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


Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A: international firms and joint ventures
  2. Leading individuals: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)
  3. Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)
  4. Next generation lawyers: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)
  5. Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

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

  1. 1

Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

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

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    • Tokutaka Ito - Allen & Overy Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho
    • Akira Kumaki - Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

  1. 1

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Allen & Overy Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimushodemonstrates continued and distinguished professionalism’ in a ‘friendly and helpful manner’, and clients praise the team’s ‘true ability to understand the client’s needs’. The three-partner practice, which is led by the ‘frank yet kind’ Simon Black, advised Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) on its voluntary tender offer for the Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri). Black led on the matter, and also assisted BTMU with its $783m acquisition of a 20% stake in Security Bank. Other clients include Sumitomo, Hitachi and NTT Communications. Clients single out the ‘highly supportive’ Osamu Ito and Nick Wall, who has ‘strong business acumen and negotiation skills’.

The ‘exceptional team’ at Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise) is ‘fully committed to any project it works on’ and is ‘responsive, careful and completely dedicated’. Hiroshi Kondo leads the department, which includes several other highly regarded individuals: the ‘smart and attentive’ Jeremy White, who ‘has a strong mindset for business solutions’ and ‘is perfectly comfortable working on landmark cases’; Jiro Toyokawa, who ‘provides a high quality of service’; and Hideo Norikoshi. The team advised Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Co on its acquisition of General Electric’s Japanese leasing business. Yutaka Kimura made partner in 2015.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringerprovides an excellent service’, delivering ‘conscientious advice and quick responses on the most complex matters’. Edward Cole, Takeshi Nakao and Junzaburo Kiuchi jointly lead the practice, which ‘stands out for its cross-border expertise’. Nakao acted for Japan Tobacco on its $5bn acquisition of Reynolds American’s Natural American Spirit business outside the US; he also assisted Amtek Auto with a leveraged acquisition financing. Cole led advice to New Kansai International Airport Company on the sale and grant of concession rights to Kansai and Osaka international airports. Other clients include Marubeni, CVC and Panasonic.

Morrison & Foerster Ito & Mitomi’s team is ‘extremely knowledgeable, drawing on vast experience and skill to deliver timely and professional advice’. ‘Standout performer’ Ken Siegel leads the practice, and advised Hitachi on its joint venture with Johnson Controls. Noah Carr (who made partner in 2016) advised SoftBank – a significant client for the firm – on the Japanese aspects of its $250m investment into WME-IMG, and the team also assisted SoftBank with its $1bn investment in Coupang. Clients single out Randy Laxer, who is ‘extremely helpful, a pleasure to work with and always achieves great results’. Gary Smith, James Robinson and Stan Yukevich are also recommended.

According to one respondent, Shearman & Sterlingis the best of the best in terms of quality, knowledge and responsiveness’ and is ‘one of the best international firms in Japan for M&A mandates’. Practice head Kenneth Lebrun is ‘the "go-to" person for corporate advice and is one of the leading individuals in the market’; he led advice to Mizuho Bank regarding its disposal of its interest in Evercore Partners. Office managing partner Masahisa Ikeda is recommended for private equity transactions and cross-border matters, and is advising JX Holdings on its $16bn business integration with TonenGeneral.

Led by David Sneider, the team at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is highly regarded for its US law expertise and regularly collaborates with the firm’s US offices. As an example, Sneider worked with the firm’s New York office in assisting Sumitomo Life with its $3.8bn acquisition of Symetra. Other highlights included advising Panasonic Healthcare on its acquisition of Bayer’s Diabetes Care business division for €1bn, and assisting JC Flowers & Co with its acquisition of multiple subsidiaries of Chi-X Global Holdings. Other clients include Goldman Sachs and Blackstone.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s team, which is jointly led by Nobuhisa Ishizuka and Mitsuhiro Kamiya, was strengthened in mid-2016 via the recruitment of capital markets expert Kenji Taneda from Morrison & Foerster Ito & Mitomi. Specialising in cross-border mandates, the team advised Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance on its $5.3bn acquisition of Amlin, and acted for Nikkei in its $1.3bn buyout of Financial Times Group. Other clients include Marubeni, Yahoo! and Toray Industries.

The ‘incredibly experienced’ department at Clifford Chance Law Office has substantial cross-border strength. Ross Howard and Yusuke Abe led advice to Vinci Airports on the concession of the Kansai and Osaka international airports. Andrew Whan, who splits his time between Tokyo and Hong Kong and is ‘highly knowledgeable’, leads the practice, which also includes Tatsuhiko Kamiyama, who advises on both inbound and outbound investments. Counsel Natsuko Sugihara is well regarded.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLPhas a solid grasp of the technical legal aspects of the market and the cultural realities of doing business in Japan’ and ‘can deliver top-of-the-line advice’. Jon Gray joined the firm from Linklaters in 2015 and co-heads the practice with counsel Mörk Murdock, who is ‘in tune with the market and a great resource for clients’. The department works closely with the firm’s US offices, and worked with New York to advise SMTB on its acquisition of the issued shares of Citi Cards Japan.

At the ‘responsive, knowledgeable and solution-orientedHerbert Smith Freehills, Graeme Preston, who ‘has strong leadership skills and keeps attention on the client’s needs’, leads the department, which also includes ‘strong communicator’ Damien Roberts and the ‘highly proactive’ Alexis Papasolomontos. Key clients of the team include Mitsui & Co, FamilyMart and SoftBank. The firm is advising SoftBank on multiple matters, including its investment in Trikomsel and its investment into Beabloo. Andrew Blacoe is recommended for energy sector transactions.

The ‘very professional and courteous team’ at Hogan Lovells Horitsu Jimusho Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo saw substantial change in 2016: Lisa Yano (who brings a new US element to the team) joined from Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, and the ‘excellent’ Jacky Scanlan-Dyas was promoted to the partnership. Practice head Rika Beppu and Wataru Kamoto advised Neopost Group on a joint venture with Yamato Transport.

Linklaters’ team acted for Nissin Foods in its acquisition of a stake in Premier Foods, and also assisted Meiji Yasuda Life and its subsidiary with its business cooperation agreement with Legal & General Investment Management. Other key clients include Marubeni, SMBC and Orix. Hiroya Yamazaki leads the department, which is outbound-focused and also includes office managing partner John Maxwell.

Tsuyoshi Imai heads the practice at Ropes & Gray LLP, which has a strong focus on private equity transactions. Bain Capital is a major client, and was advised by Imai on the disposal of its 50% leveraged investment in Jupiter Shop Channel. Other clients include TPG Capital, Bellsystem24 Holdings and Japan Wind Development.

At Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, practice head Keiji Hatano acted for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal on several transactions, including its $218m acquisition of Nippon Steel & Sumikin Texeng, and its tender offer for shares in Nisshin Steel. Izumi Akai is a name to note, and was part of the team which assisted Kyocera in a tender offer for common stock shares in Nihon Inter Electronics.

Ashurst’s team focuses on outbound M&A and has notable strength in the energy sector. Practice head Rupert Burrows advised Kansai Electric on an alliance with Engie relating to their LNG businesses. Other highlights included advising Nippon Life on its acquisition of shares in MLC, a subsidiary of National Australian Bank. Other clients include Tokyo Gas, Mitsubishi Corporation and Itochu.

Noteworthy names at Jones Day include Yuichiro Mori, Scott Jones and the ‘dedicated and organised’ Stephen DeCosse. The ‘well-prepared and knowledgeable’ team ‘makes excellent use of its wider global network resources’ and has a strong cross-border focus. Jones advised Cardinal Health on the Japanese elements of its acquisition of Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis business. Clients single out the ‘always clear and precise’ Dan Matsuda. Ken Kiyohara left to establish CMA Partners (Kiyohara International Law Office).

At Norton Rose Fulbright, Eiji Kobayashi (who has increased the office’s US practice) leads the department. He acted for Pfizer in its acquisition of a minority stake in Sosei Group. Other clients include AMD, Konica Minolta, Central Japan Railway Company and Nisshin Seifun Group. Chris Viner, who splits his time between London and Tokyo, is recommended.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has ‘a strong US law capability’ and ‘always does a good job on every element of a transaction, while remaining very punctual’. The department ‘leads on work in the technology sector’ and is also recognised for its energy and infrastructure experience. Practice head Mark Weeks led advice to Johnson Controls in its acquisition of a stake in Hitachi Appliances’ global air-conditioning business, and Edward Johnson is acting for Alpaca in its sale of Labellio to Kyocera Communication Systems. Of counsel Hiroki Sugita is praised by clients for his ‘deep understanding of the industry and business culture’.

Paul Hastings LLP focuses on cross-border deals and fields a dedicated Japan-China practice. The team also ‘stands out in the TMT sector’ and has notable experience advising on payment M&A. Examples included assisting Citi Cards and SMTC with the divestiture of Citi’s global card program. Department head Toshi Arai led the matter, and also assisted Hitachi-LG Storage Data with the divestiture of a data storage device business to a Chinese buyer. Matthew Berger, who splits his time between Tokyo and Palo Alto, is recommended.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP advised Citigroup on the sale of its Japanese retail banking business to SMBC, and also acted for the same client in the sale of Citi Cards to SMTB. Other clients include Oaktree Capital Management, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Unison Capital. The practice is co-led by Tong Yu and Kaye Naoko Yoshino.

Squire Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho’s team is recognised for its cross-border M&A strength. Recent examples include assisting Nordson with the Japanese elements of its acquisition of Matrix Technologies, and advising IBJ Leasing on its joint venture with Aircastle. Key team members include managing partner Ken Kurosu, Steven Doi and Stephen Chelberg, who is Asia-Pacific chair of the firm’s global corporate practice. Jun Mamiya and Kazuya Yamamoto are also recommended.

Brian Strawn and Jun Usami lead the team at White & Case LLP – White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association), which has a client roster including Osaka Gas, Chiyoda and Panasonic. Strawn, Usami and the newly promoted Karl Pires acted for Panasonic on its $1.5bn acquisition of Hussmann. Mangyo Kinoshita and Eric Marcks left to establish southgate in 2016.

DLA Piper focuses on cross-border transactions, regularly acting on both inbound and outbound matters. The practice, which is led by Lance Miller and the newly promoted Masahiko Ishida, advised Indian manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra on its $25m acquisition of a 33% stake in Mitsubishi Agricultural Machinery. Ishida also led advice to Sun European Partners on its LBO acquisition of Flexitech Holding. Other clients include Citizen Holdings, Itochu and Intel. Hajime Iwaki left to establish Law Office of Hajime Iwaki.

At K&L Gates, key contact Ryan Dwyer focuses on cross-border M&A, assisting Japanese clients with outbound investments and foreign clients with inbound investments. Sergey Milanov specialises in M&A and joint ventures with Russian entities, particularly in the oil and gas, telecoms and transport sectors. Other noteworthy team members are Takahiro Hoshino and Naoki Watanabe.

Latham & Watkins Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise has substantial experience in cross-border transactions involving Japan and the US. Recent examples include advising Pharmaceutical Product Development on its joint venture with Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories. Practice head Michael Yoshii and Hiroki Kobayashi also acted for Nissan in its acquisition of Mitsubishi Motors.

At Sidley Austin Nishikawa Foreign Law Joint Enterprise, Tomoo Nishikawa leads the practice, which has notable strength in regulatory issues alongside M&A and capital markets transactions. Key names in the team include Akira Nakazawa and counsel Makiko Ushijima.

Richard Kramer leads the department at Simmons & Simmons, which works closely with the firm’s global offices. London-based Jason Daniel regularly acts for Japanese clients, and assisted Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking with its subscription of non-voting preference shares in Aberdeen Asset Management. Other clients include Wood Mackenzie and Capcom.

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