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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A: foreign firms
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Charlotte Evans - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
    • Pablo Malay - Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
    • Chaiyee Oh - Linklaters
    • Sze Shing Tan - Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

Who Represents Who

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Allen & Overy’s Singapore team has successfully leveraged the firm’s strong regional coverage and geographic focus. The partners in the team all have a notable jurisdictional emphasis and have key industry expertise spans financial institutions, natural resources, oil and gas, renewables and a growing portion of private equity work. It advised Central Group, a Thai conglomerate owned by the Chirathivat family, on its $1.1bn acquisition of the Big C Vietnam supermarket chain from Groupe Casino, the French mass retailer. Chris Moore is ‘excellent’, a ‘very smooth practitioner’ and has a ‘strong practice’, particularly in the financial institutions sector. Brendan Hannigan is ‘very commercial’, a ‘very well respected lawyer’ and a leader in M&A and private equity deals, most notably in Indonesia. Alun Evans is another financial institutions sector expert, with a fine record in the Philippines, and Yin Mei Lock is recommended for public M&A.

Clifford Chance is widely recognised for its prominence in financial institutions, energy and technology M&A, and for its growing private equity buyout practice. The firm, which has a ‘scale that gives it a natural advantage’, is ‘very responsive’, ‘technically excellent’, ‘always gives astute advice’ and has an impressive market share of big-ticket public M&A deals in the region. The team acted for a consortium of energy players in its multibillion-dollar acquisition of Chevron’s geothermal assets in Indonesia and the Philippines. It also advised ABN AMRO on the sale of its private banking operations in Asia and the Middle East to LGT, the international banking and asset management group. Other clients include Airbus, Barclays, EQT, Navis Partners, Northstar, Shell, Standard Chartered, Star Energy and Willis Towers Watson. Lee Taylor has a fine record in financial institutions M&A and private equity in South-East Asia, including in Malaysia and Singapore. Melissa Ng, who is ‘commercially astute, calm, hands-on, and gives succinct and practical responses’, is a leader in energy deals, especially in Indonesia. Combining ‘technical excellence with sound commercial-mindedness’, Valerie Kong is ‘bright and driven’, ‘a brilliant negotiator’ and ‘very efficient’.

Linklaters is a ‘first-class outfit’, which has ‘M&A in its DNA’. It has an exceptional record in financial services M&A and is a growing force in private equity. The Singapore office also hired Niranjan Arasaratnam from Australian alliance firm Allens in 2017 to reinforce the firm’s presence in the TMT sector. William Kirschner and Sophie Mathur are the senior figures within the practice, the former recognised for his strength in private equity and Indonesia transactions and the latter acknowledged as a leader in strategic M&A; she led the Singapore team assisting ANZ with the S$34.5bn sale of its retail and wealth management business in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan to DBS Bank. Moreover, she led the team that advised CMA CGM on its joint venture with PSA Singapore Terminal to form CMA CGM-PSA Lion Terminal to operate and use four mega container berths at Pasir Panjang Terminal Phases 3 and 4, part of a major port expansion in Singapore. Parthiv Rishi and Laure de Panafieu were elevated to the partnership in May 2017, with the former helping to forge the firm’s progress in private equity.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s Singapore office has worked on ‘some of the biggest deals in the region’, is ‘unbeatable in Indonesia’, and is a growing presence in Philippines and Vietnam deals. It has impressed with its advice to a number of big-name private equity funds and sovereign wealth funds including GIC, which the team assisted with its investment in PT Trans Retail Group, the Indonesian conglomerate. In another recent work highlight, the firm acted for the joint venture between PT AP Investment and PT Medco Energi Internasional on its $2.1bn acquisition of a controlling stake in PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara from Newmont Mining and Sumitomo Corporation; this was one of South-East Asia’s largest M&A transactions in 2016. Singapore managing partner David Zemans has a ‘stellar reputation’, is a ‘very good operator’, ‘can deal with difficult situations very well’ and has unrivalled client connections, especially in Indonesia. Jacqueline Chan is another prominent partner.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow is an ‘excellent’ choice for M&A and corporate mandates in Singapore and South-East Asia; it is particularly recommended for real estate M&A, private equity deals and transactions involving Indonesia and Vietnam. The firm has ‘strong leadership in the team and is passionate about client satisfaction’; for example, deputy chair of the firm’s Asia Pacific regional council Ai Ai Wong, who has ‘excellent expertise and experience in M&A and local practice’ and a ‘vast network’, adopts a ‘client and solution-oriented approach’. Wong led the team that advised LGT Group Foundation, the private banking and asset management group, on its agreement to acquire ABN AMRO’s private banking business in Asia and the Middle East. The ‘fantastic’ Sze Shing Tan joined from Clifford Chance in February 2017 and ‘has a tremendous work ethic’, and Min-tze Lean provides a ‘prompt service’ and has ‘in-depth understanding of local regulations and rulings’. Andrew Martin leads the team, and ‘good communicator’ Luyi Chan delivers ‘speedy and high-quality work’.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has a fine record in M&A transactions involving Western multinationals, bulge-bracket private equity houses, and deals in the energy and natural resources sectors. It advised Rosneft on its $13.8bn joint venture with Pertamina, the Indonesian state-owned oil and gas company, to build an oil refinery in East Java, Indonesia; this involved Rosneft acquiring a 45% stake in the Tuban refinery, the first such refinery to be built in Indonesia since 1997. Lead partner Gavin MacLaren has an excellent reputation for energy and resources deals and a growing practice in private equity. Arun Balasubramanian has strong investment bank relationships, a lengthy background in India transactions and a growing record in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand deals.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has a substantial corporate and M&A practice in South-East Asia, headed by the highly respected Nicola Yeomans. Much of the practice centres on energy (renewables and conventional power) and TMT; it is also developing its standing with financial sponsors, including private equity and sovereign wealth funds. Clients include Newmont Mining Corporation, Softbank, Carlyle, BP and CGN (China General Nuclear Power Group). Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar are key jurisdictions for the practice; it advised Newmont Mining Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation on their $2.6bn disposal of interests in the Batu Hijau copper and gold mine in Indonesia, and acted for Lendlease during its $2.5bn joint venture with TRX City connected to the development of the Lifestyle Quarter of the Tun Razak Exchange, the new financial district in Kuala Lumpur. Brian Scott is another key partner in the team, along with energy and natural resources expert David Clinch and TMT specialist Mark Robinson. The group was reinforced by the return of senior figure Austin Sweeney to Singapore from Hong Kong in August 2017.

Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee handles an impressive mix of strategic M&A and private equity buyouts. Clients include General Electric, Koch Industries, Paypal, CapAsia, Navis Capital Partners and Philippines Investment Alliance for Infrastructure. The team is experienced in deals involving Singapore, the Philippines, China and Malaysia, while Indonesia and Vietnam are key growth markets; a team led by Mark Cooper recently advised JD.com on the establishment of a joint venture in Indonesia. Singapore managing partner Stephanie Keen ‘works extremely hard’ and has become a recognised market leader in private equity; she advised South-East Asia private equity house Navis Capital Partners on its $125m acquisition of an 80% equity stake in ISA Industrial, the eco-friendly leather manufacturer to a number of premium footwear brands.

Jones Day has a substantial corporate and M&A team in Singapore that frequently advises multinationals and private equity houses. The firm’s QFLP structure and credible Singapore law capabilities enabled it to represent ARA Asset Management, the Singapore-listed Asian real estate fund management company, on its S$1.78bn privatisation by a consortium of investors led by Warburg Pincus and AVIC Trust; the transaction was the first Bermuda scheme of arrangement ever used to privatise a SGX-listed company. The firm also advised Toys “R” Us on its entry into the Indian market through a retail licensing arrangement with Tablez & Toys, an Indian affiliate of the Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group. Dennis Barsky has an excellent record in corporate transactions and private equity matters. Mae Shan Chong, Darren Murphy and Alex Cull are also recommended, and Elizabeth Cole brings additional experience in Greater China deals.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s sizeable Singapore platform delivers integrated international and Singapore law expertise through a QFLP structure. The firm frequently advises on Singapore law-based M&A transactions alongside its steady diet of international law-driven deals. Clients include Altius Holdings, Broadcom, Delphi Automotive Systems Singapore, Fullerton Healthcare, HSBC, IBS Software, Standard Chartered and TPG Capital. The team advised Singapore Technologies Telemedia on its acquisition of a 74% stake in the India and Singapore-based data centre businesses of Tata Communications, and assisted MakeMyTrip, the India-based provider of online travel services, with the sale of a 27% stake in the business to CTrip.com, a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group. Michael Sturrock, Sharon Lau, Rajiv Gupta and Chei Liang Sin are the names to note.

Norton Rose Fulbright has an impressive record handling big-ticket transactions in the energy, renewables, technology and transport sectors. It is considered a ‘real business partner’, where assistance is ‘always timely and pragmatic’, and lawyers ‘never overcomplicate advice for no reason’. The team advised Caisse de Depot et Placement de Quebec, Kuwait Investment Authority and State General Reserve Fund of Oman on the development of a $850m investment platform with Tata Power and ICICI Venture for investments into thermal and hydropower assets in India. It also assisted IFC with a $175m financing provided to the Summit Group, made through the IFC Emerging Asia Fund and EMA Power, a joint venture between Daelim Energy and Islamic Development Bank Infrastructure Fund II. Sheela Moorthy leads the team, which includes Stephen Woods, and Craig Loveless, who is ‘extremely smart, a superb negotiator, and full of devotion and dedication to his work and clients’; he is particularly noted for his insurance industry knowledge.

Sidley Austin LLP has cemented its position as one of the premier corporate and M&A advisors in Singapore, thanks in part to the presence of high-profile partner Charlie Wilson, who has an especially strong background in Indonesia matters, as well as wider experience in other jurisdictions such as Malaysia, Singapore, the Philipinnes and Bangladesh. The team is increasingly engaged in private equity deals and has been able to leverage the firm’s leading funds formation practice in Asia; in 2016, it advised key client BlackRock Real Estate Private Equity on its sale of Asia Square Tower 1 to Qatar Investment Authority. In another headline deal, it assisted PT Medo Energi Internasional, the leading Indonesian power company, with its $2.6bn acquisition of a controlling stake in PT Amman Mineral Internasional, which itself controls an 82% stake in PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara.

White & Case Pte. Ltd.’s corporate practice effectively leverages its local law capabilities through its QFLP license. The team is ‘excellent in all respects’ and has made a particular impression in private equity and real estate deals, while remaining active in oil and gas, commodities, insolvency-related and distressed M&A, and TMT transactions; it is noted for its record in Indonesia especially. The group assisted e-Shang Redwood with the establishment of a real estate joint venture relating to two prime, undeveloped land parcels in Kawasaki, Japan. It also advised Saudi Aramco on its share purchase agreement with Petronas to acquire a 50% equity interest, valued at some $7bn, in a joint venture with Petronas to develop the refinery and petrochemical integrated development (RAPID) project in the southern Malaysian state of Johor. Jonathan Olier heads the team, which includes the ‘very responsive’ and ‘pragmatic’ Jon Bowden.

Ashurst LLP is rebuilding following several partner departures: Simon Brown has relocated to Singapore from Brisbane and the current team has a real emphasis on energy and resources. The team has worked on a number of acquisitions and divestments in Indonesia and Brown remains active in the resources sector in Australia. Private equity is another strength of the practice. The team is praised for ‘high levels of efficiency’, ‘good industry knowledge’, ‘business-oriented’ approach and ‘capacity to find alternative solutions during negotiations’. Daniel Reinbott and associate Samuel Tan are also recommended.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s principal sectors are real estate and infrastructure with a notable focus on Indonesia and Myanmar – it has an office in Yangon and close connections in Indonesia. Bangladesh is another key market for the practice. The team, headed by ‘attentive corporate lawyer’ Manoj Purush, has a number of prominent Japanese clients that are active in South-East Asia acquiring toll road projects and other infrastructure assets. The group works closely with colleagues in Hong Kong and Myanmar.

Gibson Dunn has a formidable record in deals involving India, followed by Indonesia and Malaysia. The immensely experienced Jai Pathak is a true giant of the India market, though has genuine South-East Asia credibility. The firm also provides an integrated Singapore law practice through its QFLP license. It has experienced a notable uptick in oil and gas deals, where Brad Roach is a name to note; he worked alongside the London office to advise Repsol on its $313m sale of Talisman Wiriagar Overseas to a subsidiary of BP. The firm also advised PT Pertamina on its bid to acquire Chevron’s geothermal power operations in Indonesia and the Philippines. Corporate restructurings have also been a key feature of the practice. Robson Lee is another name to note.

At HFW Singapore LLP, global head of corporate Brian Gordon and his team have a principal focus on mining and resources and, despite unfavourable market conditions driven by low commodity prices, have been able to sustain a flourishing practice. The team is especially well known for transactions in Indonesia, though the practice stretches to North Asia (including Mongolia), Africa, Middle East and Australia. While maintaining an emphasis on mining and resources, Gordon is also building a reputation for equity-driven distressed and special situations deals in other sectors. Clients include Asia Coal Energy Ventures, Argyle Street Management, Republic of Niger, Global Coal, Newmont Mining Corporation and Tata Power.

Morrison & Foerster (Singapore) LLP has gained considerable market recognition of late, most notably with its advice to SGX-listed Global Logistics Properties (GLP) on its $11.64bn privatisation, which was reported as the largest-ever buyout of an Asian company; Shirin Tang, who is ‘proactive’, ‘commercial’, and ‘experienced and efficient’, and Singapore-based Asia managing partner Eric Piesner were the lead partners in the deal. The team provides a ‘fantastic service’, and the lawyers within it are ‘technically sound yet understand the commercial environment’. It has built a fine record in investor consortium-driven transactions and continues to leverage the firm’s global reputation in the TMT and real estate sectors. As a firm with a strong focus on Asia, the Singapore office has also worked with a number of Asia-based multinationals on deals in the South-East Asia region. In addition, the presence of ‘very accessible’ partner Jake Robson has brought the firm a number of financial services clients such as ACE Chubb and Axiata Group. Of counsel Maria Steeples is ‘personable’, ‘understands her clients’ businesses’ and has ‘multi-jurisdictional technical expertise’.

CMS has historic strength in TMT deals and has a growing practice in energy and natural resources sector transactions. The firm frequently advises a range of major media networks, telecoms operators and technology companies, and has a growing number of Korean clients that have assets or interests in South-East Asia. Dentsu Aegis Network, the major advertising and marketing agency group, is a regular client that the team recently advised on its acquisition of Paragon Digital Services, the digital marketing and operations outsourcing business based in India, the UK and the US. Andrew Stott is recommended for TMT deals and Toby Grainger has extensive experience in Indonesia, especially in the natural resources segment, where has ‘excellent business acumen and understanding of clients’ needs’.

Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore leverages the global firm’s strength in the insurance sector to represent a multitude of international and Asian insurance companies; a large part of this side of the practice is driven by Chinese insurers. The Singapore office also handles a growing number of hospitality deals. Work highlights saw the team advise Qianhai Financial Holdings and Shenzen Investment Holdings, as the joint owners of Asia Investment Capital Holdings, on the $1bn acquisition of ACR Capital Holdings. It also assisted Atradius Credit Insurance with the reorganisation of its Asian insurance business in anticipation of a cross-border merger in the EU with Spanish sister company Compañía Española de Seguros y Reaseguros de Crédito y Caución. South-East Asia head of corporate Ian Stewart is recommended, as is Benjamin Hirasawa for hospitality sector transactions and Justin Tan for energy deals.

DLA Piper has seen a changing of the guard in Singapore with experienced US securities lawyer Joe Bauerschmidt now the managing partner of the Singapore office and taking an active role in M&A transactions. Like the firm’s global status, the Singapore team is best known for mid-market deals and has made an impression in technology matters, private equity mandates and South-East Asia transactions involving Chinese clients. Recent work includes advising Surbana Jurong and its parent Temasek Holdings on the $297m acquisition of SMEC, Australia’s premier engineering consultancy. Myles Hankin is recommended for M&A transactions involving energy and natural resources assets, and Hong Kong and Singapore partner Heng Loong Cheong is noted for financial services deals. Clients also include RRJ Capital, Fosun TSPM Investment, Qualcomm, Cybercom and Colombus McKinnon.

Duane Morris & Selvam LLP continues to build its sizeable and integrated team of Singapore and international lawyers through its joint law venture structure. Director Mark Wong joined from Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP and special counsel Michael Chong arrived from RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP. Krishna Ramachandra is recommended for Myanmar deals and also represented a Singapore holding company for telecoms companies in connection with its interest as a shareholder in the $900m sale of a 20% stake in a Cambodian telecoms service provider to a Japanese investor.

Mayer Brown JSM has made notable progress since hiring Rod Brown from Latham & Watkins LLP in 2016. The team is especially active in Vietnam and Indonesia and has a high market share of private equity transactions in South-East Asia. Key clients include private equity giant TPG Capital, Canadian oil and gas company Crescent Point and Indonesian conglomerate CT Corp. The Singapore office has an integral role in the firm’s advice to TPG Capital on its proposed acquisition of a majority stake in Vietnam Australia International School in Ho Chi Minh City. While the team is small compared to rivals, it is tightly integrated into the firm’s substantial Asia practice and provides a ‘very good level of service’, ‘business knowledge’, ‘team work’ and ‘value for money’.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s reputation continues to grow with Sidharth Bhasin and the team making an impression in private equity buyouts, private capital deals and energy and power M&A. Bhasin is New York and Hong Kong qualified and represents a number of private equity clients in Hong Kong, having moved to Singapore from there several years ago. The team advised Xander Group on a joint venture with APG Strategic Real Estate to invest $450m in retail developments in India, and assisted CX Partners and Capital Square Partners with the $420m sale of Minacs to Concentrix Global Holdings. Moreover, leveraging the Singapore office’s standing in projects and energy, the firm advised Petronas on a $7bn investment by Saudi Aramco in Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Johor State, Malaysia. Clients also include Goldman Sachs PIA, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Everstone Capital Partners and New Quest.

Stephenson Harwood LLP has demonstrated true commitment to South-East Asia and India; Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and India account for a substantial portion of its Singapore M&A practice. The team has made a particular impression in Myanmar and will further benefit from the firm’s new office in Yangon, which opened in September 2017. Much of the firm’s work centres on multinationals, local and regional corporates, and private equity houses. The team has particular expertise in the transport sector, including shipping and aviation, and is increasingly engaged in technology transactions. Recent work includes advising General Mills on the restructuring of its Häagen-Dazs business in Singapore and Malaysia, and assisting Myanmar Investments International with its investment in Apollo Towers, the Singapore-based holding company of Apollo Towers Myanmar. Tom Platts, who led the aforementioned deal, is recommended for Myanmar matters and transactions throughout South-East Asia. George Cyriac is noted for private equity deals, particularly in Indonesia and India, while of counsel Helen Rhind-Hufnagel is another key name for Myanmar deals.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP has a strong record in transport, energy and oil and gas matters, and the firm has a growing practice in restructuring and private equity transactions involving distressed assets. Clients highlight the team’s ‘niche expertise’ in Indonesia-related joint ventures. Moreover, it is increasingly active in renewable energy deals in Taiwan. The firm acts for an array of offshore oil and gas clients and many companies in the transport and mining industries. It advised M3nergy Group, the Malaysian exploration and production company, on its $265m acquisition of Lundin Services, which owns the FPSO Bertam, operating in the Bertram field, offshore Malaysia. Chris Kilburn is ‘excellent’, ‘solutions driven’ and ‘unflappable in the heat of the moment’, and Ivan Chia is another key partner. Senior associate Neil Calder is ‘attentive’ and ‘thorough’.

GC Powerlist -
Southeast Asia

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