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Editorial

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

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Allen & Overy LLP leverages its expertise in project finance, corporate transactional work and dispute resolution to service its project funder and SOE client base throughout the entirety of a project's life cycle. The One Belt One Road initiative has created a flurry of activity for the department in jurisdictions including Pakistan, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Europe and South America. Indeed, Yvonne Ho advised Bank of China on the provision of a $1bn+ loan for the acquisition of the Chaglla power plant in Peru, and acted for China Three Gorges International Corporation in relation to the $1.7bn financing of a power project in Pakistan. Additionally, Ho and Ling Li advised engineering and development companies in connection with major power and energy projects in Africa and the Middle East. The team is also has experience in the transport infrastructure space, where it is advising Bank of Communications on the financing of a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport. Matthew Bisley is another contact in the project finance practice, and partners in the Hong Kong office are often instructed in multijurisdictional energy sector disputes. Other key clients include Silk Road Fund, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and State Grid International Development. Daniel Lau left the firm for Ashurst.

The team at Clifford Chance LLP is regularly instructed by China's most active commercial and policy banks in relation to high-value project finance mandates. Of late, outbound financing has primarily occurred in connection with One Belt One Road projects, which has brought the team instructions involving projects in Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. Indeed, Jiahua Ni advises China Development Bank on a huge variety of project finance mandates, which has recently including the provision of a $1.5bn term loan for the construction of a power station in South Africa, and separately the provision of a $1.8bn loan to finance the acquisition of a stake in two onshore oil blocks in the UAE, which are the largest onshore oil blocks in the world. Ni also assisted the client with a $5bn loan to Petróleo Brasileiro for the purpose of financing long-term oil exports to China; this was the second $5bn loan agreement between the two parties in the past two years. Other names to note include Hong Kong-based Maggie Lo, counsel Vicky Ma, who splits time between Hong Kong and the mainland, and Timothy Democratis, who focuses more broadly on banking and finance mandates. Additional clients include The Export-Import Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and China CITIC Bank International.

For some clients, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is 'a notch above its regional competition', bringing together 'deep industry knowledge and seamless communication across its network' to advise SOEs and investors on power and energy projects around the globe. In the Beijing Office, Monica Sun focuses on acting for Chinese SOEs including China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation, which she is advising, as joint venture partner, on its investment in a power project in Bangladesh. Sun has also acted for Sinohydro Corporation in relation to a number of power projects in various continents. The team assisted The Export-Import Bank of China with its loan agreement with the Hungarian government in connection with an upgrade of the Belgrade-Budapest railway. Another key contact in the mainland is Ellen Zhang, who joined the team from Pinsent Masons  and specialises in Chinese PPP projects and outbound investment. In the Hong Kong office, Hilary Lau handles energy, telecoms and urban development projects, and Danila Logofet is acting for the project company in relation to a significant gas processing project.

Linklaters' China projects team is best known for advising Chinese bank lenders on some of the country's most significant cross-border projects. The firm's track record in One Belt One Road projects has been widely recognised in the Chinese market, which has brought instructions not only from commercial and policy banks, but also from Chinese SOEs and sponsors including State Grid Corporation of China, Sinochem and China National Offshore Oil Corporation. The projects team has been involved in a huge number of multibillion-dollar project financing transactions, among these is standout highlight, the Yamal LNG project; Xiaohui Ji acting alongside colleagues in Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan, advised all of the lenders on the nearly $20bn project financing for the development of an LNG plant in Russia where Chinese bank lending accounted for over 60% of the total financing. The team acted for a syndicate of lenders including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Development Bank and China Construction Bank in relation to the financing of one of the largest coal-fired IPP projects along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Andrew Ruff is another key figure in the mainland team and managing associate Jianbin Wang is also recommended. Hong Kong contacts include Stuart Salt and counsel Crystal Chen.

With expertise in project finance and development, Norton Rose Fulbright advises Chinese lenders and investors on cross-border power and infrastructure projects, and also acts for international developers and lenders in their involvement in PRC projects. Tom Luckock has expertise in renewable and conventional energy projects, where he is most often acting for the project company but also advises funders. Fei Kwok advised Chinese bank lenders on project finance mandates in Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia, and Barbara Li handled investment transactions in relation to a number of energy and infrastructure projects. Moreover, Paul Wee Ei Don has particular expertise in advising Chinese financiers on oil and gas projects in Venezuela. The team also handles transport infrastructure projects.

Ashurst's Greater China projects team is widely recognised for its involvement in high-profile outbound project financing mandates, where it acts for a variety of domestic and international bank lenders. Among the group's stand-out work in 2017-2018, a large cross-office team advised China Development Bank on the provision of loans for the development of the Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Rail project; at roughly $5bn, this is the largest infrastructure project in Indonesia's history, and is also the country's very first high speed rail project. Department head Chin Chuan Chen, who splits his time between the mainland and Singapore, has also been involved in high-value lending transactions in the areas of mining, power and urban modernisation. Indeed, additional work has included Chen advising China Development Bank on term loan to upgrade a large network of urban and township roads in Zambia, and also acting for a syndicate of Chinese lenders in connection with a term loan of over $4bn to finance the construction of a hydroelectric plant in Angola. Counsel Emma Zhang and senior associate Zhibin Fan are also recommended.

Working across its Beijing and Hong Kong offices, the team at Baker Botts L.L.P. specialises in advising project sponsors and energy companies on upstream and midstream oil and gas-related mandates spanning project development, corporate and M&A, finance and disputes. An example of the group's work includes advising an international China-focused energy company on a joint venture agreement with multiple Chinese oil companies. The group assisted the same client with the acquisition of a controlling stake in its Hong Kong-listed partner. The Hong Kong team acted for oil and gas companies in relation to significant oil and gas transactions involving Indonesia. Key figures in the team include Michael Arruda, Joanne Du, Russell Wilkinson and senior associate Neil Macdonald. The team is primarily based in Hong Kong, but also spends a portion of time in the Beijing office.

With strengths in corporate joint ventures and M&A, finance and dispute resolution, Baker McKenzie FenXun advises sponsors and lenders across the full life cycle of transport infrastructure, mining, oil and gas, renewable energy and power generation projects. Key figures in the Beijing office include Bee Chun Boo and Stanley Jia, both of whom have acted for Chinese SOEs in relation to transactions in the mining and hydroelectric power sectors. The partners in the firm's mainland offices work in conjunction with the Hong Kong team, which includes Simon Leung and Barry Cheng. Hong Kong-led work included advising a Chinese bank lender on the provision of a development loan in connection with an oil and gas project in Africa.

Mayer Brown took significant steps to build its Greater China projects and energy practice with the recruitment of Hallam Chow, who joined the firm from White & Case LLP and now heads the China projects team. Chow has considerable experience advising Chinese and regional lenders on domestic and cross-border finance and development matters, and has also been instructed by energy and utility companies in relation to strategically important energy and infrastructure projects. The firm also took on senior associate Boya Shen, who worked with Chow at White & Case LLP and has advised lenders, sponsors and investment funds on a variety of domestic and cross-border development projects. Based in Beijing, the team is involved in multiple market-first projects including a significant road project in East Africa and a large-scale telecoms project in Central Asia. The team acts for many of the major Chines bank lenders and has also been instructed by energy and utility companies such as China Water, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and ChemChina.

Following some high-profile lateral hires in 2017, Dechert LLP has become a serious player in Greater China's oil and gas sector. The department includes Nicholas Song and Xiao Yong, who advised Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation on its proposed divestment of oil assets in Argentina. Yong, who splits his time between Beijing and Hong Kong, is particularly active in China's burgeoning LNG sector, though the team also has experience in energy production outside of oil and gas. One of the group's most significant matters involved the first-ever civil nuclear cooperation between the US and China, in which Yong assisted TerraPower with the formation of a joint venture with China National Nuclear Corporation for the development of certain nuclear technology to promote the growth of clean energy. Additional clients include Silk Road Fund, MIE Holdings Corporation and a number of Chinese SOEs.

Acting across the Beijing and Hong Kong offices, DLA Piper has been engaged in a considerable number of projects under the One Belt One Road initiative, where the team acts for Chinese sponsors and international banks and investors. In one example, Hong Kong-based Matthias Schemuth is advising an investment manager on an investment in a foreign energy company and the subsequent financing of upstream oil and gas projects in several African jurisdictions. The team is also particularly active in Indonesia-facing projects, where Carolyn Dong is acting for China Shenhua Energy Company in relation to the development, financing, construction and operation of a $1.8bn power plant in the Jawa 7 project; she is also assisting the client with a separate, similar tendering for the Sumsel-1 power project. Dong also handles asset and M&A transactions for clients in the energy sector, which has included advising ENN Ecological Holdings (China's largest private natural gas company) on its $750m acquisition of a stake in Australian energy company Santos. Simin Yu is an active senior associate in the Shanghai office.

Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. advises many of France's largest energy and infrastructure companies on their activities in China, and also assists private Chinese project companies and SOEs with investment and development mandates in Africa. In 2017-2018, the group handled an increasing flow of transport, communications and port infrastructure projects throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Department head Min Guo has experience in inbound and outbound investment matters, and has particular expertise in tax-driven corporate transactions for European project companies. Other key contacts in the Beijing office include counsel Ronan Diot and Xi Chen, who was recently promoted to counsel. Aluminum Corporation of China is among the team's domestic clients, while international clients include well-known energy and utility companies such as Engie.

Hogan Lovells International LLP is highly sought after for Chinese outbound investment transactions in emerging markets such as Africa, Latin America and Central and Southeast Asia. Jointly led by Jun Wei and counsel Michael Zou, the mainland team is primarily focused on M&A, investment and EPC agreements in the energy and infrastructure sector, where it is instructed by investors and domestic lenders, SOEs and other Chinese companies. The team is also active in project finance mandates, where Wei advised China Development Bank on a number of matters including the financing for the Dhaka Elevated Express Way in Bangladesh, and the $1.6bn financing for the Astana Light Rail project in Kazakhstan. The team also assisted inbound investors from jurisdictions such as Latin America with the development of energy projects in China.

Latham & Watkins LLP is well-known in Southeast Asia for its work in both clean energy and oil and gas projects. The team has been particularly active in projects under the One Belt One Road umbrella, where it has been involved in projects in Central and Southeast Asia, and has even been active in Europe. Department head David Blumental is based in the firm's Hong Kong office and is instructed by Chinese investors as well as a litany of domestic project companies such as Harbin Electric International and China Energy Reserve and Chemicals Group Company. In one matter, Blumental and senior consultant Peng Yi advised Shenhua Group Corporation on the establishment of a cross-border joint venture for the research, development and production of solar energy equipment. The team also assisted China-Africa Industrial Capacity Cooperation Fund with a co-investment in Banro Resources' operation of gold mines in Congo.

Milbank is 'an outstanding finance firm, globally' and provides 'an extremely high standard of service in the Chinese market'. The Beijing team primarily acts for Chinese bank lenders in relation to real estate and infrastructure projects, while the Singapore-based group (an integral part of the firm's Greater China practice) brings in a mix of lender and sponsor side clients. The key figure in the Beijing office is Shepard Liu, 'a personable, energetic and creative lawyer', who assisted a major Chinese lender with project finance mandates in jurisdictions including Indonesia and Eastern Europe. Additional contacts include Guannan Wang, 'a tenacious senior associate', who joined the firm from White & Case LLP's UK projects team, and Singapore-based James Murray, who has experience acting for Chinese lenders and Southeast Asian project companies. The Export-Import Bank of China and China Development Bank are among the team's bank side clients.

Shearman & Sterling LLP has strong relationships with a number of SOEs and domestic lenders and has thus been involved in high-priority projects, including One Belt One Road projects, throughout Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. On the sponsor side, Sean Wang is advising Shanghai Electric Power Generation Group on the development of a $2bn mine mouth power project along the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. On the bank side, Wang is acting for a consortium of lenders including China Development Bank in relation to the $2bn financing of Vinh Tan 3 project in Vietnam. Claude Jiang, who is an active associate in the Shanghai office, acted alongside the firm's Singapore-based team in the financing of a key project in China's One Belt One Road initiative.

At Simmons & Simmons, partners in the Beijing and Hong Kong offices lead the firm's China-focused energy sector work. Beijing-based Eric Lin focuses on M&A, investment and financing mandates in the mining and energy sectors, while Vivien Yang, who is based in the Hong Kong office, has particular expertise in LNG projects, where she acts for SOEs and other project sponsors. In addition to having handled a number of significant M&A in the mining sector, Lin is acting for a Chinese power engineering company in relation to the development of certain renewable projects in Europe. The Beijing team also advised PowerChina International on its acquisition of an 80% stake in an Italian engineering company that specialises in underground works. China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation features in its new client list.

Spread across the firm's offices ranging from Beijing to Sydney, White & Case LLP's regional energy, infrastructure and project finance group is involved in outbound project financing and investment, and also handles corporate finance and M&A within the energy and mining sectors. Working in conjunction with the firm's global network, Beijing-based David Li is advising a syndicate of lenders on the development financing of an oil and gas project in Africa. Additional contacts include Eugene Man, who practices in the Hong Kong office, and is instructed by Chinese and international lenders. Clients include China Three Gorges Corporation. The Greater China group took a hit in 2018 with Hallam Chow leaving to head Mayer Brown's projects team.

Eversheds Sutherland has experience with corporate joint ventures and outbound investments in the power and energy sector, and is regularly involved in large-scale global energy transactions alongside the firm's international network. The key figure in the Beijing group is Jay Ze, who advised China National Nuclear Power Corporation on a variety of issues including the establishment of a joint venture research and innovation centre with the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory. Ze also assisted a Chinese-listed new energy company with the set-up of a joint venture with one of the largest renewable energy companies in India. The team has been involved in projects across Southeast Asia and also in South America, where it advised a Chinese sovereign wealth fund on an investment into certain transmission line assets in Brazil. Additional SOE clients include Harbin Electric International, CGN New Energy Holdings, China State Energy Engineering Corporation and China National Petroleum Corporation.

Jones Day's Beijing-based banking and finance group advises Chinese commercial and policy banks on a range of cross-border financing mandates including commodity and project finance. Kanyi Lui has acted for China Development Bank, Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in relation to One Belt One Road projects in Africa and Southeast Asia, and advised on energy and infrastructure financing projects in the US. Another name to note is Bruce Schulberg, who divides his time between the Singapore and Beijing offices. The China-facing projects team took a hit in 2017-2018 with the departures of Dirk Walker and Ben McQuhae, the latter of whom joined GPS Legal LLP in Hong Kong.

The team at Morrison & Foerster LLP has long-standing experience in the Chinese market, where it advises domestic and international project companies and organisations on inbound and outbound work in the mining and clean energy sectors. Paul McKenzie and Sherry Yin are key figures in the Beijing team, which has been instructed by clients such as Eldorado Gold and China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group. The practice group handles energy sector arbitration out of the Hong Kong office, and has also worked with major US-based clients seeking to enter the Chinese market.

The finance and projects department at Pinsent Masons provides 'high-quality and competitively priced service' from its Hong Kong office, where the team is involved in projects throughout Southeast Asia, including China. Headed by John Yeap, the team advised a Chinese utility company on an investment in an oil and gas project in the Middle East, and is also acting for a domestic EPC contractor in relation to a power project in Africa. Yeap has also been involved in numerous projects in Vietnam. Mark Hu, who has experience in construction law, is also recommended. Ellen Zhang left the firm for Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

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