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  1. Corporate and M&A: foreign firms
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Regularly acting for high-profile international and Chinese clients, Clifford Chance LLP is highly rated for its expertise in private and public deals, China inbound and outbound M&A, including multi-jurisdictional matters, and domestic M&A, with the financial services, consumer, industrial and healthcare sectors being particular strengths. Among the firm’s high-profile outbound deals, Beijing-based Terence Foo led advice to Shenzhen Stock Exchange-listed Zhejiang Jinke Entertainment on its $1bn acquisition of Outfit 7, a creator and developer of mobile games. Inbound highlights for the practice included Hong Kong’s Amy Ho advising West Heaven, a joint venture, and Eagle Development Holding Corporation on the sale of Gain Success to Spring Wisdom, a special purpose vehicle. Tim Wang is another highly regarded Beijing-based practitioner, while in Shanghai, Glen Ma, Kelly Gregory and Jean Yu are key advisers. In Hong Kong, Andrew Whan heads the Asia Pacific corporate and M&A practice; and Emma Davies, who splits time between Hong Kong and Shanghai and leads the firm’s corporate practice in mainland China, are also recommended. Yan Yuan is a well-regarded Shanghai counsel.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer grew its practice through the promotion of Jason Xu and Yan Chen to the partnership. The team is widely praised for its experience in large China outbound deals but it is also considered a go-to adviser for strategic China inbound M&A and joint venture deals. Recent highlights saw the practice act for Chinese industrial group Midea during its tender offer for Frankfurt-listed Kuka, which marked the largest ever acquisition of a German company by a Chinese bidder. On the sell side, the team advised Cheung Kong Property Holdings on the headline sale of Mapleleaf Developments to a purchaser managed by ARA Asset Management. Alan Wang, Richard Wang and Jack Wang are highly rated. In Hong Kong, Robert Ashworth is co-head of global M&A and Teresa Ko is China chair.

Linklaters is recommended for both its international and China-side capabilities, which are complemented by the firm’s practices in regulatory, antitrust, derivatives, financing and capital markets and employment law; and its lawyers have sector expertise in finance, private equity, FIG, energy, mining and resources, and TMT. Significant matters include advising China COSCO Shipping Corporation on its acquisition of a minority stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank; it also advised the Bank of East Asia on the high-value sale of Tricor Holdings to private equity firm Permira. Shanghai’s Jian Fang is the China managing partner, and Gilbert Li, recently promoted partner John Xu and senior consultant Richard Gu are also key Shanghai advisers, as is associate Colette Pan. Kevin Cheung is highly regarded in Beijing. Notable Hong Kong names include Robert Cleaver, Matthew Middleditch, Annabella Fu van Bijnen, and Craig Dally, along with Alexandra Bidlake and recently promoted capital markets partner Iris Leung. Simon Meng was hired in Shanghai from King & Wood Mallesons, while Simon Poh left for K&L Gates’ Shanghai office and Pui Hong Chik joined Ashurst in Hong Kong.

Highly rated for big-ticket M&A deals, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP practices US, Hong Kong, Japanese and English law around the Asia region. The team is particularly rated for transactions where Chinese companies acquire significant assets in the US, as well as substantial M&A deals in China’s TMT sector. Highlights included acting for China-based ride-hailing service provider, Didi Chuxing (Hangzhou Kuaizhi Technology Co.) (China) in its acquisition of UberChina from Uber Technologies. Peter Huang and Haiping Li lead the firm’s Beijing and Shanghai offices, respectively. In Hong Kong, Julie Gao chairs the firm’s China practice, and Jonathan Stone leads the corporate practice in Asia (excluding Japan). Other key advisers in Hong Kong are Christopher Betts, Will Cai, Edward Lam, and Geoffrey Chan, the latter joining from Ropes & Gray LLP. Daniel Dusek left the firm for Kirkland & Ellis in Hong Kong, and Gregory Miao and Jon Christianson retired from the practice.

Allen & Overy LLP grew its ‘excellent practice’ through the hire of Chinese M&A and private equity specialist Wayne Lee in Hong Kong from Shearman & Sterling LLP. The corporate group provides English, Hong Kong, US and Australian law advice on public and private M&A, privatisations, private equity, joint ventures, capital markets and restructurings, and is assisted by specialist teams covering IP, antitrust, regulatory, and employment law. Recent highlights include advising Liberty Mutual on the sale of its 51% stake in Liberty Insurance Company, a PRC property and casualty insurance company, to Sanpower Group. China corporate head Victor Ho divides time between Beijing and Shanghai; his team includes Ji Zou (‘attentive to client needs and provides practical counsel’), counsel Richard Qiang and senior associate Taoye Ye (‘very receptive to client requests and always willing to help’).

Baker McKenzie FenXun stands out for its ability to provide clients with an integrated international and PRC law platform in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. The practice has longstanding corporate and M&A experience in China, both on the inbound and outbound side. Sector expertise spans the energy and natural resources, TMT, real estate, and pharmaceuticals and healthcare industries, among others. The firm advised Yuexiu Property Company (YPC) on the proposed acquisition of a 50% equity interest in Zhoushan Xin De Business Development Co. by YPC’s wholly owned subsidiary. The recommended Beijing advisers are Boo Bee Chun, Jackie Lo, Jon Eichelberger and Stanley Jia. In Shanghai, Howard Wu heads the firm’s Asia Pacific IT and communications group, and Danian Zhang, Cherrie Shi and Zhenyu Ruan are also highly rated.

DLA Piper regularly acts in complex cross-border deals and the practice has significant insurance industry expertise. It has also developed a reputation among transportation, freight and logistics sector clients. In other areas, Shanghai-based Roy Chan advised Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels on its circa-$1.3bn acquisition of Plateno Group from a number of private equity funds. Qiang Li and Stewart Wang are also key names in Shanghai. Hong Kong-based Paul Chen is Asia corporate head, and Sheng Wu, who divides time between Hong Kong and Beijing, recently made partner. Former Shanghai corporate head, Kit Kwok departed for China Ping An Insurance Overseas (Holdings), while James Chang joined in Beijing from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Hogan Lovells International LLP has a focus on energy, infrastructure, financial services, insurance, life sciences, consumer and TMT sector deals, and the team is able to assist with the issues that impact cross-border M&A, from acquisition financing, antitrust, regulatory compliance and tax to IP, employment, national security review and foreign investment regulation. Together with the firm’s Madrid and Paris offices, Beijing office managing partner Jun Wei advised HNA Group on its $1.5bn takeover for Swiss Airline caterer business Gategroup, the world’s second largest airline caterer. Shanghai-based China and Asia Pacific corporate head Andrew McGinty, Shanghai office managing partner Philip Cheng, and Beijing’s Steven Robinson, Liang Xu and Roy Zou are other key contacts. Larry Sussman joined in Beijing from O'Melveny, where he was Beijing managing partner and Asia transactions head, while Michael Chin exited for Simmons & Simmons LLP’s Hong Kong office.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s corporate and M&A team advises clients from the financial institutions and insurance sectors, as well as handling matters spanning industries such as real estate, technology, and energy and natural resources. It advised Shandong Gold Mining Co on the $960m acquisition of 50% of the shares in a gold mine in Argentina. In Shanghai, Lynn Yang, office head Sun Hong and of counsel Tony Zhong are highly regarded, as is Beijing office head Wang Yi, corporate and projects lawyer Barbara Li (also in Beijing) and Hong Kong office head Psyche Tai. Shanghai consultant Justin Wilson retired from the partnership.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is recommended for high-end, complex transactions, particularly involving the TMT sector and private equity investments, and it has specific experience in Taiwan-related deals. Beijing’s Greg Liu led the advice to IDG Capital, and its portfolio company Titan Gas Technology Holdings, on the acquisition of a controlling stake in HKSE-listed Shun Cheong Holdings. Also in Beijing, Judie Ng Shortell is recommended. Hong Kong-based Betty Yap is ‘terrific – technically excellent, very responsive and a pleasure to deal with’. Jack Lange and Jeanette Chan are other key names.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has significant expertise in cross-border public and private M&A and joint ventures, as well as the representation of private equity clients, both in strategic investments and fund formation. The practice acts for Chinese state-owned and non-state-owned companies and financial institutions in their business activities in the US and the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and across Asia; and it assists international financial institutions, corporations and investors with Greater China matters. Shaolin Luo and recently promoted counsel Yang Wang in Beijing led advice to China National Agrochemical Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of ChemChina, on its acquisition of a 40% stake in Tel Aviv-based Adama Agricultural Solutions, a global crop protection company. Key Hong Kong contacts include Kathryn King Sudol, China practice head Celia Lam, Anthony King, Chris Lin and recently elected partner Ian Ho.

White & Case LLP has extensive experience advising on groundbreaking acquisitions and high-end deals. The firm grew the Greater China practice through the hire of Andre Zhu in the Beijing office from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP to enhance its M&A bench strength. It also promoted Shanghai’s Jiong Deng to local partner; and relocated long-term partner Vivian Tsoi to the Shanghai office after spending a year in the firm’s Singapore office. Tsoi was part of a cross-border team that advised China Three Gorges Corporation, through a subsidiary, on its purchase of the equity interests in a Duke Energy Corporation subsidiary. Also in Shanghai, China practice head Alex Zhang and Lucy Xu are highly rated. Former China practice head Xiaoming Li left for Han Kun Law Offices.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is experienced in advising multinational corporations, private equity investors and hedge funds on inbound Chinese investment, finance and joint venture transactions, and pre-IPO investments, as well as Chinese companies on their worldwide outbound investments. The practice is also particularly well known for going-private transactions involving US-listed Chinese companies. Ling Huang and Denise Shiu acted for the controlling shareholder of Beijing Miteno Communication Technology Co., which develops, constructs and installs communication towers, in its acquisition of Blackbird Hypersonic Investments.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is highly rated for cross-border deals, particularly China outbound acquisitions. The practice’s client base includes Chinese SOEs, as well as Hong Kong-listed corporations and Taiwanese companies that have interests in Chinese companies. Together with the New York and Hong Kong offices, Beijing’s Howard Zhang advised Freeport-McMoRan, a US-based natural resources company, on the $2.77bn sale of its interests in TF Holdings to China Molybdenum, one of the world’s largest molybdenum and tungsten producers. Also in Beijing, Li He is highly regarded. Key Hong Kong practitioners include Paul Chow and Miranda So.

Mayer Brown JSM’s ‘overall level of service is excellent, due to its in-depth knowledge of its clients’ businesses and culture’. Furthermore, the lawyers are ‘proactive and to the point in their legal advice’. The M&A practice regularly works alongside the firm’s regulatory, tax, fund formation and investment management, technology, and real estate specialists. Hong Kong-based Jeckle Chiu, who is ‘singled out as being particularly good’, led advice to Dah Chong Hong Holdings on its acquisition of Li & Fung’s consumer and healthcare distribution business in mainland China, Hong Kong and several other countries. Key Beijing contacts include China projects head Xiangyang Ge and Beijing office partner-in-charge Ian Lewis. The firm enjoys an association with PRC firm Jingtian & Gongcheng.

Morrison & Foerster LLP is highly rated for deals involving the TMT, life sciences and real estate sectors. A cross-office team recently acted for Global Logistic Properties, a provider of modern logistics facilities in China, Japan and Brazil, on various matters, including the acquisition by its China platform of a 45.6% shareholding in Beijing Shounong Joint Stock Company. Beijing and Shanghai managing partner Paul McKenzie and Beijing-based Sherry Yin are key practitioners, as is Shanghai’s Maria Wang. Vivian Yiu joined the Hong Kong office from Allen & Overy.

Paul Hastings LLP stands out for matters relating to the TMT, life sciences, healthcare and real estate sectors. David Wang and Jia Yan led the advice to Samsung Electronics on the Chinese aspects of its high-profile $8bn acquisition of Harman International Industries. Vivian Lam, Raymond Li, Douglas Freeman and Victor Chen are also notable names. Meka Meng is a key of counsel.

Shearman & Sterling LLP rehired M&A partner Li Chen, who has a particular focus on outbound acquisitions and investments by Chinese enterprises, following a six-year stint at two other international firms. In addition to China outbound acquisitions, the firm also handles going-private transactions for US-listed Chinese companies. It recently advised Bank of Communications on its acquisition of approximately 80% of Brazil’s Banco BBM’s outstanding shares. Lee Edwards, Xiaogang (Sean) Wang and Stephanie Tang are also recommended.

Recent work highlights at Sidley Austin LLP include advising Xiwang Foodstuffs Company on its $730m acquisition of Iovate Health Sciences International, a Canadian nutritional supplement maker. Key Greater China contacts include chief representative of the Shanghai office Zhengyu Tang, as well as Joseph Chan, Lan Tao, Mengyu Lu, Constance Choy and Christopher Cheng.

Sullivan & Cromwell is particularly well regarded for Hong Kong public takeovers, China outbound investments involving Chinese SOEs in the energy and infrastructure sector, and cross-border M&A matters. Alongside the Hong Kong office, Beijing’s Gwen Wong acted for China Mengniu Dairy Company in its acquisition of a minority stake in China Modern Dairy Holdings from an affiliate of KKR. Chun Wei is managing partner of the firm’s Hong Kong office.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLPprovides very good advice judgement calls and responsiveness’. The team regularly assists with Asia-led, cross-border transactions for clients from the consumer, TMT, industrial, energy, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and financial services sectors. A cross-practice, cross-border team advised HNA Group on its $6.5bn acquisition of an approximate 25% equity interest in Hilton Worldwide Holdings from Blackstone. Charles Ching divides time between Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, and ‘stands out for his deep knowledge and experience of the legal and regulatory landscape across the US, Hong Kong and China’. Li Li and Suat Eng Seah left the firm.

The team at Ashurst delivers ‘very strong commercial sense, responsiveness and high-quality work’. It handles a range of corporate transactions, from China outbound and inbound M&A work, to regulatory and restructuring issues. Noted for his ‘flexibility and business acumen’, Shanghai’s Michael Sheng heads the firm’s corporate and M&A practice in mainland China. Also in the Shanghai office, Daniel Oehvall is a key counsel.

Baker Botts L.L.P. stands out for its focus on energy and natural resources sector transactions, and the practice is well known for advising on corporate, regulatory and compliance issues for clients with operations in Asia. Jeff Layman in Beijing, Russell Wilkinson and Michael Arruda in Hong Kong, and Joanne Du, who divides time between Hong Kong and Beijing, are recommended advisers.

Bird & Bird has particular strength in deals involving technology and communications, life sciences and healthcare, retail, entertainment, media and sports, and aviation. The practice also has notable private equity and venture capital expertise. John Shi, Shan Lai and Sven-Michael Werner are highly rated.

At CMS, ‘the service is very good, timely and pragmatic, and shows good understanding of clients’ business needs’. The team is well known for cross-border M&A transactions across a diverse range of industries. Managing partner of the Shanghai Office Ulrike Glueck is a key contact.

Clyde & Co LLP focuses on M&A, business acquisitions and disposals, strategic alliances, joint ventures, market entry issues, and corporate governance and compliance matters. China corporate group leader Michael Cripps in Shanghai led the advice to Sanpower Group during its acquisition of 51% shares of Liberty China’s registered capital.

Eversheds Sutherland’s ‘very good team is practical and provides timely spending reports, which is good for clients’ budgeting’. The firm recently advised on transactions across industry sectors such as real estate, food and drink, energy and natural resources, TMT, and financial services. The key Beijing names are office managing partner Ingrid Zhu-Clark and China corporate head Jay Ze, who is ‘very hardworking and responsive, and has a superb sense of how Chinese and foreign regulators will approach transactions’. In Shanghai, Jack Cai is the office managing partner and a name to note.

Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. is recommended for its advice to the firm’s predominantly French client base on investments in China across a range of sectors, including automotive, distribution and retail, life sciences, manufacturing, oil and gas, and sport and leisure. In addition, it acts for several Chinese clients on high-profile outbound deals involving Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Fan Jiannian in Shanghai and Guo Min in Beijing are key contacts.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP recently promoted Beijing’s Wang Zhong to partner. The practice covers China inbound and outbound M&A, private equity, and capital markets, and it stands out for its energy sector expertise. Nanda Lau, Beijing office head Tom Chau and Karen Ip are recommended names.

K&L Gates strengthened its Shanghai practice through the hires of Simon Poh and Amigo Xie from Linklaters and Llinks Law Offices, respectively. The firm recently acted for clients from the real estate, oil and gas, funds, pharmaceuticals, consumer, leisure and technology sectors. Ian Liao, Henry Wang, Grace Fan-Delatour and Frank Voon are key contacts.

Latham & Watkins LLP regularly acts in high-profile M&A transactions in China, as well as across Asia, Europe and the US. Shanghai managing partner Rowland Cheng and Beijing’s Yilong Du are key advisers.

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP opened a five-partner Shanghai office after hiring office head Mitch Dudek, the ‘extremely knowledgeable’ Todd Liao, Alex Wang, Eddie Hsu and Cindy Pan from Dentons’ Shanghai branch. Ning Zhang and Mathew Lewis also joined the Beijing and Shanghai offices, respectively, from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. Beijing office head Xiaowei Ye is highly rated.

O'Melveny is recommended for its advice to companies and financial investors on M&A deals, and investments in (and disposals of) businesses and assets, whether public or private, domestic or international. Shanghai-based Walker Wallace is ‘an outstanding negotiator, who provides real insight and judgement when helping clients take a course of action’. In Beijing, Ke Geng ‘understands exactly what clients need, and is very commercial and solution-oriented’. David Roberts left the firm and former Beijing managing partner Larry Sussman joined Hogan Lovells International LLP.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s Hong Kong office recruited M&A and private equity specialist Scott Peterman and M&A partner Mark Lehmkuhler from Jones Day and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, respectively; meanwhile, Ning Zhang left for Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP’s Beijing office. The practice is well regarded for advising Chinese state-owned and private entities on their outbound investments, and is highly rated for its technology sector experience. Jeffrey Sun, divides time between Shanghai and Beijing, and Betty Louie splits her practice between the firm’s Italy and Beijing offices.

Reed Smith Richards Butler act for PRC businesses involved in outbound investments and offshore transactions, as well as foreign clients investing in mainland China. Beijing office head Michael Fosh, energy and natural resources specialist Jie Zhang and Shanghai office head Jay Yan are all widely praised.

Simmons & Simmons is well known for its focuses on asset management and investment funds, financial institutions and TMT. Beijing’s Eric Lin is highly rated. Former China head Davis Wang left to establish an advisory firm.

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