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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Tax: local firms
  2. Leading individuals
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Next generation lawyers

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Allen & Gledhill LLP has a dedicated tax team led by two partners, Sunit Chhabra and Lim Pek Bur, covering both high-end tax advisory matters and big-ticket tax disputes. Its primary client base is listed companies and multinationals that have a presence in Singapore. The team has experienced an uptick in tax engagements linked to restructurings, capital markets transactions and real estate. It recently had an integral role in advising Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation on the establishment of its $10bn global covered bond programme.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow is ‘very strong in cross-border tax planning’ and for some, it is ‘the only law firm that can seriously compete with the accounting firms’. The team is especially strong in transfer pricing and contentious work. James Choo is ‘excellent’ and ensures that the ‘overall service package is commendable’. After Eugene Lim's departure,Allen Tan now heads the practice.

WongPartnership LLP has a primary focus on contentious work, though it is genuinely active in advisory matters. Much of the practice is connected to banking, corporate and real estate transactions, where it acts for a variety of blue-chip and listed companies; high-net-worth individuals also provide an important flow of instructions. Clients include Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, UOL Group, Hyflux and Tata Communications; the team recently advised the latter on the tax aspects of its sale of a 74% stake in its data centre business in India and Singapore to ST Telemedia. Tan Kay Kheng is recommended for tax disputes, along with contentious and advisory tax specialist Tan Shao Tong.

Dentons Rodyk made waves with the hire of tax specialist Edmund Leow SC, who was previously a judicial officer and before that a founding partner of Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow. The strengthened team has a fine standing in transactions, disputes and cross-border tax planning. The group has recently worked on a series of cross-border tax planning engagements, transfer pricing disputes and significant stamp duty matters. While much of the practice centres on multinationals and major Singapore corporates, it also advises wealthy families on tax planning issues. Seow Jia Xian is a corporate lawyer by background and now has a major focus on tax work.

Drew & Napier LLC’s tax practice covers non-contentious and contentious matters with a particular emphasis on tax advice in relation to real estate transactions, tax disputes with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) and appeals before the tax tribunals, tax investigations and private wealth planning; it has seen particular growth in tax investigations. The team represents a number of blue-chip companies, especially in the real estate sector. Practice head Ong Ken Loon has ‘strong technical skills’.

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP is a growing presence in the tax market, particularly with regards to tax litigation. The team provides an ‘unparalleled service’ and ‘deep and technical knowledge’, and advises a range of multinationals, government-linked companies, Big Four accountancy firms and financial institutions. It is routinely engaged in ‘complex and demanding’ tax disputes such as representing multinationals in cases against the IRAS. It also deserves recognition for its emerging tax planning and advisory practice. Clients praise the ‘fast turnaround times’ and the team’s ability to identify ‘commercial considerations as a priority’ and ‘invest in long-term relationships’. Department head Vikna Rajah is ‘very professional and able to decipher key concerns and protect clients’ values’; he ‘blends technical expertise with commercial acumen’, ‘knows how to put himself in the client’s position’ and benefits from his background at the IRAS.

KhattarWong LLP handles a range of tax disputes, private client matters and corporate tax issues, and advises a number of investment funds and corporates investing in Singapore. It acted for the Trustees of the Chew How Teck Foundation in the first Singapore stamp duty case concerning additional buyers’ stamp duty – this was the only tax case litigated before the High Court in 2016. Leon Kwong Wing is an expert in corporate tax structuring, Joanna Yap is recommended for tax disputes, and Mahesh Kumar leads on international tax structuring, particularly in relation to India. Eric Roose provides further senior-level credibility in international corporate tax.

Ong Sim Ho is a prominent tax boutique with an especially strong record in tax disputes. Growth in the practice is illustrated by income generated by 67 different clients in 2016 compared to 45 in 2015. Founding partner Ong Sim Ho is a big name in the sector and leads a team of six fee-earners. The firm recently acted as tax advisers to Guthrie GTS, Lee Kim Tah Holdings, Jurong Point Shopping Centre and others in connection with the $1.4bn disposal of Jurong Point, a suburban shopping centre. Yang Shi Yong is also recommended.

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