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Japan > Corporate and M&A > Corporate and M&A – International firms and joint ventures > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A – International firms and joint ventures
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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The 'excellent' corporate team at Allen & Overy Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho contains well-regarded practice head Nick Wall, who 'has a strong business acumen and communication skills both in English and Japanese', and client-recommended senior associate Taro Nakashima. IT service provider NEC appointed a team led by Wall and practice co-head Osamu Ito to oversee its acquisition of Northgate Public Services from Cinven, new partner (April 2019) Tokutaka Ito was part of the team which collaborated with the London group to handle MS&AD Insurance's acquisition of 15% stake in the UK-based ReAssure Jersey One. In other highlights, the practice advised Kirin Holdings on its $706m disposal of its wholly-owned Brazilian subsidiary to Heineken subsidiary Bavaria, and Matthias Voss was one of the corporate partners who assisted a bidding consortium with regards to the privatisation of an international airport. Simon Black has retired from the practice.

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise) 'always either meets or exceeds the standards of a global top-tier firm', according to one client. Especially noted for 'their anticipation of issues, the depth and utilisation of their global network and their response times', the corporate lawyers in the Tokyo office include names such as the 'dedicated, competent and hardworking' Jeremy White, who is described by a source as 'one of the best for cross-border Japanese work'. Corporate practice leader Akifusa Takada assisted Konica Minolta with its takeover of Ambry Genetics as well as the negotiation of its intra-company arrangement with its co-investor, INCJ. Elsewhere, Hiroshi Kasuya recently led the advice to Takata, and a number of Japanese debtors, regarding its restructuring in Japan and 20 foreign jurisdictions, while Yutaka Kimura acted for Bunka Shutter in its acquisition of the entire share capital of an Australian company which manufactures and sells garage shutter equipment.  Other names to note include Hiroshi Kondo, Jiro Toyokawa, Hideo Norikoshi, and associates Beelian Tay and Chizu Matsumaru, the latter impresses clients through her 'cool-headed and collected advice'.

Herbert Smith Freehills 's corporate head Graeme Preston and Andrew Blacoe recently teamed up to advise SoftBank on its investment in a number of solar projects in India, while Damien Roberts assisted Toyota Tsusho with the acquisition of a 15% stake in Australian mining company Orocobre. In other highlights, Asia regional head of corporate Lewis McDonald and senior associate Glen McAskill – who recently joined from King & Spalding – have significant experience in the projects and energy space and represented clients such as SoftBank and Japanese project companies in the formation of joint ventures and investments. Following his two-year secondment in the London office, senior associate Joseph Fisher recently returned to Tokyo and was part of the team which oversaw the restructuring of a joint venture with two retailers on behalf of a convenience store chain; he is a key name to note alongside senior associate James Hearne.

Morrison & Foerster LLP's 'very diligent and fully reliable' Tokyo team fields M&A experts such as 'outstanding' managing partner Ken Siegel, the 'excellent' Randy Laxer and Stan Yukevich. The team, led by Ivan Smallwood, recently acted for Toshiba on the $18bn sale of its wholly-owned subsidiary Toshiba Memory to a consortium led by Bain Capital. Noah Carr led the advice to SoftBank with regards its high-profile $5bn investment in Chinese mobile transportation platform Didi, and Gary Smith teamed up with Siegel to handle Hitachi's acquisition of the Sullair air compressor business from Accudyne. Also notable are Jeff Schrepfer and Masato Hayakawa who represented Nissan in the sale of its electric battery operations and facilities to a Chinese private equity fund. Another name of note is of counsel Isamu Inohara who plays a key supportive role within the practice.

Shearman & Sterling acts for major corporates and investment banks in Japan on complex cross-border transactions including investments, joint ventures, acquisitions, disposals and restructurings. A team including George Borovas represented JNFL in its €250m acquisition of 5% equity stake – alongside Mitsubishi – in France's newly restructured Orano (formerly known as Areva). Also notable is the group's work for Merrill Lynch Japan as financial advisor to Resona Holdings in Kansai Mirai's integration with a number of banks, and Hitachi Kokusai appointed the team to handle its acquisition by investment fund HKE Holdings. Capital markets expert and Asia regional managing partner Masahisa Ikeda the name to note. Former practice head Kenneth Lebrun has left the firm for Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; Karl Pires has joined from White & Case LLP - White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association).

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP regularly acts for private equity firms and Japanese corporates in complex high-profile cross-border transactions and holds substantial experience in domestic Japanese M&A matters. KKR recently appointed David Sneider's group to advise on the acquisition of Hitachi Kokusai by its affiliate HKE Holdings, and Goldman Sachs engaged Sneider as part of a consortium (which includes MBK Partners hedge fund Owl Creek) to handle the sale of its remaining 49% ownership in Universal Studios Japan to Comcast NBCUniversal. Counsel Noritaka Kumamoto was also part of the team which assisted KKR with a number of significant transactions; he is a name to note alongside associate Shannon Itoyama.

Clifford Chance Law Office's 'performance during the corporate process is incredible'; one client 'cannot imagine any other firm could make a transaction flow as smoothly'. The group 'provides a 'one-stop-shop' experience including legal services in areas such as tax, intellectual property and antitrust regulations'. Natsuko Sugihara led the advice to Fujitsu on the sale of 51% stake in one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries to Lenovo and another 5% to the DBJ, while Tatsuhiko Kamiyama assisted a Japanese placement company with its purchase of a majority shareholding in a technology company. Other key clients include NTT, Mitsubishi, Mitsui and CVC. Masafumi Shikakura was recently promoted to counsel and Richard Graham joined the Tokyo office on secondment from Sydney. The 'thoroughly capable, flexible and reliable' senior associate Yvonne Zhong is highly recommended by clients.

Under the leadership of Jon Gray, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP has advised on several of the market's most significant recent corporate transactions on behalf of both Japanese and foreign clients. Gray and Murdock acted as US counsel to Minato Bank and Kansai Urban Bank regarding their acquisition by Resona Bank through a Japanese business integration with a subsidiary. The team was also appointed by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to oversee the acquisition of Israeli public company NeuroDerm. Other key clients include SMBC, Daikin and Dai-Ichi Life. Kenneth Lebrun has joined from Shearman & Sterling, while Mörk Murdock has joined Squire Patton Boggs.

Clients appreciate the 'knowledge and speedy judgement' in DLA Piper's corporate practice; the 'excellent and professional' lawyers consistently 'make things simpler' through their 'prompt and clear responses'. The 'highly reliable' Masahiko Ishida spearheads the practice and advised Ping An on its investment in medicine manufacturer Tsumura. He also assisted Avex Ventures with its investment in startup VR company Cluster, and acted for Asahi Shuzo in its first investment in the US. The team was recently strengthened by the arrival of new energy head Dan Matsuda and corporate finance specialist Kaoru Umino from Jones Day. Office managing partner Lance Miller is also a key contact alongside client-recommended associate Shotaro Maruyama.

Clients value Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's 'seamless one-stop-shop service for multi-jurisdictional transactions' and 'vast network of international local counsel offices'. Noted individuals include practice co-head Takeshi Nakao whose 'proficient knowledge of Japanese laws and the mechanics of M&A' make him a 'credible and reliable' practitioner; 'hardworking' senior associate Marcus Wolter is also recommended. Wolter collaborated with the firm's Hong Kong office to assist Starbucks with the $1.3bn buyout of its joint venture partners' interest in an East China collaboration, granting the coffee chain 100% ownership of 1,300 stores in China. Edward Cole – who co-heads the team with Nakao – led the advice to Chinese technology company Lenovo on its acquisition of a 51% stake in Fujitsu's PC business. Other key names include counsels Lukas Kratochvil and Tomoko Nakajima who acted for clients such as Rosneft, Marubeni and Carnival.

The 'client-centered approach' of Hogan Lovells Horitsu Jimusho Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo's is highly praised by clients. Practice head Jacky Scanlan-Dyas 'is very responsive and has business acumen combined with a deep understanding of her clients' business and industry'. In recent highlights, a global cross-office team including Scanlan-Dyas, Wataru Kamoto and counsel Anthony Woolley – a recent transfer to Tokyo from Ulaanbaatar – advised eBay on its proposed acquisition of Giosis' Japan business which includes online retailer Qoo10; Lisa Yano was supported by recently promoted senior associate Paul Henesy in her work for NTT regarding its acquisition of Secure-24 Intermediate Holdings. Elsewhere, the team acted for Exelon in the formation of a 50:50 joint venture with the Japan Atomic Power Company. Senior associate Chiyokazu Shindo is also a name to note.

Linklaters' Japan offering 'is a great firm for international M&A deals', according to one client, and 'because it has experienced lawyers around the world who can lead negotiations, it provides a seamless service as a multi-jurisdictional team managed from Tokyo'. Japanese clients regularly appoint the team to oversee cross-border transactions, especially towards Europe. In recent highlights, Takeda instructed the group to handle its recommended acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Shire, while Aioi Nissay engaged the partners to advise on its purchase of the remaining 24.99% stake in Box Innovation. The 'client-oriented' Hiroya Yamazaki 'shows realistic and practical solutions and knows the ways of Japanese companies'. John Maxwell is also a key name to note.

The corporate lawyers at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP 'provide extremely well-structured advice, respond almost immediately and prepare technically sound documents through the strength of their cross-border network'. Kaye Naoko Yoshino , who 'is always responsive, practical and seeks to obtain the best possible results for her clients', co-heads the practice with Tong Yu. In collaboration with her New York-based colleagues, Yoshino recently acted for Japanese insurer AioiNissayDowa in its acquisition of Royal State Financial. Yu, meanwhile, represented a major global financial institution in the sale of its consumer loan portfolio to a third-party investor. Other key clients include Citigroup, Oaktree, Sumitomo and Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical.

The corporate offering at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP fields both bengoshi and gaiben practitioners and holds considerable experience in handling cross-border M&A transactions. Spearheaded by Tokyo office managing partner Mitsuhiro Kamiya and corporate head Kenji Taneda, the team recently acted for MBK, as part of a consortium, in its $2.3bn sale of the remaining 49% stake in Universal Studios Japan to NBCUniversal. In other highlights, Toshiba appointed a cross-office team, including Kamiya, to oversee the sale of its claims against Westinghouse to Nucleus Acquisition as well as the sale of its related shares to Brookfield; Kamiya also led the advice to Japan Atomic Power Company on the establishment of a joint venture company with Exelon to license and deploy the latter's management model in major nuclear projects worldwide.

The corporate offering at White & Case LLP - White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association) fields bilingual practitioners under the joint leadership of Brian Strawn and Jun Usami. In recent highlights, Nels Hansen acted for gumi VR in its acquisition of a minority interest in US video game developer Xile Entertainment Associates, while David Albagli was part of the team that advised Canon Medical Systems on its acquisition of medical equipment manufacturer Fysicon. Following its decision to exit the Canadian market, Toshiba appointed the team to oversee the transfer of assets and liabilities of its unified communications business to Mitel. Shintaro Kitayama and Kohshi Itagaki joined the practice from TMI Associates and Mayer Brown's New York office, respectively.

Ashurst's 'responses and advice are timely, concise, focused and founded on a deep understanding of Japan'. The 'responsive and tenacious' Tracy Whiriskey heads the corporate practice and is noted for her 'great sense for business' and for 'getting things done where others cannot'. ACE (now operating as Chubb) appointed the group to handle the Korean business transfer relating to its acquisition of Chubb as well as the merger of the two entities in Latin America. Meanwhile, Kensuke Inoue was part of the team which assisted Nexans with the dissolution of its joint venture with Fujikura and Furakawa. Other key names to note include senior associates Naota Suzuki, Huw Watkins, Daniel Jarrett and associate Alexis Rosenberg. Rupert Burrows departed the firm to join Mayer Brown 's new Tokyo office.

The corporate team at Jones Day is particularly strong in the life sciences sector and has substantial experience in dealing with private equity players and trading houses. Supported by of counsels Makiko Ushijima and Benjamin Lang, Gregory Salathé – who joined the group from the Singapore office – led the advice to MassMutual on the sale of its 85% stake in its Japanese life insurance subsidiary to Nippon Life Insurance. In other highlights, Yuichiro Mori advised PAG on its investment in KSS to finance the acquisition of Takata's global assets out of bankruptcy in the US and Japan, while Stephen Decosse represented Calgon Carbon in its $1.3bn all-cash acquisition by Kuraray. Mitsui Chemical, Sumitomo Chemical and Terumo are also key clients. Dan Matsuda departed the firm for DLA Piper.

The corporate offering at King & Spalding handles heavyweight transactions in the infrastructure and energy sector for an enviable client roster which includes Mitsui, Mitsubishi, JBIC and Sojitz. Under the leadership of Mark Davies, the team acted for a major corporate group in its acquisition of a 50% stake in an offshore company. Davies also led the advice to a major banking entity with regards to its investment in a renewable power project company in South East Asia. Managing partner John McClenahan also played a leading role in a number of acquisitions in the conventional power sector, while Rupert Lewi oversaw the sale of a number of subsidiary companies participating in a gas aggregation project in South East Asia. The team has been strengthened of late by the arrival of senior associate Daisuke Shimodaira from EY Law Co. and associate Yung Wang from Norton Rose Fulbright.

Michael Yoshii heads the corporate team at Latham & Watkins Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise which acts for buyers, sellers, investors and financial institutions across the full gamut of matters. In recent highlights, Nozomi Oda was recently promoted to partner and represented an asset management company in its outright acquisition of two online travel agencies and a majority stake in a third. Yoshii teamed up with his Hong Kong and Singapore counterparts to advise San Miguel and its subsidiary SMC Global Power in the latter's acquisition of a Singapore-based power generation company from the EGCO group. Meanwhile, Hiroki Kobayashi is assisting JPMorgan, Sumitomo and MUFG as lead arrangers with the acquisition financing arrangements relating to Takeda's acquisition of share capital of Shire.

Norton Rose Fulbright represents an enviable roster of Japanese clients such as Sumitomo, Nissan and Kyocera in outbound corporate transactions. In recent highlights, the group acted for Abacus Holdings, a consortium of 11 airlines, in its disposal of a 65% stake in Abacus International to its joint venture partner Sabre, while econtext Asia instructed the team to oversee its privatisation process by a scheme of arrangement. Chris Viner splits his time between Tokyo and London and is also a key name to note. Eiji Kobayashi left to join Paul Hastings LLP.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP recently advised Hitachi Chemical on its takeover of German holding company HT Beteiligungs, and acted for Nippon Soda on the sale of its plant health business to Zoetis Japan. Elsewhere, David Case teamed up with the firm's Dusseldorf office to handle the sale of EKK Eagle's general partnership interest in Integral Accumulator, while Hiroki Sugita assisted Japan-based travel services provider HIS and a Hong Kong venture capital fund with an investment in Taiwan-based e-commerce travel platform KKday. Mark Weeks and Yumiko Ohta are also key contacts within the firm. Managing associate Sakon Kuramoto transferred from the real estate practice and was part of the team which advised Mitsui on several strategic investments.

Paul Hastings LLP's M&A practice focuses on cross-border matters between Japan and China and was recently strengthened by the arrival of Eiji Kobayashi from Norton Rose Fulbright where he was head of corporate and securities. In recent highlights, practice head Toshiyuki Arai acted for JCB Payment in a new strategic alliance with several commercial banks to introduce the Japanese company's payment cards into India and Pakistan through a universal license feature. The practice teamed up with colleagues in China to establish a number of joint ventures pertaining to the procurement and development of theme parks and other projects arising from China's booming entertainment sector.  The team saw the departure of Tim Mackey who has left for an in-house role at the SoftBank Group.

Ropes & Gray LLP's Tsuyoshi Imai is noted as having led a multi-disciplinary team representing Bain Capital as leader of a bidding consortium in the auction of Toshiba's semiconductor business. Counsel Kaori Fukazawa was part of the team which acted for Bain in the sale of a 49% stake in Japanese mushroom grower Yukigini Maitake to Shinmei. New partner Saeko Inaba advised Bain as selling shareholder in the Macromill IPO.

The corporate practice at Squire Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho is jointly spearheaded by managing partner Ken Kurosu and Asia Pacific chair of the global corporate team Stephen Chelberg. In one recent highlight, Kurosu acted for a leading Japanese trading house on its 49% investment in a Brazilian insurance provider. Other notable names in the team include Steven Doi, Jun Mamiya, and Rika Beppu. The group oversaw the acquisition of a specialty material manufacturer subsidiary by a Japan-based company, and also advised a biopharmaceutical company on the establishment of a joint venture with a contract development and manufacturing service provider and a US-based investment company. Mörk Murdock has joined from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

In two recent cross-border transactions, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP 's team acted in Terumo's acquisition of assets and liabilities from Abbott and St Jude Medical, as well as Panasonic's cash tender offer for shares of PanaHome. The two senior names to note are practice co-heads Izumi Akai and Keiji Hatano who represented Obayashi in its proposed acquisition of Obayashi Road. Other key clients include Centerview and Lazard, both of which acted as financial advisors to parties involved in M&A transactions.

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