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Hong Kong > Corporate (including M&A) > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Corporate (including M&A)
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Clifford Chance, which has had an on-the-ground presence in Greater China for more than 35 years, is a first choice for many of the largest domestic and global corporates in headline China inbound/outbound M&A, domestic transactions, and regional and international deals. Its ‘business-savvy’ group includes Amy Ho, who co-led a cross-office team, which assisted Chinese lighting company MLS Electronics with its circa €400m acquisition of Ledvance from Osram. Associate James Tong was part of a team that advised COFCO International on its acquisition of the remaining minority interest it did not own in Nidera Capital from Cygne, with the firm having previously acted for the client in its acquisition of a controlling interest in the business in 2014. In another notable deal, Neeraj Budhwani acted for a consortium consisting of Lanka Orix Leasing Company and The Bank of East Asia on its acquisition of PRASAC Microfinance Institution from the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries, Dragon Capital Group and the Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden. Fosun, EDF and Biostime are other clients. Frank Yuen joined from Woo Kwan Lee & Lo in January 2017; Andrew Whan heads up the Asia Pacific corporate practice; and other first-rate practitioners include Cherry Chan, ‘good communicator’ Emma Davies, Virginia Lee and Bryan Koo.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer remains a market leader for big-ticket transactions, particularly in Hong Kong public and private M&A, as well as China outbound deals. In 2016, Teresa Ko, recently promoted partner Yan Chen and others acted as Hong Kong legal counsel to China International Capital Corporation in its $2.5bn acquisition of China Investment Securities Company. Another high-profile mandate saw Edward Freeman and competition law specialist Alastair Mordaunt act as the firm’s lead partners in the advice to The Wharf regarding the $1.22bn sale of subsidiary company Wharf T&T to TPG and MBK Partners through a competitive auction process. Freeman and Ko also led a multi-disciplinary team in First Origin’s HK$7.1bn acquisition of Hong Kong Life Insurance. In a deal involving multiple offices, Simon Weller recently led a group which assisted Trivium Investment with acquiring Tricor for $835m. Robert Ashworth has more than 20 years of experience of handling corporate transactions in Asia, and Philip Li, who is dual-qualified to practise in China and the UK, is also recommended. Hui Zheng relocated to the Hong Kong office from London, while Karry Chu joined from China Telecom.

Kirkland & Ellis’ impressive bench of practitioners was bolstered by the recent additions of Daniel Dusek and Jacqueline Tang from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. The high-calibre team features prominently in a large number of the market’s most sophisticated, multi-jurisdictional transactions. For example, Jesse Sheley, Pierre-Luc Arsenault and Joey Chau were among the lead advisers to The Carlyle Group, CITIC Limited and CITIC Capital Holdings in the $2.08bn acquisition of a controlling stake in McDonald’s mainland China and Hong Kong business. In another high-profile deal, Nicholas Norris, the recently promoted Derek Poon and others acted for Bank of America Merrill Lynch as the financial adviser in the proposed $6.8bn privatisation of Belle International Holdings by way of a scheme of arrangement led by Hillhouse Capital. In addition, Norris, Chau and David Yun assisted COFCO Coca-Cola Beverages with its $852m investment in the Chinese bottling operations of Coca-Cola and Swire Beverages, as well as its subsequent sale through auction of its equity interests. Other highly esteemed names are David Zhang and Gary Li. Like Poon, Henry Yin made partner. Frank Sun and Jami Quoc departed for Latham & Watkins LLP and Meridian Capital respectively.

Linklaters’ corporate practice has benefited from the firm recently securing a number of new clients in the financial services arena, including Standard Life Investments, Royal Bank of Canada and China Construction Bank. Other sectors where the firm is particularly active include energy, mining and resources, and TMT. The team handled a number of transformational deals for Chinese SOEs in 2016, which included Kevin Cheung and Fay Zhou acting for China Merchants Group in its $100bn merger with Sinotrans and CSC Holdings. Another work highlight saw Craig Dally and Alexandra Bidlake assist Bank of America Merrill Lynch as financial adviser with the HK$28bn acquisition by China Resources (Holdings) of China Resources Enterprise’s non-beer businesses. Asia M&A head Robert Cleaver advised Bank of East Asia on the HK$6.5bn sale of Tricor Holdings and NWS Holdings to Permira, and Matthew Middleditch acted for ANZ in the S$17bn sale of its retail and wealth management businesses (which span a number of markets in the Asia Pacific region) to DBS Bank. Shandong Steel, Anbang Insurance and China Huadian also instruct the firm in corporate matters. Other key figures in the team are Iris Leung and counsel Christopher Yip.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has an illustrious reputation in high-profile and high-dollar-value transactions; it acts for around half of the Fortune 250, and has a particularly strong track record acting for Chinese companies on their acquisitions of assets in the US. It also excels in deals involving a range of sectors in China, such as TMT, pharmaceuticals and insurance. In 2016, Julie Gao led a multidisciplinary team, which included Will Cai and Shu Du, in the advice to Didi Chuxing (Hangzhou Kuaizhi Technology Co) on its circa $35bn acquisition of UberChina from Uber Technologies. Gao more recently also assisted JD.com with the spinoff of JD Finance. In another matter, practice head Jonathan Stone, Christopher Betts and recently promoted counsel Olivia Odell were part of a multidisciplinary, cross-office team, which acted for Citigroup in its $3bn sale of a 20% interest in China Guangfa Bank to China Life Insurance Company. Recent lateral hires included Antony Dapiran, who joined from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and Geoffrey Chan, who arrived from Ropes & Gray LLP. In other developments, John Adebiyi relocated to the London office, Alan Schiffman retired from private practice, Daniel Dusek moved to Kirkland & Ellis, and Alec Tracy joined Ascent Capital Advisors.

Slaughter and May’s practice garners fulsome praise from clients. Its team ‘provides more than technical legal advice’; it ‘appreciates the bigger picture’ and demonstrates ‘strong business acumen’. David Watkins, in particular, is ‘enthusiastic and hands-on’. Led by Peter Brien, the group acts for a significant number of Chinese SOEs and private companies, and other Asian and Hong Kong-listed clients, in their most sophisticated transactions. Senior partner Peter Lake is leading the advice to OCBC Bank on its acquisition of National Australia Bank’s private wealth business in Singapore and Hong Kong. Benita Yu, Roger Cheng and others recently acted for Alibaba on its delisting and privatisation of Intime Retail (Group) Company for circa $2.6bn. In 2016, Clara Choi assisted HNA Group with its $6.5bn acquisition of a 25% equity interest in Hilton Worldwide Holdings from Blackstone Group. John Moore and Lisa Chung are other notable individuals in the group.

Allen & Overy is regularly at the forefront of the advice to Chinese investors on their most significant and strategically complex outbound deals in Europe, the US and further afield globally. It also handles inbound investments into Greater China for sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and multinational corporates. Other clients include Chinese SOEs and private companies. In 2016, Bernardine Lam, senior associate David Norman and others acted for China Resources in its $1.7bn consortium bid with Macquarie Capital to acquire Genesis Care. In another highlight, practice head Will McAuliffe and Norman were among the advisers to Imperial Brands on its joint venture with China National Tobacco Corporation. The practice is in growth mode, with the firm picking up a string of new clients, including Silk Road Fund, China Life, Ant Financial and China Datang Power. A notable uptick in mandates has led to a corresponding increase in the size of the team; Jonathan Hsui and Lina Lee joined from Ashurst in 2016. In addition, recently promoted partner Michael Jacobs relocated from London to the Hong Kong office.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s team receives high praise for its deal execution capabilities, which ensure that it consistently successfully concludes some of the most complex high-dollar-value transactions in the market. Its client list includes blue-chip names such as Tencent, Sygenta and Fujian Thai Hot Investment. Paul Chow recently acted for Intime Retail Group on its privatisation led by Alibaba, and was part of a cross-office team that advised Freeport-McMoRan on the $2.77bn sale of its interests in TF Holdings to China Molybdenum. Another key partner in Hong Kong is Miranda So, who worked alongside counsels Sam Kelso, Terrence O’Donnell and Brian Snyder to assist Uber with the merger of Uber China with Didi Chuxing.

Herbert Smith Freehills has a top-notch reputation in strategically significant transactions, with its workload spanning a wide ambit of industries, such as energy, retail, TMT and pharmaceuticals. Its client base includes multinational and Chinese privately owned corporates, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), financial institutions and Hong Kong-listed companies. In 2016, Tommy Tong, and senior associate Maggie Dou collaborated with the London office to advise Ping An Insurance Group on its acquisition of UK-headquartered Mayborn Group from 3i. In another matter, Tong and senior associate Sheena Loi assisted China Resources Group with establishing a joint venture with Belgian private equity house Verlinvest SA to invest in healthcare assets in China and internationally. The firm also acted for Chinese state-owned investment fund Silk Road Fund in its acquisition of a 10% stake in Russian gas processing and petrochemical conglomerate Sibur. Jason Sung is another highly regarded individual in the team, which is led by Matt Emsley.

Led by Cathy Yeung, Latham & Watkins LLP’s Hong Kong team underwent significant expansion in 2016, adding depth to the firm’s existing offering in the corporate arena. Namely, Simon Cooke and Amy Beckingham were hired from Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer respectively, while Frank Sun, who is dual-qualified to practise in New York and Hong Kong, arrived from Kirkland & Ellis. In addition, Terris Tang rejoined the team as corporate counsel from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. The broad spread of the work sees the group play a major role in some of the most sophisticated and high-value transactions in China and further afield globally. As part of a multidisciplinary cross-office team, Cooke and counsel Dominik Sklenar are assisting Nord Anglia Education with the $4.3bn take-private by a consortium led by Baring Private Equity Asia and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. In 2016, David Blumental was a key adviser in a sizeable cross-border team, which acted for Shandong Ruyi Technology Group in its acquisition of a majority stake in Paris-based Groupe SMCP. Cathay Fortune Capital Investment, Vistra Group and Go-JEK are new clients.

Under the leadership of Psyche Tai, the team at Norton Rose Fulbright is widely praised for its excellent track record in high-end corporate transactions in Hong Kong and China, and its global platform makes it well placed to handle other international deals. The practice generates work across a range of sectors, with particular strengths in areas such as real estate, financial institutions and insurance, technology, energy and natural resources. In 2016, Tai, of counsel Rachel Chan and senior associate Aldo Chan acted for Huatai Financial Holdings (Hong Kong) as financial adviser to Hongkong Jingang Trade Holding Co. in the latter’s HK$11.4bn proposed acquisition of China Shengmu. Another highly regarded individual Emma de Ronde was the lead adviser to Hong Kong-listed company Armada Holdings on its HK$1.57bn sale of a majority stake by Kerry Media to Great Wall Pan Asia International Investment, and also the associated HK$990m sale of one of Armada’s subsidiaries, Coastline International, to Paulton Global. Terence Lau and senior associate Priscilla Lee are other names to note. Etelka Bogardi recently joined from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Jon Perry relocated from Hong Kong to the London office in 2016. Allan Yee and Phillip John retired from the partnership.

Shearman & Sterling’s recent workload has seen it maintain its reputation as a go-to firm for high-profile and landmark deals. In the healthcare sector, Stephanie Tang co-led a cross-office team, which acted for Taikang Insurance in its circa $1bn joint venture with NorthStar Realty Finance to acquire healthcare assets in the US and UK; this marked Taikang’s largest healthcare investment outside China. Peter Chen assisted Phoenix Healthcare with its $480m acquisition of certain hospital businesses of China Resources Healthcare Group (one of the few instances where a deal of this type did not trigger the reverse takeover rules or extreme VSA rules in Hong Kong). In other work, Sean Wang, who splits his time between Hong Kong and Beijing, was one of the lead advisers to Bank of Communications on its acquisition of Brazil’s Banco BBM, representing the client’s first overseas acquisition. Further, the team’s overall level of activity is reflected by the fact that it has handled more than 35 going-private transactions of US-listed Chinese companies since 2010. Li Chen, who joined from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, specialises in handling outbound acquisitions and investments for Chinese enterprises. Paul Strecker is also recommended.

Leading private equity firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is a strong choice for Asia-based and global private equity sponsors. In addition, it generates work from Asia-based companies in relation to their investments in China and throughout the Asia Pacific region. Another area of strength is in acting for the special committees of boards of directors. Practice head Kathryn King Sudol recently co-led a cross-border team that acted for Ant Financial Services Group (formerly known as Alipay, and an affiliate of the Alibaba Group) in its $1.2bn acquisition of MoneyGram. In another matter, Sudol and recently promoted partner Ian Ho advised the buyer consortium in the privatisation of China Ming Yang Wind Power Group. Jin Hyuk Park splits his time between the Hong Kong and Seoul offices. Anthony King, Celia Lam and Chris Lin are also recommended.

Sullivan & Cromwell’s team adds value in cutting-edge cross-border transactions through its ability to leverage its US, UK and Hong Kong law expertise. It undertakes a significant amount of work for Chinese SOEs in relation to their outbound investments, particularly in the energy and infrastructure sector. The group also excels in public M&A, going-private transactions and intra-China deals, among other matters. Michael DeSombre was the lead adviser to Anheuser-Busch InBev on its $1.6bn sale of SABMiller’s 49% interest in China Resources Snow Breweries to China Resources Beer (Holdings); the firm had previously advised the client on its combination with SABMiller. Garth Bray acted for Alibaba Group Services in its $1bn acquisition of a controlling interest in Lazada Group, representing the client’s largest foreign acquisition to date, and also assisted the same client with establishing a transformational $234m joint venture with SoftBank to market and sell humanoid robots in China. Another first-rate practitioner is Kay Ian Ng, who assisted China Mengniu Dairy Company with its investment in and subsequent mandatory offer for China Modern Dairy Holdings. Hong Kong managing partner Chun Wei leads the firm’s corporate practice in Asia.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP takes a lead role in some of the largest and most high-profile cross-border transactions in the Asia Pacific market. For example, in 2016, the team was involved in three of the top ten Chinese acquisitions of US assets (by value). Asia managing partner Akiko Mikumo, counsel William Welty and U-Hyeon Kwon were part of a cross-office, multidisciplinary team that acted for HNA Group in the $6bn acquisition of Ingram Micro through Tianjin Tianhai Investment Co (China); this is the largest takeover of a US public company by a Chinese buyer to date. Mikumo, Welty and others are now assisting the same client with its $6.5bn acquisition of a circa 25% interest in Hilton Worldwide Holdings from Blackstone. Another recent highlight saw the firm advising a consortium (consisting of Baring Private Equity Asia and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board) on the $4.3bn take-private of Nord Anglia Education; this matter represents one of the largest-ever privatisations of a US-listed Chinese company. Hong Kong and UK qualified partner Henry Ong has more than 25 years of experience of Hong Kong and Asia-related public and private M&A, strategic alliances and joint ventures.

Ashurst’s ‘very strong team’, which is praised for its ‘excellent work product’, handles an extensive spread of work covering China outbound/inbound transactions, as well as intra-Asia deals, among other matters. PH Chik, who joined from Linklaters in February 2017, has particular experience of acting for Chinese SOEs in transactions in Greater China, as well as their overseas investments and corporate compliance matters; his clients include ChinaCoal Energy Co., China Shenhua and Yanzhou Coal. John Kim has a strong track record acting for Korea-based clients, and was the lead adviser to Kia Motors on a $1bn investment agreement and incentive package with the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. In a key deal in the natural resources sector, Stuart Rubin worked with members of the London and Singapore offices to advise Vedanta Resources on the recently completed $2.3bn merger of subsidiary company Vedanta with Cairn India. Hong Kong managing partner Joshua Cole acts for clients across a range of industries, with particular experience of the financial institutions and TMT sectors. Recently promoted partner Chin Yeoh is ‘highly commercial, strategic and a pleasure to work with’.

Baker McKenzie’s track record in corporate transactions in China dates back more than 40 years, making it well placed to advise overseas-based investors on inbound investments into the country. It also handles strategic outbound deals for Chinese SOEs and private companies, and also assists with wider Asian/international transactions, as well as purely domestic matters. Recent work highlights saw Karen Man, Michael Horman and special counsel Frank Meier are part of a cross-border team that is acting for LGT Group Foundation in its acquisition of ABN AMRO’s private banking business in Asia and the Middle East. Horman is advising construction materials manufacturer LafargeHolcim on the circa $889m divestment of its 65% interest in LafargeHolcim Vietnam to Siam City Cement. David Fleming leads the department, which includes Tracy Wut, Dorothea Koo, Edmund Chan and Jeanie Kim. Rose Zhu joined from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP and Elsa Chan retired from private practice.

Providing ‘good value for money’, Deacons’ diverse workload covers big-ticket public and private M&A, joint ventures and group reorganisations, among a multitude of matters. The firm has an excellent reputation in the Hong Kong market, winning sophisticated and high-profile work directly from local blue-chip clients, and also generating referrals from international law firms. It is also increasingly sought-after by PRC-based clients for advice on outbound investments. Ronny Chow, senior associate Maynard Leung and associate Doris Leung acted for Hong Kong Main Board-listed company The Wharf (Holdings) in the HK$9.5bn disposal of its telecoms unit Wharf T&T to MBK Partners and TPG, representing the largest M&A deal in the Hong Kong telecoms industry in since 2014. In another standout transaction, Chow was the lead adviser to Luen Thai Holdings on its proposed HK$1.49bn takeover by Shangtex, as well as on Luen Thai’s disposal of its non-core businesses for $110m. Alexander Que, who ‘thinks outside of the box to provide constructive advice’, assisted Tianjin Cali Industrial Company with its RMB916m divestment of Mega Convention Group to Lisi Group (Holdings). Eugina Chan, Cynthia Chung, Machiuanna Chu and Rhoda Yung are other names to note.

Hogan Lovells combines local market knowledge, international reach and full-service capabilities, which put it in a strong position to cover all issues arising from every type of corporate transaction. A particular sweet spot of the practice is in strategically significant deals involving highly regulated industries, such as financial services, insurance, energy, infrastructure, life sciences, consumer and TMT. Steven Tran was a key adviser in a cross-office group that acted for the management team of UK-headquartered Bio Products Laboratory in the $820m sale of the business by Bain Capital to Chinese investment manager Creat Group Corporation. In other work highlights, a group led by Nelson Tang, which also included Owen Chan and senior associate Alan Wong, acted for UBS as the financial adviser to China Mengniu Dairy Company on its conditional mandatory cash offer to acquire China Modern Dairy Holdings for $1.1bn; and team head Tim Fletcher and counsel Laurence Davidson assisted DCC with its $150.3m acquisition of Shell’s LPG business in Hong Kong and Macau. Sanofi, Foxconn Technology Group and Wincor Nixdorf are other clients of the practice. Sammy Li and Stephen Peepels joined from Paul Hastings LLP and DLA Piper respectively.

In terms of deal volume and value handled by lawyers, King & Wood Mallesons is one of the standout firms in the Asia Pacific region, and it is particularly prominent in the Hong Kong, PRC and Australian markets. Although the team handles transactions across a broad-section of industries, there has been a notable uptick in work connected with the technology, media, entertainment and telecoms sectors. In 2016, Neil Carabine and senior associate Stacey Guo assisted CLP Holdings with establishing a joint venture vehicle with HKT in order to deliver electric vehicle charging solutions in Hong Kong. Other industries where the firm has been active include energy and natural resources, real estate and infrastructure. Also recommended are Gary Lock, and senior associates Eugene Lau and Ruth Lau, who are advising the shareholders of China Shengmu Organic Milk on the sale of their shares in the company to Inner Mongolia Yili and the mandatory conditional cash offer to be launched by Hongkong Jingang Trade Holding Co. Sheldon Tse acts for multinationals, as well as a broad base of PRC clients, including listed and private companies, as well as SOEs. Hayden Flinn and Anthony Wan are other key contacts, as are John Baptist Chan and Angela Cui, who joined from Clifford Chance and Proskauer Rose LLP respectively. Hera Lee made counsel. Raymond Wong is now with Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Clients turn to Mayer Brown JSM for advice on their most complex, high-stakes transactions. Jeckle Chiu – a key point of contact for red-chip clients, SOEs and Chinese investment banks – is acting for state-owned conglomerate Guangdong Holdings in a reorganisation of its business. In other work, Chiu advised Dah Chong Hong Holdings on its $350m acquisition of Li & Fung’s consumer and healthcare distribution business in mainland China and multiple markets across Asia. Chiu leads the team with Mark Uhrynuk, who has experience of practising in Hong Kong, New York and England. Elaine Lo is an expert on foreign direct investment into China and also handles cross-border transactions. Recent personnel developments saw Robert Woll join from Deacons, while Jeremy Cunningham move to RPC.

Morrison & Foerster has built up a diverse practice, catered to service the needs of Chinese and multinational investors in relation to their domestic and international investment activities. The team is active in deals across a wide variety of sectors, and really comes into its own in headline transactions in industries such as TMT and life sciences. Thomas Chou and of counsel Jinghua Zou (a recent hire from Allen & Overy) are frequently handling cross-border matters. Chuan Sun is part of a cross-office team advising Wal-Mart Stores and its global e-commerce division on a strategic alliance with JD.com, one of China’s largest e-commerce companies by revenue. In the life sciences arena, Chou, Sun and Jeremy Hunt assisted Ally Bridge Group with 15 transactions in 2016, including a $38m Series B investment into Delaware-based ShockWave Medical, which is pioneering Lithoplasty technology. The firm also has a strong market position in the real estate sector. Marcia Ellis and Vivian Yiu are other key contacts the team, while Charles Chau departed for Jones Day.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison’s practice has gained notable traction in China and the wider Asia Pacific market, which is evidenced by its work for such names as DreamWorks Animation, The Kraft Heinz Company, Microsoft and Asia Satellite. In addition, the firm has attracted high-calibre practitioners to its team; in 2016, Betty Yap and associate Edwin Chan joined from Linklaters, and counsel Po Ying Lo was hired from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Reflective of the quality of the practice’s instructions, Jeanette Chan was the lead adviser to Tencent on a $550m Series B consortium investment in Yixin Capital in 2016, as well as a $580m Series C follow-up investment in 2017. She also worked with counsel Hans-Günther Herrmann and others to advise Universal Parks & Resorts on the commercial agreements associated with the proposed Universal Beijing Resort project. Yap was also part of a team that assisted GIC with its joint acquisition (along with NavInfo and Tencent) of a minority stake in open platform company HERE from BMW, Daimler and Audi.

Reed Smith Richards Butler has more than 30 years of experience acting for many of the largest and most active Hong Kong-listed companies in some of their most sizeable, complex and business-critical transactions, and it also has a strong reputation advising Chinese SOEs and private companies. In addition, the firm’s ability to leverage its wider global network adds credibility to its offering in cross-border deals, where it acts for local clients and multinational investors. Denise Jong and Anthony Woo were among the lead advisers to Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties in its high-profile privatisation, the largest in Hong Kong in 2016. In another deal, which was particularly complex from a Hong Kong Listing Rules and Takeovers Code standpoint, Ivy Lai acted for China Resources Healthcare Group in its HK$3.72bn combination with Phoenix Healthcare Group. The impressive client roster also includes China Smarter, CITIC Group and Guangdong Investment. Jong and Michael Pepper jointly head up the team, which also includes Delpha Ho, KC Mok and Gregory Wang.

White & Case’s corporate practice has continued to gain momentum following the hire of Christopher Kelly from Linklaters in June 2016 to head up its Asia offering. There has been significant expansion of the team at associate level; Terence Mak and Peiwen Chen joined from Paul Hastings LLP and Linklaters respectively, while Shawn Yip moved from Shearman & Sterling. Another key team member Tess Fang made counsel. The group has played a critical role in a number of complex, cross-border deals. For example, Peggy Wang, Baldwin Cheng and Fang worked alongside members of the New York office to advise Suzhou Dongshan Precision Manufacturing on its $610m take-private acquisition of California-based Multi-Fineline Electronix. In a matter connected with the Chinese government’s rollout of the One Belt One Road initiative, Anthony Vasey, Catherine Tsang and Cheng acted for China Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation in its $200m acquisition of Poly-GCL Petroleum Group (the owner of five LNG exploration blocks in the Ogaden Basin of Ethiopia with an estimated asset value of $4bn).

At Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Hong Kong), native Cantonese speaker Freeman Chan acts for Hong Kong and PRC corporates in private equity deals, M&A and joint venture matters. Other key figures in the team are Gabriele Antonazzo and counsel Raymond Lam, who are part of a cross-office team that is assisting McDonald’s with the $2bn sale of a majority stake of its businesses in Hong Kong and China to a partnership formed by CITIC Limited, CITIC Capital Holdings and The Carlyle Group, which will act as the master franchisee for 20 years. Chan is the lead adviser to a consortium of investors led by Hillhouse Capital Group and CDH Investments in its circa $5.8bn take-private offer for Hong Kong-listed company Belle International Holdings.

DLA Piper’s practice is coordinated to effectively service Hong Kong and PRC deals, as well as transactions in the wider Asia Pacific region and elsewhere. One of its industry strengths, among others, is in the insurance sector, which is illustrated by the fact that the firm has been Ping An’s primary international legal advisor since 1998. In addition, Paul Chen, Melody He-Chen and members of the US team are advising another key insurance client Fosun International on its $3bn sale of Ironshore to Liberty Mutual Group. Chen and Sheng Wu have also recently assisted Fosun’s subsidiary Peal Reinsurance Company with a number of transactions, including its investment in a 50% stake in Caribbean insurance group NAGICO Holdings. Another core area of expertise for the team is in transactions connected with the transport, freight and logistics sector; Heng Loong Cheong, who splits his practice between the Hong Kong and Singapore offices, is leading the charge in this space. In the area of energy and natural resources, Carolyn Dong and senior associate Matthew Davis were key advisers to China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) on its $900m acquisition of Chevron’s assets in South Africa and Botswana.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP garners wide acclaim for its market-leading private equity practice but the firm also has an excellent reputation for corporate transactions in the financial services and insurance sectors, where it undertakes some of the most significant deals in the Asia Pacific region. In 2016, Drew Dutton was the lead adviser to American International Group (AIG) in the $1.2bn sale of a stake in PICC Property and Casualty by way of a block trade. Dutton also worked with recently promoted partner Edwin Northover and others to assist AIG with selling its Japanese life insurance division to FWD for JPY33bn. The team has also recently acted for clients such as Anbang Insurance Group, Ally Bridge, Ant Financial Services Group and Hony Capital. Another name to note in the team is William Chua, whose broad experience includes leveraged buyouts, going-private transactions and divestitures.

Gibson Dunn’s Graham Winter, who has been a key fixture in the Hong Kong market for 25 years, combines extensive local market and regulatory knowledge (including the Hong Kong Takeovers Code), with vast experience in handling sophisticated multi-jurisdictional transactions. For example, Winter assisted Melco International Development with its $1.1bn acquisition of a controlling interest in NASDAQ-listed gaming and entertainment resort developer Melco Crown Entertainment from Australian-listed Crown Resorts. Winter also worked with the London office to advise PCCW on the conditional sale of Transvision Investments to Hutchison 3G UK for $373m. Yi Zhang focuses on deals with a nexus to China (such as foreign direct investments and outbound acquisitions), and recently advised Right Won Management on the HK$3bn sale of its controlling interest in business parks operator Yida China Holdings to Jiayou (International) Investment. First Pacific Company, Aboitiz Equity Ventures and San Miguel Holdings Corporation are other clients of the firm.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (in association with Luk & Partners) is the result of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius linking up with independent Hong Kong firm Luk & Partners in June 2017. The firm built up its corporate offering in Hong Kong by hiring six partners and three associates from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; Maurice Hoo and Edwin Luk are the key figures in the team that moved (the other partners are Connie Cheung, Keith Cheung, Billy Wong and Yan Zeng). Another hire from the same firm was Ning Zhang, who joined the Beijing office. The team’s wide-ranging workload includes domestic intra-China deals, Chinese outbound transactions and take-private matters. It also has a fine record in sponsor-side venture capital and private equity deals; recent highlights involved acting for Warburg Pincus in its $120m Series E investment in Chinese online tutoring provider Yuanfudao, and advising the same client on its Series C investment in smart electric car developer NextEV.

Paul Hastings LLP’s Hong Kong office, which operates as part of a wider Greater China team, is particularly experienced in corporate transactions in the real estate sector; David Blumenfeld and Paul Guan acted for Ping An Insurance in the formation of a joint venture with Blumberg Investment Partners to invest in real estate assets in the US, with a commitment to initially invest in a build-to-suit logistics portfolio; this marked Ping An’s first Chinese outbound investment into the Western logistics sector. In another highlight, Vivian Lam advised Alpha Investment Partners on its $516.9m divestment of an 80% stake in Sparkle Bright, which owns Life Hub @ Jinqiao (a mixed-use development in Shanghai). The firm also marks been a notable increase in corporate work arising from the TMT and life sciences sectors. Further, Raymond Li, Nan Li and others have been advising COSCO and China Shipping Group on various asset acquisitions and disposals as part of their landmark $15bn restructuring. In a deal that is strategically important for China’s One Belt One Road initiative, the team assisted COSCO with its acquisition of 67% of Piraeus Port Authority. Victor Chen and Douglas Freeman left to join Goodwin Procter.

Sidley Austin handles a mix of Hong Kong and China inbound/outbound transactions, where it acts for PRC-based companies (including those listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange), private equity funds, SOEs, Fortune 500 and other multinational companies, among others. Christopher Cheng and counsel Mandy Wong acted for Wang Tai Holdings in its acquisition and reverse takeover of Iron Mining International (Mongolia) for an aggregate sum of HK$12bn. Cheng also advised Hong Kong-listed real estate company Sunac China Holdings on the RMB3.66bn acquisition by Sunac (Qingdao) Real Estate Company (an indirect wholly owned subsidiary) of Qingdao Calxon Real Estate Development Company. Constance Choy assisted R&F Properties (HK) with establishing a joint venture with Caesars Korea Holding Company to develop, own and operate a resort on Yeongjong Island in South Korea. Counsel Yan Zhang joined from O'Melveny in October 2016, and Mengyu Lu, Raymond Oh and Gloria Lam are other notable individuals in the team. Janney Chong left for RPC.

Simmons & Simmons LLP’s practice is centred on advising PRC clients expanding internationally, which includes SOEs and private companies, as well as international investors investing into China. The firm is known for its particular focus on corporate work connected with financial institutions, asset management and investment funds, and TMT. In one of the team’s recent highlights, Joseph Lee, Claudia Yiu and Christopher Ma acted for the controlling shareholders of Hong Kong-listed entity Advanced Card Systems Holdings in the sale of a 61.4% stake in the company. Asia corporate head Ian Wood advised the management team of Fitness First on the merger of the business with Celebrity Fitness by their respective owners Oaktree Capital and Navis Capital Partners. Seung Chong and Vivien Yang also have active practices. Michael Chin joined from Hogan Lovells in July 2017.

Eversheds Sutherland operates as a single China M&A team across its offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing (with the Hong Kong office being the largest, purely in terms of numbers). A name to note in Hong Kong is Asia corporate head Stephen Mok, who has a wealth of experience in public and private M&A, and acted for Datang Power in the $1bn divestment of its coal-to-chemical business to Zhongxin Energy and Chemical Technology Company. Mok also worked with Norman Hui and consultant Sin-Joh Chuang to assist New World China Land with its proposed privatisation by Easywin Enterprises Corporation. In the technology sector, Charles Butcher recently assisted GEM-listed company Credit China FinTech Holdings with acquiring a 51% interest in Vietnam-based IT services provider Amigo Technologies Joint Stock Company for circa $12.7m. Butcher’s transactional experience also extends to other industries, such as energy and natural resources, financial services and life sciences.

Independent Hong Kong firm Howse Williams Bowers fields ‘an extremely responsive and commercial team’, which is also ‘very professional and engenders client loyalty’. Chris Williams is ‘a go-to partner’, according to one client, and Heidi Lee, who joined from Ashurst, is also ‘fantastic’. Lee has vast experience acting for Hong Kong-listed companies in public M&A, which is complemented by her regulatory and compliance expertise. Gilles Cardonnel has specialist experience in corporate transactions in the luxury/retail industry, and Denise Che and Brian Ho are among other partners. Work highlights for the firm included assisting Lippo Group with an investment in Skye Mineral Partners LLC. Sixty Group, Bluebell and Overseas Union Enterprise are other active clients.

K&L Gates’ excellent reputation in China-related outbound and inbound deals sees it act for Chinese SOEs and private enterprises, multinational corporates, financial institutions and fund clients. In a notable pharmaceuticals sector transaction, Frank Voon, along with members of the Frankfurt and Berlin offices, advised Hong Kong-listed Luye Pharma Group, a manufacturer of medicinal products, on its market entry into Europe in 2016, through its €245m acquisition of Acino’s transdermal drug delivery systems. Virginia Tam recently assisted Perfect World Pictures with exiting from its investment in China Fortran Media (CFM), having previously advised the client on its investment in CFM in 2015. Illustrative of the spread of the work, the team handles transactions connected with a range of other sectors, including oil and gas, consumer, technology and real estate.

Kwok Yih & Chan’s practice demonstrates notable breadth of experience, which spans public takeovers, private M&A and private equity investments/divestments, among other matters. Conrad Chan, Leon Saw, consultant Michelle Liu and others are acting for Hong Kong-listed company S. Culture International Holdings in its proposed HK$333m takeover by PRC-based Shang Ying Financial Holding Co. Chan and Saw were also the lead advisers to Handsome Global Investments in its HK$483m acquisition of a majority stake in China Hanya. Dieter Yih and Larry Kwok are also highly regarded.

Minter Ellison handles particularly sophisticated corporate matters as well as assisting with Hong Kong capital markets listings and follow-on offerings. In the M&A space, the team is primarily known for acting for mid-market Chinese businesses and entrepreneurs, it also generates mandates from other clients, thanks to the firm’s wider network; Barbara Mok and senior associate Michelle Chan worked with members of the Melbourne and Shanghai offices to assist Kajima Australia with its acquisition of Cockram Construction, and are advising the client on the merger between Cockram Construction and Icon Construction Group. Other notable highlights for the team included Mok and others acting for IDG Energy in four inter-conditional transactions, pursuant to a reverse takeover and deemed new listing, and separately, advising SUEZ Groupe on the reorganisation of its water and waste projects in Greater China. Asia practice head Fred Kinmonth has more than 40 years of experience handling corporate transactions. Katherine U, Anne Ko and senior associate George Tong are also recommended.

Although Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s Hong Kong team sustained a number of departures in February 2017 – former practice head Maurice Hoo joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (in association with Luk & Partners), along with Edwin Luk, Keith Cheung and Connie Cheung – the firm has been rebuilding the group since; Scott Peterman and Mark Lehmkuhler recently joined from Jones Day and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP respectively. The addition of these two highly experienced practitioners caters to the firm’s main strengths, which lie in acting for Chinese SOEs and private enterprises in their outbound investments. Peterman and Lehmkuhler also have substantial experience of technology sector M&A, which is another forte of the firm. In addition, the Hong Kong group also draws upon the support of the firm’s sizeable wider network. Baidu, CITIC Guoan and Gosource Holding Co. are notable clients.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s ‘service is consistently good’ and ‘the lawyers are very knowledgeable, responsive and professional’. The firm has a tremendous record in public M&A in Hong Kong and has also experienced an uptick in cross-border work, including outbound investments by Chinese and other Asian companies. In addition, its strong private equity practice drives work from sponsors and investors. In terms of sector strengths, the practice is active in the areas of lodging and gaming, as well as real estate. In 2016, Yuval Tal and associate Joy Chen assisted AccorHotels with establishing a cooperation and investment agreement with Singapore-based Banyan Tree Holdings. Tal also acted for the client in its $2.9bn acquisition of FRHI Hotels and Resorts, as well as a strategic alliance with Huazhu Hotels Group to create a hotel company in China, among other matters. Tal and Ying Li advised GRAMMY Museum and The Recording Academy on the creation of the first-ever GRAMMY Museum in China. The team also handles work for clients such as PAG, China Jinmao and Haitong International. Jeremy Leifer, Vivian Ho and Winnie Chan are other names to note.

Since Ropes & Gray LLP’s team expanded in 2015, the practice has continued on an upward trajectory; it has seen an increase in high-value, sophisticated China outbound transactions and won more high-end (China-related and cross-border) work in the life sciences sector. Head of Asia M&A James Lidbury worked with members of the Shanghai and Boston offices to advise privately held global conglomerate China Oceanwide on its acquisition of International Data Group; this was a complex deal structured as two transactions, and needed clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), among other issues. Peng Yu acted for a consortium of seven Chinese investors (which included such names as China Everbright, GF Investments and Huarong International) in their $300m pre-IPO equity investment in e-Shang Redwood. Zhejiang Hailiang, JHL Biotech and StemCells are other active clients.

Stephenson Harwood has been present in Hong Kong for more than 38 years, which has enabled the firm to develop longstanding relationships with a significant number of Hong Kong-listed companies. The firm also acts for international companies, Chinese privately owned enterprises (particularly SMEs) and SOEs. In 2016, Voon Keat Lai, Karen Chan and Yolanda Chung acted for the controlling shareholder of Dan Form Holdings Company in the HK$1.2bn sale of its equity interests in Dan Form to a wholly owned subsidiary of Tian An. Lai also advised Animoca Brands Corporation (listed on the Australian Stock Exchange) on its €5.4m acquisition of Finland-based mobile games developer and publisher TicBits OY. Eugene Lai advises on foreign direct investments into China, and also assists clients with setting up operations there, as well as handling China outbound acquisitions/investments. Paul Westover leads the team, which includes senior associate Andrew Carpenter. Jane Ng joined from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in January 2017.

Troutman Sanders LLP attracts a share of big-ticket matters and its workload includes acting for overseas-based corporates investing directly into China, and also advising Chinese companies on outbound investments and acquisitions, as well as handling domestic transactions. Rossana Chu acted for Hong Kong Main Board-listed company Fullshare Holdings in its HK$16.3bn takeover of China High Speed in 2016. Allen Shyu, who divides time between the Hong Kong and Beijing offices, worked with members of the US team to assist King Lai Hygienic Materials Co. with obtaining CFIUS approval of its acquisition of California-based GNB Corporation. Edward Epstein, Shirley Lau and Jason Kuo are the other active partners in the team, which includes highly regarded associate Isabelle Yi Wu. Olivia Lee retired from private practice.

Woo Kwan Lee & Lo, which has been active in the Hong Kong market since the 1970s, acts for blue-chip and red-chip companies, SOEs and Chinese privately owned enterprises, among other clients. It has a solid base of real estate sector clients, in particular, for which it provides assistance with corporate and commercial matters. In 2016, Carmelo Lee and Albert Wu advised Y.T. Realty Group on the payment of a special dividend to its qualifying shareholders in the form of a distribution in specie of the issued shares of The Crossharbour (Holdings). Outside the real estate area, Lee and Theresa Sze acted as Hong Kong counsel to Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings and Power Assets Holdings in the establishment of a consortium with Cheung Kong Property Holdings to acquire ASX-listed company DUET Group for circa A$7.4bn. Kelvin Tam, Dora Chan and Brian Leung are other key contacts.

At Addleshaw Goddard, the arrival of New York and Hong Kong-qualified partner Andrew Yang from Goodwin in October 2016 followed the key hire of legal director Yunxiao Hu from Jones Day in March 2016. The additions have enhanced the firm’s ability to service an ever-expanding pipeline of China (inbound/outbound) and Asia Pacific transactions. Yang, in particular, acts for start-up companies based in Hong Kong and South-East Asia, and also serves venture capital firms advising early stage companies (most notably in the technology industry). Hu has experience advising multinational companies on their transactions across a wide range of sectors, such as telecoms, healthcare and insurance. Team head Brett Stewien and managing associate Cliff Lui are acting for Lenlyn Holdings in its £196m sale of international currency exchange business ICE to PRC-based conglomerate HNA Group. Stewien and others also recently assisted Swiss company Kieser Training with establishing a joint venture in Hong Kong as part of a strategy to develop a gym franchise in the Greater China region. Daniel Wan is another key figure in the group.

Baker Botts L.L.P. specialises in corporate transactions in the energy and natural resources arena, and has remained active in this space, notwithstanding difficult trading conditions caused by low commodity prices. In a standout highlight, Russell Wilkinson and senior associate Neil Macdonald acted for Medco Energi Internasional in its acquisition of ConocoPhillips Indonesia and ConocoPhillips Singapore Operations. Halliburton and PT Humpuss are other clients of the team, which also includes Michael Arruda, Joanne Du and special counsel (YW Chung 33636).

Bird & Bird has a growing market share of deals thanks to its strengths in sectors such as technology, healthcare and life sciences, aviation, and retail and consumer. Pádraig Walsh, who provides ‘straightforward advice’ and ‘inspires confidence’, was among the advisers to Beijing Xinwei Technology Group during its $285m acquisition of Israeli global fixed satellites operator Spacecom in 2016. The firm’s client roster also includes names such as Huarong Overseas, Rexel Developments SAS and Weiye Holdings. Other key figures in Hong Kong are Wing On Chui and senior associate Simon Wong.

In 2016, O'Melveny strengthened its team by hiring Edwin Kwok from Paul Hastings LLP. Kwok’s equity capital markets and M&A experience makes him particularly well placed to assist businesses with raising capital and undertaking strategically important investment activities. Kwok, counsel Ke Zhu and Beijing-based Ke Geng recently acted for the buyer consortium in its $300m privatisation offer for GEM-listed Chinese pharmaceutical company Shandong Luoxin. Kwok also acted for Ever Billion Group (a wholly owned subsidiary company of Sunbase International (Holdings)) in its $100m acquisition of Hong Kong Main Board-listed company CASH Financial Services Group. Another key figure in Hong Kong is M&A specialist Nima Amini, who has been at the forefront of some of the most significant M&A and private equity deals in Asia since 2007; he was recently the lead adviser to a buyer consortium led by SEEK on its circa $1bn proposed acquisition of Zhaopin.

Tanner De Witt is ‘one of the few independent Hong Kong law firms that can manage international clients well’, and its excellent reputation is underpinned by a sizeable international network of referral firms. Tim Drew is ‘responsive, experienced, pragmatic and client-friendly’. Also recommended are River Stone and Caroline De Souza, who provide ‘solid advice in a reasonable period of time’ and have ‘a great attitude to service’. Noted for its mid-market focus, the team handles a broad cross-section of matters, including M&A, joint ventures, corporate reorganisations and private equity transactions. In addition to acting for Hong Kong-based businesses, the firm also assists clients overseas with operations in China and elsewhere in Asia; foodpanda, Equiom Group, Delifrance and King Fook all feature on the roster. Drew jointly leads the practice with the highly regarded Eddie Look and Edmond Leung.

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    The Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China (“MOFCOM”) passed the Provisional Measures on the Investigation and Handling of Concentrations between Business Operators which were Not Notified in accordance with the Law (the “Provisional Measures”) on 30 December 2011, and uploaded them on its website on 5 January 2012.
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