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Japan > Banking and finance > International firms and joint ventures > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance: international firms and joint ventures
  2. Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)
  3. Leading individuals: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)
  4. Next generation lawyers: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)
  5. Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

  1. 1

Leading individuals: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)

  1. 1
    • Zenya Onishi - Linklaters

Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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At Allen & Overy Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho, project finance remains a key strength. Practice co-head Scott Neilson advised a group of lenders on the $4.9bn refinancing of the Ichthys LNG project in Australia, and assisted ANZ with a $293m multi-currency revolving credit facility for Orix and several of its subsidiaries across Asia. The department regularly works for ECAs, including NEXI, KEXIM and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). Practice co-head Matthias Voss is advising JBIC on a Taiwanese joint venture.

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)’s ‘excellent, experienced and customer-oriented’ team ‘removes the stress for clients’ and is singled out as ‘one of the best for project finance and PFI deals’. Headline work included advising Tokyu-Maeda-Toyotsu Group on its successful bid to operate the Sendai Airport in northern Japan, and acting for Ise Total Nanao Power Plant as sponsor in the financing and construction of a solar power plant in Nanao City. Naoaki Eguchi leads the department, which includes Gavin Raftery, Yasuhisa Takatori, Shinichiro Kitamura and Jeremy Pitts.

Masayuki Okamoto leads the ‘excellent’ team at Clifford Chance Law Office, which has ‘in-depth knowledge that is hard to beat’ and ‘an extremely high service level and proactivity that is unmatched’. The ‘always solid and balanced’ Hidehiko Suzuki is highly experienced in ECA financing, and was instructed by JBIC as lender and arranger counsel in a dual currency buyer’s credit loan to PLN, an Indonesian electricity company. Other clients include SMBC, Citigroup and Tokyo Star Bank. Ross Howard and Hidehiko Suzuki are recommended. Yusuke Abe was promoted to the partnership in mid-2016.

Linklaters has notable strength in private equity deals and leveraged and acquisition finance. Well-regarded counsel Zenya Onishi advised SMBC as arranger and lender to Amtek Auto on its leveraged acquisition of Asahi Tec’s iron casting business. John Maxwell leads the department, which has a client list that includes Mizuho Bank, Deutsche Bank, BTMU and JBIC.

Ashurst’s ‘very conscientious, attentive and client-focused’ team is well known for its strength in project finance, and acted for a consortium of lenders in the financing of the Singapore Sports Hub. It is also assisting Caribbean Gas Chemical on the financing of a methanol plant in Trinidad and Tobago. Kensuke Inoue and the ‘extremely dedicated and thorough’ Dominic Gregory jointly lead the team, which also includes ‘effective leader’ Matthew Bubb, who relocated to Tokyo from the firm’s Singapore office, and newly promoted partner Matthew Rickards.

Key names at Latham & Watkins Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise include Hiroki Kobayashi, who advises Japanese sponsors and lenders on international project financing; Michael Yoshii, who acts on matters in the Philippines, Indonesia and Southeast Asia; and Joseph Bevash, who splits his time between Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, and is experienced in international project finance and credit arrangements.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLPexcels in large project finance matters’ and ‘provides an excellent service in multinational transactions’. Aled Davies is praised by clients for his ‘deep understanding of the market’ and is ‘always quick to respond, no matter what’; Alexander Borisoff is also recommended. The firm’s client roster includes ANZ, BBVA and SMBC.

Morrison & Foerster Ito & Mitomi has considerable expertise in regulatory matters as well as acquisition, project and real estate finance and derivatives transactions. Dale Caldwell leads the team, which also includes Akihiro Wani and the ‘highly responsive’ Katsuhiko Fujihira. Wani and Fujihira are advising CLS Bank on updating Japanese law opinion on the enforceability of trade terms and conditions. Keiko Yamazaki is recommended for real estate and M&A financings.

The team at White & Case LLP – White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association) is ‘excellent in terms of response times, knowledge, nature of advice and value for money’ and, according to clients, is ‘one of the best for ship and aircraft financing’. The ‘pragmatic and accessible’ Simon Collins assisted Copa Airlines with a series of Jolco financings for new aircraft totalling $460m. Project and acquisition finance specialist Toshio Dokei leads the practice, and Paul Harrison is recommended for energy-related matters.

Mark Plenderleith heads the practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which is recognised for its financing expertise. The team advised Amtek Auto on acquisition financing from SMBC for the leveraged acquisition of Asahi Tec’s assets. Plenderleith is recommended for commodity finance and reserve-based lending issues, and senior counsel Shinsuke Kobayashi is experienced in leveraged acquisition financing. Don Stokes now divides time between Vietnam and Singapore.

JBIC and Mizuho Bank remain significant clients of Jones Day. The team advised the former on a loan to Bancomext, and the latter on a $120m term loan to Export-Import Bank of India. Hirokazu Ina leads the department, which also includes Kaoru Umino and of counsel John Roebuck.

K&L Gates’ ‘excellent all-round practice’, led by the ‘highly knowledgeable, diligent and commercial’ Robert E Melson Jr., has substantial experience in aircraft finance issues. Recent headline matters include acting for Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank (SMTB) in financing and security arrangements relating to a Boeing 777-300, and assisting Nissen Kaiun with the purchase of an aircraft. Takahiro Kawaguchi and Sebastian Smith are recommended.

Jeremy Gibb leads the ‘professional, experienced and precise’ team at Norton Rose Fulbright, which includes the ‘reliable and proactive’ Adrian Joyce, George Gibson and the ‘truly commercial’ Paul Coggins, who made partner in 2016. The practice is recognised for its shipping finance expertise, and assisted ING and SMBC with a $1.3bn loan to Tartaruga MV29 BV to finance a FPSO chartering service in Brazil.

Yoichi Katayama and Minako Wakabayashi are the names to note at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. Katayama focuses on international infrastructure project financing, acting for developers and financial institutions. Wakabayashi is experienced in the energy sector.

Paul Hastings LLP has notable strength in several key areas, including real estate finance, payment systems and Japan-China cross-border matters. Toshi Arai leads the practice, and advised Citi Cards and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Cards (SMTC) on the divestiture of Citi’s card business to SMTC. Naoki Ueyama is recommended. Joshua Isenberg joined Morrison & Foerster Ito & Mitomi.

Ropes & Gray LLP’s team is led by Tsuyoshi Imai, who ‘is a one-stop lawyer for banking and corporate work’. The team has ‘extensive knowledge and experience’ advising sponsors on leveraged finance transactions, and acted for Bain Capital in the disposal of its 50% leveraged investment in Jupiter Shop Channel.

Etienne Gelencsér leads Shearman & Sterling’s practice and focuses on acquisition, project and structured finance transactions, particularly in the energy sector. The team counts financial institutions and corporates as clients and also assists with fund issues. Masahisa Ikeda and Kenneth Lebrun are recommended.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is ‘truly excellent in terms of expertise and willingness to help’, according to clients, and is ‘an exceptionally balanced team’ led by the ‘highly impressive and considerate’ Jon Gray, who joined from Linklaters in 2015. Clients also single out Christopher Kodama and Mörk Murdock.

Newly established King & Spalding Gaikokuho Jimu Bengoshi Jimusho counts several Japanese banks as clients, including JBIC, Mitsubishi Trust and Banking, and Modec. The two-partner department comprises John McClenahan and Mark Davies, who joined from Ashurst in 2015. Project finance is a key strength for the firm.

At Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, noteworthy names include Tomoko Fuminaga, who specialises in financial regulatory issues and fund matters, and Christopher Wells, who is recommended for investment fund establishment and licensing.

Tomoo Nishikawa leads Sidley Austin Nishikawa Foreign Law Joint Enterprise’s practice, which advises clients on regulatory issues, payment-related mandates and structured finance transactions. Akira Nakazawa is recommended.

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