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Editorial

Banking and finance ‚Äď Foreign firms

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance ‚Äď Foreign firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Allen & Overy enhanced its finance capability with the recruitment of Singapore law qualified banking and finance partner Prakash Raja Segaran, who joined from Shook Lin & Bok LLP. Indonesia and India continue be a prime focus for the team, though deals involving Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar are of growing importance to the group, which primarily acts for investment banks, but is handling an increasing number of instructions from private equity and debt fund clients. The firm, which has 'a great market share in the region', has 'good industry knowledge and a broad understanding of sponsor-driven deals'. John Richards is 'commercial', 'advises the client in a way that gets the deal done'. Gautam Narasimhan is a 'good operator' who 'will always go the extra mile'; 'capable and energetic', he 'gets things done and is strong in contentious negotiations'. He led the team advising EMR Capital and Adaro Capital on the financing of the $2.25bn acquisition of Rio Tinto’s Kestrel coal mine. Chris Bishop and Scott Lovell were elected partners in May 2018, with the former praised for his 'very good response times' and 'commercial approach'. Jason Humphreys is recommended for project finance.

Clifford Chance's sizeable department is 'a market leader in Asia Pacific in all areas of finance', and is increasingly active in acquisition and leveraged finance, acting for both lenders and borrowers, including private equity sponsors. The firm advised Citigroup and Goldman Sachs on the acquisition financing for the landmark take private of Global Logistic Properties. The Singapore team is also increasingly active on behalf of alternative lenders and funds: it advised Apollo Management Singapore on its $40m mezzanine financing to a holding company of a proposed listed company operating in the instant beverages sector. Key partners include Andrew Gambarini, who has impressed in distressed financing; Andrew Hutchins, who is 'very commercial, gets things done and is a calm head when things become tense'; and newly promoted partner Thomas England, who is 'very hardworking and really passionate about getting deals over the line'. Isabella Mashru is 'one of the strongest senior associates' in the market. Andrew Brereton has joined King & Spalding LLP.

Linklaters' outstanding team has gained further traction in funds finance, with India and Indonesia primary drivers of a practice that is increasingly active in leveraged financings. The 'great team' attracts praise for its 'good understanding of mezzanine finance' and 'understanding of the nuances from both sides'. It advised the mandated lead arrangers on a $297m and IDR3.85tr facility for the refinancing of PT Solusi Tunas Pratama’s existing dollar and Indonesian rupiah facility agreements and existing bond issuance. Philip Badge  is 'technically very good and also commercially sensible and reliable'. Christopher Bradley is 'knowledgeable, experienced, responsive, a great coordinator, smooth and technical'. Counsel Charles McConnell is 'very experienced, very knowledgeable, supremely hardworking and responsive'.

Ashurst LLP's five-partner finance team in Singapore is 'responsive, friendly and knowledgeable', 'professional' and 'good for complex and structured transactions'; 'quality service is always guaranteed' and is 'on par with the Magic Circle firms' according to clients. In May 2018, the firm hired Alfred Ng from Shearman & Sterling LLP to reinforce the team's project finance capabilities. It continues to be at the forefront of China's Belt and Road initiative through key partner Chin Chuan Chen's connections to Chinese lenders such as China Development Bank. Energy, resources and infrastructure are key areas of focus for the firm worldwide and this is very much in evidence in Singapore where the team has advised on a series of headline deals, most notably in Indonesia. The firm advised China Development Bank on a $4.5bn facility to finance the the Jakarta-Bandung high speed rail project in Indonesia; it is the largest ever infrastructure project in Indonesian history and the first high speed railway project in Indonesia. It also advised Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and The Export-Import Bank of China on the $1.5bn financing of the construction of the proposed 750MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydroelectric power station in Zambia. Acquisition and leveraged finance specialist Kate Allchurch is 'sharp, has a good legal mind and is solutions oriented'. Trade and commodities finance expert Jean Woo is 'friendly, approachable and able to give good advice', a 'committed partner' who  'always provides face time on and off transactions' and is ' highly regarded in the industry'. Edwin Yow is recommended for structured finance and derivatives.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow has a prominent reputation in Singapore for acquisition finance, project finance, real estate finance, trade and receivables financings, Islamic finance and restructurings. The team in Singapore is able to leverage the firm's sizeable Southeast Asia platform, which includes offices in Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and elsewhere. The firm is also at the forefront of China's Belt and Road initiative, leading to key engagements such as advising PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC) on the development and financing of Indonesia’s first high-speed railway project connecting Jakarta and Bandung. Other highlights included advising on the banking aspects of LGT’s acquisition of ABN AMRO’s private banking business in Asia and the Middle East. James Huang acts for a number of regional borrowers and lenders, and is praised for 'going above and beyond expectations'. Emmanuel Hadjidakis acts for a number of key international lenders such as Standard Chartered and 'is extremely commercial and takes a very balanced and even approach'. Andrew Zaw has joined from Linklaters to bolster the firm's bank-side relationships, especially on the project finance side. Local principal Kenneth Chuah and associate principal Prashanth Venkatesh are also recommended.

Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee continues to develop its standing in Singapore, especially with major banks and credit funds. The practice's expertise covers a range of areas, including corporate lending, leveraged finance, commodity finance and restructurings. India and Indonesia are the team's primary focus jurisdictions. Highlights included advising a division of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and a GIC-led consortium on the financing of its $1.3bn acquisition of a 32% share in Energy Development Corporation, the largest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines. Alexander McMyn¬† is 'extremely commercial and responsive in approach'¬†and 'highly experienced in cross-border financings'. Charles Clayton-Payne¬†was promoted to of counsel in January 2018 and is¬† ‚Äėclient-centric‚Äô, 'responsive', 'a trusted adviser' and 'has a good commercial approach'.

Latham & Watkins LLP is recognised for its expertise in acquisition finance, especially for private equity sponsors such as Warburg Pincus and Partners Group. Lead partner Timothy Hia is noted for his experience across banking and finance products and capital markets transactions, including advising clients on various financing options. He was a key partner in the firm's advice to the lenders on the debt restructuring of PT Bumi Resources.  Clarinda Tjia-Dharmadi is recommended for Indonesia transactions, while Stephen McWilliams is a leader in project finance.

Mayer Brown has significantly enhanced its standing in the banking and finance sector through a series of lateral hires. Acquisition and leveraged finance, and corporate lending specialists Kayal Sachi and Ian Roebuck, and counsel Pierre Dzakpasu have joined from Allen & Overy; Sachi has over 30 years of practice experience and has a particularly fine record in India and Southeast Asia. This follows the arrivals of trade and structured finance experts Angelia Chia and Ben Sandstad from senior positions at international banks; Sandstad is 'extremely well-versed and a foremost expert in receivables, securitisation and financial asset transfers of all types and across jurisdictions'. The new team 'ticks all boxes', provides 'great industry knowledge, value for money, top quality and timely services and lawyers who deliver solutions on their feet and are extremely goal oriented'. It is gaining traction in private equity-related leveraged finance and is becoming a leading name in trade and commodity finance, especially deals involving securitisation technology. Clients include Asian Development Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), the Bank of Nova Scotia, Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation and United Overseas Bank.

Milbank has gained considerable traction in the leveraged finance space, most notably in Indonesia and Australia. It is also building its profile in structured loans, including in Vietnam and the Philippines. It has a mighty lender client base of names such as BTMU, Maybank and BNP Paribas and is frequently engaged by big-ticket corporate borrowers and private equity houses. It advised the global lenders on the $2.25bn financing for the acquisition of the Kestrel coking and thermal-coal mine in Queensland, Australia; the mine was acquired by a joint venture between Adaro Energy and EMR Capital. Jacqueline Chan is praised for 'zeroing in on the main points in a deal'. Singapore managing partner David Zemans has a huge amount of experience in the region, most notably in Indonesia. James Murray is best known for power and infrastructure financings, and has an established record in leveraged finance. James Orme is a leading senior associate.

Norton Rose Fulbright is noted for its track record in trade and commodity finance, leveraged finance, telecoms finance, and cross-border real estate finance, and increasingly advises debt funds and alternative lenders. The firm has worked on a series of landmark commodity finance transactions and has a high market share of big-ticket telecoms financings in Myanmar and Indonesia. Amongst a number of headline deals, the Singapore office advised a syndicate of banks on a cross-border non-recourse financing to Kia Motors India for the construction of Kia Motors' $1.1bn automobile manufacturing facility in Andhra Pradesh, India. Team head Yu-En Ong is 'hands on, has good understanding of the commodity industry and can tap into a lot of experience'. Stephen Begley and Nick Merritt are recommended for energy and infrastructure financings, while of counsel Janelene Chen is noted for her ability to 'manage a deal end-to-end'.

White & Case Pte. Ltd.'s team features a number of Mandarin speakers and has made considerable headway with Chinese banks that are increasingly active in South East Asia. The firm advised China CITIC Bank International on a S$435m term loan facility to Five Seasons XXII in 2018. The Singapore team is also handling a growing number of refinancings and restructurings, frequently working alongside restructuring colleagues in the US. Indonesia-related financings also remain a forte of the team, which advises a high proportion of the top conglomerates in the jurisdiction. It advised the borrowers on the refinancing consisting of a $275m conventional facility to PT Meares Soputan Mining, PT Tambang Tondano Nusajaya and PT Archi Indonesia and a $125m murabahah facility to PT Meares Soputan Mining and PT Tambang Tondano Nusajaya. Guan Feng Chen has 'immense knowledge and experience in financing and financial restructuring' and has a particularly strong record in Indonesia financings. John Shum (key to the team's Chinese bank relationships) 'has strong expertise in project finance area, is committed and very approachable'.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP maintains strong links to senior lenders, corporate borrowers and is building its standing amongst alternative lenders. The firm has an especially impressive record in Indonesia and has made considerable headway in other jurisdictions such as Myanmar. Energy, natural resources, infrastructure and TMT are key industries for the practice. The Singapore team advised the mandated lead arrangers on the $360m financing to PT Medco E&P Melaka, for the development of the Block A Aceh PSC gas fields in Sumatra, Indonesia. It also represented a US-based investment bank and  a Hong Kong-based private equity house on the mezzanine financing of a Myanmar telecommunication tower infrastructure company. Adrian Cheng remains a big name in reserve-based lending in the oil and gas sector. Katie Gray is recommended for mining and oil and gas sector financings.

Jones Day's substantial Singapore team is building its standing in Chinese outbound acquisition finance, project finance and structured financings into India, Indonesia and Singapore, among other jurisdictions. The firm has an impressive client portfolio including Chinese banks, international multilateral agencies and development banks, funds and multinational corporate borrowers. The firm is also at the forefront of Chapter 11-style restructurings. It advised Standard Chartered on the restructuring of a term loan facility provided to a Singaporean shipping conglomerate, which was in Chapter 11 proceedings. Sushma Jobanputra  is an experienced banking and finance practitioner with an exceptional record in acquisition and leveraged finance. Bruce Schulberg has a strong background with Chinese lenders and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Karthik Kumar  is known for his project finance capabilities, particularly in the renewable energy segment. Of counsel Vinay Kurien is also recommended for restructurings.

Simmons & Simmons' Singapore team is principally known for its structured trade and commodity finance expertise, and has experienced an uptick in margin loans, bridge financings for projects and fund financing. The group advised Standard Chartered as arranger and a syndicate of lenders on an uncommitted secured borrowing base facility to Phoenix, a global agricultural and food company, for the expansion of its rice business portfolio in India, Asia and Africa. It also represented Gunvor on its Asian syndicated committed revolving loan facilities, involving 38 syndicate banks. Calvin Tan, Dan Marjanovic  and Matthew Cox are the key partners in the team.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP is best known for asset finance, though its large and versatile team is frequently engaged on a range of financing transactions. It advised ING Bank on a financing of up to $470m for ECOM Agroindustrial Asia  and ECOM Agroindustrial Corp's working capital and general corporate purposes. Goh Mei Lin, Mehraab Nazir, Shawn Er and Simon Petch are key partners.

Gibson Dunn has an excellent record in energy sector financings, particularly in Indonesia. The Singapore team advised PT Medco E&P Malaka and PT Medco Energi Internasional on a $360m secured reserve-based project financing loan for the development of Aceh Block A gas fields in Sumatra, Indonesia. Jamie Thomas is the principal finance partner in Singapore.

Morrison & Foerster (Singapore) LLP has moved towards a debt and credit fund driven practice, though it retains a healthy pipeline of bank lender and corporate borrower engagements. Leveraged and acquisition finance deals are key areas of strength for the team, which is rated by clients for its 'knowledge of financing trends and structures in key markets', 'value for money' and 'reliability'. Singapore-based Yemi Tépé, who spends part of her time in Hong Kong, is 'a highly effective negotiator' with 'good commercial skills'. She and a multi-office team advised BlackRock on the acquisition financing of two blocks of grade-A office buildings at Waterfront Place, Shanghai from PGIM Real Estate. This was one of a number of China-related deals that the team has worked on, though it also continues to be active in Southeast Asia.

Reed Smith LLP is prominent in structured trade and commodity finance, along with bilateral and syndicated loans. The firm advises a range of banks, funds and trading houses, and has a particular emphasis on the energy and natural resources sectors. Peter Zaman specialises in commodity finance with a strong focus on derivatives and structured products. Jessica Kenworthy is an expert structured trade financings and pre-export, prepayment and limited recourse structures.


Banking and finance ‚Äď Local firms

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance ‚Äď Local firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Allen & Gledhill LLP continues to operate at the forefront of real estate finance; recent work has involved loans to REITs, real estate developers and other real estate players. The firm is also strong in PPP financings and bilateral and syndicated loans. The practice's client base has typically skewed towards banks, though instruction from non-bank lender and borrower clients has grown. It advised CapitaLand Commercial Trust on the S$1.42bn financing of its acquisition of Asia Square Tower. Clients highlight the team's 'strength in depth', 'industry knowledge', 'value for money', 'constructive advice' and its 'accessibility and responsiveness'. Kok Chee Wai is 'commercially savvy enough to make sure his clients' interests are protected'. Other key figures include Mark Hudspeth, Aloysius Ng who is noted for his record in PPP financings, Jafe Ng, who is a key name for real estate finance, and Lim Wei Ting, who is 'a well-rounded counsel with a strong ability to forge consensus'. Yeo Wico is also recommended.

WongPartnership LLP has a highly developed banking and finance practice, covering all mainstream financing products and with a significant market share of big-ticket acquisition finance and real estate finance transactions. It acted as Singapore counsel to Nesta Investment Holdings on a $4bn term loan and revolving facilities for its headline acquisition of Global Logistic Properties. It also advised a syndicate of lenders on a S$950m term loan and revolving facilities for Frasers Property Quayside's acquisition of real estate for the construction of a residential development. The 'very responsive and knowledgeable' team acts for all the major banks in Singapore and a large proportion of international banks that operate in the region.  The outstanding Susan Wong leads the team, which includes Alvin Chia, who is 'very commercial and has good knowledge of what the client wants'. Christy Lim, Felix Lee and Tan Li Wen are also recommended.

Dentons Rodyk has an outstanding record in real estate finance, along with project and infrastructure finance, and a growing portion of structured lending. It has 'a good understanding of the business environment and challenges and helps devise a win-win solution for all'. A significant number of engagements have related to Chinese state-owned enterprises' investments into South East Asia. The firm advised China Huadian Engineering on the project financing for its $2.3bn acquisition of a majority interest in a 2 X 660MW Coal Fired power facility in Vietnam. The firm is also experienced in loans to Indonesian borrowers. Real estate finance leader Doreen Sim and Tan Joo Thye are key names, with Janice Ngeow praised for her 'good experience and industry knowledge'. The Singapore office strengthened its international law capability with the recruitment of structured lending specialist Roderick Howell from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and energy and infrastructure finance expert Kunal Kapoor, who joined from Ashurst LLP.

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP has experienced further growth in real estate finance engagements, along with a healthy flow of project, acquisition and commodities finance instructions. It advised LN Development (Stirling)  as the borrower, and United Overseas Bank as mandated lead arrangers, on the S$900m financing for the acquisition of a land parcel near Queenstown MRT station in Singapore. The 'excellent' team is commended for its ability to deal with challenging deadlines, 'highly complex mechanisms' and to 'capture commercial terms'. Angela Lim, who has international law firm experience, heads the team that includes real estate finance specialist Norman Ho, Regina Liew, Terence Choo and Nicholas How who impresses with his 'loan market expertise' and 'ability to explain complex technical concepts in layman terms'.

Shook Lin & Bok LLP is continuing to grow its market share of engagements from Asian banks, most notably in relation to acquisition finance, cross-border loans, insolvency and restructuring, and non-performing loan transactions. Clients rate the firm's 'full-service approach' and 'ability to bring in quality teams to support banking and finance transactions'. The firm advised Bank of China (Singapore branch) on the financing for COSCO SHIPPING International (Singapore)'s acquisition of Cogent Holdings.  Stanley Lim works hard to provide a 'streamlined service', while Liew Kai Zee and Pok Eu Jin are also key members of the team. Prakash Raja Segaran has joined Allen & Overy.

Asia Practice LLC 's banking and finance practice advises a multitude of local and regional banks, along with a range of international banks that have a presence in Singapore. Other clients include a number of Singapore-listed real estate and construction companies. The firm is noted for bilateral and syndicated loans, acquisition finance, real estate finance and trade finance. It is also increasingly active in the fintech and the alternative lending spaces. The practice advised a major Swiss bank on the transfer of its entire international trade finance portfolio to another entity set up by the bank. Leon Low, Chien Herr Lee and Jonathan Tan 'are able to blend sound legal advice against commercial requirements'.

At Drew & Napier LLC Pauline Chong  returned to lead the team after a spell at Royal Golden Eagle Group, replacing former department head Valerie Kwok, who retired from the firm. The 'excellent' team has maintained deal flow, particularly in acquisition financings, green financings, project financings and restructurings. The firm has close connections to all the major local banks, a number of export credit agencies (ECAs) and large corporate borrowers. It advised COSCO Shipping International on a S$350m loan from Bank of China to part finance its S$488m cash buyout of  Singapore-listed Cogent Holdings, the logistics firm. Renu Menon is another key name.

Lee & Lee has a rich banking and finance heritage, with a particularly strong record in Singapore real estate financings, including those involving Singapore's en-bloc regime. The firm advises a range of local and regional banks, corporate borrowers and investment vehicles. Louise Tan is a key figure.

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP's broad finance practice handles corporate lending, acquisition finance, structured finance and structured products (including offshore derivatives instruments). It has close connections to Asian banks, including a number of Malaysian banks. Recent work includes advising Wynnchurch Capital on the $92m acquisition financing for its purchase of a group of companies in the electronic component distribution sector. Gerard Ng is 'a first-rate lawyer and a clear cut above his peers'. Nizam Ismail is noted for regulatory and compliance work in the finance sector.

CNPLaw LLP has a strong background in acquisition and equity financings, and regularly advises credit funds and fund-type entities in equity financings. It is also increasingly active in structured deals with regulatory aspects. Bill Jamieson is noted for his background in the funds and regulatory environments. Kenneth Szeto has joined Withers KhattarWong LLP.

Duane Morris & Selvam LLP primarily advises borrowers and a number of Korean banks. The practice is focused to a large extent on the offshore oil and gas sector, and has a varied mix of transactional and regulatory engagements. Leon Yee is the key partner.

Legis Point LLC is noted for its transactional and regulatory expertise. Its impressive client base stems in part from its standing in asset finance, though it has broad experience across numerous financing products. Clients include MUFG Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Lloyds Bank and Mizuho Bank. Young Chee Foong is the lead partner.

Loo & Partners LLP handles a mix of transactional and regulatory work for financial institutions, including a variety of Chinese banks. It advised Shanghai Pudong Development Bank on a dual currency term loan facility of up to $290m to UCAR Service. Loo Choon Chiaw is immensely experienced.

Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC is noted for corporate loans and acquisition finance. Leveraging the firm's international network, the Singapore office handles local law and cross-border mandates, including Islamic finance transactions. Suet-Fern Lee, Sin Teck Lim and Wai Ming Yap are key figures in the practice.

Oon & Bazul LLP has strong connections to Indian banks and has an established record in restructurings and refinancings, and trade and commoduity finance. It is also building its standing with North Asian lenders, including Japanese banks, along with trading houses and shipping companies. Ting Chi Yen leads the team.

Q.E.D. Law Corporation has an established name in acquisition finance, real estate finance and project finance. Clients include Hong Leong Group, United Overseas Bank, PT Bank UOB Indonesia and Mapletree Group. Much of the practice centres on the financings of Singapore real estate acquisitions and developments. Susan Kong and Marilyn Goh are the key partners.

Straits Law Practice LLC advises a number of Indian banks, such as Bank of India, Union Bank of India, and State Bank of India, that are increasingly using Singapore law for their loan documents. The firm is especially active in power and infrastructure loans, commodities and trade finance, acquisition finance, insolvency and restructuring, and regulatory and compliance work. It advised the secured Lenders on Sembawang Engineers & Constructors' insolvency and judicial management process. M Rajaram has a fine reputation.

TSMP Law Corporation is prominent in real estate finance, acting for a range of local banks, international banks with presences in Singapore, real estate developers and high net-worth individuals. It advised Oxley Holdings on its loan from MayBank and HSBC to purchase Chevron House. Singapore law advice on cross-border financings, including acquisition facilities, is another key part of the practice. The firm is regarded as 'a more economical option' for some transactions. Jennifer Chia is the key partner, while joint managing partner Stefanie Yuen Thio is sometimes sought for her ability to supervise especially complex transactions.

Withers KhattarWong LLP has strong banking traditions and is on the panels of many of the major banks that operate in the region. It is 'commercial and knowledgeable'. Real estate finance is a particularly forte of the team, which was further bolstered by the arrival of Kenneth Szeto from CNPLaw LLP. Pearl Lim is 'commercial and thorough', an experienced figure with a substantial record in real estate finance.

Wong Tan & Molly Lim LLC has a solid record in banking and finance, advising a range of lenders and corporate borrowers such as UOB Kay Hian, Zico Capital, New Silkroutes Group and KSH Holdings. A team led by key partner Ong Beng Hong advised Catalist board-listed Cedar Strategic Holdings on the private placement of $29m convertible loan.


Interview with...

Law firm partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

Interview with...

Law firm partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

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