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Hong Kong > Capital markets > Capital markets (debt) > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Capital markets (debt)
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • William Barron - Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
    • Paul Chow - Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
    • Jason Elder - Mayer Brown
    • Matthew Fairclough - Clifford Chance
    • James Grandolfo - Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
    • Andrew Heathcote - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
    • Connie Heng - Clifford Chance
    • Edward Lam - Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
    • John Lee - Allen & Overy
    • Ji Liu - Latham & Watkins LLP
    • William Liu - Linklaters
    • Nigel Pridmore - Ashurst
    • Hwang Hwa Sim - Linklaters
    • Jonathan Stone - Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Mark Chan - Clifford Chance
    • Bing Guan - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
    • Julie Song - Allen & Overy

Clifford Chance consistently distinguishes itself in the market by excelling in the most groundbreaking and innovative bond issuances, and other complex offerings. The firm's top-tier status is also underscored by the breadth and depth of its coverage of a wide range of products across a multitude of industries. Connie Heng leads the team, which has a stellar record in issuances of Reg S/Rule 144A bonds, high-yield bonds, hybrid securities and the establishment of medium term note programmes, among other areas. It also assists clients with navigating complex credit enhancement structures, such as the keepwell deed and the standby letter of credit. Matthew Fairclough  is particularly knowledgeable about regulatory issues impacting banks in the Asia-Pacific region, including those centred on regulatory capital, and he is also a name to note for liability management transactions. Richard Lee and Alexander Lloyd are recommended for their strong capabilities in pan-Asian high-yield debt transactions. Other strong partners include Fang Liu, Angela Chan and David Tsai; consultants Corey Zhang, Mark Chan and James Booth are also highly rated. The firm acts for a wide variety of clients, such as Chinese state-owned enterprises, overseas-based corporates and local government financing vehicles.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP captures a large proportion of the market for complex high-yield debt transactions, where it acts for issuers and sponsors; William Barron and recently promoted partner Gerhard Radtke, who have a particularly strong reputation in the market for their high-yield expertise, worked alongside counsel Terrence O’Donnell to advise the initial purchasers on a $500m Rule 144A/Regulation S high-yield offering by Yingde Gases Investment (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yingde Gases Group). Barron and Radtke also acted for the underwriters on the $670m Rule 144A/Regulation S senior notes offering by WTT Investment. At the time of writing, Radtke has handled more than 40 high-yield deals since January 2017. The firm is also a formidable player on the investment grade debt front; Radtke, Paul Chow and counsel Margie Chan have a wealth of experience in this area. Equity-linked and hybrid securities transactions are also staples of the practice; Chow, James Lin and others are advising Zhongsheng Group Holdings on its HK$2.35bn convertible bonds repurchase and its HK$3.925bn convertible bonds issuance. The team also has an excellent record in large liability management and restructuring exercises. Yang Chu, Stephenie Fung and Bingqing Pan have all been promoted to counsel.

Linklaters' 'very responsive and professional' team ranks 'among the best' for debt capital markets transactions, with clients particularly noting 'its experience in offshore debt issuances by PRC-domiciled issuers'. It is equally strong acting for underwriters. William Liu heads up the team, which is 'able to keep up to date with the latest market developments, while balancing out all parties' interests in document negotiations'. Clients benefit from the knowledge of US securities law expert Patrick Sheil, who has previous experience of working on some of the first high-yield debt transactions in Asia. Hwang Hwa Sim has vast expertise in convertible bonds and exchangeable bonds, cross-border bond issuances by PRC companies, panda bonds and green bonds, among other debt products. Other key figures include Michael Ng, who is 'detail-oriented and has strong interpersonal skills', Andrew Malcolm, Terence Lau and recently promoted partner Gloria Cheung. In a matter connected with China's Belt and Road Initiative, Ng advised Bank of China on updating and upsizing its $40bn medium-term note programme, and is currently assisting the client with an international bond offering, which has been denominated into four currencies, divided into six tranches and involves four branches. In addition, in 2017 Lau and Liu acted for Postal Savings Bank of China on its $7.25bn fixed income issuance; this is the largest fixed income issuance by an Asian issuer to be offered on a Reg S-only basis. The team has also recently handled mandates for clients such as Deutsche Bank, BOCI Asia, China Huarong Asset Management and ICBC.

Allen & Overy's Hong Kong team serves clients located throughout the Asia-Pacific region on their most complex transactions, including many of the largest and most innovative bond issues in India, including masala bonds and green bonds. Asia Pacific capital markets head Stephen Miller has been instrumental in the growth of the practice since his relocation from London in 2016. Miller and John Lee worked with members of the Singapore office to advise a group of underwriters on ICBC's inaugural $2.15bn green bond offering on the Luxembourg Green Exchange. Elsewhere, the firm has been increasingly active in China-related leasing transactions; Lee recently acted for the underwriters on the establishment of a $7bn medium-term note programme by the leasing arm of Bank of Communications (BoCom Leasing), as well as on several drawdowns under the programme. Agnes Tsang specialises in debt capital markets transactions with a nexus to Greater China, and acted for Bank of China on its RMB9bn panda bond issue in 2017. Liang Tao is a dual New York- and Hong Kong-qualified partner; also of note are of counsel Jaclyn Yeap and associate Julie Song. Joining the team is of counsel Kung-Wei Liu who has arrived from Sullivan & Cromwell. Amit Singh and Michele Discepola have left the firm to join Linklaters in Singapore, while David Cameron has joined Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is one of the leading firms for large, high-stakes and frequently landmark transactions with a nexus to Greater China and Southeast Asia. Under the leadership of Andrew Heathcote, its team undertakes a number of first-of-their-kind transactions across the debt capital markets spectrum. Its extensive workload includes liability management exercises (including tender offers, exchange offers and consent solicitations), medium-term note programmes, equity-linked issuances and regulatory capital issuances. Counsel Bing Guan is the head of China debt capital markets at the firm, and acts for financial institutions, Chinese state-owned enterprises, privately owned companies, local governments and municipalities. A recent highlight for the team involved acting for Guotai Junan Securities as the sole global coordinator, and other financial institutions as the joint lead managers and bookrunners, on a $300m bonds issuance by Jiaxing City Investment and Development Group. Other work included acting for China CITIC Bank on its $1.8bn issuance of four tranches of bonds (two fixed rate, two floating rate), and advising the placing agents on the issue and placing of $150m notes by Hongkong International (Qingdao). Associate Michelle Chen is a name to note. David Ludwick relocated to the London office.

Shearman & Sterling¬†fields a team with English, Hong Kong and US law expertise. It¬†demonstrates strong capabilities in sophisticated and landmark debt offerings in Greater China and further afield in Asia, where it acts for governments, state-owned enterprises, corporate issuers and financial institutions. In 2017, Alan Yeung¬†led a cross-office team that acted for the joint global coordinators, joint lead managers and joint bookrunners on China Three Gorges' ‚ā¨650m green bonds issuance; this was the first-ever euro-denominated green bonds issuance by a Chinese company. Yeung also acted for BOCI Asia as the initial purchaser in China Huiyuan Juice Group's $150m notes offering and subsequent $50m tap offering, constituting the company's first international bond offering. The firm has also acted as US counsel to New Metro Global (as well as to Future Land Holdings as the guarantor) on a series of high-yield debt offerings.¬†CK Hutchison, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are other notable clients. Matthew Bersani¬†is the global head of corporate finance, while¬†Colin Law¬†leads the capital markets team in Asia.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP's longstanding track record in business-critical debt capital markets transactions has made it a destination firm for clients in Hong Kong, mainland China and the wider Asia-Pacific region. In addition to acting for underwriters, the firm acts for a sizeable corporate issuer client base spanning sectors such as gaming, technology and energy, among others. Jonathan Stone and Julie Gao jointly lead the team, which is noted for its ability to cover the English, US and Hong Kong law aspects of cross-border transactions. It also benefits from the support of a global network. Stone co-led a cross-office team, which advised PT Paiton Energy, the largest independent power producer in Indonesia, on its $2bn Regulation S/Rule 144A project bond issuance as part of a coal-fired power plant debt refinancing; this was the first Asian project bond in nearly two decades and involved a novel issuance structure. In another matter, Edward Lam, Christopher Betts and others acted for Wynn Macau on its $1.35bn Rule 144A/Regulation S high-yield debt offering. The team has also recently handled transactions for other notable corporate clients, including Baidu, Weibo and 21Vianet Group. Lam also acted for the initial purchasers in a $300m Regulation S offering of senior perpetual securities by Yuzhou Properties Company Limited (Hong Kong).

Ashurst's credentials in cross-border transactions are highlighted by the fact that it fields a multilingual team, with practitioners being native speakers of Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Japanese and Korean. Operating as part of a global practice, the group advises on the full spectrum of debt capital markets products, including Regulation S/Rule 144A corporate bonds, dim sum bonds, green bonds, liability management, and equity-linked and other structured products. US securities law expert Anna-Marie Slot is the firm's global head of high-yield, and also assists corporates and banks with other transactions. Another key figure is Nigel Pridmore, who has circa 30 years of experience handling debt capital markets transactions across the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere globally. Jini Lee and Christopher Whiteley were part of the team that recently acted as Hong Kong legal advisers to the CHMT Peaceful Development Asia Property consortium, as issuer, on a $4.1bn bond issuance to finance its acquisition of the world's most expensive building, known as The Center, from Cheung Kong. In addition, Lee, Slot, and senior associates Wendi Xu and Derek Leung, advised MIE Holdings on its circa HK$340m convertible bonds issuance. The firm's base of institutional clients includes Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, CITIC Securities, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley. Peter Kwon is particularly active in advising Korean clients on multi-jurisdictional transactions.

Richard Mazzochi¬†leads¬†King & Wood Mallesons'¬†team, which is rated by clients as 'one of the most experienced' for debt transactions involving Chinese and international elements; its breadth of expertise means it can advise on PRC, Hong Kong, Australian, US and English law (as well as a range of European laws). The firm has a particularly strong track record handling debut issuances involving Chinese companies, as was evidenced when¬†Hao Zhou¬†and senior associate¬†Michael Lu¬†recently advised Triceratops Capital on its debut ‚ā¨500m bond offering. In 2017, Zhou and Lu acted for China International Capital, as sole lead manager and global coordinator, on the $300m debut bonds issuance by Chengdu Communications Investment Group. Another highlight involved advising Weichai Power on its¬†$775m debut perpetual securities offering in the international bond market; this was the largest perpetual bond offering ever by a PRC-based company. Further illustrative of the firm's excellent reputation in highly significant transactions, Zhou and Lu were among the advisers to China General Nuclear Power on its overseas issuance of multi-currency bonds. Elsewhere, the firm has been at the forefront of the growing panda bond market, and it also stands out for its strengths in special drawing rights (SDR) bonds and high-yield debt. US-qualified senior associate¬†Paul Marks¬†joined from¬†Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP¬†in January 2018.

Latham & Watkins LLP¬†is one of the most active firms acting as issuer's counsel in the Hong Kong and PRC bond markets. It also has strong capabilities in relation to US listings, where its team is particularly highly regarded for its regulatory expertise. Jointly led by¬†Ji Liu¬†and¬†James Burnett, the team handles a broad cross-section of matters for issuers, underwriters and placement agents. Its wide-ranging areas of expertise include investment grade bonds, convertible bonds, global and European medium-term note programmes and exchange offers. In the high-yield space, Burnett, who has more than a decade of experience of the London high-yield debt market, advised the underwriters on Yango Justice International's $200m bond offering. The firm's other recent work includes Liu acting for China National Chemical (ChemChina) as issuer on a series of bond offerings, and also assisting Tianjin Rail Transit Group with a ‚ā¨400m bonds issuance. In 2017,¬†Cathy Yeung,¬†Allen Wang¬†and Terris Tang, who has recently made partner, advised Franshion Brilliant on a $500m senior guaranteed perpetual capital securities offering. In other developments, the practice was significantly strengthened recently when¬†Benjamin Su¬†re-joined the firm from¬†Kirkland & Ellis.¬†Counsel¬†Daying Zhang¬†has also been hired from the same firm.

Mayer Brown's clients turn to the firm for their most structurally complex transactions, and matters involving intricate subordination and intercreditor issues. Jason Elder heads the team, which has strong New York, English and Hong Kong law capabilities. It serves clients from throughout Hong Kong and the PRC, as well as those in emerging markets across the Asia-Pacific region. The firm has a particularly outstanding reputation for high-yield debt transactions; Thomas Kollar has been a major figure in the Asian market for more than 15 years, and also has a wealth of experience executing a sizeable number of high-yield transactions globally. Beyond high-yield transactions, the group covers other types of matters, including investment grade and hybrid securities offerings, as well as structured debt transactions. It also has stellar credentials in the corporate trust and agency arena, which involves acting for trustees and agents on bond issuances, liability management exercises and restructurings. Illustrative of the firm's high-quality work, in 2017 Elder and Kollar were among the advisers to PT Indika Energy as issuer on a $575m bond offering, which was part of a larger bridge-to-bond acquisition financing transaction for the client to increase its stake in Indonesia's third-largest coal mine. Kollar and Elder were also part of a cross-office team, which acted for the joint lead managers and bookrunners in a £2.5bn dual-tranche offering by the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Other clients include The Bank of New York Mellon, China State Construction International Holdings and Sinochem Offshore Capital. Derek Tsang left the firm to set up his own private practice in April 2018.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy's team brings its expertise to bear in market-shaping transactions throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Practice head James Grandolfo has more than 20 years of experience acting for issuers and banks in this part of the world. Other names to note include David Kuo, senior associate Kurtis Sherwood and dual US/Philippines-qualified counsel Paul Pery. While high-yield offerings are a particular sweet spot for the practice, the team excels in all types of debt and equity-linked transactions, including those involving regulatory capital, corporate hybrids and investment grade offerings. In 2017, Grandolfo and Pery acted for Deutsche Bank, HSBC and J.P. Morgan as the joint lead managers in a landmark $400m non-deferrable 'fixed for life' perpetual securities issuance by AYC Finance (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ayala); this transaction was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Another highlight saw Grandolfo and Pery advise DBS and HSBC as joint dealer managers and joint lead underwriters on a tender offer and $350m notes issuance by Vista Land, one of the Philippines' largest real estate developers. In addition, Grandolfo's team acted for Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan as joint dealer managers on a tender offer and $800m notes issuance; this was the second time the government of Mongolia tapped the US dollar bond market in 2017, following a $600m sovereign bond exchange offer and new issuance earlier in the year.

Simmons & Simmons LLP's Hong Kong team has a notable record of success in a diverse range of complex transactions in Asia. Led by Jay Lee, it generates a strong pipeline of work from global asset managers, hedge funds, private equity funds, asset management arms of financial institutions and corporates. The group is frequently sought to advise on new and emerging products, as has been evidenced by its involvement in a number of the most high-profile Asian green bonds offerings in the market. In 2017, Lee and supervising associate Barry Lau acted as English law transaction counsel to Mizuho Securities Asia as sole bookrunner and sole lead manager on a $100m green bonds issuance by PRC-based Hitachi Capital Management (China), which was guaranteed by Japan-based Hitachi Capital. The firm also has a strong track record acting for banks and issuers in RMB-denominated bonds transactions. Other areas of expertise include convertible bonds and exchangeable bonds, medium-term note programmes and certificate of deposit programmes. David Neuville has assisted Hainan Airlines and its affiliates with a series of bond offerings since 2010. Supervising associate Anna Burns is another name to note. Simon McKnight has left the firm.

Slaughter and May's team includes John Moore, who is recommended for his US securities law expertise. Lisa Chung and Roger Cheng are other key figures in the group, which recently saw David Watkins relocate to the London office.

White & Case 's Hong Kong team works alongside other offices in the Asia-Pacific region to handle high-stakes cross-border transactions for Hong Kong-, PRC- and Macau-based companies, or to act for financial institutions on the opposite side. Reflective of the firm's experience in the Macau gaming sector, Jessica Zhou and Eugene Man recently worked with the Singapore office to advise a group of banks, including Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), Merrill Lynch International and BOC Asia (among others) as initial purchasers on the circa $650m Rule 144A/Regulation S notes offering by Melco Resorts Finance (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Melco Resorts & Entertainment). The same team also handled a related circa $350m follow-on offering for the bank syndicate. In a separate matter, Zhou and others acted for first-time issuer Gangtai Group on its debut $100m Regulation S bond offering. Elsewhere, Baldwin Cheng was part of a cross-office team that advised Chinese luxury real estate developer Greentown China Holdings on its circa $450m global Regulation S offering of senior perpetual capital securities. The Indonesian market is also a source of work for the team, particularly in the context of high-yield deals. It is also sought to advise foreign issuers looking to access the capital markets in Asia. Zhou co-heads the practice with Catherine Tsang.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Hong Kong)'s team, which is jointly led by Freeman Chan and Shuang Zhao, advises on the Hong Kong, US and English law aspects of convertible bond offerings, high-yield issuances, liability management transactions and various other matters. In 2017, Chan, Zhao, counsels Robert Williams, Raymond Lam and others acted for China Lodging Group on a $425m convertible notes offering, and concurrent American depositary share (ADS) transaction and capped-call transaction. Another notable highlight involved advising Lenovo Group on a $750m Regulation S notes offering under its $3bn medium-term note programme, as well as on a concurrent US exclusionary waterfall tender offer.

Illustrative of Deacons' market profile, it has advised clients on sovereign RMB bond issuances by the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong since 2010; in 2017, Kevin Tong and senior associate Icarus Yuen acted for Bank of Communications on the RMB14bn issuance of sovereign bonds in two batches by the PRC's Ministry of Finance. The firm also undertakes a significant amount of work for The Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Tong and Yuen advised the client on the HK$3bn issuance of the second batch of Silver Bonds by Hong Kong residents aged 65 and above. Further reflective of the firm's high-quality work, Tong, Yuen and senior associate Christine Li acted for Wharf Real Estate Investment in the establishment of a $3bn medium-term note programme. Another highlight for the firm involved acting for the dealers and arrangers on the establishment of a $3bn medium-term note programme by CALC Bonds, which was guaranteed by China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings. Ronny Chow and Eugina Chan jointly lead the team. Gary Wong and Maynard Leung made partner.

At Herbert Smith Freehills, William Ku is the main partner in the Hong Kong team, which works closely with practitioners in Beijing (including Tom Chau and Zhong Wang) to act for issuers, underwriters and trustees in high-value deals. Ku's wide-ranging expertise includes investment grade and high-yield bonds, convertible and exchangeable bonds, medium-term note programmes and liability management exercises. He has successfully driven the growth of the firm's workload, particularly in relation to matters involving PRC-based issuers. A notable area of strength of the team is in matters involving credit-enhanced structures, such as guarantees, standby letters of credit and keepwell deeds. A recent highlight led by Ku involved acting for Qinghai Provincial Investment Group on a $250m bonds issuance, with the bonds being listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Ku also served as the lead adviser to China Shipbuilding Capital on its $1bn exchangeable bonds offering. Senior associates Sherry Lai and George Wu are other notable individuals in Hong Kong.

Paul Hastings LLP has had an uptick in underwriter-side mandates, and its practice is rounded out by work for its sizeable bank of PRC issuer clients. Under the leadership of Greater China practice head Raymond Li, the team demonstrates particularly strong capabilities in complex bond issuances, real estate sector transactions (notably involving work for PRC property developers and real estate companies) and high-yield offerings. Vivian Lam recently acted as the lead adviser to Chinese property developer Yuzhou Properties on its $375m senior notes offering, and in 2017, worked with James Ma to assist Sino-Ocean Land with its $600m perpetual securities issuance. Other clients include West China Cement, VLL International and Deutsche Bank.

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