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Allen & Overy has been active player in the Greater China market for more than 25 years, and its practice also covers every corner of the Asia Pacific region, making it a strong choice among borrowers and lenders in their most complex multi-jurisdictional financing transactions. In 2016, Cindy Lo and newly promoted partner Patrick Wong advised China Minsheng Banking Corporation and Morgan Stanley as the global coordinators on the provision of a $350m term loan facility to Minsheng Hong Kong International Leasing. Lo and others also recently acted for ICBC Macau and ICBC Asia in the $1bn financing to Melco Investment Resources to fund the acquisition of shares in Melco Crown Entertainment. On the borrower side, Vicki Liu assisted Yanlord Land (HK) (a subsidiary of Singapore Exchange-listed Yanlord Land Group) with negotiating a $1bn syndicated credit facility with a consortium of 26 global banks and financial institutions. Roger Lui leads the team, which also includes Fiona Cumming.

Clifford Chance’s Hong Kong team, which has ‘very good knowledge of the various markets in Asia’, is able to leverage the firm’s wider network of banking and finance experts located across the region in high-profile cross-border financings. It also works seamlessly with experts in ancillary areas, such as corporate and capital markets. Matthew Truman, Alexander Lloyd and senior associate Charlotte Leung were part of a multidisciplinary cross-office team, which assisted Biostime International with a complex bank/bond combination refinancing and subsequent acquisition financing in connection with the client’s investment in Swisse Wellness Group. In another matter, Truman and Leung are advising CVC Asia on the $1.1bn acquisition financing associated with its public-to-private acquisition of Nirvana Asia. Maggie Lo and Leung acted for China CITIC Bank as the global coordinator and mandated lead arranger in the $12.7bn financing to ChemChina for its acquisition of Syngenta, representing the largest foreign investment ever made by a Chinese company. Anthony Wang and Singapore-based Nicholas Wong succeeded Mark Hyde as co-heads of the Asia Pacific finance practice in 2016. In other developments, Edith Leung made partner, and consultants Clara Shirota and Vicky Ma relocated to the Hong Kong office from Tokyo and London respectively. Dauwood Malik’s areas of strength include infrastructure finance, and real estate development and investment finance.

Linklaters particularly excels in structured finance, leveraged/acquisition finance, syndicated lending and margin loan transactions. Operating as part of a wider practice in Asia, a notable hallmark of the team is its ability to advise on the PRC, Hong Kong, English and US (including New York) law aspects of financings in the region. In a particularly high-profile matter, Frank Cui acted for Bank of China, China Merchants Bank and CTBC Bank in the financing aspects of the $2.08bn acquisition by a consortium (formed by CITIC and Carlyle Group) of McDonald’s China and Hong Kong business. Cui also worked with Davide Mencacci to advise the senior arrangers and mezzanine arrangers on the provision of facilities to Permira for its acquisition of Tricor Group. Asia Pacific banking head Nathalie Hobbs and managing associate Maggie Ng advised Deutsche Bank as the coordinating mandated lead arranger and bookrunner on arranging $400m syndicated term and revolving loan facilities for TAL Education Group. David Kidd is another name to note, as are recently promoted counsels John Bona and Bernard Chain. Crystal Chen specialises in project finance transactions in the mining, power and petrochemicals sectors. Stuart Salt and James McLaren also have project finance expertise.

White & Case has a strong track record in big-ticket, cross-border financings, which was demonstrated in in 2016 when Baldwin Cheng and others worked with the New York office to advise China Merchants Bank on the $3bn financing connected with the $9.4bn MBO of Qihoo 360 Technologies. In a more recent highlight, Eugene Man was the lead adviser to a club of 13 banks in a $5.15bn senior revolving credit facility to Alibaba Group, representing the fifth in a series of financings involving the same borrower. Deutsche Bank, HSBC and China CITIC Bank are among other notable clients of the practice. The team was strengthened by the recent hire of Andrew Bishop from Ropes & Gray LLP. Bishop has a wealth of experience in acting for financial sponsors, corporate borrowers and banks in cross-border financing transactions. Another notable addition to the team was Stephen Howard, who relocated from the firm’s London office in 2016 and has since made counsel. Global banking head Eric Berg splits his practice between the Hong Kong and Singapore offices. Associate Katherine Huang is also recommended.

In 2016, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer handled the financing aspects of a number of China outbound acquisitions; Thomas Ng was part of a cross-office team that advised Firion Investments (a company controlled by a consortium of Chinese investors) on financing its acquisition of Spanish waste management company Urbaser from ACS. In another highlight, Richard Perks, Daniel French and others assisted Midea Group (as the borrower) with negotiating a €4.6bn bridge loan from ICBC for its acquisition of Kuka. Separately, and more recently, Perks and Ng acted for Trivium Investment (a company backed by funds managed by Permira) in the financing of its acquisition of Tricor Holdings, a matter which involved arranging senior and mezzanine facilities with their own separate security packages. The firm also provides corporate treasury advice to Chinese state-owned and private enterprises, as well as pan-Asian corporates, which includes assisting with managing working capital requirements and restructuring outstanding debt; French acted for Alibaba in securing a $5.15bn revolving loan facility from a club of international investment banks to replace a smaller undrawn facility. Andrew Heathcote leads the team. Other clients include Warburg Pincus, CVC Capital Partners and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

At Hogan Lovells, Owen Chan (an expert in PRC banking regulation) and Allan Wardrop are among the key contacts in Hong Kong. The team has a first-rate reputation in advising international and PRC-based lender and borrowers on a range of onshore and offshore financings, such as those involving real estate finance, structured commodity and export finance, structured equity-linked finance and pre-IPO finance, among others. Wardrop, who is ‘very sharp and hands-on’, is particularly highly regarded for his leveraged and acquisition finance expertise; in 2016, he, counsel Salam Basilli and others acted for ANZ in financing a leveraged recapitalisation of Geelong Sales Company Group. Chan, who leads the team in Hong Kong and mainland China, worked with senior associate Alan Wong and associate Derrick Lau to act for a syndicate of banks (led by Citibank) in the $4.65bn term and revolving facilities to Tencent Asset Management. China Minsheng, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are among other clients. Bassili and Lau ‘work well under tight deadlines’.

Kirkland & Ellis’ team, under the leadership of David Irvine, is particularly well known for acting for private equity sponsors and corporate borrowers. Reflective of the firm’s strengths in this space, its expertise covers a wide variety of financing products, such as sponsor-backed leveraged finance, minority leverage and margin loans, pre-IPO credit investments and project finance. Irvine, Daniel Abercromby and recently promoted partner Daniel Lindsey recently advised The Carlyle Group, CITIC Limited and CITIC Capital Holdings on the leveraged financing associated with their $2.08bn acquisition of McDonald’s China and Hong Kong. In another highlight, in 2016, Irvine acted for Blackstone Singapore in the $405m leveraged financing connected with its acquisition of a majority stake in India-based outsourcing firm Mphasis from Hewlett Packard. The firm also handled other mandates from clients such as Ascendant Capital Partners, Studio City, Apax Partners and Ally Bridge Group. Associate David Couper has broad banking and debt finance experience, which includes general banking, leveraged acquisitions and syndicated lending.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s team has gained momentum following the arrival of global banking practice co-chair Gary Hamp from Hogan Lovells at the beginning of 2016, with counsel Manas Chandrashekar more recently joining from White & Case. In addition, the group has expanded at associate level: Zhen Jin and Lynsey Edgar joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Chance respectively. Howard Lam is among a number of fluent Mandarin speakers in the team, whose Hong Kong, English and US law knowledge adds value in global financing transactions. Illustrative of its breadth of expertise, the group advises on bridge-to-bond financings, leveraged and acquisition finance, and syndicated lending, among various other matters. Hamp and Chandrashekar advised HSBC on the financing of Kuala Lumpur Kehong Berhad’s proposed takeover of London-listed M.P. Evans. Another highlight for the team included assisting Partners Group with negotiating the leveraged finance for its acquisition of SPi Global (the corporate team is handling the M&A side). James Burnett is a key adviser to Nord Anglia Education on the financing aspects of the take-private by a consortium led by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Baring Private Equity Asia. Posit Laohaphan is another active practitioner in the group.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s footprint in Greater China, which is complemented by its international reach, enables it to cover a full spectrum of onshore and offshore financing transactions for Chinese and multinational corporates, as well as Chinese and international banks. Peter Haslam heads up the Hong Kong team, which includes David Milligan, who made partner in May 2017, and Jonathan Silver. A recent highlight involved advising a club of five international lenders on the provision of a $551m syndicated revolving loan convertible to term loan to Castle Peak Power Company. In 2016, Haslam and Milligan acted for a club of nine international and Asian banks in the provision of a $400m syndicated term loan to Hong Kong-listed PRC property developer Yuzhou Properties Company. Clients of the practice include Bank of China, China Construction Bank, ING Bank and Hang Seng Bank. Although Davide Barzilai relocated to the London office, he regularly travels back to Hong Kong, and spends a significant portion of time serving PRC and Hong Kong clients.

Ropes & Gray LLP has strong capabilities in leveraged and acquisition finance transactions with an Asia Pacific nexus, where it acts for private equity sponsors such as Baring Private Equity Asia, NewQuest Capital Partners and TPG. Jacqueline Zheng, who recently made counsel, assisted key client Bain Capital with the financing of its leveraged acquisition of Camp Australia, and also assisted it with negotiating the funding of its acquisition of a majority stake in early education centre operator Only About Children. Elsewhere, the team generates mandates from hedge funds, banks and other financial institutions, as well as corporates. Daniel Anderson leads the team, which recently lost Michael Nicklin to Gibson Dunn.

Baker McKenzie’s diverse practice covers matters involving syndicated loans, structured finance, project finance, real estate finance, and acquisition and trade finance, among other areas. It undertakes a significant amount of work for Chinese and international lenders, and also acts for other clients, including export credit agencies and corporate borrowers. Sally Hung was recently the lead adviser to Hang Seng Bank on a circa HK$1.3bn club deal secured term loan facility to Fosun Property Holdings (as guaranteed by Hong Kong-listed Fosun International) to finance the acquisition of shares in a Bahamas-based company. In a separate highlight, in 2016, Hung was the lead adviser to Bank of China (Hong Kong) in the provision of a dual-tranche $160m and HK$1.092bn syndicated term loan facility to Sino-Ocean Land (Hong Kong). Hank Chong and Simon Leung are other key contacts in the team, which is jointly led by Andrew Lockhart and Barry Cheng.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ strong track record in sophisticated cross-border financing transactions in Asia and further afield (particularly in trade finance, real estate finance and structured finance) is underpinned by its notable roster of banking clients, which includes such names as ICBC, Bank of China, J.P. Morgan, ANZ and Deutsche Bank. Practice head Alexander Aitken is acting as English law counsel to Agricultural Bank of China on the $6.75bn financing to be provided to certain companies related to ChemChina in connection with the circa $43bn proposed acquisition of Syngenta. Aitken, who is particularly highly regarded for his experience in Indian finance transactions (acting for Indian corporates and financial institutions), also recently advised Standard Chartered Bank on the provision of a $500m bilateral loan to Network i2i (a Bharti Group company) as part of an internal restructuring by Bharti Group. Fergus Smith and Carmen Chan left the firm.

Noted for its ‘cooperation between the Hong Kong and PRC offices’, King & Wood Mallesons acts for multinational corporates, investment banks (international, as well as Hong Kong and PRC-based), Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and individuals, among other clients. Singled out for particular praise in the team is David Lam, who was the lead adviser to China Molybdenum Company (CMOC) as the borrower on the English, Hong Kong and PRC law aspects of the $1.59bn syndicated financing for its $2.65bn acquisition of the Fungurume mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo from Freeport-McMoRan. Lam also assisted the same client with the $900m financing of its acquisition of niobium and phosphates operations in Brazil. Practice head Richard Mazzochi, who has been at the firm for 25 years, also brings his international experience to bear in the financing arena, having previously worked in Sydney, Singapore and London. The ‘very knowledgeable’ Khin Voong, who made counsel, has ‘solid in-house and private practice experience’.

Mayer Brown JSM’s team covers every type of major financing transaction, benefiting from the firm’s excellent relationships with all of the ‘big four’ PRC banks and other Chinese/Hong Kong-licensed banks, as well as Asia Pacific and international banks, and multilateral financial institutions. Francis Chen and counsel Nishrin Hussain acted for Hang Seng Bank in the provision of HK$555m and $120m syndicated dual currency term loan facilities to Hong Kong-listed property developer China Aoyuan Property Group. Chen also assisted Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation with its HK$800m REIT financing to Vital Vision Enterprises, a subsidiary of Prosperity Real Estate Investment Trust. On the borrower side, Doo-Soon Choi, who joined from Ashurst in 2016, and senior associate Cherie Leung advised private equity real estate fund SilkRoad Property Partners on the RMB302m financing associated with its acquisition and development of Lujiazui Century Palace, Shanghai. Richard Stock leads the team, which also includes the vastly experienced Fanny Wang. Irene Lau left the firm.

Paul Hastings LLP’s ‘approachable and friendly’ team, which is praised for its ‘very rapid response times’ and ‘extremely good industry knowledge’, particularly excels in transactions involving novel and particularly complex financing structures. In 2016, Victor Chen acted for Horizons Ventures as a lead investor in a $55m Series A financing of blockchain technologies provider Blockstream. Illustrative of the spread of its work, the group assists lenders and investors with cross-border real estate and infrastructure finance, and also handles financings of large LBO transactions. In 2016, Vivian Lam was the lead adviser to Profit Plus Global and China Everbright Holdings as the borrowers in the aggregate HK$5bn facilities arranged by Bank of China (Hong Kong) to finance the acquisition of Dah Sing Financial Centre in Hong Kong. In the project finance space, the firm particularly stands out in multi-jurisdictional solar power project financings. Clients also include Warburg Pincus, The Carlyle Group, Taiwan Fubon Bank and Cathay United Bank. Brett King and Raymond Li are other recommended individuals in the team, which also includes recently promoted counsel James Ma.

Peter Lake and Lisa Chung jointly head the team at Slaughter and May. The firm has extensive experience in cross-border transactions involving the gamut of finance products, which sees it generate mandates from a sizeable number of banks, including Agricultural Bank of China, Fubon Bank, The Bank of East Asia, HSBC and Mizuho Bank. It acted for the Hong Kong branch of a Chinese bank in connection with a HK$8bn revolving/term loan facility made to a Hong Kong-based conglomerate in 2016. In addition to acting for banks, the group also undertakes work for borrowers, which was demonstrated when it assisted MTR Corporation with negotiating a HK$25bn term loan and revolving loan syndicated loan facility with a syndicate of 21 banks and other financial institutions.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s first-rate private equity and M&A departments are supported by the firm’s ‘top-notch’ finance practice, where leveraged and acquisition finance and margin loan financings are among the types of complex transactions handled by the team. In a landmark matter, the ‘excellent’ Soo-Jin Shim and associate Rick Wei advised HNA Group on a $3bn margin loan connected with its $6.5bn acquisition of a 25% interest in Hilton Inc, Park Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Grand Vacations from affiliates of the Blackstone Group; this transaction represented one of the largest US margin loans in history. Shim and Wei also acted for the founder of ShangPharma in relation to a loan connected with the sale of a minority interest in ShangPharma to TPG. Baring Private Equity Asia, Hillhouse Capital and Oaktree are other notable clients, which have recently instructed the firm. Another key contact in the team is counsel Eng-Lye Ong, who is ‘good to work with’, and ‘focuses on finding solutions and getting the deal done’.

At Ashurst, Hong Kong-based counsel Steven Choo is a key part of the firm’s wider finance team in the Asia Pacific region, which has a particular focus on project finance, real estate finance and margin loan transactions. Choo, whose track record dates back more than 20 years, worked with senior associate Nikki Chong and others to act for BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered Bank as the mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners in the circa $190m financing to C Plaza Co for the acquisition of Central Plaza, Shanghai. In another matter, Choo and Jini Lee were the lead advisers to Huarong International Financial Holdings as the arranger and lender on the provision of $75m term loan facilities to property developer GH Australia to finance the development of a mixed-use project in Sydney. Matthias Schemuth recently joined DLA Piper, which followed Doo-Soon Choi’s move to Mayer Brown JSM in 2016. Winifred Lam also left the firm.

DLA Piper’s practice was bolstered by the recent hire of Matthias Schemuth, who joined from Ashurst, and has particular experience in cross-border financing transactions in the commodities (including oil and gas, mining and metals), infrastructure and telecoms sectors. The team also acts for lenders and borrowers in financings involving various other areas, including acquisition finance, real estate finance and asset finance. Paul Lee was the lead adviser to Haitong International Securities Company on the financing aspects of Gorgeous Investment Group’s circa HK$1.74bn offer to acquire China Smarter Energy Group Holdings. Lee also acted for a syndicate of six banks in a €280m syndicated loan to Terminal Catalunya. Standard Chartered Bank, Maybank, China Huarong and Fosun are other notable clients. China energy head Carolyn Dong divides her time between Beijing and Hong Kong. Leveraged finance expert Doug Murning, who joined from Kirkland & Ellis, splits his time between the London and Hong Kong offices.

Deacons assists borrowers and lenders with negotiating secured and unsecured cross-border syndicated and bilateral finance transactions, structured finance, acquisition finance and commodities finance, among other types of products. In addition, another core pillar of the practice involves advising clients on regulatory and compliance issues, which includes assisting lenders with applications for banking licences, as well as advising on matters such as anti-money laundering policies, data privacy and consumer protection. Simon Deane and others recently advised various Hong Kong and international companies, including banks and payment services providers, on issues arising from the new regulatory regime on stored value facilities and retail payment systems. Work in the fintech arena is a notable growth area of the practice; Deane and associate Chris Wong have advised several fintech companies on the regulatory aspects of the use, storage and trade of cryptocurrencies. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Bank Al Habib and Noble are among the firm’s clients. Philip Gilligan, Teresa Lau and consultant Wing Wo Lam are also recommended.

Eversheds Sutherland’s extensive coverage of the banking and finance market sees it undertake all types of transactions with a domestic and cross-border flavour, with particular strengths in trade finance, real estate finance and project finance. Practice head Michael Yau and Samuel Chau jointly led a cross-office team in the advice to China Development Bank on the Hong Kong law aspects of the finance to be provided for the investments by China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) in the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, UK. Reflective of the firm’s first-rate reputation in the finance arena, it secured mandates from a number of new clients, including Hang Seng Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and China Cinda (HK) Asset Management. Jae Lemin ‘combines good legal knowledge with strong business sense’.

Jones Daystands out in terms of efficiency and quality’, with its ‘hardworking team’ reaping praise for its ‘professional and quick responses’ to a client base that includes Chinese SOEs and privately owned enterprises (POEs), as well as China-based and regional banks, and global investment banks. Graham Lim and Michelle Taylor jointly lead the team, which advises on cross-border financing transactions throughout Asia Pacific across multiple sectors, such as aviation, real estate, energy and natural resources, and infrastructure, among others. In 2016, Lim and others assisted DBS Bank with its senior secured credit facility to HNA Group for the acquisition of 17 Columbus Courtyard, a Grade A commercial property in Canary Wharf, London. The group has also undertaken matters for clients such as ICBC, Bank of China and China Orient Asset Management.

Reed Smith Richards Butler’s practice is marked by its breadth, with its team covering various types of asset financings, and tax-based and structured finance, among other matters. In 2016, a notable highlight saw Chris Tang lead the advice to the controlling shareholder of Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties on the financing aspects of a HK$34bn privatisation by way of general offer. In 2017, lead senior associate Michael Sinn worked with Tang, and associates Crystal Li and Carrie Lam, to advise Hong Kong-listed real estate development company Minmetals Land and subsidiary Massive Leader on a secured HK$5.5bn syndicated term loan facility to finance the acquisition and construction of a residential and commercial development project in Yau Tong, Kowloon. Tang jointly heads the practice with Peter Lee, who has a particular specialism in ship finance and financings of offshore oil and gas projects.

Sidley Austin’s global platform is complemented by the Hong Kong team’s transactional experience across multiple industries and knowledge of a range of financial products. Its extensive offering makes it a go-to firm for corporate borrowers, private equity sponsors, investment funds, and commercial and investment banks. In 2016, global finance head Thomas Albrecht, who has a background in leveraged finance and structured finance, worked with members of the Singapore office to advise the arranger and lenders on a S$590m limited recourse senior secured borrowing base facility for Lion City Rentals, secured against a fleet of motor vehicles in Singapore. Raymond Oh was recently part of a cross-office team that acted for China Merchants Bank as the mandated lead arranger of an acquisition finance facility in relation to Creat Group’s proposed €940m takeover of German pharmaceutical company Biotest. Christopher Cheng and Robert Mason are also recommended.

Simmons & Simmons LLP has a particularly strong reputation in trade and commodities finance, where the firm acts for borrowers and banks. Richard McKeown and Catherine Kwong have been assisting Société Générale with launching a new receivables purchase product for customers in Hong Kong and Singapore, and they also recently advised metal trader Golden Habour International Trading on the structuring of its proposed cross-border metal repurchase transactions. The firm also has strong capabilities in the acquisition finance arena; a recent highlight saw McKeown and others advise United Overseas Bank on a circa HK$145m loan provided to Anise Investment Holdings’ to enable it to refinance its acquisition of Dynamax Holdings. In addition, the team is active in the funds finance space and is also becoming increasingly involved in fintech matters, where it advises banks on payment and cross-border settlement processes. Jolyon Ellwood-Russell is another highly regarded practitioner in the team, which also acts for Agricultural Bank of China, Mizuho Bank and Rabobank.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP leverages its first-rate M&A practice to undertake associated leveraged and acquisition finance transactions, with an emphasis on acting for borrowers. The team, which is led by Clive Rough, also has expertise in syndicated loans and margin loans. In 2016, Rough was the lead adviser to TAL Education Group on a $400m syndicated loan agreement, with Deutsche Bank (Singapore branch) as the lead arranger, and also assisted Apex Technology with the Hong Kong law aspects of the $2.08bn financing for its acquisition of Lexmark International. Other clients of the practice include Baidu, Vipshop Holdings and E-Commerce China Dang Dang.

Stephenson Harwood’s practice has gone from strength to strength following King Tak Fung’s arrival from Eversheds Sutherland in 2016, with Elton Chan making partner in 2017. In addition, the practice has had an overall uptick in mandates from PRC and international clients, including The Export-Import Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Bank of China. Led by Mark Reed, the team handles a wide ambit of transactions, such as those involving asset finance, trade finance and project finance. It is also active in the advice to clients on banking regulatory and compliance issues; in 2016, Reed and others advised TNG (Asia) on its application for a licence to provide stored value facilities, in accordance with the regulatory regime established by the Payment Systems and Stored Value Facilities Ordinance. Stephanie Wong is also recommended.

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