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China > Private equity/venture capital > Private equity/venture capital: foreign firms > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Private equity/venture capital: foreign firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Clifford Chance LLP's lawyers are 'excellent advocates and educators who help their clients solve problems and grow their businesses'. The practice covers the full range of private equity transactions, including LBOs, MBOs, PIPEs, and cornerstone investments, as well as venture capital investments and high-yield financings. The team is particularly well known for assisting clients with China-focused private equity investments intending to list in Hong Kong and investments into Hong Kong-listed companies. Terence Foo, who heads the private equity practice, and recently promoted partner Hong Zhang advised Standard Chartered Private Equity on its $73m strategic investment in Chinese data centre operator Chayora Holdings. They also acted for growth markets investor Actis on its buyout of a majority equity interest in Zhejiang RGB Textile Group. Hong Kong-based Andrew Whan, who heads the Asia Pacific corporate and M&A practice, is also a name to note.

At Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Judie Ng Shortell and Betty Yap, based in Beijing and Hong Kong respectively, are highly rated for representing multinational corporations in China-related private equity transactions. Highlights for the team included advising KKR on the investment and launch of Cue & Co, a digital marketing company targeting the Chinese market; and advising a China-based private equity firm on its investment in a company that provides credit rating services. Other names to note are Greg Liu, whose wide-ranging sector expertise includes TMT, retail and apparel; Hong Kong-based China practice managing partner Jeanette Chan; and the highly experienced Jack Lange.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP's private equity practice acts for major international and domestic private equity firms in complex cross-border transactions and private equity fund formation in both China and Hong Kong. Ling Huang recently acted for China International Capital Corporation, an investment banking and financial services firm, in its acquisition of a majority stake in US asset manager Krane Funds Advisors. Other highlights included Denise Shiu advising TPG Capital on its acquisition of a majority stake in OPC Holding Company, a Taiwan and regional contract research organisation that offers clinical trial services.

Kirkland & Ellis International LLP regularly advises on multi-jurisdictional transactions involving private equity investors, with Beijing-based Chuan Li being highly rated for his expertise in major cross-border M&A and private equity investments across China and Asia. In partnership with its Hong Kong office, Li acted for the founders of GPA Global in the sale of a co-controlling stake.

Linklaters is singled out for its 'strong business acumen' and 'deep knowledge of the market'. The team is also praised for its 'sound advice and good value for money'. It advises on the establishment of funds, making and financing investments, as well as ongoing portfolio advice, including restructuring and exits. Recent highlights include advising Société Générale group on the sale of its 49% stake in Fortune SG, its PRC and Hong Kong investment management joint venture with Baosteel, to Warburg Pincus. The key names to note are John Xu, who heads the private equity practice, and recently promoted managing associate Qi Wang, who focuses on private equity and foreign direct investment transactions. Robert Cleaver now heads the Asian corporate practice from Hong Kong following the departure of Fang Jian, who joined Fangda Partners.

'Excellent for document drafting and transaction logistics',¬†Morrison & Foerster LLP¬†is 'extremely responsive and has deep knowledge of the private equity industry and market practice'. The team handles headline transactions spanning multiple key jurisdictions in Asia particularly in the¬†Fintech, technology and life sciences sectors. Among its recent highlights, it acted for the independent committee of Alibaba Group Holding in the proposed acquisition of a 33% equity interest in Ant Financial.¬†Shanghai-based¬†Maria Wang, and Hong Kong-based Marcia Ellis¬†and¬†Thomas Chou, who is 'responsive, very commercial and understands clients needs',¬†are the key contacts. Ellis' strengths are her 'deep understanding of private equity business and the ability to provide practical advice and solution' ‚Äď she 'takes clients' transactions' commercial aspects into perspective, offering a balanced approach to deal structuring and negotiations'. Yi Chen¬†joined as of counsel in Beijing from a global entertainment producer and provider.

Ropes & Gray LLP 'provides commercial, to-the-point advice with good technical and market knowledge'. It regularly acts in high-end private equity deals across the Asia Pacific region and its client base includes large-cap global and regional buyout private equity funds and growth capital private equity houses, as well as Chinese asset managers and large China-based technology companies. Shanghai-based managing partner of the Asia offices Arthur Mok advised Hao Capital, a China-focused private equity firm, on its investment in Daijia Medical. The practice is jointly led by Peng Yu, who is 'experienced in Asia M&A transactions and provides constructive advice on transactions', and Daniel Yeh who is based in Hong Kong.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has advised on some of the largest and most complex China-related transactions in the region. Recent matters include acting for Alibaba Group Holding in its acquisition of all the outstanding shares in Ele.me, an online delivery service in China. Beijing-based Yang Wang  was promoted to the partnership, while Ian Ho, Kathryn King Sudol and Celia Lam are key Hong Kong-based practitioners. Former Beijing partner Shaolin Luo joined YunFeng Capital as general counsel.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP stands out for its advice to Chinese companies investing in the US and going private, and also in acting for non-Chinese private equity houses worldwide that make investments in China.  Peter Huang and Haiping Li jointly head the practice from its Beijing and Shanghai respectively, while in Hong Kong, Julie Gao leads the China practice and Geoffrey Chan heads the Asia Pacific investment management practice. Huang advised a special committee of the board of directors of Chinese online games developer Changyou.com on the $2.2bn going-private acquisition of Changyou.com by Charles Zhang, the chairman of ChangYou. Li and Gao acted for Yixin Capital, a subsidiary of Bitauto Holdings (Bitauto), in a $587m strategic investment by Bitauto, Tencent Holdings, China Orient Asset Management and Wei Wang.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP advises on the full spectrum of transactions, from auctions, exits, take-privates and growth investments to distressed deals, secondaries, PIPEs and other public transactions. Recommended China practice head Charles Ching, who divides his time between Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, advised Oaktree Capital Management and its portfolio company Ileos on the sale of Paris-headquartered Axilone to CITIC Capital China Partners III. Hong Kong managing partner Tim Gardner is also singled out by clients.

Allen & Overy LLP's private equity practice covers fund formation, fund raisings, growth capital investments, LBOs, portfolio company M&A deals, pre-IPO investments, and co-investments. It is particularly active in real estate private matters but has also acted on a large number of deals in the technology, FinTech, education, healthcare and life sciences sectors. In Shanghai, Wayne Lee is highly rated; Jack Wang was hired from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Jean Ye was appointed counsel.

Baker McKenzie FenXun assists with the fund raising, investments and operations of its private equity clients and their investee companies. Bee Chun Boo's experience includes private equity and venture capital transactions, including fund of funds' investments, direct investments and fund establishment. Howard Wu, whose practice focuses on cross-border transactions involving the PRC, assisted Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corporation (Joyson) with raising $250m equity financing from Future Industry Investment Fund, a private fund managed by SDIC Fund Management. Also recommended are Hong Kong-based Dorothea Koo, who leads the Asia Pacific private equity group, and Jason Ng.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP's clients span a range of industry sectors, including TMT, biotechnology, education and energy, as well as finance, healthcare, real estate and retail. The team advised China Vanke on its participation in a consortium to acquire all of the equity interests of Global Logistic Properties. Howard Zhang and counsel Annie Yan are the recommended advisors.

Sectors of strength for DLA Piper include technology, insurance and energy and natural resources. The team acted for Rajax, a Hong Kong-based investment company, in the $500m acquisition of Baidu Waimai, the food delivery unit of Chinese search engine company, Baidu. Qiang Li, Stewart Wang and James Chang are the key names, while Hong Kong-based practice head Gloria Liu and Paul Chen are also recommended.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's recent experience includes advising The Blackstone Group on a range of high-end mandates, including the sale, for an enterprise value of $500m, of its majority stake in Trans Maldivian Airways to a consortium that included Bain Capital Asia Fund III. The recommended names are Shanghai and Beijing-based Alan Wang, and Hong Kong-based Robert Ashworth and Simon Weller. Jack Wang left for Allen & Overy LLP.

Hogan Lovells International LLP's private equity deal experience includes sectors such as life sciences and healthcare, education, insurance and energy, along with real estate, and TMT. The team regularly handles investments, exits and the ongoing operations of portfolio companies in China. It advised a company that provides healthcare services for seniors in China on a financing deal. Andrew McGinty, Steven Robinson, Larry Sussman and recently promoted Lu Zhou are the key advisers.

O'Melveny's recent work includes buyouts, venture investments, PIPE transactions, bridge loans and convertible bonds as well as joint ventures, restructurings and recapitalisations. The key names are office managing partners Walker Wallace and Ke Geng, based in Shanghai and Beijing respectively. Wallace recently acted for PAG Real Estate, as the lead participant in a consortium, on the purchase of three office towers and associated retail facilities. Nima Amini, who 'provides depth of experience and a commercial approach', and former Shanda Group general counsel Li Han are the recommended names from its Hong Kong office.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP advises private equity and venture capital sponsors, investment funds and portfolio companies on investment activity, and management and regulatory issues. Highlights included advising JD.com on its $397m investment in Farfetch, a London-based online fashion retail platform. TMT sector specialist Jeffrey Sun divides his time between Shanghai and Beijing; and Betty Louie, who divides her time between the firm’s Milan and Beijing offices, advises on significant China outbound M&A and private equity transactions in Europe and the US. Scott Peterman and Mark Lehmkuhler are also key names from its Hong Kong office. The team saw the arrival of Sarah Zeng who was hired from Dentons China, where she was Beijing managing partner, and Jeff Zhang, who joined from King & Wood Mallesons and splits his time between the Beijing and New York offices.

Paul Hastings LLP's 'outstanding team is very responsive and understands clients' culture and industries'. It is recommended for headline later-stage buyouts, particularly in relation to TMT and real estate private equity transactions. The team acted for PingAn Trust in its $1.6bn acquisition of a majority stake in New York Stock Exchange-listed AutoHome, an automobile trading and information website, from Telstra. David Wang, who is praised for his 'responsiveness and depth of knowlege', and Jia Yan are the names to note in mainland China, while Nan Li divides his time between the Beijing and Hong Kong offices. In Hong Kong, Vivian Lam is also recommended.

Shearman & Sterling LLP's recent highlights include advising Primavera Capital Group on its investment in Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group. Within the team, Lee Edwards is particularly experienced in advising Chinese and international corporations on going-private deals, tender offers, stock and asset purchase transactions, and venture capital and private equity transactions.

'Never failing to provide top-quality advice that is practical, commercial and technically sound', White & Case LLP's China private equity team covers fund formation, financing, M&A deals, portfolio company assistance, and exits. The practice acted for CDH Fund V, as a member of the buyer consortium, in the $605m acquisition of NASDAQ-listed SciClone Pharmaceuticals. China practice head Alex Zhang, Andre Zhu and Vivian Tsoi are all highly rated. Recent associate recruitment includes Nick Shu joining in Shanghai from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Benjamin Moh being hired in Beijing from Clifford Chance LLP.

Latham & Watkins LLP's team is 'excellent in terms of quality advice and service levels'. The practice's recent experience includes advising The Carlyle Group on the disposal of its Korean portfolio company ADT Caps to a consortium led by SK Telecom of Korea and Macquarie’s Korean Opportunities Fund. Rowland Cheng is Shanghai managing partner and the key Hong Kong advisors are global co-chair of the private equity practice Simon Cooke, Frank Sun, who is praised for his 'level of local and professional legal knowledge and commercial sense', and Amy Beckingham.

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP advises on domestic and cross-border deals and handles transactions involving public companies; the practice also advises on strategic transactions in the private sector, including acting for private equity investors and family shareholders. It advised Warburg Pincus on the sale of Mobike, the smart bike-sharing platform, to Meituan-Dianping. The key contacts are Ning Zhang, who divides his time between Hong Kong and Beijing; and Hong Kong-based Maurice Hoo and Edwin Luk.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP's key clients comprise active investment funds and prominent companies operating in China that focus on investments in TMT companies. Don Williams led advice to Grab on its series G financing; he also acted for FunPlus Global Holding in the non-PRC legal aspects of the sale of the DianDian mobile game business to Century Huatong Group, which included tax and structuring issues and regulatory compliance. Tony Mou is also a key contact and is recommended alongside Cheng Xu and Michael Zhang, who were recently promoted to the partnership.

Sullivan & Cromwell has a strong track record of working with leading private equity funds. It recently acted for Fiera Capital Corporation, a publicly-traded, independent investment management firm, in its definitive agreement to acquire Clearwater Capital Partners from affiliates of Clearwater’s founders. The principal advisors are Beijing managing partner Gwen Wong, along with Hong Kong managing partner Chun Wei, Garth Bray, Michael DeSombre and Kay Ian Ng.

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