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Hong Kong > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Andrew Bishop - Ropes & Gray LLP
    • Carmen Chan - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Winifred Lam - Ashurst
    • Eng-Lye Ong - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
    • Patrick Wong - Allen & Overy

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Allen & Overy has a strong multilingual team that ‘can negotiate in Mandarin and Cantonese’, and is ‘particularly well versed in specific issues that arise in the region’. The ‘technically superb’ and ‘very commercial’ practice covers all key product areas and has a broad roster of clients. It advised the lenders on the $3bn refinancing facility for MGM China Holdings and acted for Bank of America during the $3.6bn refinancing facility for HPJT Finance. Roger Lui is ‘very strong’ and across a ‘wide range of structures’, and Cindy Lo is a ‘good negotiator’ and a ‘go-to lawyer’ for ‘onshore/offshore PRC financings’. Fiona Cumming is ‘hardworking and committed’, and gaining recognition for leveraged and acquisition finance. Vicki Liu is also highly regarded.

Clifford Chance maintains a sizeable senior bench in Hong Kong with Maggie Lo returning to the office from Beijing and Edith Leung being promoted to partner. Lo led the team that advised China Construction Bank on the financing connected to Haier Group’s $5.4bn acquisition of GE’s appliances business. Anthony Wang is ‘the number-one bank guy’ and ‘a good operator’, who assisted the banks with the $800m syndicated facility to support the take-private acquisition of Omnivision Technologies. Matthew Truman is another leader in leveraged and acquisition finance, for both banks and sponsors, and Dauwood Malik remains active in Macau casino financings. Peter Kilner is an experienced and multi-skilled practitioner and Andrew Hutchins has transferred to Singapore.

Linklaters has sustained its prominent position in leveraged and acquisition finance, margin lending, real estate finance, structured lending and syndicated transactions. It is viewed as ‘the best shop in mega corporate lending’. Furthermore, the firm has reinforced its ranks with ‘top-class operator’ Davide Mencacci, who is ‘approachable and knowledgeable’, transferring to Hong Kong from Milan, and the promotion of leveraged finance expert and PRC native Frank Cui to partner. Cui acts for a number of PRC and Taiwanese banks, and led the team that advised China Construction Bank and other lenders on the HK$39bn term loan facility for China Cinda Asset Management to acquire Nanyang Commercial Bank. The largely lender-oriented practice also acts for a multitude of international banks and a growing number of PRC asset management companies. Nathalie Hobbs has an outstanding reputation.

White & Case has deepened its relationships with PRC and Taiwanese banks, thanks in part to its collection of Chinese-speaking partners and associates. Outbound acquisition finance now accounts for a sizeable portion of the practice and the team is gaining further mandates from sponsors and borrowers, following the growth of the corporate practice in Hong Kong. The firm advised Bank of China Macau Branch and Ping An Bank on the $2bn financing of Mindray Medical International’s take-private transaction. Baldwin Cheng and Eugene Man are big names in the market, along with Hallam Chow. Global banking head Eric Berg, who is resident in Hong Kong and Singapore, is another key contact.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s illustrious client list of major PRC corporates, Hong Kong-listed companies, private equity sponsors and a growing contingent of banks, has ensured a strong flow of impressive mandates. The firm has experienced an uptick in China outbound deals, including advising Midea Group, the Chinese electronics manufacturer, on the €4.1bn financing of its acquisition of Germany’s Kuka. It also assisted ChemChina with the financing of its acquisition of Germany’s KraussMaffei Group. Daniel French, Thomas Ng and Richard Perks form a solid senior bench that covers multiple financing products.

Hogan Lovells has a fine record in PRC outbound financings, leveraged finance and real estate finance. It is also increasingly active in the special situations segment. Owen Chan leads a sizeable team of fluent Chinese-speaking banking lawyers, and Allan Wardrop (a leveraged and acquisition finance specialist) is ‘very knowledgeable and committed’. The firm advised the lenders on the €630m term loan facility to CNRC Capital (a subsidiary of ChemChina), which used the financing for its acquisition of Pirelli.

Kirkland & Ellis is a market leader in private equity sponsor-side finance, especially leveraged finance, and has a growing practice on behalf of credit funds. In addition, it represents an increasing number of corporate borrowers. The firm advised Blackstone on the $405m leveraged financing of its $1.1bn acquisition of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s stake in Mphasis. David Irvine is a ‘trusted operator for private equity sponsors’ and Douglas Murning is increasingly active on the credit funds side, working alongside restructuring specialists Neil McDonald and Damien Coles. Leveraged finance specialist Daniel Abercromby has transferred to Hong Kong from London.

Latham & Watkins LLP combines English and US expertise, and a strong focus on leveraged and acquisition finance, and distressed financings. It is especially well positioned for high-yield and Term Loan B financings. In 2015, the firm advised the banks in connection with the refinancing of Baring Private Equity Asia and Bright Food’s acquisition of Weetabix; this was the first Term Loan B to be arranged by Chinese banks. The recruitment of Gary Hamp from Hogan Lovells’ London office gives the firm senior-level acquisition and leveraged finance expertise. Hamp sits alongside Howard Lam in Hong Kong, as well as high-yield debt specialist James Burnett, who has transferred from London.

Norton Rose Fulbright is recommended for its wide-ranging practice. The ‘very responsive and professional’ team is especially strong in syndicated loans, most notably in the technology and property sectors, and has a flourishing export credit agency (ECA) and structured trade finance practice. The bulk of the work comes from regional and global lenders. In recent work highlights, the firm advised a syndicate of over 25 Asian and European banks on a syndicated term loan facility of up to $1.5bn to Huawei Tech Investment and Huawei Technologies Cooperatief. Peter Haslam is noted for syndicated lending and project finance, and Davide Barzilai is the key contact for structured trade finance and Islamic finance.

Ropes & Gray LLP is a major player in sponsor-side leveraged finance and in direct lending and special situations transactions for hedge funds and other financial institutions; it now represents a multitude of credit funds around Asia. In the leveraged finance segment, the firm advised Bain Capital on the A$690m crossover credit facilities for Australian portfolio company MYOB. The team also played a key role in the financing component of Baring Private Equity Asia’s acquisition of a 40% stake in Weetabix Food Company. Michael Nicklin is a recognised leader in leveraged finance, and ‘very good lawyer’ Daniel Anderson is pre-eminent in special situations and direct lending transactions.

Ashurst has an impressive structured lending practice, leveraging the firm’s fine standing in debt capital markets, derivatives and other key segments. The ‘very helpful and commercial’ team is ‘easy to access’ and commended for its Mandarin-speaking associates. It acts for a variety of banks, investment funds and corporates, and recent work highlights include advising ANZ and 18 syndicate banks on a $200m B-loan financing to China Water Affairs Group. Matthias Schemuth is ‘very hands-on’, ‘creative’ and gives ‘great insights and advice on a broad range of structures and transactions’. Doo-Soon Choi has joined Mayer Brown JSM.

Baker McKenzie is largely a lender-oriented practice with notable strength in real estate finance, bilateral and syndicated lending, export credit financings, corporate lending, and – increasingly – acquisition financing. Clients include Bank of China (Hong Kong), China CITIC Bank International, DBS Bank and HSBC. In 2015, the firm advised the latter on a $597m syndicated term loan facility to China Hongqiao Group. It also acted for China CITIC Bank International in a $175m term loan facility to Palm Spring Holdings. Barry Cheng, Sally Hung and Andrew Lockhart are key contacts.

The ‘high-standard’ team at Herbert Smith Freehills is ‘always in full control of the situation’ and is close to a range of Chinese financial institutions and international banking clients. The firm has an impressive record in China-outbound lending, structured loans and project finance. In recent work highlights, it advised Softbank on the development of a 350MW solar power plant in Andhra Pradesh, India. Alexander Aitken is an established figure in structured lending.

King & Wood Mallesons’ unique platform earns praise from clients for PRC onshore/offshore transactions. Much of the work centres on bilateral and secured lending, and it is close to a number of international and Chinese banks, as well as several non-bank financial institutions. Recent mandates include advising HSBC on a $250m cross-border syndicated loan to China International Capital Corporation (CICC). The ‘thorough, very knowledgeable and very practical’ David Lam is an ‘authority on onshore/offshore financing transactions’.

Mayer Brown JSM’s broad practice includes straight banking and syndicated loans, and it also provides a ‘go-to team’ for real estate finance. Clients include HSBC, ICBC, Bank of China, BNP Paribas, Bank of Communications and China Development Bank. The firm advised a syndicate of banks, led by Bank of China, on a HK$6.5bn term loan facility to Alliance Grace, a subsidiary of Vanke Property. Fanny Wang, Keith Cheung, Francis Chen and Joe Tam are key members of the team. Doo-Soon Choi has joined from Ashurst.

Paul Hastings LLP is known for big-ticket acquisition finance, real estate finance and matters linked to distressed situations. The team advised the banks in connection with the $6bn senior and mezzanine financing to support KKR’s proposed bid for Korea-based Homeplus. The department is particularly strong on lender side mandates, including for a series of Chinese banks. In this regard, Brett King has an outstanding reputation.

Slaughter and May’s ‘very high-quality’ and ‘professional’ team provides ‘in-depth knowledge and advice’, and has made an impression in syndicated lending, acquisition finance and direct lending by investment funds. The firm advised Mizuho Bank, as coordinator of 21 local and international banks, in connection with a HK$5bn five-year revolving facility for the Airport Authority of Hong Kong. Providing ‘in-depth knowledge’ and a ‘hands-on’ approach, Peter Lake assisted Union Bancaire Privée with the regulatory issues surrounding its acquisition of the Hong Kong banking and wealth management business of Coutts & Co from Royal Bank of Scotland. Lisa Chung is also recommended.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has a strong profile in traditional leveraged finance and take-private financings. The team acted for Boyu Capital Management, as a member of a consortium, in a $800m term loan to finance the consortium’s $3.3bn take-private acquisition of WuXi PharmaTech. It also advised Baring Private Equity Asia on the financing of its acquisition of HCP Packaging from TPG Capital. Soo-Jin Shim has ‘the rare combination of more than a decade of top experience in New York and deep roots in the Asian markets’. English-trained counsel Eng-Lye Ong is also recommended.

DLA Piper’s broad lending practice is led by English-law-trained Paul Lee, who has ‘substantial experience in banking’; ‘he always provides prompt and pragmatic advice’, and is ‘very helpful, knowledgeable and easy to work with’. Lender clients include ANZ Hong Kong, Bank of China, China Development Bank and DBS Bank. On the borrower side, the firm advised Mettlesome Investments (Cayman) II on a $1.2bn financing for the acquisition of Ironshore. The department includes experienced energy specialist and native Mandarin speaker Carolyn Dong.

Deacons is best known for compliance and regulatory work in the banking sector, though it has extensive expertise in secured and syndicated loans, trade finance and acquisition finance. Clients include Standard Bank, Standard Chartered and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank. Simon Deane is ‘very experienced and practical’, leading a team that includes Philip Gilligan.

Eversheds remains ‘outstanding in trade finance matters’, despite King Tak Fung’s move to Stephenson Harwood. The ‘very responsive, responsible and experienced’ Michael Yau has a broad practice, and recently advised China Development Bank on its participation in the proposed £30bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power project in the UK. Samuel Chau is ‘very knowledgeable and practical’, as is Jae Lemin, a recent hire from Herbert Smith Freehills.

Jones Day is ‘good value for money’ and has a fast-growing practice with a strong leaning towards private equity transactions. China Orient Asset Management, China Development Bank and Bank of China are clients; the team advised the latter on a $110m senior secured revolving credit facility for New Hope Global in connection with its acquisition of a majority stake in Universal Dairy. Graham Lim is praised for his New York law expertise and knowledge of Asian market practice.

Reed Smith Richards Butler is a PRC cross-border lending oriented practice, handling a mixture of bank and borrower mandates. Syndicated financing, margin lending, structured loans, privatisation financing and real estate financing are at the heart of the practice. The firm advised Bank of China (Hong Kong) on a $300m syndicated term loan facility to Greentown China Holdings. Chris Tang is the key partner.

Sidley Austin has achieved a greater degree of lender mandates, especially from non-traditional commercial banks. The practice is well positioned for hybrid financings, including those involving capital markets components such as high-yield debt, and direct lending by investment funds. It recently advised Honbridge Holdings on a HK$540m secured loan to Cloud Rider. Counsel Robert Mason is the principal name in Hong Kong.

Simmons & Simmons LLP has a fine record in structured trade finance, particularly in the metals industry. The team has expertise in margin lending, share-backed financings and leveraged finance deals, among other areas. Clients include Standard Chartered, Rabobank, Citibank, CIMB Bank and Agricultural Bank of China. Richard McKeown is an experienced figure, as is trade finance specialist Jolyon Ellwood-Russell.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is known for advising on acquisition finance for private equity sponsor clients such as Blackstone and KKR, but is increasingly engaged in China outbound financings. Christopher Bell led the team that assisted China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) with financing its $43bn acquisition of Syngenta. The firm also advised Panasonic Healthcare on the financing connected to its €1.02bn carve-out acquisition of Bayer’s Diabetes Care business division.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP operates a borrower-side practice, which is active in acquisition finance and margin loans, particularly for US-listed PRC companies. The department has worked on a series of financings linked to take-private transactions. In 2015, it advised Focus Media on the refinancing of its $1.4bn existing senior and SBLC-backed facilities. Clive Rough is hugely experienced.

The team at Stephenson Harwood is ‘responsive’, ‘very commercial’ and ‘practical’, and especially strong in trade finance following the arrival of King Tak Fung from Eversheds. Stephanie Wong has a wealth of expertise in various lending transactions, and Mark Reed is also hugely experienced.

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