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Japan > Projects and energy > International firms and joint ventures > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

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

Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

  1. 1

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

  1. 1
    • Hirofumi Taba - Linklaters

Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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As ‘a flagship of the Tokyo office’, Allen & Overy Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho’s projects and energy practice ‘consistently performs at the highest level’, with ‘unsurpassed knowledge’ in the project finance arena. The ‘highly experienced’ Scott Neilson and Matthias Voss, who ‘is excellent at communicating with Japanese clients thanks to his deep understanding of the corporate culture’, jointly lead the group; Neilson recently led advice to the ECAs and lenders on the development and $8bn financing of the Mozambique-based Coral FLNG project, the first of its kind; and Voss acted for Sumitomo as sponsor on the $4.5bn financing of the Tanjung Jati B 5 & 6 power projects in Indonesia. Further highlights included assisting ADB, JBIC and other financial institutions with the project financing of the expansion of the Tangguh Train 3 project in Indonesia. ‘Highly experienced’ counsel Kristian Bradshaw, and senior associates Hitomi Komachi, who is ‘genuinely excellent’, and Akira Takahashi, who is ‘creative’, also attract praise.

Herbert Smith Freehills is ‘a distinctive force in the market’ and ‘receives a triple-A rating’ from clients thanks to its ‘strong team with deep experience and unmatched pragmatism’. Under the leadership of Andrew Blacoe, who is ‘commercially oriented and provides a balanced perspective with rich transactional experience’, the practice ‘excels in this space’, particularly in the oil and gas, LNG, coal and mining, and renewable energy areas. Asia regional head Lewis McDonald recently bolstered the team with his move from the firm’s Seoul office, Damien Roberts is ‘an excellent communicator and supportive collaborator’ and Ian Williams splits his time between Japan, South Korea and Australia. Recent highlights include advising Mitsui & Co on its acquisition of a 15% stake in the Moatize coal mine and a 50% stake in the Nacala corridor rail and port infrastructure project in Mozambique; acting for Marubeni on its acquisition of a stake in the Central Tatar project in Russia; and assisting SoftBank with the development of several Indian solar projects.

Latham & Watkins Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise’s project finance practice acts for a client roster of lenders and sponsors including Marubeni, BTMU, JBIC and Mizuho Bank. The team acted for all of the lenders and ECAs involved in the $440m financing of the Muara Laboh geothermal power project in Indonesia, advised JBIC, several commercial banks and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance on the financing of the Tanjung Jati B 5 & 6 coal-fired plant in Indonesia, and assisted the Republic of Indonesia with the financing of Train 3 of the Tangguh LNG project. Joseph Bevash splits his time between Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and Hong Kong and heads up the team, which includes Michael Yoshii, who handled the $400m financing of the Limay power project in the Philippines for San Miguel Corporation, and Hiroki Kobayashi, who regularly advises on projects in the oil and gas and power sectors.

One of the most committed and knowledgeable groups in the market’, Linklaters’ ‘reliable and in-depth experience’ in outbound project finance matters ‘stands out among the rest’. John Maxwell and Hiroya Yamazaki jointly lead the group, which also includes counsel Hirofumi Taba, who clients praise for his ‘dedication, pragmatism and detailed approach’. The team is particularly active in renewable energy projects with recent work including acting for ING Bank as lead arranger on the financing of the construction of a solar power plant. The group also advised Mitsui & Co, Tokyo Gas and the Kalla Group on the development and financing of an LNG terminal in Indonesia, acted for the lenders on the financing of the Nacala corridor rail and port infrastructure project, and advised the lenders including JBIC, NEXI and KEXIM on the financing and development of the Morupule power plant expansion in Botswana. SMBC, Marubeni and BTMU are also clients.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s ‘market-leading team’ is led by the ‘genuinely excellent’ Aled Davies, who is ‘one of the best performers in the field’. Davies recently led advice to JBIC and BTMU on the financing and development of a methanol and dimethyl ether production project in Trinidad and Tobago; he also acted for the lenders in the greenfield project financing of an LNG regasification terminal in Chile, assisted Lotte Chemical as sponsor with the financing of a US-based petrochemical project, and advised JBIC and NEXI as lenders on the development of a coal-fired independent power project in Indonesia. Counsel Daniel Lin focuses on project finance and M&A transactions, special counsel Justen Fleming handles LNG transactions, and senior associate Andrew Pendleton, who transferred to Tokyo from the firm’s London office, regularly acts for ECAs and other multilateral agencies. Alexander Borisoff moved to the firm’s New York office.

Michael Graffagna heads the department at Morrison & Foerster LLP and is highly recommended for his infrastructure experience; his recent work includes advising JERA on its involvement as investor in a natural gas-fired thermal power project in New York and acting for SoftBank on its bid for the Andhra Pradesh solar power project in India. The team also fields Dale Caldwell, who advises on project finance and development transactions; Masahiro Shiga, who regularly acts for foreign sponsors on the financing of Japanese solar projects; and Joshua Isenberg, who focuses on renewable energy projects and recently led advice to the Tokyo branch of Deutsche Bank as lender on a Japanese solar project. Mitsui & Co, Osaka Gas, MHI and Sumitomo are also clients.

At White & Case LLP – White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association), the ‘unrivalled’ practice ‘fully deserves its position at the top’ thanks to its ‘excellent expertise, high-quality service and customer-oriented approach’. The firm has ‘a long-established reputation in the oil and gas sector’ with notable experience in LNG matters; highlights included advising Tepco and Chubu Electric on its joint venture (JERA) and the related transferral of LNG assets. Further mandates included acting for Canadian Solar on the financing of several solar projects, assisting SMBC with the financing of the Legoland theme park in Nagoya, and handling JOIN’s investment into a high-speed railway development in Texas. The ‘highly respectedPaul Harrison heads up the department, which counts Toshio Dokei, associate Alex Claydon, Micah Sadoyama and Alexander Woody, who ‘knows the LNG industry inside out’, as key practitioners.

Ashurst is highly regarded for its and gas, chemical and infrastructure sector work; work highlights include advising Caribbean Gas Chemical on the development of a methanol and dimethyl ether production facility in Trinidad and Tobago, and acting for Sumitomo on its bid for the EPC contract of the Matarbari power plant and port facilities project. Dominic Gregory and Matthew Rickards are recommended; Gregory advised JBIC on a facility agreement with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Rickards has specialist knowledge of PPPs. Matthew Bubb relocated to the firm’s Melbourne office and Rupert Burrows joined Mayer Brown at the end of 2018.

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)’s ‘dedicated, knowledgeable and practical’ team ‘stands out for its cross-border expertise’, particularly in matters involving the mining, power and oil and gas sectors. In a recent highlight, ‘brilliant’ practice head Anne Hung advised Chubu Electric and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance on their acquisition of a 49% interest in two Mitsubishi subsidiaries that operate submarine power transmitters for offshore wind power plants. The ‘extremely attentive and responsive’ Ean Mac Pherson regularly handles renewable energy and mining transactions, and acted for Conergy Japan on its purchase and development of a solar project in the Aomori Prefecture. Of counsel Samir Desai is recommended for US-focused gas and power projects.

Under the leadership of the ‘outstanding’ John McClenahan, King & Spaldingcontinues to raise its profile in the market’ with substantial expertise in cross-border development transactions in the energy field, project financing and LNG-related mandates. McClenahan’s recent work includes advising JBIC on the construction financing related to a coal-fired IPP in Vietnam, and acting for Modec, Mitsui & Co, Marubeni and MOL on the development and financing of the Tartaruga FPSO vessel. Clients single out the ‘invaluable’ Mark Davies, who recently assisted Japan Wind Development with the development and financing of several wind power projects; and ‘client-focused’ LNG specialist Rupert Lewi, who assisted Kogas with its involvement in the LNG Canada project.

As ‘one of the best ship financing firms in the field’, Norton Rose Fulbright’s ‘highly committed, commercial and experienced’ team recently acted for Mitsui & Co and MOL on the formation of a Norwegian joint venture with AKOFS Offshore, which will acquire a subsea equipment support vessel and the related equipment from DOF Subsea Rederi. Paul Coggins led the matter and is highly regarded for his shipping and offshore expertise. The team also includes the ‘knowledgeable, thorough and friendlyAdrian Joyce, who is recommended for project financings, and practice co-heads Jeremy Gibb and George Gibson; Gibb handles FPSO financings and Gibson focuses on infrastructure and energy projects in emerging markets.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s department covers the full gamut of energy and infrastructure projects involving power, transport, LNG and oil and gas matters; expertise spans project development, litigation and finance work. In a recent highlight, newly promoted partner Olivia Matsushita was part of the team which acted for MNG Gold on its acquisition of a 55% stake in Aureus Mining. Matsushita also worked with practice co-heads Anthony Raven and Simon Barrett advising IHI Corporation, JGC Corporation, Japan Marine United and Japan EAS Investment on their exit from Brazilian ship building company, EAS.

At Shearman & Sterling, George Borovas is ‘one of the key names in the market for nuclear work’, while Etienne Gelencsér, whose ‘expansive knowledge makes him an important asset in any matter’, is recommended for project financings and renewable energy matters. Gelencsér’s recent highlights include advising J-Power, Itochu and Adaro on the development and financing of a greenfield coal-fired IPP in Central Java, and assisting Pertamina, Marubeni and Sojitz with the development of the Jawa 1 IPP in Indonesia. Clients also single out associate Gordon Palmquist, who ‘has a well-balanced skillset paired with deep industry knowledge’.

The ‘extremely professional, loyal and dedicated’ department at Clifford Chance Law Office is ‘incredibly reliable in the field of project finance’; its recent work includes acting for Kirkbi as sponsor on the financing and development of the new Legoland theme park in Nagoya. Vinci Airports, JBIC and KEXIM are also clients. The ‘service-minded and hardworking’ Ross Howard heads up the practice, which also includes the ‘brilliant’ Hidehiko Suzuki and Yusuke Abe, who is ‘smart, friendly and has a great positive attitude’. Counsel Hans Menski joined from the firm’s Paris office.

Following Mark Plenderleith’s departure, key names at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer include Don Stokes, who splits his time between Japan, Vietnam and Singapore and focuses on international infrastructure project financing; and Edward Cole, who is also recommended for infrastructure transactions. Clients also praise ‘high-quality’ counsel Lukas Kratochvil, counsel Tomoko Nakajima, who heads up the firm’s renewables group, senior consultant Kentaro Tsuboi, who handles infrastructure projects, and senior associate Gustav Runeland, who is ‘extremely helpful due to his ability to mix Japanese and English cultures and explain both effectively’.

At Hogan Lovells Horitsu Jimusho Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo, practice head Joseph Kim is highly regarded for his expertise in cross-border investments, particularly regarding projects involving Japan and Korea. Elsewhere, he acted for JBIC on the financing of an IPP project in Vietnam. The team also advised Exelon on its formation of a joint venture with Japan Atomic Power Company: JExel Nuclear Company. Counsel Sean Conaty relocated to Tokyo from the firm’s Singapore office.

Jones Day remains focused on the renewables sector, with recent highlights including acting for Gunkul Engineering on its proposed investment into a solar project in the Tochigi Prefecture. Bangkok Solar Power, Juwi Shizen Energy and GCL New Energy Holdings are also clients. Kaoru Umino heads up the four-partner department, which also fields real estate expert Hirokazu Ina, transactional specialist Dan Matsuda and Katsumi Shirai, who joined from TMI Associates.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s renewables strength is evident in its recent work, with practice co-heads Yoichi Katayama and Minako Wakabayashi handling Setouchi Future Creations’ investment into a Japanese solar project, and acting for Pattern Energy Japan and Green Power Investment on the financing of a wind power project in Kochi Prefecture. The group also assisted Kepco with the development and financing of a solar power plant in Hokkaido, and advised Invenergy Japan on its solar partnership with SB Energy Group.

The ‘highly experienced and technically brilliantRichard Kramer leads the department at Simmons & Simmons, which stands out for its expertise in IPP projects and IWPP projects in Japan and the Middle East. Kramer recently led advice to Mitsubishi and Tepco on the development and financing of an IWPP project in Qatar. Mitsui & Co, Sojitz, Itochu and Chiyoda are also clients.

Vinson & Elkins LLP’s ‘professional, prompt and reliable’ practice is led by James Atkin, who shows ‘absolute dedication to clients and their needs’, and has the ‘ability to approach any problem in a sincere, commercial and practical manner’. Atkin’s experience encompasses oil and gas transactions, project development work, M&A, joint ventures and LNG-related matters, advising a range of Japanese clients.

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