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Editorial

Index of tables

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

Next generation lawyers

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With a deep and stable bench of lawyers with extensive experience in cross-border M&A and private equity transactions, Allen & Gledhill LLP has the ‘healthiest market share’ and is ‘organised in a highly specialised way’. Operating across South-East Asia, the firm has experienced notable growth in real estate and healthcare deals. It advised Hotel Holdings on a $1.85bn voluntary unconditional cash offer for, and compulsory acquisition of Goodwood Park Hotel; this was an unusual deal given the hotel’s unlisted status. ‘Brilliant lawyerAndrew Lim is ‘technically very competent’, ‘easy to deal with’ and a ‘top-rated dealmaker’ and heads the practice alongside Lim Mei. Christopher Koh is a regular adviser on headline deals and Prawiro Widjaja is prominent in Indonesia transactions. Lee Kee Yeng is recommended for public M&A, and Richard Young is ‘very commercial’, ‘very bright’ and ‘has the confidence of private equity investors’.

WongPartnership LLP is recommended for both public and private M&A, and has made a particular impression in private equity transactions. Clients include private equity houses KKR, Navis Capital and Northstar Advisors, along with a number of blue-chip Singapore corporates such as Frasers Centrepoint, SMRT, UOL Group, and Singapore Exchange. The firm advised SMRT Corporation, SMRT Trains and SMRT Light Rail on the transition of SMRT Trains to a new licence to operate the North-South, East-West and Circle Line mass rapid transit systems and the Bukit Panjang light rail transit system under the new rail financing framework. It also handled the transfer of SMRT Trains and SMRT Light Rail operating assets to the Land Transport Authority of Singapore. The ‘commercially savvy’ team is ‘highly responsive, knowledgeable, extremely detailed and meticulous’, and led by the respected Andrew Ang. Other names to note include Low Kah Keong, Mark Choy and managing partner Ng Wai King, who is ‘a class above the rest in terms of commercial acumen, managing difficult situations and awareness of deal dynamics’. Chan Sing Yee is an ‘emerging name that deserves credit’; she ‘goes the extra mile for clients’. Ong Sin Wei is ‘friendly, responsive and highly knowledgeable’, corporate governance and compliance lawyer Annabelle Yip is a ‘consummate corporate lawyer with excellent client management skills’, and Quak Fi Ling is ‘commercial and calm under pressure’.

Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC has a tremendous reputation in Singapore, has an extensive record in M&A involving Asian companies, including Singapore-listed corporates, and is especially well positioned to advise on US-related deals. Clients include General Atlantic, Capital City Group, IndoSpace, SK Holdings and CEFC International. It recently advised IndoSpace on a $500m joint venture with the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board to create IndoSpace Core. Suet-Fern Lee is a big name in Singapore and is tremendously well connected; she has stepped down as office managing partner and will now split her time between Singapore and Hong Kong.

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP’s commitment to South-East Asia and strong regional coverage has made it especially prominent in public M&A. The team acts for a strong client base of business tycoons, family-owned businesses and a number of Japanese and Chinese corporates; it has a Japanese bengoshi and a number of Chinese speakers in the Singapore team. The firm has experienced growth in technology and real estate deals and in distressed transactions in the oil and gas sector. A team led by head of the M&A practice Lawrence Tan advised Marvellous Glory Holdings on its S$786m takeover of Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX)-listed China Minzhong Food Corporation; the firm developed a new approach for an acquirer to privatise the target and meet the 90% share threshold required by Singapore regulations. In other work, the firm advised Shanghai-listed Sinochem International on the S$847m merger of its subsidiary GMG Global and Halcyon Agri Corporation, both of which are listed on SGX. Danny Lim is another key member of the team, and the hire of ‘very commercial’ and ‘very technically sound’ Sandy Foo from Drew & Napier LLC adds to the firm’s market standing.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow is ‘truly regional’ with a ‘strong network of offices’ in South-East Asia. The Singapore team continues to play an integral role in domestic deals and cross-border transactions throughout the region. It remains noted for its record in real estate M&A and has a burgeoning record in private equity transactions. Energy and natural resources, TMT, real estate, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, and food and beverages are key sectors, and clients include Kirin Holdings, Allianz, EQT Partners and Pandora Jewelry Asia-Pacific. The group advised FKS Group on a $100m equity investment by Proterra Investment Partners, the US-based private equity firm, into FKS Food and Agri. Andrew Martin leads the team, which includes Min-tze Lean and Ai Ai Wong.

Bird & Bird ATMD LLP is most active in mid-cap deals, including venture capital financings, strategic M&A, private equity investments and going-private transactions. TMT is a key sector for the firm in Singapore and globally; for example, it advised THB Auto Electronics on its S$216m acquisition of China Auto Electronics, the Singapore-listed automotive, electrical and electronics distribution system manufacturer in China. It also assisted Singapore-listed Singapore Press Holdings with its S$164m acquisition of Orange Valley Healthcare, through its wholly owned subsidiary Invest Healthcare. Marcus Chow heads the corporate group, and joint managing partner Sandra Seah has considerable experience in energy and real estate deals. Ken Cheung is highly regarded for energy transactions.

Colin Ng & Partners LLP has ‘good client connections’, and is active in local transactions and overseas acquisitions including in Indonesia and India. The firm represents a number of fund managers, most notably in investments in India and advises a range of foreign clients on inbound transactions, particularly Japanese and European businesses. Bill Jamiesonranks very highly’ and is praised for his ‘technical expertise’. The ‘knowledgeable and patientKen Chia has ‘good business acumen’, ‘industry knowledge’ and heads the department, which also includes Tan Min-Li, who is recommended for reverse takeovers. Senior associate Michelle Chan is ‘responsive’ and ‘thorough in her research and drafting’.

Dentons Rodyk continues to leverage the strength of the international firm’s global network, notably advising a number of Chinese buyers, including Chinese private equity funds, on a series of acquisitions and investments; for example, it assisted China Huadian Engineering, the Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE), with its $2.3bn acquisition of a majority interest in a Vietnam project company to develop a 2x660MW coal fired power project facility in Vietnam; this is the first build-operate-transfer project in Vietnam. The firm has also advised on a series of major investments in the real estate sector. Ng Eng Leng and Evelyn Ang head the M&A practice, which includes the immensely experienced Valerie Ong.

Drew & Napier LLC handles a solid mix of public and private M&A, including going-private transactions. It acts for a variety of listed companies, banks and financial institutions and a growing number of Chinese entities investing into the region. Clients include OUE Group, Mitsui & Co, Hotel Properties, Swissco Holdings, Baring Private Equity Asia and Ascendas Funds Management. It advised FWD Group on the acquisition of One George Street, a Grade A office building located in the prime central business district in Singapore. The ‘responsive and practical’ team is rebuilding after Gary Pryke’s retirement from the partnership to become a consultant, and Sandy Foo, Ralph Lim and Farhana Siddiqui’s departures to Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP, OC Queen Street and KhattarWong LLP respectively. Steven Lo now leads the M&A practice, which includes the ‘absolutely first-class’ and ‘commercialJulian Kwek, who is commended for his Indonesia and Malaysia expertise.

Praised for its ‘thorough, friendly and practical’ approach and its ‘awareness of challenges faced by in-house counsel’, the team at Pinsent Masons MPillay is ‘willing to go the extra mile to get the job done’. It has an impressive regional footprint with a solid record in oil and gas and infrastructure matters; Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia are key jurisdictions for the practice, which is most active in transactions under Singapore law. Clients recognise the lawyers’ ability to ‘find a workable solution to address regulatory constraints across multiple jurisdictions’. The firm has attracted a number of Chinese clients, in part thanks to several fluent Mandarin speakers within the team. It also acts for a number of mid-market private equity funds and regional family offices. In a recent work highlight, the team represented long-term Indonesian client PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara on its acquisition of shares in Macmahon Holdings and its sale of certain assets to Macmahon. Perry Yuen and Bethia Su lead the department and are commended for their ‘commercial awareness’ and ‘sensitivity to cultural challenges in the region’. Steve Potter is a ‘good negotiator’ and recommended for oil and gas transactions; he ‘makes life easier by making complicated deals less complex’.

Shook Lin & Bok LLP has a relatively young group of partners that impress in cross-border deals, public M&A and private equity transactions. Clients include investment banks, multinationals and private equity firms. It advised Columbia Capital Partners on its $175m leveraged scheme takeover of euNetworks Group and the subsequent restructuring of the group. It also acted for Dymon Asia Private Equity in its $185m auction sale of Asia IFM Solutions to Malaysia-listed UEM Edgenta and advised Mitsui & Co on its $1.5bn acquisition of an additional stake in PT Paiton Energy, Asia’s first-ever independent power project, from Engie. David Chong is ‘without peer’ in transactions under Singapore’s takeover code, while Ho Ying Ming and Michelle Phang are also key partners. Gwendolyn Gn is ‘professional’ and ‘in touch with clients’ needs’.

TSMP Law Corporation has an especially strong record in transactions involving Singapore-listed companies. It advised Hong Kong-listed HNA Holding Group on its S$1.4bn pre-conditional voluntary general cash offer for CWT, one of Singapore’s largest logistics providers. It also represented OUE on it S$175m takeover of International Healthway Corporation. Head of corporate Stefanie Yuen Thio is ‘sharp, fast and very charismatic’; ‘clients love her’.

Duane Morris & Selvam LLP provides an even balance of Singapore law and international law advice; it is fast increasing its exposure to cross-border deals in South-East Asia, most notably in frontier markets such as Myanmar and Vietnam where it has its own offices. With a ‘strong background in M&A’, the lawyers are ‘responsive’, ‘understanding of clients’ needs’ and provide a ‘personal touch’. The firm advised a Singapore holding company as shareholder in a leading telecoms company in Cambodia in connection with a $900m share purchase transaction. It acts for a number of Singapore government-linked companies and has an experienced team of partners including Krishna Ramachandra, Leon Yee and Arfat Selvam. Ramiro Rodriguez has a strong connection with Latin America.

Eversheds Harry Elias has an impressive practice in the healthcare and education sectors, notably advising a range of listed companies and investment funds. Clients include Advanced Holdings, CSC Holdings, Longcheer Holdings, Iron Mountain, Sequoia Capital and Singapore Medical Group; it assisted the latter with its acquisition of Astra Women’s Specialist group of clinics. It also acted for Singapore-listed Longcheer Holdings during the disposal of its interest in Mentech Investment, the electronics manufacturer. Names to note include Claudia Teo, Sze-Hui Goh, and Ong Wei Jin, who is noted for representing a number of Chinese corporates.

Lee & Lee has a well-established corporate and M&A practice, with exceptional experience in transactions involving Singapore-listed companies, government-linked entities and private equity houses. It has a truly regional practice, covering China and numerous South-East Asia jurisdictions; the team includes a number of China-qualified lawyers. Adrian Chan leads the department.

Loo & Partners LLP has experienced growth in tech and fintech transactions. The firm has an impressive start-up, mid-cap and private investor client base including Gobi Partners Singapore, United MS Electrical and Southern Graphic Systems Singapore. Loo Choon Chiaw leads the team, which includes Yau Khai Ling.

Prolegis LLC has a formal law alliance (FLA) with Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and ‘stands out for the quality of its advice’ and team members that are ‘commercial and have a real depth and breadth of experience’, enabling them to ‘advise not only on the technical legal issues but on market practice’. Clients include Amity Energy, Octupus Capital, Apple, WE Communications and SoftBank; the firm advised the latter on its participation in a Series D equity fundraising round in Hike Global. Ban Leong Oo is ‘client-oriented, responsive and the person to go to when market knowledge or strategic decisions are critical’. Safa Zahedi is ‘astute, with a pragmatic approach and fine sense of the commercial realities driving the transaction’.

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP has experienced considerable growth in cross-border transactions, particularly involving Indonesia and Vietnam. The firm’s increasingly prominent ASEAN platform is gaining recognition across the region with a range of listed clients coming from the firm’s thriving capital markets practice. The team also advises a range of larger SMEs, privately held companies and private equity houses; it assisted mm2 Asia with its proposed acquisition of a majority share in UnUsUaL. Azman Jaafar’s department includes Ch’ng Li-Ling, who is ‘experienced with a strong commercial focus’.

Straits Law Practice LLC has a good stable of repeat clients, including an array of India-based businesses. Much of the firm’s practice centres on small-cap listed company work, including M&A, compliance and restructurings. M Rajaram is executive chairman of the firm and heads the India practice group, while Robert Wong is an experienced figure in public M&A and listed company work; Chan Lai-Foong is another senior name in the team. The firm advised Texchem-Pack Holdings on its delisting from SGX.

Virtus Law LLP – Stephenson Harwood (Singapore) Alliance has a fine standing in Singapore, providing excellent local and regional expertise with particular experience in the TMT, healthcare, consumer and transportation sectors. It advised Imperium Crown on its proposed acquisition of Development West, a company incorporated in Western Australia. Allan Tan is ‘superior in terms of industry knowledge’ and a ‘master of local M&A laws’. Elaine Beh is also recommended.

Withers KhattarWong’s emphasis on private capital means it is frequently engaged on transactions involving institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals. The firm reinforced its team with the hire of Farhana Siddiqui from Drew & Napier LLC at the end of 2016. The firm now represents a number of wealthy family groups and high-net-worth individuals from Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. It also has particular expertise in the financial institutions sector and in hotels and hospitality. In 2016, a team led by experienced partner Winston Seow advised AAM on the sale of AAM Advisory to Old Mutual Wealth.

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