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Hong Kong > Antitrust and competition > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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  1. Antitrust and competition
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Next Generation Partners

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Benefiting from ‘excellent competition law knowledge, particularly in the telecoms arena’, Baker McKenzie has been well-positioned to leverage this longstanding experience in the telecoms industry (the only sector to be previously affected by competition laws in Hong Kong prior to the 2015 Competition Ordinance) to be at the forefront of the nascent competition laws within the country. Team head Stephen Crosswell has ‘excellent real-life local experience’ and is consequently a vital resource for clients seeking to navigate the nuances not only of the new local competition law regime but also across other Asian jurisdictions – including China, where it is able to deal directly with the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (MOFCOM) by dint of the firm’s joint operation with the mainland China-based FenXun Partners. Crosswell led, alongside FenXun Partners, on the merger control aspects of Murata Manufacturing's $155m acquisition of Sony's battery business. In addition to his high-profile merger control practice, Croswell also benefits from higher rights of audience, affording him the ability to appear before the Competition Tribunal and Appeal Courts. As well as handling numerous non-public investigations on behalf of Hong Kong corporates, he continues to represent British Telecom in its defence against the first prosecution brought by the Hong Kong Competition Commission. Special counsel Thomas Jenkins has a flourishing reputation in the market for both contentious and non-contentious matters; he continues to play a key role, alongside Crosswell, on behalf of British Telecom as one of the respondents in the bid-rigging case brought by the Competition Commission. Other clients include FedEx, Platinum Equity and Aston Martin.

Led out of Hong Kong by Alastair Mordaunt and often working closely with specialist competition lawyers in Beijing, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer    excels at handling pan-Asian merger control matters. Benefiting from experience in private practice as well as many years in the public sector (he served as a director in the UK's Office of Fair Trading's dedicated competition enforcement group), Mourdant has an 'excellent' global perspective across different competition regimes. Leveraging the firm’s outstanding corporate and private equity transactional credentials, the team is regularly called upon to provide Asian merger clearance advice in big-ticket M&A mandates handled by the firm. Mourdant recently provided antitrust clearance advice to Japan Tobacco International in relation to two separate, high-value and strategically important acquisitions in Asia. In a rare example of purely domestic antitrust transactional work (falling as it did within the telecoms sector, the only sector in Hong Kong impacted by antitrust regulations), Mourdant also recently successfully guided Hutchinson Telecommunications Hong Kong through the myriad antitrust complications associated with the $1.86bn sale of its fixed-line business to private equity sponsor I Squared Capital. Splitting his time between the firm’s Beijing, London and Hong Kong offices, Nicholas French is also recommended.

'One of the best in Hong Kong for antitrust law advice', Linklaters provides 'practical and commercial advice that helps to move the needle on matters' on behalf of an impressive roster of clients including Glencore, Goldman Sachs, Advent International and CK Hutchinson. Able to leverage the resources of the firm's wide-ranging network of offices, including lawyers based in China with significant competition law prowess, the team excels in matters involving expertise across numerous competition regimes including complex cross-border merger clearance work. Team head Clara Ingen-Housz is praised for her 'ability to see the wood from the trees and to offer practical and commercial advice based on real business objectives'. Utilising practical enforcement insights from her time spent at the European Commission’s Legal Service, as well as US antitrust law experience as a result of numerous years spent at leading New York law firms, Ingen-Housz brings a well-rounded perspective to litigation emanating from Hong Kong's nascent Competition Commission, and has been involved in a number of its initial cases. For example, she continues to defend Innovix in the first enforcement case taken to the Competition Tribunal by the Hong Kong Competition Commission. She is also representing a company in one of the country's first abuse of dominance investigations. 'Able to leverage his experience while at the Hong Kong Competition Commission', managing associate Marcus Pollard is also a key resource in the team and is praised for his 'balanced and commercially sensible advice'. On the non-contentious front, as well as regularly handling general strategic compliance advice for major international corporates, the team also regularly provides Asian merger clearance advice on big-ticket M&A matters.

Led out of Hong Kong and able to draw on practitioners with considerable competition law expertise across the firm's Asian network, Norton Rose Fulbright is well-placed to assist domestic and international clients with their Hong Kong-specific and pan-Asian antitrust issues in both transactional and litigation contexts. Rated by one client as 'one of the most effective antitrust lawyers in the market', team head Marc Waha is a pivotal presence on the highest-profile work handled by the firm in the region. Although he has expertise across the spectrum of industry sectors, Waha has developed a particular niche acting for aviation clients on establishing complex joint ventures and alliance agreements across Asia. Of counsel Maxime Vanhollebeke is also a key member of the team, providing expertise to international companies on emerging antitrust regimes in East Asia and regularly acting for Asian companies across global competition compliance issues.

Headed out of Hong Kong by of counsel François Renard, the ‘knowledgeable and adaptable’ team at Allen & Overy is a vital part of an integrated Asia-Pacific antitrust offering that provides ‘excellent service’ to clients on inbound, outbound and regional matters relating to merger control, anti-competitive agreements, abuses of dominant position and antitrust compliance. Leveraging the firm's market-leading global corporate brand, unsurprisingly the firm receives a significant pipeline of work from institutional clients of the firm on their M&A activity and excels at handling matters that involve complex consideration and coordination of different jurisdictional merger regulations. Clients include Brocade and Hyundai Merchant Marine.

Led by Adam Ferguson, Eversheds Sutherland has garnered particular visibility as a result of its contentious work within the telecoms sector, where a key client remains The Communications Authority. Alongside head of litigation Mark Yeadon, Ferguson is representing the regulator in judicial review proceedings brought by Hong Kong Telecommunications challenging The Communications Authority's decision not to approve its application to challenge the technical standard used under its mobile carrier licence. The team is also picking up a significant amount of competition work within the aviation sector, including its recent work for a major international airline on the production of a bespoke competition law e-learning programme to be provided to all airline employees globally. Consultant Charlie Markillie is also recommended. Other clients include Johnson Controls, Chow Tai Fook and Juniper Networks.

Gibson Dunn handles a balanced mix of litigation, M&A clearance and government investigations for clients from an array of industry sectors including transport, energy, telecoms and pharmaceuticals. SÊbastien Evrard has an excellent pedigree in the market and handles inbound and outbound competition work within Asia and the EU, including merger control and abuse of dominance and cartels, in addition to antitrust-related investigations and litigation. The recent increase in size of the firm's private equity transactional practice following the arrival of several partners from Ropes & Gray LLP is also likely to lead to an increase in merger control mandates.

The 'very responsive and commercial' team at Herbert Smith Freehills has 'in-depth knowledge' of the nascent Hong Kong competition regime, as well as of numerous other competition regimes throughout Southeast Asia including those of the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam. 'Very client-focused' team head Mark Jephcott has 'a thorough knowledge of the latest legal developments and trends' and, as well as acting for clients accused of cartel and abuse-of-dominance violations, has handled the competition law aspects of numerous major M&A transactions, including acting for I Squared Capital Advisers on the competition law aspects of its acquisition of Hutchison Telecommunications' fixed line business. 'Very attentive and responsive' senior associate Adelaide Luke has 'excellent technical knowledge' in relation to the Hong Kong and China competition regimes, as well as on behalf of Asian clients on the application of EU and UK competition laws.

Led out of Hong Kong by Neil Carabine and able to leverage the resources of competition lawyers based across its mainland China, Australia and European offices, King & Wood Mallesons is able to seamlessly handle domestic and cross-border antitrust matters. Appointed to the Hong Kong Competition Commission's litigation panel, the firm has advised the domestic competition watchdog on several matters, including a case brought against numerous decoration contractors that allegedly took part in anti-competitive behaviour. Carabine is particularly well-known for his telecoms sector expertise, and, in this regard, as well as handling general compliance and advisory work and M&A clearance matters, he also picks up mandates as a result of the firm's appointment to the Office of Communications Authority's litigation panel. Other clients include Blueair, Turner and The Sherwin-Williams Company. Counsel James Wilkinson is also recommended.

Co-headed by Hannah Ha and John Hickin, Mayer Brown's two-partner Hong Kong team is a pivotal practice that provides a coordinated service, alongside other Asian offices, to clients from a range of industry sectors including real estate, telecoms and manufacturing on their pan-Asian competition law concerns. Leveraging the firm’s strong global corporate M&A practice, the team is a vital resource for clients on accompanying merger control clearance work. Particularly accomplished on the advisory front, Ha is well-versed in the changing complexion of antitrust law in Hong Kong and other Asian jurisdictions, and is well-regarded by clients for successfully handling a range of M&A merger clearance matters, general compliance work and advisory assistance. Leveraging his broad-ranging litigation skills, Hickin is more focused on contentious antitrust matters and has represented numerous clients in investigations initiated by the Hong Kong Competition Commission.

Working closely with lawyers in Beijing and supported by the full weight of the firm's international competition team across its global offices, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is well-equipped to represent clients with merger control approvals for international transactions. Headed by newly promoted partner Andrew Foster, the team is often an integral part of a multi-office approach on big-ticket M&A transactions generated by the firm's market-leading US corporate practice, and has been involved in numerous difficult transactions coming before MOFCOM, including several matters that secured conditional approvals. Foster is particularly accomplished at handling merger control matters in the technology and telecoms sectors; he recently successfully secured MOFCOM approval for NXP on its $47bn acquisition by Qualcomm and for HP on its $1bn acquisition of Samsung’s printing business. Other recent highlights include securing Asian antitrust clearance for DuPont on its $130bn merger with Dow, and for medical device manufacturer Becton Dickinson on its recent $24bn acquisition of C.R. Bard.

‘Very professional and up-to-date on trends’, Slaughter and May provides ‘practical and user-friendly’ advice to international clients from a range of industry sectors, including heavily regulated areas such as financial services, telecoms and public utilities. Splitting her time between Hong Kong and Beijing, ‘experienced and skilled’ team head Natalie Yeung spearheads the firm’s Asian competition team, which frequently works alongside leading firms across the relevant jurisdictions on purely pan-Asian specific deals, as well as with competition lawyers from the firm’s London and Brussels offices on multi-jurisdictional deals requiring EU competition law input. Receiving standalone mandates as well as drawing on the firm’s impressive international roster of investment-grade corporate clients, the team is particularly accomplished at handling merger control mandates. ‘Bright, friendly and thorough’ associate Paddy Law is also recommended.

With the addition of a full-time competition lawyer following Peter Westerlind Wigstrom's arrival from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in August 2017, and the addition of an in-house competition economist following Sharon Pang's arrival in April 2018, Deacons now has a very credible offering and is able to provide 'exceptional service' across the gamut of issues including antitrust litigation (involving abuse of substantial market power, vertical restraints and cartel behaviour), merger reviews, investigations by the Hong Kong Competition Commission, advice on competition issues related to a wide variety of business practices, contractual provisions, and cross-border and domestic transactions. Praised for her 'pragmatism and responsiveness', Pang has been praised for being able to provide economic guidance for clients seeking compliance with the new Competition Ordinance, as well as in relation to advice on commercial arrangements. Praised for her 'outstanding leadership qualities', corporate partner Machiuanna Chu also has 'sound legal knowledge' of antitrust procedures.

Headed by Philip Monaghan following his recruitment from the Hong Kong Competition Commission in August 2017, O'Melveny is particularly well-placed to handle risk management compliance work for clients, in addition to representing clients in regulatory investigations or formal enforcement actions. Monaghan's credibility in the sector extends not just to Hong Kong-related competition matters but also to other regimes across Asia, and, as well as handling general compliance matters, he has been an integral part of the team (which can draw upon expertise out of mainland China, US and Brussels should the need arise) providing advice on merger clearance matters relating to complex multi-jurisdictional M&A mandates. Clients include Honeywell International and Celanese.

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