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Hong Kong > Projects and energy > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Projects and energy
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Steven Choo - Ashurst
    • Calvin Ho - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Desiree Woo - Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy

Who Represents Who

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Herbert Smith Freehills’ Hong Kong office leverages the firm’s global standing in energy and natural resources, and has a team that ‘is consistently strong’, ‘very good at managing relationships’ and provides ‘quality advice in a practical way’: in short, the ‘service and quality of the team members is exceptional’. Hilary Lau is an outstanding energy and natural resources specialist and Danila Logofet is recommended for Asian clients looking to invest and participate in projects in Russia and the CIS, including One Belt One Road projects; he led the team that advised Silk Road Fund on its $1.3bn investment in SIBUR, Russia’s largest gas processing and petrochemical conglomerate. Fergus Smith joined White & Case Pte. Ltd.’s Singapore office.

Linklaters impresses with its work for Chinese clients in outbound investments and financings. The firm advised the lenders on the flagship Yamal LNG project financing in Russia, one of the largest LNG deals to date and the first multi-source international project financing incorporating RMB-denominated funding. Global head of projects Stuart Salt is a giant of the market, having worked on many of the biggest projects in the region, and James McLaren is becoming a prominent name in Asia. Counsel Crystal Chen was recruited from Shearman & Sterling, while counsel Andrew Compton has relocated to the New York office.

Baker Botts L.L.P. is another oil and gas titan, and its Hong Kong office has extensive experience in Asia Pacific, including Indonesia, China, Cambodia and Thailand. The firm has experienced an uptick in engagements from Chinese clients making investments and participating in overseas projects. Michael Arruda has impressed with a number of significant transactions in Indonesia and Russell Wilkinson is a stalwart of the Asia energy scene, particularly in upstream oil and gas and LNG-related projects.

Jones Day has a substantial projects and energy presence in Asia, with significant teams in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore. The Hong Kong office has a broad regional outlook, with pockets of particular expertise in jurisdictions such as Indonesia and the Philippines; it provides an ‘excellent service’, has ‘good communication skills’ and is ‘pleasant to work with’. It advised Saka Energi Indonesia on the acquisition of a 38% interest in the Sanga-Sanga gas production block in East Kalimantan (Indonesia) from BP. Ben McQuhae is a leader in oil and gas, and projects and infrastructure specialist Maria Tan Pedersen is ‘very responsive and very accommodating’.

King & Wood Mallesons hired big name Sam Farrands from Minter Ellison to head the projects practice. The Hong Kong office provides a rounded practice thanks to its experienced finance group and its leading construction team. David Lam is a leader in cross-border financings and has extensive experience with Chinese lenders and corporates and a keen understanding of China’s One Belt One Road programme. Lam led the team that advised Shanghai-listed China Molybdenum on its $1.59bn syndicated loan to finance the $2.65bn acquisition of the Fungurume mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also advised China Development Bank on a $1.3bn facility to Nam Ou Power to finance the second phase of Nam Ou power project in Laos.

Latham & Watkins LLP is a global leader in energy and natural resources and its Hong Kong office plays a key role in this maintaining this position. Hong Kong team leader David Blumental is co-chair of the firm’s global oil and gas industry group. He and the team frequently advise Chinese and Asian investors on outbound transactions, including in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the US. The firm is at the forefront of Asian investments into Russia, the divestment of assets by oil majors, LNG-to-power projects in Asia, and Chinese investments in power generation and transmission. The firm advised Oil India, Bharat PetroResources and Indian Oil Corporation on their $1.12bn acquisition of a 30% interest in the Taas-Yuryakh oil fields in Eastern Siberia from Rosneft.

Pinsent Masons is at the forefront of China’s One Belt One Road initiative, bringing its market-leading infrastructure expertise to the region. John Yeap leads the team, which advised the Ministry of Industry and Trade (Vietnam) on the financing, designing, construction, ownership, operation, maintenance and transfer of the Vung Ang II BOT power project, a 1,200MW coal-fired thermal power facility in the Ha Tinh Province of Vietnam. It also advised the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam on its PPP infrastructure investment programme.

Watson Farley & Williams has an especially strong record in power, renewable energy and energy infrastructure. Vietnam is a key market for the Hong Kong practice, thanks in part to the presence of counsel Linh Doan. Among a number of major Vietnam-based projects, she led the team that advised Toyo Ink as the project sponsor of the development and financing of the $2.6bn 2 x 1,000MW Song Hau 2 coal-fired BOT thermal power project in Hau Giang, Vietnam.

White & Case significantly expanded its presence in Asia Pacific with the hire of ten partners from Herbert Smith Freehills, giving it much greater credibility in the projects and energy sector throughout the region. This builds on the Hong Kong office’s already impressive standing in energy and natural resources projects. Clients include Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries, China Three Gorges Corporation, Asian Development Bank and China Petrochemical Corporation. The immensely experienced John Tivey is a leader in natural resources investments and projects.

Allen & Overy is primarily focused on project finance, acquisition finance and corporate matters for energy companies, and also for banks investing in the sector. Traditionally more lender-oriented, the team has experienced an uptick in sponsor engagements. It has leveraged its extensive Chinese sponsor and lender client base to advise on a series of One Belt One Road projects. Clients include Asian Development Bank, Bank of China, ChemChina Petrochemicals, China Development Bank and China National Offshore Oil Corporation. The Hong Kong team worked alongside colleagues in Vietnam to advise the lenders on the restructuring of the financing of the Cap Mep International Terminal in Vietnam. The firm also advised China Development Bank and other Chinese lenders on the development and financing of the 1,200MW Vinh Tan 1 coal-fired power project in Vietnam. Roger Lui heads the practice in Hong Kong.

Baker McKenzie is best known for project financings and Chinese-lender driven outbound financings of energy sector investments, thanks in part to the presence of key banking and finance partner Barry Cheng. Before recently retiring, key projects partner David Smith continued to advise Ocean Park Corporation on its HK$5.5bn master redevelopment project and the development of its new Water Park.

DLA Piper augmented its projects practice with the hire of project finance expert Matthias Schemuth from Ashurst, Schemuth joins China head of energy Carolyn Dong and head of finance and projects Paul Lee. The firm continues to impress in the energy sector, especially for Chinese clients. It advised Shanghai-listed ENN Ecological Holdings, the natural gas company, on its $750m acquisition of Hony Capital’s 12% stake in Santos, the Australian energy company.

Dechert made a splash in 2017 with the hire of a cross-office team from Vinson & Elkins LLP, including Hong Kong partner Xiao Yong and Beijing’s Nicholas Song. The team is especially prominent in energy and has an impressive following of Chinese clients such as Sinopec and China Zhenhua Oil. The group closed a series of headline deals before the move.

Gibson Dunn has a fine record in South-East Asia projects, particularly in the Philippines, thanks in part to department head and energy and infrastructure specialist Patricia Tan Openshaw. Rail, energy and power are particular strengths of the practice, which advised AP Renewables on the issuance of the first climate bond in Asia – the $225m deal also being the first project bond issued in local currency in the Philippine power sector. Counsel Cristina Uy-Tioco is another key member of the team, particularly in Philippine power project transactions.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy has impressed with its advice to China-based investors on their outbound investments in the renewables (especially solar) sector; this includes projects as far afield as Africa and Latin America. In this regard, the Hong Kong group is ‘excellent in terms of responsiveness, legal expertise, industry knowledge and client service’, is praised for its lean and efficient transaction teams and is ‘superior’ in project development and finance; this is ‘especially true when there are Chinese and other parties of different nationalities in the deal’. Of counsel Desiree Woo is ‘a problem solver, driven and brave at voicing a different opinion’ and is ‘very effective in bridging divergent cultural gaps and business approaches to help all parties come to consensus on a wide range of matters to push the project forward’.

At Minter Ellison in 2016, key figure Sam Farrands moved to King & Wood Mallesons; Rebecca Silli is now department head. The team advised SUEZ Group on the consolidation of its water, wastewater and waste businesses within its joint venture company Sino-French Holdings (Hong Kong). Other clients include Rio Tinto, Veolia, and China Light & Power.

Norton Rose Fulbright continues to be a force in project finance with a ‘very knowledgeable’ and ‘commercial’ team that is commended by clients for its negotiating capabilities and ‘bringing transactions to a successful close’. Energy and natural resources along with projects and infrastructure are strengths of the firm globally. The Hong Kong team also benefits from the firm’s substantial presence in mainland China. Clients include China Development Bank, China International Water & Electric Corporation, Huadian Fuxin, ICBC and Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation III. The firm recently advised lenders led by Standard Chartered on a HK$4.3bn syndicated revolving loan convertible to term loan to Castle Peak Power Company, which owns the Castle Peal Power Station and Black Point Power Station in Hong Kong. Banking and finance head Peter Haslam is ‘extremely responsive’, ‘knowledgeable’, ‘professional’ and ‘approachable’.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has genuine regional credibility, with much credit going to project finance veteran Peter Cleary, who has been a feature of the Asia Pacific market for some 20 years. Cleary and the team are consistently engaged on headline projects for clients such as the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam (MoIT), China Hongqiao Group and PT Cita Mineral Investindo. The firm advised MoIT on the development and financing of the 1,200MW Nghi Son 2 BOT coal-fired thermal power plan project in Thanh Hoa Province, Vietnam.

Simmons & Simmons LLP is noted for its projects and energy experience in mainland China and its work for Chinese clients in other jurisdictions. The Hong Kong team works closely with colleagues in Beijing and had a key role in advising Shell on the development of the Huizhou Phase 2 petrochemical project in Guangdong, China, through a joint venture with CNOOC. Vivian Yang is the key partner in Hong Kong.

Troutman Sanders LLP hired Lynia Lau from Stephenson Harwood to build its standing in projects and energy. The ‘outstanding’, ‘professional’ and ‘value-for-money’ team is noted for upstream oil and gas and LNG sector work and connections to Chinese SOEs. Lau is recognised for her ‘outstanding’ and ‘client-oriented’ approach and ‘in-depth knowledge’. She recently advised Poly-GCL in relation to an LNG project in Ethiopia.

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