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- The Legal 500 United Kingdom Awards 2013
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China > Legal market overview
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The past year saw a general reduction in China-related M&A activity, with the weak global economy, the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and China’s leadership change all being contributing factors. The private equity sector in Greater China has also struggled in recent times, and the continued uncertainty in the global economy and shifting investment strategies have led to an increase in divestments by multinational companies and other foreign investors.
Nonetheless, the enthusiasm of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for energy and resources assets continues to drive outbound investment, as indicated by several significant oil and gas deals announced by Chinese oil companies in relation to assets in Latin America, Canada, the US, Australia and Africa, as well as increased activity in the renewable sectors, both on the inbound and outbound sides.
King & Wood Mallesons again provided the legal market’s breaking news, in July 2013 sealing a merger with UK legal practice SJ Berwin LLP; the tie-up is set to go live in November 2013. Other highlights included Norton Rose LLP’s combination with US law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP to form Norton Rose Fulbright, adding Hong Kong and Beijing-based Jeffrey Blount and Jie Zhang to the practice.
Recently opened mainland China offices for international firms include Eversheds LLP launching in Beijing with two new partner hires in corporate energy law expert Ingrid Zhu-Clark, who joined from the Beijing office of Morgan Lewis LLP, and corporate lawyer Jay Ze; and Seyfarth Shaw LLP opening a new Shanghai office after hiring DLA Piper’s Wan Li as its chief representative. DLA Piper also recruited, bringing in Hong Kong based China energy head Carolyn Dong from King & Wood Mallesons.
Among other developments, Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. announced the closure of its Shanghai office; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP appointed new leadership in China, with Anthony Root, the former head of its Asian corporate practice and Greater China offices, retiring in May 2013 and corporate partner Edward Sun, the chief representative of the firm’s Beijing base, set to leave before the end of the year; and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP bolstered its Beijing corporate practice with the addition of Chen Li, who joined from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.
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On November 13, 2013, the Shanghai Municipal Government issued the Tentative Measures on the Administration of Foreign Owned Medical Institutions in China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone [Hu-Fu-Ban-Fa  No.63] (" Measures "). According to the Measures, a foreign investor, who has engaged in medical institution investment or management for 5 years or more, may, upon the approval by the relevant local government authorities, set up a wholly foreign owned medical institution (" Medical WOFE ") in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (" Shanghai FTZ "). Also, the Measures might open up an investment opportunity for foreign capital to enter the nursing home market in China.
The General Administration of Customs (" GAC ") issued Announcement  No. 58 (" Announcement ") on October 30, 2013, announcing its decision to further reform the customs clearance procedures for importation and exportation, whereby as from November 1, 2013, an AA Category enterprise in China Customs' AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) program, after filing application and signing an MOU with the customs, may choose to file import/export declarations and have the goods cleared at the local customs office of the place where such enterprise is located rather than where the port of entry or exit is located (" Privileged Model ").
Chinese customs authorities have recently stepped up price investigations focusing on cross-border payments of intellectual property ("IP") royalties or license fees. More and more multinational companies ("MNC") have been chosen by the customs as principal audit/investigation targets for their royalty arrangements between Chinese subsidiaries and foreign parent companies or other associated parties. HaoLiWen customs practice lawyers have been approached by some of MNCs to advise on dutiability of such royalty payments and any risk exposure to customs law violation or even smuggling.
On August, 2013, a consumer filed a complaint for misleading advertising with Dong Xin AIC (Zhejiang province) against Hangzhou-based roasted nut and dry-food producer Yaotaitai.
The State Council has approved establishment of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area ("SHFTA") and more flexible, efficient and open economic administration will be carried out within SHFTA. In summary, two aspects of breakthroughs are relevant to foreign direct investment in SHFTA.
On August 22, 2013, MOFCOM announced that the State Council of China approved the establishment of Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Area ("SHFTA") to cover four customs supervision zones (Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, Waigaoqiao Bonded Logistics Park, Yangshan Bonded Port and Shanghai Pudong Airport Free Trade Zone), with a total area of 28.78 square kilometers. It was reported that SHFTA will be formally established by the end of September, 2013. Early in September, the NPC StandingCommittee will determine adjusting some administrative examination and approval measures under some laws to be applied to SHFTA.
Normally perceived as a very small piece in the whole picture of production and distribution, product labeling is seldom taken seriously by distributors. However, the consequences of improper label are exceptionally severe in serious cases, including but not limited to:
China's regulation of so called " Novel food " is changing.
In this issue:
Product design is playing an increasingly important role in commercial competition nowadays. Other than product quality, it is the design of a product that draws consumer's attention. A well designed product is more likely to impress consumers with its fashion appearance.
Shortly after the signing of a USD 2.5 billion investment loan agreement, KGHM Polska Miedź announces the completion of another major financing project.
IKB Leasing GmbH (IKBL) has securitized a portfolio of lease receivables via German Mittelstand Equipment Financing SA (GMEF). The European Investment Bank (EIB) was one of the investors in the senior Class A Notes issued by GMEF.
Schoenherr, a leading law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised Laakman Holding Limited on the increase of their participation in the listed fund company C-QUADRAT Investment AG from 9.4 % to 18.4 %. read more...
Zavadetskyi Advocates advised a US private equity fund regarding USD 110 million divestiture from Ukrainian commercial real estate project.
Vienna, 28 July 2014. Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners (fwp) advises UniCredit Bank Austria AG on acquiring Immobilien Holding GmbH, which until now was wholly owned by Immobilien Privatstiftung.
AstapovLawyers International Law Group has provided corporate tax consulting and legal advisory to the joint stock oil company Bashneft, one of the Russia's largest integrated oil companies, due to its contemplated expansion into new market in the Southeast Europe.
On 6 June 2014, draft primary legislation to provide the Jersey Financial Services Commission with the power to impose civil financial penalties for material contraventions of the Codes of Practice and the AML/CFT Handbook was published.- Ogier
On 24 July 2014, Wild Bunch S.A. and the listed Senator AG announced their intention to merge into a European independent film distribution company. Wild Bunch is an important player in the field of international film sales and electronic distribution with a Europe-wide network in France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Senator AG is a German film productions and distribution company producing and distributing German and international movies since the 1970s.
Hengeler Mueller has successfully reached a temporary suspension of the prohibition order of the city of Hamburg against Uber, a provider for a smartphone-app for on-demand transportation services. Uber may thus continue providing its services in Hamburg until further notice.