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China > Projects and energy > Foreign firms > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Projects and energy: foreign firms
  2. Other recommended firms
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Yvonne Ho - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Xiaohui Ji - Linklaters
    • Monica Sun - Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Ronan Diot - Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I.
    • Zhibin Fan - Ashurst
    • Daniel Lau - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Jianbin Wang - Linklaters
    • Li Wei - Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
    • Emma Zhang - Ashurst

Who Represents Who

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Allen & Overy LLP’s focus is on project finance transactions, as well as assisting with corporate, capital markets, regulatory, antitrust and contentious matters involving the energy sector. The client base includes export credit agencies, multilateral development banks, financiers (including state-owned Chinese banks), project sponsors and developers. Beijing-based senior finance partner Yvonne Ho led the advice to China Three Gorges International Corporation in relation to the Pakistan hydro project in Karot. In Shanghai, banking and finance partner Matthew Bisley, who is particularly experienced in energy matters, acted for multilateral lender Asian Development Bank in loan facilities for CT Environmental Group, a Chinese environmental protection business. Bisley is ‘always ready to jump on a call to talk through the issues, understand banks’ concerns, and offer options and solutions’. In Beijing, Victor Ho and counsel Daniel Lau are also key contacts, while in Hong Kong, Roger Lui and Matthew Gearing are recommended. Ling Li (also in Hong Kong) has a practice that revolves predominantly around advising Chinese energy companies on their outbound activities.

Clifford Chance LLP stands out for complex cross-border financings; for example, the practice was lead counsel and English counsel to China Development Bank, as lender, during its high-value oil-backed term facility to Petróleo Brasileiro-Petrobras. It also acted for Chinese mandated lead arrangers, Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, in the $1.6bn limited recourse project financing of an oil shale-fired mine mouth power plant in Jordan. Other work of note included assisting China Export-Import Bank with the high-value financing for the development of coal-fired power plant projects in Indonesia. Jiahua Ni, who divides time between Shanghai and Beijing, focuses on significant outbound financings for major Chinese banks, including export credit finance, project finance, structured finance and general corporate finance. In Beijing, recently promoted finance partner Timothy Democratis is also highly rated, as are Hong Kong lawyers Maggie Lo, banking and finance partner Dauwood Malik and consultant Vicky Ma; the latter relocated from London to Hong Kong in 2016.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s energy practice is highly rated for its experience in oil and gas, power, mining, and nuclear and renewable energy; and it regularly assists with M&A deals, project development, project financing, construction issues and related disputes. Recent highlights include acting for Silk Road Fund in the acquisition of a minority stake in Sibur, Russia’s largest gas processing and petrochemical conglomerate. It also assisted Beijing Gas Group with a cooperation agreement and an agreement to acquire 20% of Verkhnechonskneftegaz from Rosneft. Beijing-based Monica Sun and Hong Kong-based lawyers Hilary Lau and Danila Logofet are key names. Fergus Smith left for White & Case.

Linklaters recently hired Andrew Ruff, who is well known for energy infrastructure investments and project finance deals, and Crystal Chen from Shearman & Sterling LLP. The firm also promoted Jianbin Wang to managing associate. The practice has significant energy sector expertise as well as experience in infrastructure matters. It acted for CDB, ICBC and CCB, and a group of Pakistani banks, in the project financing of a $1.95bn coal mine and pit mouth coal-fired power project in Pakistan. Xiaohui Ji is highly rated for PRC project finance matters and has very strong relationships with major Chinese financiers. Also noted are Stuart Salt, who advises on a range of corporate and finance matters, and James McLaren, who has extensive experience in advising lenders and sponsors on project and structured financings, project developments, and transactional matters such as joint ventures, acquisitions and disposals.

Norton Rose Fulbright acts for sponsors and lenders in project finance matters; highlights included acting for the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Angola in several Chinese bank financings, including a high-value Sinosure-backed financing for the construction of the largest power project in Angolan history; it also advised a consortium on the bid, development, construction and financing of a coal-fired project in Pakistan. Tom Luckock specialises in both inbound and outbound projects in the power, infrastructure and water sectors; Barbara Li acts for Chinese and international sponsors in the corporate and construction aspects of power and oil and gas matters; Beijing office head Wang Yi advises Chinese sponsors on natural resources project acquisitions; and project finance specialist Paul Wee Ei Don has a particular focus on the mining and metals, oil and gas, power, and infrastructure sectors. Other recommended advisers include Fei Kwok, and Peter Haslam, who heads the Hong Kong banking and finance team.

Baker Botts L.L.P. is well known for its energy and natural resources expertise, particularly in relation to upstream and midstream projects. In a headline transaction, the team acted for Halliburton in its $34.6bn proposed acquisition of Baker Hughes. Beijing-based Jeff Layman’s experience includes advising sponsors and lenders on projects involving thermal power, waste-to-energy, coal gasification, wind energy and wastewater treatment facilities. The recommended names are Russell Wilkinson, Michael Arruda and Joanne Du. Phillip Georgiou has left the firm to set up a boutique practice.

Baker McKenzie FenXun Joint Operation Office fields lawyers with expertise in cross-border transactions involving roads, ports, airports, rail, water and wastewater facilities, and telecoms infrastructure. Other areas of strength include power, oil and gas, petrochemicals, mining and metals, and renewable energy, and the team recently acted for IDG Energy Investment Group in its $278m acquisition of oil and gas assets. Stanley Jia is the chief representative of the Beijing office, and has extensive experience in foreign indirect investment projects in China, particularly those involving the energy and oil and gas sectors. Bee Chun Boo and Simon Leung are other key Beijing names. Chief representative of the Shanghai office Danian Zhang is also recommended, as is Barry Cheng, who co-heads the firm’s banking and finance practice in China and Hong Kong.

Shearman & Sterling LLP has strong relationships with many of China’s state-owned enterprises and financial institutions, and increasingly acts for multilateral development banks and export credit agencies. It advised Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and other lenders on the proposed financing of a 930MW coal-fired power plant in Kenya. Xiaogang (Sean) Wang divides his time between Hong Kong and Beijing, while project development and finance partner Andrew Ruff joined Linklaters’ Shanghai office.

Regularly acting for Chinese companies and lenders, White & Case LLP is highly rated for oil and gas projects. The firm’s China outbound investment experience in Africa and Latin America is also a draw, as is its track record in the Chinese water infrastructure space. Recent matters saw the team act for Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries in the development, construction and financing of a $2bn petrochemical complex in Kazakhstan. In Beijing, Hallam Chow’s practice is focused on project financing, structured financing and joint ventures in the energy, infrastructure and oil and gas sectors, and David Li is ‘quick to provide commercial solutions, as well as being responsive and flexible with fee arrangements’. Former group leader Xiaoming Li left for Han Kun Law Offices.

Experienced in advising project sponsors and lenders, Ashurst has a highly rated project finance practice, with particular strength in the transport, power, natural resources and leisure sectors. It acted for a syndicate of lenders, comprising Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and other Chinese financial institutions, in the provision of a term loan facility of over $4bn to the Republic of Angola to finance the construction of a hydroelectric power project. Chin Chuan Chen, who divides time between Singapore and Beijing, is experienced in energy and financing transactions throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe. Counsel Emma Zhang in Beijing is noted for banking and project finance work in the power, resources and infrastructure (including rail) sectors.

The ‘very professional’ team at DLA Piper’s ‘provides both legal advice and commercial solutions’. The firm recently hired former Ashurst partner Matthias Schemuth, who is experienced in project finance, particularly in the oil and gas, LNG, petrochemical, metal and mining sectors. The group regularly advises on high-profile, cross-border M&A and project financing transactions; for example, it advised China Shenhua Energy Company, a Chinese coal mining state-owned enterprise, on the tendering, development, financing, construction, management and operation of a power plant in Indonesia. China energy head Carolyn Dong is ‘easy to communicate with and has outstanding professional skills’, Paul Lee is Asia finance and projects head, of counsel Lijie Han is experienced in advising Chinese state-owned companies, and Simin Yu assists international and Chinese energy companies with M&A deals and project development matters.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s China projects and infrastructure practice assists lenders, investors and sponsors with the full lifespan of projects, including greenfield development, PPP, M&A and financings, as well as restructuring issues, funds matters and disputes. Beijing office managing partner Jun Wei, together with the firm’s Singapore office, acted for CDB in the $1.4bn on-lending financing of a potash project in Belarus. Michael Zou is a highly rated of counsel.

Jones Day’s energy practice handles upstream and downstream oil and gas, LNG, renewable energy, mining and power instructions, as well as energy-sector capital markets mandates. The projects practice covers development, financing, construction and operation issues. In Beijing, Dirk Walker focuses on cross-border M&A, oil and gas transactions and project development, and Dina Yin, and Jessie Tang are other key names. Angel Huang, in Shanghai, is highly rated, as are Hong Kong-based lawyers Ben McQuhae, Graham Lim and Maria Tan Pedersen. Kanyi Lui joined the Beijing office from Hogan Lovells International LLP; he advised Bank of China on a facility for a solid waste-to-energy incinerator project in Thailand. Former Beijing partner in charge John Kao left the firm.

Latham & Watkins LLP regularly acts for Chinese and international clients in major energy transactions in Asia. Recent highlights include advising a consortium of three state-owned Indian oil and gas companies on its acquisition from Rosneft of a 29.9% working interest in the Taas-Yuriakh licenses in Eastern Siberia. Shanghai office managing partner Rowland Cheng is highly rated and Hong Kong-based David Blumental is experienced in project development and financing, and private equity investments that focus on upstream oil and gas, LNG and mining. Other notable advisers include Benjamin Carale, Posit Laohaphan, Ji Liu and Joseph Bevash, who divides his time between Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLPprovides the best possible legal representation clients could ask for and the firm can always assemble a team that has in-depth industry knowledge’. It has particular sector strength in power, energy, and natural resources, with a geographical focus on North America, Latin America, Middle East and the Asia Pacific region. The team acted for the lenders in the $910m acquisition financing to HNA Aviation (Hong Kong) Ground Handling Holdings Co. In Beijing, the ‘knowledgeable, responsive and very personable’ Shepard Liu handles large-scale energy, natural resources, power and infrastructure projects around the world, and senior associate Li Wei is ‘a forward-thinking lawyer, who provides tenacious representation and obtains outstanding results’. Desiree Woo is a key Hong Kong of counsel.

Pinsent Masons is well known for energy and infrastructure project mandates. Ellen Zhang in Beijing advises large Chinese companies on overseas projects; and Hong Kong’s John Yeap is recommended for finance, transactional and regulatory advice concerning energy and infrastructure projects. Other notable advisers include counsel Longfei Wang and senior associate Sunday Wang (both in Beijing).

Simmons & Simmons acts for energy and natural resources clients in corporate and M&A matters, projects, capital markets, finance and insurance matters. Sector specific advice also extends to employment law, IP and IT, and dispute resolution. Beijing-based Eric Lin assisted Shell International with the high-value development of a petrochemical project, as a part of a joint venture with CNOOC. Ian Wood is a key Hong Kong contact.

Vinson & Elkins LLP is highly rated for its experience in cross-border transactions involving the oil and gas sector. Beijing and Hong Kong managing partner Jay Kolb, who is recommended for major energy M&A, project development and finance transactions across Asia, Europe, South America, the Middle East and the US, advised CNOOC on certain aspects of its LNG shipping, trading, re-gasification and gas transportation arrangements in mainland China. Former China practice head Xiao Yong and Nicholas Song joined Dechert LLP.

Dechert LLP grew its practice through the hire of Vinson & Elkins LLP’ former China practice head Xiao Yong and Nicholas Song in its Hong Kong and Beijing offices, respectively. The team is experienced in advising energy companies on their cross-border transactions involving the US, Middle East and Asia, and regularly works alongside the firm’s corporate and dispute resolution groups.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s scope of practice covers power and energy utilities, oil and gas, mining and metals, and low carbon energy. Among recent work highlights, the team advised PetroChina Company on its consolidation of three pipeline operators into PetroChina Pipelines Co. The key contacts are Alan Wang, Richard Wang and Jack Wang.

Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I.’s expertise includes energy, mining, real estate and infrastructure projects. Although the firm is well known for its French client base, it also acts for other multinational European companies as well as Chinese SOEs. The team recently advised Vallourec on its acquisition of 50.61% of the entire issued share capital of Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed Anhui Tianda Oil Pipe Co, a Chinese seamless pipe manufacturer. In Shanghai, Fan Jiannian is ‘responsive and has a very clear understanding of European companies’ business in China’. In Beijing, Guo Min is a key name and Ronan Diot is a highly rated counsel.

Morrison & Foerster LLP’s practice is particularly experienced in outbound work. Beijing managing partner Paul McKenzie is noted for his advice to international and Chinese corporations on resource development projects and real estate development projects, while Sherry Yin is recommended for her experience in energy matters, particularly cleantech issues.

Sidley Austin LLP advises energy clients on a broad array of issues, including equity and debt capital markets, M&A, regulatory matters, dispute resolution and arbitration, and restructurings. Beijing-based Lan Tao’s experience includes significant outbound transactions in the oil and gas, mining, energy and infrastructure sectors.

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