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  1. Private equity
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  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

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Next Generation Partners

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Praised for its 'nuanced and subtle approach' to managing transactions, Clifford Chance handles a significant volume of mandates for international private equity sponsors such as Carlyle and TPG, and regional funds including Actis and Affinity, on their Asia-based transactions. Working closely with the firm's pre-eminent finance team on leveraged deals, and able to tap into the firm's global network of offices, the team is a natural choice for clients on big-ticket cross-border mandates. As head of the firm's Asia-Pacific corporate and M&A practice, Andrew Whan regularly handles private equity transactions; he recently advised Unitas Capital on the $30m disposal of its restaurant chain business in China to Greentree Inns Hotel Management Group via auction sale. Neeraj Budhwani also has an excellent reputation in the region in relation to both investments and exits; he recently acted for CVC on its $330m disposal of SPi Global to Partners Group. Bryan Koo recently made partner.

Particularly strong at handling 'transaction auctions where the environment requires high technical know-how and aggressive negotiation', Kirkland & Ellis has 'an excellent reputation in the region' among an enviable roster of international sponsors and regional entities, including Blackstone, Bain Capital, Hillhouse Capital and Baring Private Equity Asia. Gary Li regularly handles Asia-related deals for the firm's largest private equity sponsor clients; alongside the New York office, he recently advised Blackstone on the proposed take-private of the NASDAQ-listed Global Sources, a business-to-business media company. Daniel Dusek has strong connections with many of the region's most prominent local sponsors; Baring Private Equity Asia recently instructed him on its $300m acquisition, alongside CITIC Capital Holdings, of Wall Street English from Pearson. The return to the Hong Kong office of the 'technically strong' David Eich strengthens the team, which also includes the 'excellent' Jesse Sheley, who divides his time between the firm's Hong Kong and Chicago offices.

The 'responsive and technically accomplished' team at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison displays 'excellent industry knowledge' and provides 'very tailored service' to an impressive roster of clients including The Carlyle Group, Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. Jack Lange has vast experience in the region and recently advised Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia, alongside Midas Fund L.P., on their $319m proposed acquisition and take-private of Microlife. Alongside Judie Ng Shortell, Lange also recently acted for KKR on the Series C financing of Shenzhen Suishou Technology, a leading personal finance management platform in China. According to one client, 'you always feel like you are in safe hands with Betty Yap'; she 'always adds value', particularly in relation to investments made in the TMT sector, where she has great industry knowledge. Splitting her time between the Hong Kong and Beijing offices, Jeanette Chan's corporate practice has a significant private equity focus. The team was also strengthened by the arrival in August 2017 of Kit Mak from Ropes & Gray LLP.

Despite the recent relocation of Kathryn King Sudol to the firm's New York office, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP's Hong Kong office still includes numerous 'top-quality' practitioners who focus on private equity investments, and, allied to the firm's strong offering in Beijing, is a compelling proposition to both regional and international sponsors on their pan-Asian investments. Ian Ho has been particularly active of late on behalf of Ant Financial, recently advising it on its proposed $184.5m acquisition of a minority equity stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank. Anthony King has a particular focus on handling real estate-related private equity transactions and recently acted for Blackstone Real Estate in connection with its acquisition of all the issued units in Croesus Retail Trust. Other clients include Apax Partners, Carlyle, FountainVest and China Life Insurance.

Although it is somewhat smaller than some of its peers in the upper echelons of the rankings, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP's two-partner Hong Kong team is a vital part of the firm's 'top-drawer' global private equity offering, and regularly handles matters on its own or in concert with other offices for a plethora of leading local and international sponsors including Advent, Baring Private Equity Asia, Hillhouse Capital and EQT Capital Partners. Tim Gardner is 'a very effective operator' and is regularly at the forefront of the most significant mandates handled by the team; he acted for Hillhouse Capital Group, as part of a consortium including FountainVest Partners, on the $1bn take-private of Zhaopin, the operator of an online recruitment platform in China. Alongside Chris Welty, Gardner also recently advised MBK Partners and Baring Private Equity Asia as part of a consortium on the proposed $937.5m take-private of eHi Car Services. Akiko Mikumo recently retired.

A powerhouse global M&A outfit, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is able to leverage strong credentials in the market gleaned from many years' experience handling Asian private equity mandates for an impressive roster of China-based private equity leaders and global private equity investors. One such powerhouse is Blackstone Group, which regularly instructs group head Simon Weller on high-end pan-Asian transactions, such as the $500m sale of its majority stake in Trans Maldivian Airways to a consortium led by Bain Capital. Weller also often handles work for local private equity sponsors such as Affinity Equity Partners, which he recently advised on the $520m leveraged acquisition of Hong Kong-based clothes labelling company Trimco International Holdings. Philip Li has a strong reputation in the market on behalf of Asian investors, particularly those based in China, on their outbound investments, and is respected by global sponsors investing in the region. Li also spearheads the office's relationship with Singapore state-owned holding company Temasek, recently advising it on a $30m Series D preferred share investment in FraudMetrix, the China-based anti-fraud and credit risk management platform. Recently promoted to partner, Richard Blair has a growing reputation in the region; Blackstone appointed him as acting Asia Pacific General Counsel in a five-month secondment role. Edward Freeman and Robert Ashworth also regularly handle private equity work as part of their broader M&A practices. Other clients include CITIC Capital, HOPU, Standard Chartered Private Equity and CVC.

Galvanised by a series of astute hires, Latham & Watkins LLP has rapidly positioned itself as a serious player in the Greater China private equity space; M&A, leveraged finance and corporate regulatory work are key strengths. The 'excellent' Simon Cooke heads the team and regularly leads on the most significant mandates, including his recent work for The Carlyle Group on its $2.75bn disposal of its Korean portfolio company ADT Caps to a consortium led by SK Telecom and Macquarie’s Korean Opportunities Fund. Mandarin-speaker Frank Sun has excellent credibility among Greater China-focused private equity clients and regularly advises them on their inbound and outbound deals. He recently acted for CITIC Capital Partners on its acquisition of France-based company Axilone, and represented Hillhouse Capital and Goldman Sachs on the acquisition of a minority stake in China-based Arraith Dental Group. The team is rounded out at partner level by the 'very accomplished' Amy Beckingham, who regularly acts for private equity sponsors on their investments and exits; she recently advised Warburg Pincus on its investment in Trax Technology Solutions, a Singapore-based developer of image recognition technology. Other clients include Carlyle Asia Partners, MBK Partners and Baring Private Equity Asia.

Despite some recent high-profile departures, the 'very professional' three-partner team at Ropes & Gray LLP still has significant credibility in the market as a result of its 'high-quality work' on behalf of an impressive roster of clients, including Advent International, Bain Capital, CITIC Capital and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). 'Very experienced in Asia M&A', Peng Yu provides 'very detail-oriented and responsive service' to global and local sponsors; he recently acted for CPPIB on its $4.3bn take-private acquisition of Nord Anglia Education. Daniel Yeh left the firm for White & Case.

Led by the 'excellent' Christopher Kelly, White & Case's five-partner private equity team combines M&A and financing strength with the ability to leverage the firm's huge global footprint, providing a compelling offering to local and international sponsors. Recently promoted partner Tess Fang was a key part of a multi-office team that advised Quad-C Management on its acquisition of AIT Worldwide Logistics. Anthony Vasey is also recommended, as is 'very thorough and committed' associate Joy Chen, who joined in February 2018 from Proskauer Rose LLP. Peggy Wang relocated to the firm's London office in November 2017. The 'technically very strong' Daniel Yeh joined from Ropes & Gray LLP in February 2019.

With lawyers on the ground in Hong Kong and Beijing, and able to leverage the expertise of lawyers across its global platform, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton provides 'consistent, commercial and top-notch advice' to local and global private equity sponsors including Bain Capital, TPG, Hillhouse Capital and Primavera Capital across the life-cycle of a deal, from fund formation through to investment and exit. Team head Freeman Chan recently advised Hillhouse Capital and CDH Investments, as members of a consortium, on the take-private offer for Hong Kong-listed company Belle International Holdings. Gabriele Antonazzo is also recommended.

Strengthened by the recent arrival of 'well-known practitioners' Brian Schwarzwalder and Scott Jalowayski from Ropes & Gray LLP, Gibson Dunn has deepened its private equity bench strength, gaining market visibility by virtue of both lawyers' strong ties with numerous Asian and global sponsors.

'Very close to new developments in the market', Morrison & Foerster provides 'commercial, responsive and timely advice' to a wide range of entities, ranging from global and regional sponsors to Chinese insurance businesses and sovereign wealth funds. 'Extremely knowledgeable and resourceful' team head Marcia Ellis has 'extensive experience of the private equity industry' and has recently handled numerous mandates for GLP, including on its formation of a joint venture with Brookfield Asset Management to build a leading platform for distributed solar energy on logistics and commercial rooftops in China. Ellis has also recently handled numerous investments on behalf of SoftBank Vision Fund, including its investments in WeWork Companies. The 'very responsive and commercial' Thomas Chou has 'decades of venture capital experience in both the US and Asia', and combines his Silicon Valley experience and Asian expertise to very good effect on private equity-related investments in the technology sector. At an associate level, the 'very responsive' Catherine Liu regularly supports Ellis on private equity transactions and is a key member of the team, which also includes the 'responsive and knowledgeable' Gigi Yuen. Other clients include Ark Pacific, Tencent, BlackRock and Cathay Capital.

Benefiting from numerous practitioners on the ground in Hong Kong, and able to leverage the expertise of lawyers in mainland China and throughout the firm's global network, Shearman & Sterling is well-placed to handle the full spectrum of private equity-related work (including fund formation, financing and corporate investment activity) for local and global sponsors, sovereign wealth funds and other entities. As well as acting for funds on investments in the Greater China region and throughout Southeast Asia, Stephanie Tang regularly advises large Chinese state-owned companies on their overseas M&A transactions and their strategic cooperation with foreign investors. Tang recently advised Primavera Capital Group on its investment in Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group. Splitting his time between the firm's Hong Kong and London offices, US and Hong Kong-qualified partner Paul Strecker has an excellent perspective of inbound and outbound Asia-related private equity matters for clients including Tiger Group Investments, which he recently advised in connection with the $450m sale of its Greater China Intermodal joint venture with The Carlyle Group and other members to Seaspan.

The nascent private equity team at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (in association with Luk & Partners) has been fairly active in the market since its establishment in February 2017, both on standalone deals as well as on pan-Asian matters involving input from Beijing and Shanghai. On outbound deals, it is able to leverage a strong US and European footprint for clients wishing to invest in these markets. New York- and China-qualified partner Ning Zhang is gaining a strong reputation in the market on behalf of Chinese funds, including Banyan Capital and CBC as well as global sponsors including  Sequoia Capital and Warburg Pincus, the latter of which he recently advised on the sale of Mobike, the world’s largest and most technologically advanced smart bike-sharing platform, to Meituan-Dianping. Maurice Hoo has considerable expertise in handling private equity and venture capital deals in the technology space, and alongside Connie Cheung he recently advised Warburg Pincus on its investment in Chinese electric vehicle startup Nio. Edwin Luk is also recommended.

Often working closely with lawyers in mainland China and from South Korea and Japan, Paul Hastings LLP's 'outstanding' team provides 'very commercial and cost-effective service' to global and local private equity sponsors on both inbound and outbound transactions. Benefiting from 'wide market knowledge and deep legal understanding across markets and legal jurisdictions', the team is particularly accomplished at handling deals in the TMT and real estate sectors. Conversant in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, Vivian Lam is seamlessly able to communicate and understand different counter-parties, and has 'a strong appreciation of both legal and commercial considerations across different markets', particularly as they relate to real estate transactions. Lam recently advised ALPHA Asia Macro Trends Fund II, a private fund managed by Singapore-based Alpha Investment Partners, on the sale of office-and-retail property Shanghai International Plaza to LaSalle Investment Management. Real estate partner Paul Guan regularly advises Chinese institutional investors on outbound real estate investments in the US and UK; he recently advised Ping An Trust on its $1.6bn acquisition of a majority stake in New York Stock Exchange-listed AutoHome, a leading automobile trading and information website, from Telstra.

Praised for its ability to 'effectively balance commercial interests with the necessary legal protection', Proskauer Rose LLP has generated some strong ties with local regional Asia-based funds and provides 'very commercial and knowledgeable service' on pan-Asian deals, as well as on outbound investments, where it can effectively leverage the firm's wide-ranging network of offices. 'Responsive, commercial and business-oriented' team head Jay Tai is 'very experienced in international private equity transactions'; he regularly handles work for Chinese investors on their investment activities throughout Asia, including for Country Garden Asset Management on  its real estate investments in Southeast Asia. 'Diligent and hardworking' associate Vivian Ho does 'very high-quality work'. Other clients include CCB International Asset Management, RRJ Capital and Haitong International.

Utilising the resources of its strong presence in Asia, as well as globally through its vast network of offices, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP provides 'very professional service' to an impressive roster of local and international private equity sponsors including Asia Investment Capital, Baring Private Equity Asia, Blackstone Group and Cenova Capital. Although she also regularly handles private equity investment work, Julie Gao's top-ranked capital markets expertise is also regularly called upon by private equity sponsors wishing to dispose of an asset via an IPO process. Jonathan Stone also combines corporate expertise and a strong capital markets offering; alongside Gao, Stone recently advised Nesta Investment Holdings, a consortium of five Chinese investors, on its $11.7bn going-private acquisition of Global Logistic Properties. The team is rounded out by Geoffrey Chan, who is 'able to provide sound advice from both a legal and business perspective' on fund formation matters.

Leveraging the established private equity heritage derived from its US headquarters, and also able to tap into the expertise of numerous US and Hong Kong-qualified practitioners based in Hong Kong, Sullivan & Cromwell is particularly accomplished at handling complex cross-border private equity mandates. Garth Bray recently acted for Fiera Capital on its $65m acquisition of leading Hong Kong-based Asia-focused credit and special situations investment firm Clearwater Capital Partners. US- and Hong Kong-qualified partner Michael DeSombre has vast experience in handling public M&A and private equity matters in China, Korea and Southeast Asia and is a key member of the team, which also includes Kay Ian Ng. Other clients include Baker Bros Advisors and Morgan Stanley Asia.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP handles a significant amount of private equity work out of its broader corporate and M&A offering, where it is active for both local and international sponsors. Paul Chow and counsel Yang Chu are advising Warburg Pincus and Baring Asia on the sale of a majority stake in the Hong Kong-listed AAG Energy Holdings to Xinjiang Xintai Natural Gas. Miranda So is also recommended.

Led out of Hong Kong by Gloria Liu, and aided by a significant and growing presence in mainland China, DLA Piper is continuing to pick up a significant volume of mandates for some major Chinese clients in the mid-market buyout space. Liu is particularly accomplished at handling outbound work for Asian entities, particularly on deals with a US nexus; she recently advised HOPU-ARM Innovation Fund on its investment in semiconductor company Innophase. Liu also handles a significant volume of work for China Huarong (Macau), including on its HK$390 million investment, in the form of convertible bonds, in the Hong Kong-listed Carnival Group. Other clients include China Merchants Group, Rajax and China Everbright.

Headed by the experienced Yash Rana and recently strengthened by the arrival of Doug Freeman and Victor Chen from Paul Hastings LLP, Goodwin now has the critical mass to handle a significant volume of mandates for a wide array of local and global private equity sponsors including Advent International, Bain Capital Ventures, Baring Private Equity Asia, FountainVest Partners and Hillhouse Capital Management. Although it is active across a wide array of industry sectors, the office is particularly accomplished in TMT and life sciences, which are sector strengths for the firm generally; recent highlights include Rana's representation of Hillhouse Capital Management on its $260m Series B investment in CStonePharmaceuticals with co-investors GIC and Sequoia Capital.

Although it lacks standalone private equity capabilities, many of Herbert Smith Freehills corporate practitioners regularly handle private equity mandates as part of their general M&A expertise. Tommy Tong is one such partner and regularly handles private equity transactions across a range of industries, though he is particularly well-known in the financial services sector.

Although it has a relatively small presence in Hong Kong, Hogan Lovells is well-placed to advise on Asia-Pacific mandates by virtue of also being able to call upon the expertise of practitioners based in key offices in China, Vietnam and Singapore, among other sites. CITIC Capital was advised on its investment in Lanza Tech New Zealand. Other clients include Navis Capital Partners, China Media Capital and Lime Tree Capital Partners. Steven Tran joined Mayer Brown in February 2019.

Benefiting from practitioners on the ground in Shanghai and Beijing as well as in Hong Kong, King & Wood Mallesons is well-placed to represent local Greater China-focused private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds on inbound and outbound mandates, on which it also benefits from the expertise of lawyers spread throughout the US and Europe. Splitting her time between the firm's Hong Kong and Beijing offices, Helena Huang handles both fund formation and M&A work and, along with Wen Huang, is particularly active in handling investments in the TMT sector.

Benefiting from the expertise of corporate practitioners based in Hong Kong with significant private equity experience, as well as being able to leverage the knowledge of lawyers based in mainland China and from across the firm's broader global offices,¬†Linklaters¬†is 'experienced in complex cross-border private equity deals'.¬†Alexandra Bidlake¬†recently advised Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia on its ‚ā¨48m investment in Athens Stock Exchange-listed company¬†Korres S.A. Natural Products.¬†Robert Cleaver¬†heads up the firm's Asian corporate practice; newly promoted partner¬†Christopher Yip's 'very impressive capital markets prowess' is particularly useful to sponsors seeking an exit strategy. Clients include ZZ Capital, Oaktree, Baring Private Equity Asia and Ping An Real Estate.

Mayer Brown's Hong Kong office is well-versed in private equity deals in the real estate sector, where the 'commercial, professional and friendly' David Ellis is particularly well regarded. Recent highlights include advising a consortium of investors led by Gaw Capital Partners on the $2.95bn acquisition of 17 commercial properties in Hong Kong from Link Real Estate Investment Trust. Mark Uhrynuk is also recommended, while the recruitment in January 2018 of Brian McKenna from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP affords it greater industry sector coverage, including of financial services and TMT.

Although it recently lost several corporate and private equity practitioners to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (in association with Luk & Partners), Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has recently made some notable hires, including Mark Lehmkuhler and Scott Peterman, who joined in the middle of 2017 from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Jones Day respectively. Peterman is particularly strong at handling deals in the technology and telecoms sectors and further reinforces the firm's global reputation for handling venture capital and private equity tech-based deals. Peterman was recently part of a multi-office team that included input from London and Beijing in representing Chinese state-owned investment fund Silk Road Fund, as part of a KKR-led consortium, on the $8bn acquisition of Unilever’s Spreads business. Lehmkuhler is experienced at handling technology, energy and infrastructure sector deals, and recently acted for Samena Capital and Cenova Capital on their $83m investment in Virtus Medical Holdings, a new premium healthcare platform in Hong Kong.

Reed Smith Richards Butler's Hong Kong office is a vital component of the firm's Greater China private equity offering, which also includes input from the firm's Beijing and Shanghai offices. The team is active across the spectrum of matters, from fund formation through to investments and exits via either a trade sale or IPO process. Denise Jong and Mark Cornell are recommended.

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