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Alexander Stathopoulos heads the Philippines practice at Allen & Overy, with strong support from corporate and M&A specialist Alun Evans. The ‘professional’ and ‘responsive’ team provides ‘a high quality service’ and advises clients such as Union Bank, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation on a range of matters, including those relating to banking and finance, dispute resolution, infrastructure development, and energy and natural resources. The firm is advising PLDT and Smart Communication Inc on a multibillion-dollar mobile business transformation partnership with IBM; this involved assisting with market strategy, risk management and technical, commercial and business contracting. Kenneth Aboud has retired.

Baker McKenzie LLP is represented in the Philippines entirely by Quisumbing Torres; the team continues to excel in a range of practice areas and is market leading in M&A, projects and energy, employment, immigration and TMT.

The ‘excellent’ Philippines practice at DLA Piper is led by Alex Guy and Stephen Webb, who are strongly supported by ‘extraordinary’ construction and infrastructure specialist Dan Brown. The ‘very commercially driven’ team has expertise in PPP and energy, and has acted for notable clients such as Aboitiz Equity Ventures, the Department of Transportation and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and Alternergy Wind One Corporation. It advised the last on the $170m Sembrano Wind Farm project, assisting with drafting and negotiating an EPC and O&M contract with tenderers. Partners have ‘excellent client service and communication skills’ and ‘are willing to go the extra mile to get the job done’.

At Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Alexander Aitken and senior consultant Jun Bautista have ‘excellent strategic skills’ and provide expertise in capital markets, banking and finance, M&A, dispute resolution, and projects and energy. The ‘very good’ firm has handled a range of high-profile transactions for various corporate clients such as Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Ayala, San Miguel and the Lopez Group, and is active in numerous industry sectors, including mining, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, transportation and banking. Recent highlights include acting on a $3bn power deal for Chevron in which the firm advised the client on the disposal of its geothermal assets in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Native Tagalog speaker Maria Pedersen, who heads the department at Jones Day, has expertise in projects work as well as financing and M&A transactions involving the energy and infrastructure sector. The department in active in a range of industry sectors, including banking, real estate, telecoms and transportation, and has acted for clients such as Asian Development Bank, Ayala Corporation and Global Emerging Markets North America. In addition, the firm advised the PPP Center of the Philippines, and the Department of Public Works and Highways on the proposed $2.7bn Laguna Lakeshore Expressway-Dike PPP Project.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s department is headed by native Filipino Benjamin Carale, who is supported by projects, infrastructure and energy expert Michael Yoshii. The firm handles matters involving capital markets transactions, M&A deals, project finance and dispute resolution matters, and has advised clients such as San Miguel Corporation, Deutsche Bank AG, and Meralco PowerGen Corporation. It acted for Deutsche Bank on the initial public offering of Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures on the Philippine Stock Exchange, valued at $80m. In addition, the firm also advised Vista Land & Lifescape, as guarantor, and VLL International, as issuer, on the establishment of its debut $1bn Medium Term Note Program and subsequent initial drawdown of $425m high yield notes due 2022.

James McLaren at Linklaters has particular expertise in the global energy sector. The department is experienced in handling matters involving banking and finance, energy and utility companies, mining projects and infrastructure and transport entities; clients include BDO Capital & Investment Corporation, Credit Suisse Securities, J.P. Morgan and Standard Chartered Bank. The firm has also advised Victoria International Container Terminal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Philippines-listed International Container Terminal Services on the development and A$398m project financing of a container terminal in Webb Dock, Melbourne.

The ‘knowledgeable and experienced’ team at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy is led by the ‘excellent’ James Grandolfo, who is supported by ‘very hardworking and diligent’ counsel Desiree Woo. The Philippines practice frequently handles corporate and project finance work, and counts SMC Global Power, Vista Land, ICTSI, Chinabank and 8990 Holdings as clients. Most recently, the team acted for BDO Capital, UBS and Credit Suisse on a $1.2bn equity offering.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s Philippines practice is led by Bill McCormack, who specialises in project development and finance, and includes counsel Anna Chung. Highlights include advising the Ayala Corporation, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets on the development and financing of the $1.4bn Light Rail Transit 1 Cavite Extension project (LRT 1). In addition, the team frequently acts for multilateral development banks and export credit agencies like ADB, K-EXIM, JBIC and IFC, and also has experience in power projects and oil and gas.

Matthew Bubb heads the team at Ashurst LLP, which includes oil and gas expert Daniel Reinbott, project finance specialist Andrew Digges, dispute resolution practitioner Rob Palmer and Kate Allchurch, who has extensive experience in banking and finance. The practice focuses on infrastructure projects involving power, oil and gas and transport and has advised clients such as the San Miguel Corporation, Asian Development Bank and the Philippines PPP Center. It acted for the Philippines PPP Centre and the Department of Transportation on the $1.6bn redevelopment of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and advised the client on the structuring of the project, the bidding process and the drafting and negotiation of the concession agreement.

Andrew Gambarini and Paul Landless manage the Philippines practice at Clifford Chance, which regularly advises on inward and outward investment, marketing activities, dispute resolution matters and M&A transactions. The firm is frequently engaged with local government departments, regulatory bodies, local financial institutions and infrastructure entities, and has a particularly strong record in acting for local and international lenders. In addition, the firm recently acted for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ as provider of a $650m loan facility to Therma Power for the acquisition of two Philippines-based power plants.

Patricia Openshaw leads the Asia Projects practice at Gibson Dunn, which provides expertise in project development, finance and M&A involving energy and infrastructure assets. The team has experience in representing developers, sponsors, contractors, lenders and government agencies, and has acted for clients such as the San Miguel Corporation, Aboitiz Power and the Ayala Corporation. Recent examples of the firm’s activity includes advising AP Renewables on the issuance of the first climate bond in the Asia-Pacific region, valued at $225m; the bonds were certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) under the Climate Bond Standards for the Tiwi-MakBan geothermal power project in the Philippines, with credit enhancement and a direct loan from the Asian Development Bank.

Kelly Malone leads King & Spalding LLP’s Philippines practice, with strong support from Simon Cowled, Mona Katigbak and Wade Coriell. The firm has expertise in energy and infrastructure work and has worked on a range of high-profile projects in the Philippines including coal-fired power, solar energy and hydro-power developments, as well as providing specialist arbitration and dispute resolution counsel. The team recently acted as international counsel to SN Aboitiz Power – Magat Inc. on the signing of a notes facility agreement for the issuance of $380m worth of fixed-rate corporate notes to be used to repay its existing loans, finance its recapitalisation and fund other corporate purposes.

Project finance specialist John Yeap leads the team at Pinsent Masons, and is supported by David Platt and private investment expert Ian Laing. The department has substantial experience in infrastructure privatisation and project finance transactions, and is active in the energy, financial services, government and real estate sectors. It acted as international legal adviser to the International Finance Corporation on the $600m Manila Light Rail Transit Line 2 project, advising on due diligence, commercial structuring as well as procurement/PPP issues, drafting contract agreements, and supporting negotiations with bidders.

Sidley Austin LLP’s Philippines team is led by Matthew Sheridan, Nicholas Grambas and David Gartside, who joined the firm in April 2016 from White & Case Pte. Ltd. The firm provides ‘very practical commercial advice’ and has experience in a wide range of practice areas, including capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, investment funds, projects and energy and dispute resolution, as well as experience in advising clients on regulatory compliance matters. In recent months, the firm assisted Aboitiz Power Corporation with its $1.2bn acquisition of interests in the GNPower Mariveles and GNPower Dinginin projects in the Philippines, including advising on the provision of $650m worth of acquisition financing facilities from Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ and Standard Chartered Bank.

Jonathan Stone heads the practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and he has expertise in M&A, private equity and debt equity transactions. The firm provides ‘an exceptional service’ and has particular strength in energy, infrastructure and IPP projects. Partners count Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, Masinloc Power Partners Corporation, First Gen and the AES Corporation among its key clients. The team has also assisted CEMEX Holdings Philippines with its $535m initial public offering of common shares on the Philippine Stock Exchange, and acted for Citigroup on the sale of the customer portfolio of its merchant acquiring business in 11 Asia Pacific markets to Wirecard AG.

Stephenson Harwood LLP’s practice is led by Tom Platts and Paige Crewson , who have experience in cross-border M&A transactions, corporate finance, private equity, energy, and construction matters. The firm advises local and international businesses on optimal structures for investments into the Philippines across a wide range of sectors, including mining, aviation and shipping, and provides particular expertise in regulatory compliance issues. The team advised Stella International Holdings on the establishment of two new manufacturing facilities, in addition to advising GDF Suez Energy on its joint venture with Filinvest Land/Cyberzone Properties on the development of a centralised chilled water plant project.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Hong Kong) has a roster of particularly noteworthy clients, such as Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and UBS, and is experienced in handling capital markets transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate and financing matters. Among a range of work highlights, the firm acted for Citigroup, HSBC and J.P. Morgan on the $545m IPO of 2.3 billion shares of CEMEX Holdings Philippines. Robert Williams and Connie Chu are the key contacts.

Infrastructure specialist Don Stokes leads the Philippines team at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which provides expertise in energy matters and is involved in construction industry-related issues. The firm acted as counsel to the Asian Development Bank, Credit Guarantee & Investment Facility and BPI Capital Corporation on the landmark Tiwi and Makiling-Banahaw (MakBan) geothermal power project bond financing, valued at $225m; this was the first credit-enhanced project bond in the region since the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and the first certificated Climate Bond in a developing country.

Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee’s ‘recommended’ Philippines practice is led by corporate specialist Mark Cooper, and includes Aex Wong, who has extensive experience in energy, infrastructure and PPP projects, and project finance lawyer Joseph Kim. The team specialises in projects and energy work and has advised a range of notable clients, including Macquarie, Government Investment Corporation and Malakoff Corporation Berhad. It advised Angat Hydropower Corporation on the $24m financing of the 218MW Angat hydro-power plant in the Philippines.

Paul Hastings LLP’s Philippines practice is led by Steven Winegar and provides clients with expertise in M&A, litigation, capital markets and private equity transactions. Clients have included Ayala Land, GT Capital, Excelmind Group and First Metro.

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Legal Developments in Philippines

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • SyCipLaw TMT Bulletin: “More Philippine Data Privacy Act: Are you Ready for Phase II?”

    Controllers and processors who have completed Phase I registration with the National Privacy Commission (NPC) will now have to gear up for Phase II. Phase II involves providing the NPC certain information on the organization’s compliance with the Data Privacy Act (DPA).
  • Getting the Deal Through: Appeals 2017

    The Philippine chapter of Getting the Deal Through: Appeals 2017 was contributed by SyCipLaw partner Ramon G. Songco and associate Kathleen Kay A. de Guzman . The chapter provides key insight into the appellate stage of dispute resolution in the Philippines.
  • The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Patents 2018

    The Philippine chapter of the International Comparative Legal Guide to: Patents 2018 was contributed by SyCipLaw partners Enrique T. Manuel and Vida M. Panganiban-Alindogan . The chapter answers key questions on patent enforcement, patent amendment, licensing, patent term extension, patent prosecution and opposition, border control measures, and antitrust laws and inequitable conduct. It also gives an overview on current patent developments in the country.
  • IBA Taxes Committee: “Developments in Philippine Tax Laws and Regulations”

    The International Bar Association’s (IBA) Taxes Committee published its annual update on tax developments by jurisdiction for 2017. The 2017 update includes a Philippine report by SyCipLaw partner Hiyasmin H. Lapitan entitled “Developments in Philippine Tax Laws and Regulations”. The Philippine report summarizes recent updates related to tax treaty relief, passed-on gross receipts tax, alternative modes of paying taxes, reduction of real property tax on independent power producers, and case law, as well as upcoming tax reform developments.
  • ALB: “Enforcement Update: Philippine Competition Act”

    The August 2017 issue of the Asian Legal Business (ALB)  includes a Philippine regional update by SyCipLaw partner  Arlene M. Maneja entitled, “Enforcement Update: Philippine Competition Act”. The article summarizes the administrative, civil and criminal penalties that apply to companies that have yet to comply with the Philippine Competition Act (PCA). The transitional clause of the PCA to enable parties to renegotiate agreements or restructure their businesses to comply with the law expired on August 7, 2017.
  • CPO: “Philippines: To Be or Not To Be a Data Protection Officer (DPO)”

    Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) Magazine, an online publication owned by Data Privacy Asia, featured an article by SyCipLaw partner Rose Marie M. King-Dominguez . Entitled “Philippines: To Be or Not To Be a Data Protection Officer (DPO) ”, the article discusses the qualifications and responsibilities of a DPO as outlined in the Philippine Data Privacy Act of 2012. It also outlines difficulties companies may experience in the appointment of a DPO.
  • ALB: “Guidelines on Related Party Transactions for Insurers in the Philippines”

    The July 2017 issue of the Asian Legal Business (ALB) includes a Philippine regional update by SyCipLaw partner Hiyasmin H. Lapitan and associate Jo Margarette W. Remollo entitled, “Guidelines on Related Party Transactions for Insurers in the Philippines ”. The article summarizes the Insurance Commission’s compliance guidelines on related party transactions, as set out in Insurance Circular Letter No. 2017-29. The Circular covers insurers, reinsurers, branch offices of foreign insurers, mutual benefit associations, pre-need companies, and health maintenance organizations and their intermediaries.
  • Philippines Chapter in The Tax Disputes and Litigation Review - Edition 5

    The Philippines section of The Tax Disputes and Litigation Review - Edition 5 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 .
  • IFLR: “Philippines: Acquiring insurance brokers”

    The April issue of the International Financial Law Review (IFLR) includes an international briefing article by SyCipLaw partner  Hiyasmin H. Lapitan  entitled “Philippines: Acquiring insurance brokers”. The article discusses the new requirement by the Philippine Insurance Commission (IC) for advance approval to acquire a stake in a Philippine corporation that is licensed as an insurance broker or reinsurance broker. This requirement is noted in the IC’s circular letter number 2017-09 dated February 14, 2017, which prescribes guidelines on the documentation requirements for acquiring a domestic insurance or reinsurance broker.
  • SyCipLaw Tax Bulletin: Philippine BIR Rules on Proper Tax Treatment of Passed-on Gross Receipts Tax

    On June 13, 2016, the then Commissioner of Internal Revenue issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 62-2016 purporting to clarify the proper tax treatment of percentage tax or gross receipts tax (GRT) due on transactions covered by Sections 1211 and 1222 of the Tax Code which are shifted through contractual stipulations to borrowers/customers/clients (“passed-on” GRT). Banks, non-bank financial intermediaries performing quasi-banking functions are subject to GRT under Section 121 while financing companies and other financial intermediaries not performing quasi-banking functions are subject to GRT under Section 122. The effectivity of this circular was suspended on July 1, 2016 by the new Commissioner of Internal Revenue. However, on November 15, 2016, the suspension was lifted by RMC No. 127-2016 rendering RMC No. 62-2016 effective immediately.

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