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  1. Banking and finance: independent local firms
  2. Leading individuals: bengoshi

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The ‘hardworking, practical and always available’ team at Anderson Mori & Tomotsunehas the complete trust of lenders’ and advises on the full gamut of banking issues including corporate and syndicated loans, secured transactions, asset finance, structured finance and regulatory issues. Key practitioners include Isao Shindo, who is recommended for securities, asset management and insurance matters; Kunihiko Morishita, who advises domestic and international banks; Hiroaki Takahashi, who handles structured finance work; and Satoshi Inoue, who is the main contact for leveraged finance and private equity mandates. Masaakira Kitazawa, international finance specialist Tatsu Katayama, securitisation expert Kazuaki Nagai, Ko Hanamizu, who focuses on corporate finance, Tetsuya Itoh and Takaharu Totsuka are also recommended.

Masanori Sato heads the practice at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, which ‘stands out from the crowd for its knowledge of the market’. The team advises most major Japanese banks with notable examples including Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), Mizuho Bank, SoftBank, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) and Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking. Toru Ishiguro regularly advises financial institutions on regulatory matters, Satoko Kuwabara is the key name for acquisition finance issues, Hiroki Aoyama is a syndicated loan specialist and Eriko Ozawa handles real estate financings. Clients also single out Naoya Shiota, who ‘consistently goes above and beyond’, and the ‘smart, adaptable and responsive’ Akira Ehira; Ehira is the key contact for Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), which instructs him on all its derivatives transactions.

Highlights for Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu included advising MBK Partners on the financing for its acquisition of Accordia Golf, acting for BTMU as lender during Equinix’s acquisition of Bit-isle, and assisting Permira with the financing of its acquisition of John Masters Organics and Styla. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Nomura are also clients. Fumihide Sugimoto leads the department, which also includes real estate finance expert Mami Ikebukuro, Minoru Ota, Satoshi Inoue, Shinichi Matsui and acquisition finance specialist Jiro Mikami. Kazuya Ogawa and Yoshinobu Koyama were promoted to the partnership in 2017.

Masaru Ono leads the department at Nishimura & Asahi, in which, Takashi Ejiri, Takashi Yoneda, Masahiro Ueno, Shinichi Takahashi, Katsu Sengoku and Makoto Igarashi are key names to note. In a recent highlight, of counsel Nagahide Sato, Tomohiro Sato and Mikiko Soga advised Tepco, Mitsubishi Power, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Melco as sponsors during the project financing of an integrated coal gasification combined cycle (IGCC) IPP project in Fukushima. Further expertise includes advising on syndicated loans, trading derivatives, REIT matters and acquisition finance issues.

At Atsumi & Sakai, the ‘excellent’ group acts for major banks and securities companies, listed corporates, ECAs and technology businesses at a domestic and international level. Hiroo Atsumi heads up the practice, Yutaka Sakai is the key name for project finance matters, Hiroyuki Nezu regularly handles asset-based lending issues, Keita Imaizumi acts on cross-border financings, and Michiaki Hosoi advises on energy projects. The firm also fields a fintech team, which is led by Yuri Suzuki and includes Takafumi Ochiai.

Yoshiyasu Yamaguchi’s department at TMI Associates welcomed Hiroyoshi Kuromaru from Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise) and promoted Shintaro Mogi to partner in 2017. Masaya Hirano and Jumpei Osada are also key names to note. Recent work for Hirano includes advising ASJ Inc. on the issuance of moving strike warrants for the purpose of an M&A refinancing and acting for Pixela Corporation on the issuance of stock warrants through a third-party allotment to Oak Capital. Osada advised on multiple ship financing mandates and Haruo Narimoto is recommended for structured finance issues. Katsumi Shirai left for Jones Day.

City-Yuwa Partners’ client roster spans domestic and international banks, securities firms, insurance companies and other financial institutions, which the team advises on structured finance matters, securitisations, derivative transactions, asset management issues and fund mandates alongside LBOs, mezzanine finance and regulatory work. Noteworthy names in the team include Junko Hirakawa, Izuru Goto, Noriyuki Katayama, Yoshitada Ogiso, Yasuyuki Kuribayashi and Eri Furukawa.

At Marunouchi International Law Office, practice head Hirotada Inoshita handles regulatory mandates and cross-border transactions; his team includes Noriko Sakai, who handles structured finance matters and acquisition financings; Taku Ishizu, who is recommended for investment fund and private equity work; and financial regulation expert Hiroshi Hori. The department’s client roster features domestic and foreign commercial banks, credit card companies, investment banks, insurance companies and broker-dealers.

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