. Alan Xu joined Zhong Lun Law Firm in Hong Kong.

Vinson & Elkins LLP stands out for its energy deal experience and the corporate law elements of projects; the Beijing office was part of a multi-office team acting for Sinopec on its recent strategic purchase of a 10% stake in SIBUR, Russia’s largest vertically integrated gas processing and petrochemicals business. Beijing and Hong Kong managing partner Jay Kolb and Nicholas Song in Beijing are recommended.

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Legal Developments in China

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