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Next generation lawyers

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DFDL Legal & Tax's 'diligent and responsible' team receives praise from clients for its 'extremely professional' approach to transport and energy concession projects. Other key areas of practice include corporate, commercial and M&A mandates, as well as employment and tax law issues and providing technical assistance to government bodies on legislation and regulations. In one notable matter, Walter Heiser served as Laos and Vietnam transaction counsel to B.GRIMM Power on its initial public offering on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.  He is also acting as local counsel to Boten-Vientiane Railway, as the lead developer of a stretch of railway to be constructed from the Chinese border to Vientiane. Managing director Kristy Newby acted as lead counsel for the Singaporean subsidiary of New Forests Asia in all aspects of its acquisition of a concessionary tree plantation. 'Good negotiator' Senesakoune Sihanouvong is another key individual for concessionary matters, while regional practice head Danyel Thomson is recommended for employment law issues in the jurisdiction.

Tilleke & Gibbins (Laos) provides a full-service offering to a range of local and international corporates (including insurers and technology companies) entering the Laotian market, or with existing operations in the jurisdiction. Aside from an active transport and energy practice, the team has a niche in local intellectual property matters; particularly enforcement work, which builds on the firm's strong working relationship with government authorities. Based in Vientiane, Dino Santaniello handles the spectrum of corporate and commercial issues. Santhapat Periera oversees the firm's Laos group from the Bangkok office.

VDB Loi handles concession projects, joint venture investments, M&A transactions and the range of capital markets and finance work as it relates to Laos, with major clients involved in energy and infrastructure projects. The key figures on the team are Daodeuane Duangdara and Sornpheth Douangdy, both of whom have a background in tax law.

Arion Legal is most noted for handling projects and energy mandates, often acting as local counsel on all aspects of various hydro-power and infrastructure projects, as well as concessions in the mining, oil and gas sectors. The practice also has experience advising international corporates on entry into the local market, investment into special economic zones and local labour and taxation issues. Managing director Mike McDonald is recommended, as is energy and resource expert Mark Stewart and head of government relations, Khamkong Liemphrachanh.

The lion's share of Rajah & Tann (Laos)'s practice comprises regulatory compliance, business incorporation and banking and finance work for inward investors from around East Asia. Past highlights include advising the Export-Import Bank of China on security documents in relation to a $50m loan facility granted by the client to the Government of Laos for the development of the national grid. Brian Ng and Khanti Syackhaphom are the key contacts.

Aristotle David leads the team at ZICO Law, which handles domestic and international clients, including corporates and non-profits, on all contentious and non-contentious aspects of their operations in Laos. The firm regularly handles project financing, due diligence, company incorporation, banking, IP registrations and general legal compliance matters. The team has extensive experience advising on investments into special economic zones, most recently assisting a major international retail company with approvals necessary to enter the jurisdiction. Senior associates Aparat Sanpibul and Khamphaeng Phochanthilath are also recommended, particularly in relation to IP-related work.

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