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The economic growth and foreign investment enjoyed by the Philippines, one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, continued into 2015. The infrastructure sector has seen significant investment, with major national expressways and light rail transit systems now underway – though activity in projects and real estate slowed ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Domestic banks were remarkably liquid, reducing the need for foreign banks to finance large projects; borrowers have been less dependent on capital markets for funding.
Several sectors were notably active: although Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles is still the premier tax firm, numerous other tax practices were busy throughout the year, with clients looking to navigate the country’s 30% corporate income tax rate and relatively aggressive attitude towards tax collection; the resources market, including but not limited to renewable energy, has also been busy; and there has been no shortage of BPO activity in the Philippines.
The larger domestic firms – most notably Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW), Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles and SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan – continue to provide strong service across various practice areas.
Although foreign firms are not allowed to establish themselves in the Philippines, some have associated or member firms based in Manila offices; for example Quisumbing Torres is Baker & McKenzie’s correspondent firm in the Philippines.
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SyCipLaw acted as local counsel to DBS Bank Ltd., Mizuho Bank, Ltd. and Standard Chartered Bank, the structuring banks in the US$400 million Project Financing of a new 300MW coal-fired power plant in Limay, Bataan of SMC Consolidated Power Corp. The lenders to the project financing, in addition to the structuring banks were Bank of Commerce, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, CTBC Bank Co. Ltd., Maybank International (Labuan Branch), Maybank Philippines, Inc., Siemens Bank GMBH (London Branch), INTESA San Paolo S.p.a. (Hong Kong Branch). The project financing was recognized as Best Power Deal in the Asia-Pacific Region in the 2015 IJ Global Awards.
ExportWise magazine has published the “First 5 Calls” series on the Philippines. Published by Export Development Canada (EDC) for Canadian exporters and investors, ExportWise’s “First 5 Calls” series seeks to provide practical, on-the-ground advice from five market experts who each address a particular aspect of doing business in a certain country, such as legal and regulatory, market entry and distribution, customs, human resources, etc.
The April 2016 issue of the International Financial Law Review (IFLR) included an international briefing article entitled “New foreign investment rules.” The article was contributed by SyCipLaw partner Marietta A. Tibayan .
The second edition of The Public-Private Partnership Law Review has been published. Each jurisdiction chapter contains information on general framework, bidding and award procedure, contract, finance, recent decisions, and outlook. The Philippine chapter was contributed by the SyCipLaw Partners Marievic G. Ramos-Añonuevo and Arlene M. Maneja .
The March 2016 issue of the International Financial Law Review (IFLR) included an international briefing article entitled “New securities regulations.” The article was contributed by SyCipLaw partner Melyjane G. Bertillo-Ancheta .
The May 2016 issue of the International Financial Law Review (IFLR) included an international briefing article entitled “PPPs and the election ban.” The article was contributed by SyCipLaw partner Aaron Roi B. Riturban .
The Philippines section of The Tax Disputes and Litigation Review 4th Edition contains information on commencing disputes, including national and local taxes; courts and tribunals; penalties and remedies; tax claims, including recovering overpaid taxes, challenging administrative decisions, and claimants; costs; alternative dispute resolution; anti-avoidance; double taxation treaties; areas of focus; and outlook and conclusions. The section was contributed by SyCipLaw partner Carina C. Laforteza with support from associate Mark Xavier D. Oyales .
The ALB SE Asia Law Awards 2016 shortlist has been published. SyCipLaw is shortlisted for law firm of the year awards in arbitration, banking and financial services, commercial litigation, construction and real estate, energy and resources, and intellectual property. Six of the firm's transactions are also shortlisted for deal of the year awards.
SyCipLaw acted as Philippine counsel for the dealers, Citigroup Global Markets Limited and Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in a back-to-back tender offer of perpetual securities and issuance of new perpetual securities.
On February 12, 2016, the recently constituted Philippine Competition Commission (“PCC”), which was created under the Philippine Competition Act (Republic Act 10667 or the “PCA”), issued Memorandum Circular No. 16-001, Series of 2016 (the “Transitory Rules”), which provides for the transitory rules and guidelines relating to mergers and acquisitions that were, or are to be, executed or otherwise implemented after the effectivity of the PCA on August 8, 2015 but before the effectivity of its implementing rules and regulations (the “PCA IRR”). Given the special nature of transactions effected through the Philippine Stock Exchange, the Transitory Rules will not cover such transactions and will be covered by a separate issuance by the PCC.
Piracy and copyright infringements are on the increase. As such, it is all the more important to take appropriate measures to protect one’s trademarks and intellectual property.
On October 12, 2016, VEGAS LEX organized a workshop, Advertising in the pharmaceutical sector: risk matrix , for representatives of pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of medical devices and dietary supplements.
No distinction is made between “Mac” and “Mc” for the purposes of trademark law. The General Court of the European Union (EGC) ruled that whether the syllable includes an “a” is of no great significance (Az.: T-518/13).
Anyone who includes false statements in their application documents risks having their employment contract terminated with immediate effect.
The renewable energy company OX2 has been retained to construct the Lehtirova wind farm generating 148 MW (41 wind power turbines) in Norrbotten. The customer is Aquila Capital. Foyen Advokatfirma assisted OX2 in the negotiations regarding the turbine supply agreement and the service agreement with the turbine supplier, Vestas. The partner in charge at Foyen was Jacob Hamilton.
Members of the truck cartel will have to pay a fine totaling approx. 2.9 billion euros, and things could become even more expensive if damages claims brought by clients follow.
The IFLR1000 2017 Financial and Corporate rankings were published on October 14, 2016. VEGAS LEX improved its positions in Project finance and Mergers and acquisitions. Chairman of the Board of Partners Albert Eganyan was noted as a leading lawyer in the Project finance category.
The inheritance tax reforms have still yet to be finalized. With the Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament, having blocked the draft legislation on July 8, no further decision is expected to be taken before the autumn.
In an action brought by CL Educate Limited, the company behind Career Launcher (popularly known as CL), India’s premier test prep institutions, the Delhi High Court has restrained competitor Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd. (popularly known as Byju’s) and its directors from infringing and misusing CL’s trademarks to lure prospective students into enrolling.
Early signs of the new shape of IP litigation under the Commercial Courts Act are being seen in the speed with which the Delhi High Court disposed of a suit filed by Tata Sons Ltd. on the second date of hearing, applying the ‘summary judgment’ provisions contained in this Act.