Singapore’s economy grew by just 2% in 2015 due to global macro-economic headwinds, and recent forecasts indicated that growth would remain sluggish in 2016 to between 1% and 2%. Factors attributable to this trend included an ongoing Chinese economic slowdown, global financial markets volatility and falling commodity prices.
In the capital markets arena, there were only 13 IPOs in Singapore in 2015; only one was a mainboard listing and the remainder were Catalist listings. In 2014, by comparison, there were 30 IPOs in the city-state, of which 12 were mainboard listings.
On a more positive note, there were 591 M&A transactions in Singapore in 2015 (with a total value of $101.2bn), compared with 346 M&A deals in 2014 (with a total value of $50.7bn). M&A deal flow in the wider Asia Pacific region was strong in 2015, and also in the first quarter of 2016, a significant proportion of which was generated by Chinese outbound transactions.
Elsewhere, Singapore remains a hub for international arbitration; the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) recently announced that it had received 271 cases in 2015, an increase from 222 cases filed in 2014. The Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), which opened in January 2015, issued its first judgment in May 2016 in a cross-border joint venture dispute.
Singapore’s legal market includes Allen & Gledhill LLP, Drew & Napier LLC, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP and WongPartnership LLP, the four largest domestic firms. Also well known locally are Colin Ng & Partners LLP, Shook Lin & Bok LLP and TSMP Law Corporation. Of the international firms, some focus on providing purely foreign law services for clients out of Singapore, while others leverage qualifying foreign law practice (QFLP) licences to offer an additional Singapore law capability. Various foreign firms have also entered into formal law alliances (FLAs), joint law ventures (JLVs) or even merged with local firms, and such tie-ups are a continuing trend in the city-state. For example, in 2015, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP entered into an FLA with Prolegis LLC, and Holman Fenwick Willan Singapore LLP announced an FLA with AsiaLegal LLC, which operates under the HFW AsiaLegal banner. In 2016, an FLA was agreed between Reed Smith LLP and Resource Law LLC, while RPC entered into a JLV with Premier Law (now operating as RPC Premier Law). Dentons recently merged with Rodyk & Davidson LLP, forming Dentons Rodyk.
Firms in the spotlight
Joyce A. Tan & Partners LLC
Joyce A. Tan & Partners LLC is a Singapore law firm. Incorporating the previous practice of Joyce A. Tan & Partners which was founded in 1998, the firm is an award-winning business-centric commercial law practice with particular strengths in intellectual property, technology, telecommunications, media and privacy and a strong international outlook.Read more...
Harry Elias Partnership llp
Established in 1988 by Mr Harry Elias, senior counsel, Harry Elias Partnership LLP (HEP) is a leader in the evolution of Singapore’s legal landscape. For more than 25 years, the firm has been on the cutting edge of legal changes, particularly on the litigation front. Its lawyers are frequently involved in cases that break new ground, some of which have resulted in landmark and watershed judicial decisions, including representing the Republic of the Philippines, to recover some of the Marcos money that was in Singapore; acting for Marina Bay Sands in the first ever recovery of a debt by a Singapore casino; acting for G8 Education Limited in protracted litigation over the acquisition of a chain of child care centres in Singapore and successfully acting for a group of minority owners in a dispute over the enbloc sale of Horizon Towers.
Mirchandani & Partners
Mirchandani & Partners, established in August 1990, is a specialist family law firm based in Singapore with a primary focus on matters of international family law. The firm works with a global network of lawyers to assist clients around the world from its Singapore office.