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Kenneth Aboud and Alexander Stathopoulos head Allen & Overy’s practice. Alun Evans, who made partner in May 2016, advised Bank of Tokyo–Mitsubishi UFJ on its $783m purchase of a 20% interest in Security Bank Corporation. Other clients include Emperador Group, Philippines Airlines, San Miguel and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Baker McKenzie is represented in the Philippines entirely by Quisumbing Torres, a high-profile local firm that has long maintained a strong reputation across several practice areas, including M&A, IP, aviation, employment and immigration.

At DLA Piper, Alex Guy and Stephen Webb specialise in PPP and energy, respectively, and project finance partner Michael Horn, who joined the team in November 2015, advised FMO on a $15m loan to Sindicatum for the development of the Clark Solar Power Plant. Other clients include Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Ayala Land.

Native Tagalog speaker Maria Pedersen is the key contact at Jones Day; she is experienced in corporate matters and high-profile projects in the Philippines. The ‘excellent, reliable’ practice, commended for its ‘very personal service’, advised the Public-Private Partnership Center of the Philippines and the Department of Public Works and Highways on the proposed $2.72bn Laguna Lakeshore Expressway-Dike PPP project.

Linklaters Singapore Pte. Ltd’s practice ‘provides timely and meaningful advice, especially at critical decision-making junctures’. Headed by Pamela Shores and Philip Badge, the practice advised the Philippine government on a tender offer for up to $1.5bn in outstanding dollar-denominated bonds. Other clients include Assicurazioni Generali, Monde Nissin and Victoria International Container Terminal.

The team at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy has ‘strong in-country expertise’ and ‘a longstanding relationship with issuers’. ‘Highly experienced’ practice head James Grandolfo is supported by of counsel Desiree Woo and Asia counsel Paul Pery. Clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Philippine National Bank.

At Shearman & Sterling LLP, project finance experts Bill McCormack and counsel Anna Chung acted for Ayala Corporation, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and Macquarie Group on the development and financing of the high-profile $1.4bn LRT1 project. The team is currently advising Metro and Ayala as sponsors on the LRT2 project.

Ashurst LLP’s practice, which is particularly strong in projects and energy, is headed by the ‘experienced, knowledgeable, straightforward’ Matthew Bubb, and has ‘invaluable international expertise in infrastructure work’. Andrew Digges and Joshua Cole joined in the summer of 2015 from Allen & Overy and King & Wood Mallesons, respectively.

Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs are among the clients of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Hong Kong)’s department. Sung Kang advised a syndicate of underwriters including HSBC, Morgan Stanley and J.P Morgan on an offering of $2bn-worth of bonds by the Philippine government. Counsel Robert Williams is also recommended.

Consultant Alexander Lloyd joined the team at Clifford Chance from Sidley Austin in January 2016; debt capital markets is his speciality. The department, which is led by Andrew Gambarini and Paul Landless, acted for EastWest Bank on its establishment of a $65m life insurance joint venture with Ageas in the Philippines.

Gibson Dunn’s department, which is particularly strong in the capital markets and power sectors, counts San Miguel Corporation, Aboitiz Power, Manila Electric Company and the Philippines government among its clients. Practice head Patricia Openshaw advised AP Renewables on its issuance of the Asia Pacific region’s first climate bond, worth PHP10.7bn.

ING Bank, DMCI Holdings, Energy Development Corporation and San Miguel Corporation are all clients of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Philippines team. Recent client wins include Seawood Resources and Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels. Alexander Aitken and senior consultant Jun Bautista lead the team.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s department is headed by Benjamin Carale, who made partner in March 2016, and counts Melco Crown Entertainment, TeaM Energy and Meralco PowerGen Corporation among its clients. Carale acted for Vista Land & Lifescapes on the issuance of $125m-worth of senior notes, which was South East Asia’s first dollar bond offering of 2016.

John Yeap leads the team at Pinsent Masons, with support from David Platt and Ian Laing. International Finance Corporation and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management are among the department’s clients. Steve Potter and Ashley Wright joined the practice in the spring of 2016 from Jones Day and Norton Rose Fulbright, respectively.

Sidley Austin LLP’s seven-partner team, based in Singapore and Hong Kong, is headed by Matthew Sheridan and Charlie Wilson. Nicholas Grambas is particularly active in the space, and acted for Aboitiz Equity Ventures on its $1.3bn purchase, with CRH, of Lafarge Philippines’ cements and aggregates business. Other clients include San Miguel and UBS.

Jonathan Stone leads the practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, with able support from Rajeev Duggal and Alan Schiffman. The team, whose clients include Citigroup and First Gen, advised Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation on Cathay Life Insurance’s PHP17.9bn purchase of a 20% stake in the Corporation.

The ‘very commercial, sensible, solicitous’ team at Stephenson Harwood LLP, which is jointly led by Tom Platts in Singapore and Dubai-based of counsel Paige Crewson, is commended for its ‘excellent service’ and for ‘going the extra mile’. Platts acted for Stella International Holdings on the establishment of two new manufacturing facilities in the Philippines.

At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, practice head Don Stokes advised a syndicate of underwriters, including Asian Development Bank, Credit Guarantee & Investment Facility and BPI Capital Corporation, on AP Renewables’ issuance of the first-ever green bond in the Philippines. Amadeus IT Group is another client.

Kelly Malone leads King & Spalding LLP’s Philippines practice, with strong support from Mona Katigbak and Simon Cowled. Cowled advised Masinloc Power Partners on the development and financing of the $700m expansion of a 630MW coal-fired power plant in Zambales. Other clients include SunEdison and Aboitiz Power Corporation.

Paul Hastings LLP’s ‘very responsive, top-notch’ team is led by Steven Winegar, who is ‘hands-on, helpful and very easy to reach’. He defended Excelmind Group and Excelmind Capital against a breach-of-contract claim brought by Phunware and Rain Acquisition. Other clients include Ayala Land and Bank of Philippine Islands.

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Legal Developments in Philippines

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  • 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.
  • Philippine Court of Appeals Denies Issuance of Environmental Protection Order Against Mining Company

    In a decision issued on March 8, 2017, the Philippine Court of Appeals (CA) denied the petition by NGO Ang Aroroy ay Alagaan, Inc. and certain individuals, for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan against Filminera Resources Corporation, and its directors and officers. The petitioners have claimed that Filminera, which operates in the Philippine province of Masbate, had been causing environmental damage in the conduct of its mining operations in violation of local law, and that a writ of kalikasan should be issued.
  • SyCipLaw TMT Bulletin: Philippine Central Bank Issues New FinTech Rules

    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) (the Philippine Central Bank) has issued two new circulars that will be of interest to companies engaged in remittance services, e-money, digital currency, and other fintech businesses. Both circulars amend portions of the BSP Manual of Regulations for Non-Bank Financial Institutions.
  • IFLR: “Philippines: Foreign equity ownership decision”

    The March issue of the International Financial Law Review ( IFLR ) includes an international briefing article by SyCipLaw partner  Jose Florante M. Pamfilo  entitled “Philippines: Foreign equity ownership decision”. The article discusses the Philippine Supreme Court decision on the case of Roy v. Herbosa (GR no. 207246) to invalidate the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Memorandum Circular no. 8-2013 (MC 8-2013) on the guidelines on compliance with the Filipino-foreign ownership requirements prescribed in the Philippine Constitution and/or existing laws by corporations engaged in nationalized and partly nationalized activities.
  • Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All

    The World Bank Group has released its Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All report. This is the 14th in an annual series of reports providing objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement in 190 economies. The report focuses on measuring regulations affecting 11 areas: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, and labor market regulation.

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